If you’ve experienced difficulties in growing tomatoes in Florida, you’re not alone.  If you plant to grow tomatoes this year, you may want to attend the How to Grow Tomatoes in Florida seminar offered by the University of Florida Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

This seminar will be held on March 31 from 9am to 12 noon at the Okaloosa County Extension Office, 5479 Old Bethel Road in Crestview.

Correct variety selection is a key factor in successfully growing tomatoes in Florida.

One reason home gardeners have a difficult time growing tomatoes in Florida is because of incorrect variety selection.  most popular tomato varieties lack resistance to Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV) and bacterial wilt.  These two diseases wreak havoc in home as well as commercial plantings.

Plant breeders develop varieties that have some resistance to these diseases.  We encourage home gardeners to look for and request varieties that commercial farmers have had success with in recent years.  We can recommend varieties to look for but there are not many of them in the home market, yet.  Homeowners may have to buy the seed and start the transplants themselves.

At this year’s tomato seminar, we’ll share the basics of how to grow tomatoes in Florida’s challenging environment.  We’ll also cover tomato pest control options, including non-chemical choices of combating the scores of tomato insect and disease problems. Dr. Steve Olson, UF/IFAS Extension Vegetable Crops Specialist, will be a guest speaker at this year’s tomato seminar.  Olson will discuss some of the challenges in growing tomatoes in Florida as well as how disease resistant tomato varieties are developed.

We hope to have some tomato plants which are resistant to TSWV for participants to take home and try.

To preregister for the tomato seminar, please call the Okaloosa County Extension Office at 689-5850 or 729-1400, ext. 5850 by March 28.  There is a $5 cost to attend.  Space is limited so register early!

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