Heirloom Tomatoes vs. Hybrid Tomatoes

Is it better to grow heirloom tomatoes or hybrid tomatoes?  That is the question!  Many people have many opinions on this subject.  There are as many opinions as there are varieties of tomatoes, and that is a lot!

What is the difference between heirloom tomatoes and hybrid tomatoes?

An heirloom tomato variety is a variety that was introduced before about 1940, although that is not a hard and fast rule.  They come true from seed.  This means that when you plant the seed, the plant will be the same as the parent plant.  The seeds can be passed down from generation to generation, thereby living up to the term of an heirloom.

Some of the negative comments are that they are not disease resistant.  Some of the positive comments are that they taste better.  Neither of these is totally true.

Some heirlooms have developed some resistances and adapted to their environment, but generally not to the extent of a hybrid.   It is also not true that heirlooms necessarily taste better.  Taste is such a personal thing and many heirlooms taste great to me and many don’t.   Any fresh tomato your garden is better than store bought.  Many heirlooms have tastes like grandma’s garden had, and that is because these are the tomatoes grandma used to grow!

Heirlooms can be grown from seed and will resemble the generations before them.  .  If you were to plant the seeds from a hybrid, the offspring would most likely resemble one of the two parents instead of the hybrid plant.

A hybrid tomato is generally more resistant to disease.  They are the results of two different varieties that have desirable traits.  These traits can be to be resistant to certain diseases, growing in hot or cold climates.  Taste, texture and size can also be the reason to select a plant to hybrid.

The moral to the story is to look for what you want out of your tomato and select accordingly.  Choosing the tomato that is right for you is the most important factor in determining if you want a heirloom or a hybrid tomato.