Brown Flesh Tomato Info: How To Grow Brown Flesh Tomatoes


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Every year new and exciting varieties of fruits and vegetables appear for adventurous gardeners to grow. Brown Flesh tomato (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Brown-Flesh’) conjures up a rather unpleasant image of a rotten tomato but is actually a cute and easy-to-grow fruit with beautiful mottled flesh. In spite of the name, growing Brown Flesh tomatoes will provide you with some really interesting fruits to use in salads, to stuff, roast, or just eat out of hand. Read more to find out how to grow Brown Flesh tomatoes and enjoy these beauties in your garden.

What is Brown Flesh Tomato?

Tomatoes are coming in more and more skin and flesh colors than ever before. Using heirloom stock or even combining recently bred varieties results in unheard of hues and tones. This is the case with Brown Flesh tomato. What is a Brown Flesh tomato? The name is misleading, as the flesh isn’t truly brown but is a delicious red-brown toned fruit.

This variety is an indeterminate vining plant. Fruits ripen mid-season. The fruit is considered to be medium in size and has firm skin and thick interior walls. This makes it an excellent stuffing tomato.

The skin is reddish but has a brick tone mixed with a hint of brown that lends it its name and is often striped green. When you slice open the fruit, it is juicy but compact, with flesh that is blended in tones of red, burgundy, brown, and mahogany. The fruit is deeply flavored and would also make an excellent canning tomato.

Brown Flesh Tomato Info

Brown Flesh was released by Tom Wagner of Tater Mater Seed in the 1980s.The palm sized fruits are 3 ounces (85 grams) on average and plants produce prolifically. An interior start is best for growing Brown Flesh tomato plants, except in zone 11, where they can be direct seeded outdoors.

These are generally annuals in most regions and require an early start in order to get ripe fruits. The first harvest usually comes within 75 days of germination. Optimal soil temperatures for germination are 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 32 C.).

Sow seeds 6 to 8 weeks before the date of the last frost in flats ¼ inch (.64 cm.) deep. Indeterminate tomato vines will need cages or staking to keep the fruit up and ventilated and off the ground.

Brown Flesh Tomato Care

Begin training the stems as soon as the first buds appear. For bushier plants, you can pinch off young growth just at a branch node. Move young plants outdoors as soon as they have two sets of true leaves. Harden seedlings off before installing in well-draining soil in full sun.

Space plants 24 to 36 inches (61 to 91 cm.) apart. Keep the area weeded of competitive plants. Tomatoes need plenty of water once they flower to support the fruit; however, too much water can cause splitting. Water deeply when top few inches (8 cm.) of soil is dry to the touch.

Watch for insect issues and use horticultural oil to combat. This is a really pleasant and easy to grow medium sized plant with sweet, dense fruits.

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Top and Shoulder

tiny black spots sometimes raised or imbedded

small, brown, scabby, sunken or slightly raised spots

white, raised, corky spots the brown center “birdseye” fruit symptoms do not always occur, like in greenhouses

dark brown sunken spots enlarge with cracked centers

infection commonly follows damage, as seen with plant bug feeding

sunken irregular shaped spots following systemic infection

yellow to whitish spots of irregular size white spongy tissue extends into flesh

windowpane-like feeding damage can allow establishment of secondary pathogens

Lesions large, sunken

circular sunken spots dark center mature fruit common

large, firm, greasy, rough, brown spots distinct edge sporulation may occur

irregularly shaped sunken lesions

large, firm, smooth, brown spots concentric zones

area affected is exposed to sun, and chlorophyll fails to change as fruit matures

Stem End

soft rot skin breaks gray fuzzy fungal growth white rings

gray watery rot rapid collapse white mold may contain black, pea-like objects (sclerotia)

dark brown to black, leathery, sunken spots concentric rings at stem end

splitting of epidermis in circular rings, resulting from changing environmental conditions involving moisture

splitting of epidermis radiating from the calyx to blossom end fluctuating environmental conditions involving moisture.

small cracks in the cuticle may enlarge considerably if presence of water (mist, fog, dew) exists for extended periods of time fungi may invade

mouthparts pierce the cuticle causing the damage while removing plant sap

starts as small water-soaked lesion from contact or in proximity with soil white, cottony, aseptate mycelium soon develops and fruit becomes watery

rot begins at stem scar followed by whitish fungal growth can occur on mature green and ripe tomatoes a sour odor is evident

white fungal growth occurring near calyx

feeding damage on shoulder or near calyx

Blossom End

large, firm, smooth, brown spots concentric zones

dark brown to black, leathery spot at blossom end

dark brown firm streaks (scars) at blossom end

usually occurs on ripening fruit on or in close proximity to soil initially firm, but becomes a watery rot

