ITHACA, N.Y. — A new high-flavor, shelf-stable grape tomato is the latest variety released from Cornell University aimed at small farmers, organic growers and home gardeners.
Moonshadow, a deeply pigmented purplish-red, oblong tomato, was bred using traditional crossing methods and derived from a cross between a black grape tomato and a high-flavor orange grape tomato. It is the sixth variety in the Galaxy Suite, a colorful, multishaped group of medley grape tomatoes bred by Phillip Griffiths, associate professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science at Cornell AgriTech.
“There’s increasing consumer interest in foods that are unique, aesthetically pleasing and colorful,” Griffiths said. “Farmers markets have been expanding considerably, and consumers who shop at these markets want both local produce and products not typically available in supermarkets. The market for small-fruited, single-bite medley types is increasing, and it has huge potential going forward.”
Even in the small-fruited market classes, growers generally favor bigger tomatoes that are easier and faster to harvest and package, Griffiths said. Meanwhile, consumers seem to prefer one-bite cherry tomatoes; however, many cherries have issues with fruit skin splitting on the vine or after harvest. Griffiths wanted to find a happy medium: small-fruited, high-flavor tomatoes, as consumers prefer, with better shelf-stability and after-harvest quality.
“I hope that these tomatoes contribute to making healthy food more fun and more interesting, while providing local and organic growers with increased options for high-value products,” Griffiths said. “If you have limited land, expensive land, you can get more value out of these kinds of crops, especially using high-tunnel greenhouses.
Moonshadow is now available for pre-order, for spring 2022 planting, from High Mowing Organic Seeds.