Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick; The Biggest Tomato Ever

Twig Walkingstick lives in and around the Wooster campus of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. His alter ego is Kurt Knebusch, one of our super-talented writers and editors on campus. Each month, look for Twig to answer a reader questions and some additional interesting facts below. After Twig's post, we will be providing some ideas and suggestions on how to incorporate the info in Twig's column into fun science learning for your students and children.

Q. Dear Twig: What's the biggest tomato ever?

A. The biggest tomato ever in weight – the heaviest, that is – weighed an amazing 7 pounds, 12 ounces. That's actually just a little bit more than the average weight of a newborn baby born in the United States! 

Whoa. Big tomato ...

Scientists at Cornell University say tomatoes come in a huge range of sizes. One wild type grows tiny fruit that weigh less than a tenth of an ounce: way less than even a blueberry or cranberry.
Other types – ones bred especially to crank out whoppers – grow tomatoes that weigh nearly a thousand times more than that!

The variety called Brandywine, for instance, grows fruit that weigh about 2 pounds each. Dutchman and Gian Beligan tomatoes can tip the scales at up to 5 pounds. The record tomato, the baby-sized one, came from a type called Delicious.

Giant tomatoes tend to look like soccer balls with the air half let out. Big, but caved in on tom. Also juicier.



P.S. Plant scientists call the tomato a fruit. But in general we call it and use it as a vegetable.

Notes: The record tomato was grown by Gordon Graham in Oklahoma in 1986. Read about him and it in Southern Living. Learn more about growing giant tomatoes in Organic Gardening. Sources included Guinness World Records 2006 and "Dissecting the Genetic Pathway to Extreme Fruit Size in Tomato ..." by Lippmann and Tanksley, Cornell University. Note, too, the "World's Largest Tomato" (artificial category),  Leamington, Ontario, Canada, which Twig in fact has had the pleasure of staring in open-mouth wonder at.

Using this information in the classroom:

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