Calyx to Blossom End

symptoms mimicking catface-like symptoms

dark brown lesions on sepals of calyx not directly infecting fruit

Entire Fruit

fruit symptoms will vary depending on virus strain, and how long the plant has been infected

puffiness associated with systemic infection with PLRV other puffiness caused by environmental conditions

CMV infections do not normally cause fruit infection illustrations from Mediterranean region (Italy)

initially small irregular brown spots brown ring spots mottling blotches

dark green blotches following infection at an early age

TMV symptoms associated with a specific strain

firm dark blotches appearing on most of fruit surface

reduced size and irregular ripening associated with viroid infection

fruit distortion and irregular ripening

usually seen as whitish area developing on shoulder exposed to direct sunlight

irregular fruit shape and empty locules associated with environmental conditions

small cracks in the cuticle may enlarge considerably if presence of water (mist, fog, dew) exists for extended periods of time fungi may invade

a thin longitudinal scar extends from the stem scar to the blossom end occasionally an open hole to the locule forms defect happens when the flower anthers fuse to the ovary wall of developing fruit and occurs most commonly when fruit set takes place in cool weather

irregular ripening of fruit resulting from heavy whitefly occurrence on plant

typically develops on green fruit prior to harvest appears as black to dark brown necrotic tissue in the walls of the fruit TobMV, TomMV have been implicated in some cases of GW, but plants free of virus and those resistant to virus also develop GW

irregularly shaped sunken spots with defined black border and beige centers follow pesticides applied as a mixture


What Is A Brown Flesh Tomato - Brown Flesh Tomato Care And Harvest - garden

I think my wife likes to torture me. Multiple times a year she buys grocery store tomatoes. You might know where I’m headed with this. These tomatoes are very often bland versions of their flavorful kin. Slicing into the tomato I am usually met with a solid white center. To turn up the flavor I pile the bacon on top of my tomato slice during the assembly of the traditional bacon lettuce and tomato sandwich.

I will admit, grocery store tomatoes have certainly improved over the past several years, but it’s still hard to replace a homegrown tomato picked at the height of ripeness and immediately slicing it up. Often these garden tomatoes do not require a hefty bacon carrier to supplement flavor. We usually slice and eat our garden tomatoes right off the cutting board.

To grow your own tomatoes there are some key items to consider.

Determinant vs indeterminate

The first thing to establish is – Do you have the location and enough room to grow these plants? Tomatoes are full sun crops and they do best with good airflow between plants which reduces disease pressure. Avoid cramming several tomatoes together. Read the seed packet label or the tag you got with your plant. Depending on the type of tomato, you will need to space them out somewhere between 24- to 36-inches apart.

Tomatoes are categorized into two different categories – determinant and indeterminant. Determinate varieties produce their fruits on the growing tips, causing the branch to stop production once the fruit has set. They are most often used for container gardening or small spaces and generally do not need to be trellised or staked. Examples of determinate varieties: Roma, the Mountain series, and Cherry Gold.

Indeterminate tomatoes produce fruit on side branches and will continue to grow all season long. These are often larger plants that require more space and some type of trellising system. Think of these types of tomatoes as you would a traditional vining plant.

Where to Get Your Tomatoes

Direct seeding tomatoes in the garden is one way to start your tomato crop, however, by the time the plants germinate and begin setting fruit, you may not get a tomato until late August. Most gardeners will start their seed indoors, or purchase transplants from a local garden center or farmer.

Type – slicers, sauce, and cherry

What is your favorite way to consume tomatoes? Over generations, humans have bred tomatoes to fulfill various culinary needs.

Slicers or medium to large tomatoes are used on sandwiches, appetizers, and salads. Popular varieties include – Big Beef, Mountain Fresh, Better Boy, and Celebrity.

Cherry tomatoes can produce a lot of tomatoes. We grow only two cherry tomatoes at my home- a yellow type and a red type. Popular varieties are – Sun Gold, Supersweet 100, and Large Red Cherry

Sauce tomatoes typically range in size from medium to cherry. These have been bred to have more interior tomato flesh to bulk up a sauce derived from these types of fruit. If you like to preserve for winter, these would be good to grow in the garden. Common varieties – Roma, San Marzano, and Veeroma.

