Hybrid Tomato Varieties are Becoming more Important for Small to Medium Growers in Bulgaria
Geosemselect Ltd is a Bulgarian breeding and seed production company founded in 1990 by prof. Christo Georgiev and has been the biggest hybrid tomato seed producer since then in Bulgaria. There are two specific cases, showing how the company’s varieties become an essential part of the seed market in countries like Bulgaria and Romania. The most important one is the case with the early tomato production in Romania. More than 10 years ago, a Geosemselect variety was introduced in Romania with the aim to provide the farmers with the earliest possible red tomato on the market for the given conditions there. Prekos F1, a semi-determinate variety, developed for the early open-field production in Bulgaria, can now be considered as the market leader for early unheated tunnel production in Romania. It is considerably the earliest tomato that goes to the market in the southern part of Romania. It is typically grown on a single stem, with 3-4 clusters in a very dense planting scheme of more than 4000-5000 plants per 1000m2 .
The very short period from planting to first harvest (about 55 days) and one month of harvesting save the grower money on plant protection as the plant’s life is not long enough for some diseases to inflict enough damage and reduce the yields. All of this in combination of Romania’s governmental policy of subsidizing early production has led to the tremendous success of Geosemselect’s Prekos F1 tomato, as well as some other very early varieties like Parris F1.
The other success story is that of Rugby F1 – an elongated pink, indeterminate tomato that managed to accommodate the needs of both growers and end-consumers. This specialty tomato has quickly become a sough-after tomato in big supermarket chains in Bulgaria, as well as local vegetable markets. Sometimes mistaken for a sauce tomato because of its shape, Rugby F1, when grown outside, in a plastic tunnel or a modern glass greenhouse, gives high yields of very tasty tomatoes, which just look great with their pointy end facing upwards on the market table. Without a lot of promotion, Rugby’s success started in Bulgaria, where many small to medium growers appreciated its qualities. Seeds reached other parts of the Balkans and even the UK. The variety enjoys a big interest in Kosovo, Albania, and Macedonia, and in the UK, it “took part” in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Garden Show in Chelsea. Successful trials of Rugby F1 and other Geosemselect tomato varieties were done in Burpee Europe’s trial station in the Netherlands.
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