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95 days, indeterminate — The 'Diener' tomato has large, dense vines that produce good amounts of large (up to three pound) beefsteak-type fruit with an indented crown and often exhibiting a blossom-end scar. The bright, deep red color, along with having few seeds, being meaty, juicy, and flavorful, make them a good choice for fresh slicing, as well as for processing. Commercially, it was promoted for, ". . . dehydrating, catsup and canning."[1,2] Depending on the climate, some ribbing occurs. It was also reported by the breeder as being blight, drought and crack resistant.[1,2]
In regards to the pedigree and history of the 'Diener' tomato, there is quite a bit of conflicting reporting going on in contemporary books, and subsequently, on other seed company web sites. Some authors have listed 'Diener' as a cross between 'Trophy' and 'Santa Clara Canner', others as a cross between 'Trophy' and 'San Jose Canner' and some simply that it is a selection from one of the aforementioned varieties. I will put forth that none of that is accurate or true.
Firstly, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the California tomato industry was in its infancy. Much of the tomatoes were being grown by immigrant Italian farmers who often brought seeds with them. Of these unnamed Italian varieties grown at this time, a rough, canning-type was very popular and referred to locally as "Trophy." This variety was not the same as the 'Trophy' tomato listed in seed catalogs in the nineteenth century.
Author and plant breeder, Richard Diener of Kentfield, Marin County, California, worked on improving this old canning variety and introduced his 'Diener' tomato in 1917. He advertised it in various trade publications, sold it through his company's own seed catalog, and sold stock to other seed catalogers around the country.[1,2]
John Lewis Childs, Inc. of Floral Park, New York described it in their 1922 seed catalog as having been, ". . . proven in every respect far superior to anything existing now. The first fruits reach the enormous weight of three pounds, but the average fruit weighs about one pound." Our grow out here on the farm in Northwestern Oregon confirmed these claims.
As mentioned prior, 'Diener' does not likely include 'San Jose Canner' or 'Santa Clara Canner' in its pedigree. They are all, however, likely related by a common ancestry. It was not until 1923 that C. C. Morse & Co. began a breeding program for the Canners League of California to further develop their 1914 introduction called 'San Jose Canner'. That work was completed and the 'Santa Clara Canner' was introduced in 1926. Our stock was grown out from USDA accession number PI 645126. Each packet contains approximately 20 seeds.
- Advertisement, American Seedsman Magazine, February 15, 1920, page 55.
- Advertisement, Market Grower's Journal, February 13, 1921, page 126.
- "Tomato Varieties," by Gordon Morrison, Michigan State College A.E.S., Special Bulletin 290, April 1938.
- "Childs' 1922," John Lewis Childs, Inc., Floral Park, New York.
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