Tomatoes are heavy feeders, but be mindful of applying too much nitrogen. Excessive nitrogen promotes vegetative growth over flowering and fruiting. Gardeners that use soil amendments and fertilizers heavy in nitrogen get huge, beautiful plants, but few tomatoes.

Use a starter fertilizer at the time of planting even if you have amended with compost. A starter fertilizer contains low amounts of nutrients, ideally with a ratio of nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (often referred to as N-P-K) under 10.

In the beginning, nutrient requirements are low for tomato plants. As they grow the requirements rise, but then drop down again once the fruit has become full size.

Eggshells are touted to provide the needed calcium to prevent blossom end rot. This works, but the eggshells must decompose to make that calcium plant available. Grind eggshells into fine particles to speed up decomposition. Gypsum (calcium sulfate) is also a suitable amendment to add some extra calcium to the soil. However, most Illinois soils have plenty of calcium. So do a soil test to know if a calcium deficiency is truly the problem.

Tomatoes can be harvested when they are firm and fully colored. Tomatoes are at their highest quality when they ripen on healthy vines during daily average temperatures of 75°F. As the summer gets hotter tomatoes will soften and degrade more quickly, so make sure to visit the garden daily to pick. You can pick immature fruit that is just starting to color and allow it to ripen indoors.

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What Is A Brown Flesh Tomato - Brown Flesh Tomato Care And Harvest - garden

‘To-MAY-to’, “to-MAH-to’, they’re all the same, right? Well, according to Taste of Home magazine, there is a such this thing as using the right tomato for different recipes. Who knew? I guess this calls for some investigation into the different types of tomatoes.

Starting small, tomatoes that are handy to snack on are grape and cherry tomatoes. Grape tomatoes as their name implies are the shape of a grape. They often are crisp and crunchy and can range from sweet to tangy in taste. Grape tomatoes come in a range of colors and can be used in a variety of ways. These tomatoes are most commonly used in salads, but can also be roasted or best yet, enjoyed raw as a snack! Similar in size to grape tomatoes is the cherry tomato. Cherry tomatoes are more round in size than a grape tomato and have a sweetness similar to cherries. Cherry tomatoes are said to be one of the most versatilely used tomatoes they can be cooked, grilled, sauced, or dried. An appetizer including cherry tomatoes that is always a hit is tomato, mozzarella, and basil bites. It is recommended to plant these snack tomatoes near the edge of the garden for convenient snacking!

As we approach summer and grilling season, beefsteak tomatoes make a great slicing tomato. Red beefsteak tomatoes are large and meaty with lots of juice which makes them great for sauces and dips. There are also green beefsteak tomatoes not to be mistaken for unripe tomatoes. These tomatoes are said to have a tart and tangy taste. They can also be used on sandwiches, salsas, dips, and sauces, but what I find most interesting is they can also be used for baking and make a great substitute for Granny Smith apples! There are many different varieties of beefsteak tomatoes and are often named to represent their larger size: Beefmaster, Big Boy, Porterhouse, Bushsteak, and so many more.

An heirloom variety of beefsteak tomatoes includes the well known Brandywine this tomato dates back to 1885. An heirloom tomato is an open pollinated, non-hybrid tomato. Heirloom tomatoes have not been bred for disease resistance however, some cultivars have acclimated to diverse growing conditions through selection and seed saving. Heirloom tomatoes can be a wide variety of colors, shapes, flavors, and sizes. Some of the most well-known heirloom tomatoes include Big Rainbow, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple, Hillbilly, Red Current, and Yellow Pear.

For canning, roma tomatoes are a go to. Roma tomatoes are larger than cherry and grapes, but smaller than beefsteak. These tomatoes are the best of both worlds when it comes to sweetness and acidity. They have a lower water content, fewer seeds, and a dense, grainy flesh, making them great for canning or soups. They can also be used in sauces or added to salads. To tell if a roma tomato is ripe, color is the best indicator once the tomato is red from the bottom to the top, the tomato is ready for picking. A bonus about roma tomatoes is many are fusarium and verticillium wilt resistant.

There are different options of varieties for each of these types, and they can vary whether indeterminate or determinate. For information on how to grow tomatoes check out Chris’s article. Ken also provides us with information about disease and pest control.

I don’t know about you, but I think I will grow one of each type of tomato this year just to try them all out! I may be swimming in tomatoes late this summer but thankfully some of them are good for canning.


Watch the video: My Top 5 Best Tasting Tomatoes.


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