30
April
2018

Tomato ‘Mountain Merit’

FN 1.01 TOM Mountain Merit
‘Mountain Merit’ is bred to supply classic vine-ripened tomatoes

‘Mountain Merit’ has a backstory that’s relevant to us. This cultivar is something of an achievement in Tomato circles because it can produce vine-ripened flavor in a climate hostile to Tomato plants. You see, the folks in North Carolina like market-fresh, vine-ripened Tomatoes, and those Tomatoes have to be grown locally; however, the South has a bad problem with a large variety of Tomato diseases. Does this sound familar?

FN 1.02 TOM Mountain Merit
A typical fruit weighs about 8 ounces—a large salad or small beefsteak

Humidity sweeping in from the Atlantic does not make North Carolina ideal for Tomato production. In fact, the climate is similar to the summers Cincinatti sometimes faces, with the moist air coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. The problem is the wind, blowing through the South before it gets to us. That wind transports those southern Tomato problems into our backyards.

FN 1.03 TOM Mountain Merit
‘Mountain Merit’ has a slightly thicker skin for a clean appearance

So over the last decade breeders at North Carolina State University did something about it. Their work resulted in a large-fruited, fresh market Tomato about the size of a large salad or small beefsteak, 8–10 ounces. The fruit is globe-shaped and generally smooth, hanging from a plant packed with a truly impressive set of powerful genes. ‘Mountain Merit’ runs the gauntlet of HR: F1-3, LB, TSWV, V. IR: AB and N, just to name a few.

FN 1.04 TOM Mountain Merit
A typical plant produces about 40–50 Tomatoes

You can see where we are going with this. ‘Mountain Merit’ is the variety we recommend to gardeners who want fresh garden Tomatoes but struggle to get a plant to survive, especially in the back half of the season. ‘Mountain Merit’ is a professional grade Tomato, bred to be as armor-plated as it can get, with tasty Tomatoes and a good, regular harvest—because if it didn’t hit all these marks the commercial growers would not accept the cultivar.

FN 1.05 TOM Mountain Merit
Slices are firm for sandwiches—without that mealy mouthfeel

It’s also important to remember that following some general good practices can help all Tomatoes, regardless of their genes:

  • Water with drip irrigation or a buried soaker hose. Constantly wet leaves get blotchy very fast.
  • Stake tomato plants. Vines growing on the ground get clammy and become a breeding ground for trouble.
  • Pick off the lower leaves. Tomatoes like crisp breezes around their lower stems to stay clean.

You see the common thread here: dry tops do better.

FN 1.06 TOM Mountain Merit
Heavy amounts of Tomato meat and light on the seeds

We have to say that the AAS likes this cultivar as a general purpose garden Tomato as well. They added it to their Heartland collection for both taste and performance, ripening in about 4 to 5 weeks. A determinate Tomato, the plant’s height is about 4–5 feet, and it is described as bushy. Some people think it does not need staking but we always stake our tomatoes.

FN 1.01 TOM Mountain Merit
A typical garden haul

So how is the taste? Surprisingly good, because of its role in life. Remember: it is bred as a market fresh, vine-ripened product, so people pay more to get that Tomato taste. It is not aggressive, so it won’t win a bar fight at the Tomato Heritage Festival—though if facing a variety named ‘Mortgage Lifter’ you’d have to question any Tomato’s chances. However, if you like your Tomatoes straight up, smooth, and silky you will be happy with ‘Mountain Merit’. And you’ll get tomatoes this year—for some gardeners that’s a win right there.

This AAS award-winning Tomato comes in the 4.5-inch pot.

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