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Cherry tomatoes in all hues and shapes from PAU

Last year, PAU had released a red cherry tomato variety by the name of ‘Punjab Red Cherry’.

Written by Divya Goyal | Chandigarh/ludhiana, Ludhiana |
July 30, 2015 4:03:49 am
(Express Photo by: Gurmeet Singh) (Express Photo by: Gurmeet Singh)

Scientists at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here are set to release cherry tomatoes in a variety of colours, from pink, yellow and orange to grape green and rusty brown, and shapes, including oval, cylindrical, pear and bell.

Traditionally available in red colour, the small-fruited and sweeter cherry tomatoes suitable for salad preparations haven’t really found favour with Indian farmers. PAU scientists hope to change that with the new cherry tomatoes of various hues and shapes being grown in the research fields of its vegetable science department, which The Indian Express visited.

Private companies are already selling seeds of red cherry tomatoes, best grown under protected cultivation conditions in polyhouses. Last year, PAU had released a red cherry tomato variety by the name of ‘Punjab Red Cherry’.

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But now, it is seeking to go one step ahead by offering varieties in a wider range of colours and shapes. Each fruit weighs between 8 to 14 grams, with each plant having the capacity to yield 4-4.5 kg of fruit. The cherry tomatoes have total soluble sugars (TSS) of 8-9 per cent. That makes them sweeter than the regular tomatoes that are relatively sour and tangy, with TSS content of 4-5 per cent.

“This will probably be the first time an agriculture varsity would be launching cherry tomatoes in various hues”, says Balwinder Singh, Director of Research at PAU. “We have been conducting trials in various locations such as Bathinda, Nurmahal, Nawanshahr and Samrala. It would be exciting to see farmers’ response when the yellow, orange, grape green and other varieties get released”, notes Major Singh Dhaliwal, who heads PAU’s vegetable science department that started work on colourful cherry tomatoes in 2007-08.

Cherry tomatoes are a five-month crop whose nursery seedlings can be raised in September for transplanting in the fields in October and harvesting by March. Farmers need to protect cherry tomatoes from white flies, which is best done by growing in polyhouse, adds Dhaliwal.

While the area under cherry tomatoes is currently negligible, PAU scientists, however, believe farmers can realise Rs 100-150 per kg from the “healthier and juicer” fruits. The yellow and orange coloured varieties, now in the last stage before approval by PAU’s research evaluation committee, would be the first to be officially launched.

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