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Posted 4 May 2017. PMN Crop News.

“Poor Farmer’s Hybrid” Makes Guatemalan Tomato Farmers Smile Again

Source: East-West Seed Press Release.

Nonthaburi, Thailand (April 1, 2017)--Virus pressure in tomato is very high in Guatemala and one of the most pressing challenges for farmers. East-West Seed’s recently introduced varieties offer increasing resistance against viruses. They and turn out to be better solutions than the netting that farmers resorted to before. Happy farmers call the new varieties “The poor farmer’s hybrid”, because it helps them to save money on plant covering, without compromising their yield.


To minimize their losses, many farmers need netting to protect their crops or move to areas where disease pressure is less severe. Most of the tomato varieties currently in the market offer high yield and good fruit quality, but lack resistance against whitefly-transmitted viruses and other diseases.

Contributing virus resistant tomato varieties

East-West Seed specializes in local breeding of tropical vegetable varieties that serve farmers better. Inspired by the challenges farmers were facing in Guatemala, the company set out to introduce varieties with better resistance to the most important viruses.

A result of focused breeding in the harsh Guatemalan conditions, East-West Seed recently introduced P52 F1 and Tyral F1. Both varieties of tomato that offer solutions to some of the most pressing farmers’ concerns. P52 offers strong resistance against whitefly-transmitted viruses, foliar leaf disease resistance and resistance against soil-borne diseases caused by Fusarium and root knot nematodes. Tyral offers these resistances and an additional medium resistance to bacterial wilt.

Twenty years of breeding improved tomatoes for Guatemala

Breeding for P52 F1 and Tyral F1 started almost twenty years ago by Dr. Douglas Maxwell (University of Wisconsin) and Dr. Luis Mejia (Universidad de San Carlos, Guatemala). In 2004, they joined Mr. Richard Rotter and founded the seed company “Semillas Tropicales”. With this company, they wanted to make their products available to local growers. Their company was acquired by East West Seed in 2014. Nowadays, David Garcia has taken over as our main tomato breeder in East-West Seed Guatemala.

Question & Answer

A Q&A with our tomato breeders explains how East-West Seed Guatemala focuses on professional breeding to serve Latin American farmers.

How were these increased resistance varieties developed?

“The two varieties were developed with a strong focus on fruit quality and resistance,” explains Doug Maxwell. “The objective was to develop a tomato hybrid with high whitefly-transmitted virus resistance combined with good adaptation to other local conditions and adequate shape, firmness and color. With P52, we aimed for a variety with better fruit size and resistance to nematodes without losing virus resistance. We selected the parental lines using molecular markers and phenotyping in the greenhouse. After thorough selection and testing, P52 was selected. It offered the best combination of fruit size and disease resistances.”

Dr. Luis Mejia: “The development of Tyral was based on many years of selection in one of the areas most infested with bacterial wilt in Guatemala. Now, Tyral is not only well adapted to local conditions, it also offers excellent resistance.” He emphasizes: “P52 and Tyral are the result of these many years of selection under hard conditions and the ability of the researchers to collaborate, persist and never to lose focus on the long term goals.”

What makes these tomato varieties special?

Dr. Luis Mejia: “Farmers call it the "poor farmers' hybrid". They can save on plant covering without compromising their yield! They like P52 and Tyral for their virus resistance. Both hybrids have excellent firmness and shelf life. Tyral can be planted in areas where bacterial wilt is present and adapts well in the highlands. P52 is an agile hybrid: it performs well under varying climate conditions and with different crop management approaches.”

How do the new varieties serve farmers in Guatemala?

Dr. Douglas Maxwell: “The farmers need solutions for their problems urgently. They encounter many problems in the field. In areas with large populations of whitefly and viruses, the covering that they use is not sufficient to protect their crop. Tyral can now be grown in areas that were abandoned due to bacterial wilt. Farmers in those areas can become profitable again with the new varieties.”

What do you hope to achieve in the coming years?

David Garcia: “We want to obtain a larger market share with our tomato hybrids and will further improve and expand their resistance to diseases so that we can serve farmers in other markets in Latin America. We also breed many other crops, besides tomatoes. We offer great varieties of sweet corn and coriander and we are increasing our presence in these growing markets. Additionally, we are developing the market for papaya, melon, watermelon, French beans, onions and other crops. We will continue to identify farmers’ challenges to support and serve Latin American farmers and fulfill their needs.”