By Kathy Widenhouse, award-winning writer and owner of Tomato Dirt, a leading online source of for growing tomatoes in the home garden.
The Fourth of July tomato, sometimes called ‘Independence Day Tomato,’ is one of the earliest varieties of non-cherry tomatoes. Early season tomatoes mature in 65 days or less from the time plants are set out in the garden.
It is so named because it can produce ripe fruit by July 4 (Independence Day in the USA) in the typical climate. Even in regions with the shortest growing seasons, the plant has been known to yield red tomatoes by early July.
Fourth of July was bred by Burpee, which maintains exclusive distribution rights. As with other hybrids, the variety’s parentage remains a well-guarded industry secret.
The fruit’s main attractions are its early arrival, its dependability, disease resistance, and the sheer volume of fruit it produces. Even for an early tomato, critics agree, Fourth of July has a better-than-average taste. The only drawbacks mentioned regularly about this tomato are thicker-than-normal skin and occasional cracking.
The Fourth of July tomato ripens 49 days after being set out in the garden. Plant seedlings by May 15 – certainly no later than Memorial Day, the last Monday in May – in order to pick ripened fruit by early July. Take precautions in areas that still have chilly overnight temperatures by using row covers or Wall-O-Water covers at night.
Fruit is small, averaging about an inch or inch and a half in diameter and ranging in size between a golf ball and a tennis ball. As a salad tomato it is the perfect size.
The variety has particularly good flavor for an early tomato, and flavor improves in fruit as the season warms up. Unlike many early varieties, Fourth of July has won kudos for taste. In the 2004 Tomato Tasting Reports (University of California at Davis), Fourth of July got more votes than any other tomato, large or small, and won first place in the Salad & Slicing category.
While gardeners readily admit that the fruit from this variety is small, the plants make up for size with the quantity of the harvest. Fourth of July is prolific. It continues to produce until early fall and in ideal conditions, up to first frost. In the words of one gardener: “Tomatoes from this plant come early, come often, and come until frost.”
Fourth of July also has widespread appeal across geographical regions.
|Fourth of July Tomato (Independence Day Tomato)|
|Origin: USA, Burpee, Inc.|
|Days to maturity: 49 days|
|Foliage/habit: Regular leaf|
|Fruit color: bright red|
|Fruit shape/size: globe, 2-4 ounces|
|Taste: good; tends to be more acidic than sweet|
|Other notes: skin tends to be thick|
Tomato Disease Resistance Codes
V Verticillium Wilt
F Fusarium Wilt
FF Fusarium, races 1 and 2
FFF Fusarium, races 1, 2, and 3
T Tobacco Mosaic Virus
St Stemphylium (Gray Leaf Spot)
TSWV Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus
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