Big boy tomatoes are popular because of their robust sweet/tart flavor and ability to grow very large, heavy tomatoes (they can weigh a pound or more per tomato!). They are still today in the top 5 most popular tomatoes to grow. But are they disease resistant?
Big Boy tomatoes were disease-resistant; however, the Better Boy tomato was invented to be a “better” version. If you are looking for a more guaranteed disease-resistant tomato, the Better Boy tomato is the way to go.
In today’s article, we will chew through this delicious tomato and talk about the difference between the Big Boy and the Better Boy and which tomatoes are the best tomatoes for warding off disease.
What Are Disease Resistant Tomatoes?
Through gene modification, scientists have created tomatoes that are disease resistant. This means these tomatoes have less chance of getting diseases like blight, fusarium rot, powdery mildew, mold issues, etc.
Keep in mind we call these tomatoes disease-resistant, not disease-free. So while these tomatoes have better protection against disease, no scientist has created a tomato that is 100% sure to be disease-free.
What are Hybrid Tomatoes?
A hybrid tomato is a tomato created from two different tomatoes, and that has the best quality of the two start tomatoes. The two start tomatoes are heirloom tomatoes. Think of it as the hybrid tomato is the offspring or baby of the heirloom or parent tomatoes.
Hybrid tomatoes are created to be disease resistant, produce more and better tasting fruit, have a shorter grow time, be a certain color or size, and things of that nature. Hybrid tomatoes are very predictable, as in we almost always know what we are getting when we grow hybrid seeds.
Heirloom tomatoes are a little less predictable. While heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated (pollinated by birds and bees), they are not as disease resistant and can grow in all shapes and sizes, and the yield can vary.
Which is better, the Better Boy tomato or the Big Boy Tomato?
Both hybrid tomatoes, the Better Boy, are the Big Boy’s offspring. Many farmers and scientists say that the two tomatoes are virtually the same. They produce large, heavy, deep red, sweet/tangy tasting fruit. It can be hard to tell the difference with the same amount of growing days, and they are both said to be disease resistant.
However, the Better Boy tomato was supposed to be made to be better than the Big Boy. And it is claimed that the Better Boy tomato is slightly more disease resistant.
What Type Of Diseases is the Big Boy Resistant To?
You may be wondering since these tomatoes are disease resistant, what kinds of diseases are they resistant to? Well, here are some diseases you may want to look out for.
- A fungal disease that affects warm, humid climates. It is a common fruit rot for tomatoes. It shows itself in wilted, browning leaves, and if you have tomatoes, the tomatoes will begin to get rotting looking spots on them. The spots will grow over time until the whole fruit is eventually rotted out and dead. If you see a spot starting on your tomato, pick the fruit as soon as possible to halt any further damage.
- This disease lives in the soil for a while, and crop rotation can help; however, the safer bet is to heat treat your soil or not use that soil for up to 4 years.
- Fusarium Wilt
- Fusarium wilt comes from a fungus and is a soil born disease. Starting at the roots, it enters the plant’s vascular system and essentially blocks off the entire system, leaving no room for nutrients to get to the plant. The disease takes over quickly. The plant will begin to yellow and look like it’s dying until it eventually does.
- The tricky thing about fusarium wilt is that it can live in your garden’s soil for years. Even if you rotate plants, it won’t matter since the disease remains in your soil. Your best bet is to sterilize your soil with a bleach solution after the season is over. Burn your plant roots and stems, then sterilize your soil. Make sure to sterilize any garden tools that come in contact with the soil.
- Verticillium Wilt
- Verticillium wilt is very similar to fusarium wilt. The outcome and the treatment are the same. The key differences are that verticillium is just a different fungus than fusarium, and verticillium affects over 200 more varieties of plants and vegetables than fusarium does.
- Root Knot Nematodes
- Root knot nematodes are a parasite that lives inside tomato roots. More commonly happening in warmer climates, root knot nematodes affect plants like tomatoes, peppers, okra, and carrots. Since these nematodes live inside the roots, the plant loses a lot of nutrients since its transportation system is through the roots. The plants will end up being very stunted, the roots will swell, you will get a smaller yield, and the plant itself will look very sickly.
- There is no cure for root knot nematodes until after the season is over. If you feel your garden has nematodes, you can pull up one of the worst plants, and you will see the very swollen roots. Or, you can leave all the plants and pull them through the rest of the season; since you will still get tomatoes, they may not get as big or as full as you were hoping. Once the season is over, you should plant something in your bed that doesn’t get affected by root knot nematodes, such as broccoli, peas, potatoes, or corn. You can also heat treat your soil, and within two weeks, the nematodes will have all died off.
- Tobacco Mosaic Virus
- Mosaic Virus’s affect many different plants in your garden, including squash, cauliflower, cucumbers, and our topic of conversation, tomatoes. The virus looks like spotting, splotching, or streaking colors over the leaves of the plant sort, making the leaves look like a painting or a mosaic. The tobacco mosaic virus starts in the seeds and is spread through direct contact. This disease will cause your plant to grow poorly, looking stunted and short, and your yield will be very poor.
- Unfortunately, there is no cure for the Mosaic virus. If you know your garden has been infected with it, burn all infected plants right away to keep the virus from spreading. Wash all your garden tools and wait a season before planting anything else in the same soil. The best way to prevent this virus is to get disease-resistant plants, like our friend, the Big Boy tomato. If you can, try to grow everything from seed; you know where it is coming from. People often buy starts from a hardware store or garden store, and without knowing it, the soil that the start is in has a disease with it!
There are many different diseases than the ones listed above, but these have the most disease-resistant tomatoes combating them. Although the diseases seem scary, the best thing you can do to prevent them is getting a disease-resistant variety of tomatoes or anything else you are growing.
Examples of the Best Disease Resistant Tomatoes
While there are so many disease-resistant varieties of tomato, not all varieties are disease resistant. Heirloom varieties are much more likely to get lots more diseases than varieties created to combat them. Here are the top best tomatoes for preventing diseases in your garden.
- Big Boy/Better Boy- resistant to fusarium wilt, mosaic viruses, anthracnose, and root knot nematodes
- Early Girl- resistant to fusarium wilt and root knot nematodes
- Big Beef- resistant to mosaic viruses, root rot, root knot nematodes, and fusarium
- Jasper- resistant to mosaic virus, fusarium, and blight
- Green Zebra- resistant to fusarium wilt and other fungal diseases
- Mountain Magic- resistant to blight
- Iron Lady- resistant to blight and fusarium
- Cyprus- resistant to root knot nematodes and leaf curling
- Sun Gold- resistant to blight, fusarium wilt, and mosaic virus
- Lemon Boy- resistant to fusarium, root rot, leaf mold, root knot nematodes, mosaic virus
It is important to remember that while these tomatoes are resistant, that doesn’t mean the diseases won’t show up; there is just a smaller chance that they will.
There are so many different varieties of hybrid tomatoes that have been created and are still being created today. The Big Boy tomato is one of the best tomatoes to grow, and it has a high resistance to many diseases and grows amazing tomatoes.
Although its offspring, the Better Boy, is known to be more disease resistant, you can’t beat the originality and beauty of the Big Boy. Diseases will happen in your garden no matter what, and though we take preventive measures, sometimes there isn’t anything we can do. Rotating your crops and taking care of your soil may end up saving your garden. Happy gardening!
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
Much of what you see written here is just our personal experiences with gardening. Along with the content I write here, there is also a unique collection of gardening topics covered by some of our close friends. I hope you find everything you read here to be helpful, informative, and something that can make your gardening journey the most lovely experience ever! With that said, Happy Gardening!