Dr. Randy Gardner Continues to Breed Late Blight Resistance Tomatoes
Posted: June 25, 2012
Recently, Dr. Randy Gardner, Professor Emeritus, North Carolina State University and a colleague and friend of mine when I was at NCSU in the Department of Horticultural Science sent me an e-mail to update me on his tomato breeding work since his retirement. Those that are familiar with tomato varieties know that Randy was and still is one of the premier tomato breeders in the country if not the world. His varieties are standards in the industry and he continues to produce new and exciting varieties. He said that he has recently released three tomato hybrids with late blight resistance based on the Ph-2 and Ph-3 genes combined or the Ph-3 gene alone, which have shown better resistance than varieties such as ‘Legend’ and some others, which have only the Ph-2 gene. These include ‘Mountain Magic’, a high sugar Campari type that also has resistance to early blight, ‘Plum Regal’, a plum tomato with resistance to TSWV and moderate resistance to bacterial spot in addition to late blight (Ph-3 gene only), and ‘Mountain Merit’, a large fruited determinate type, which has the Ph-2 and Ph-3 genes combined plus resistance to verticillium wilt, races 1, 2, and 3 of fusarium wilt, root knot nematodes, and TSWV. Since Randy’s retirement in 2008, he has worked using his emeritus status primarily on specialty type tomatoes and is developing early blight/ late blight resistant fasciated fruit indeterminate hybrids similar to heirlooms with improved fruit quality and other disease resistances. He is currently working with all the different colors (red, pink, tangerine, yellow/red bicolors, purples, blacks, and green when ripe) and is also working with the different color stripes on the fruit skin. He is also working on cherry, grape, and pear shaped tomatoes with different fruit colors and improved flavor and disease resistances. As you can see Randy is continuing to produce varieties for the home gardener and the tomato industry.