early red chief BHS

Early Red Chief

$2.00

  • Grown, sold, and described by Bunny Hop Seeds
  • Plant growth: compact indeterminate
  • Leaf type: regular leaf
  • Time to maturity: early
  • Packed For Sales Season: 2016-17
  • Year seed harvested: May 2016
  • Approx. number of seeds per pack: 15+
  • Germination 97% after Hot Water Seed Treatment for Fungal and Bacterial Diseases

“Early Red Chief” is another variety surrounded by mystery…or confusion. Four vendors list this as “compact indeterminate” and four more list it as “vigorous determinate.” The fruit size is listed variably as anywhere from 1.5-2.5 oz all the way up to 10 ounces. Some say it is firm, others say it is soft. I checked the one photo I took of my plant, and it does not show the entire plant, but this variety appears to be a compact indeterminate. Height of the plant at harvest was no more than 3 feet tall, but may be taller in better growing conditions. I think that we often assume that any short plant is determinate, but this is not always the case.

The fruits were mid-sized slicers, roughly 3 to 6 ounces. There is a thin skin, which is noted by several vendors, and many of mine that had been stung by stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs did rot quickly. A thin skin is a bonus for those who do not peel their tomatoes, but it is also a hazard for cracking with sporadic heavy rains, as well as for succumbing to insect stings. The texture was soft but not mealy when fully ripe and the taste was a bit more acidic than sweet.

One source stated that the variety was first offered by Comstock Ferre & Co in the late 1880s. So I would conclude that this is a very nice commercial heirloom that may have dropped by the wayside when methods of growing, harvesting, and shipping began to require tougher skins and firmer flesh in commercial tomatoes. It is indeed early, and well worth growing in any short-season area. I would not recommend it for the southeast US due to our heavy populations of damaging insects and propensity for sporadic, frequent, heavy summer rains.
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16 in stock