COLUMBIA, Mo. – It’s tomato time again. Soon juicy tomatoes from the size of a pea to softball size, and peppers from modestly mild to fire-alarm hot will be ripe for tasting at the University of Missouri Bradford Research Center.

The center—part a of a network of MU research centers across Missouri that extends the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources’ (CAFNR) research to more than 14,000 acres to meet the regional research and demonstration needs of agricultural producers and natural resource managers—will host a free tomato festival from 4 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6.

The drought and persistent heat have hurt many crops this season, including tomatoes, but Bradford’s superintendent, Tim Reinbott, said the festival will have more than 150 varieties of tomatoes and peppers to sample.

Last year tomatillos took top honors in the taste test. Reinbott said they planted more varieties in response and included more tomatillo-based dishes. “I think people will be surprised by the incredible variety in tastes,” Reinbott said. The garden peach, a variety with a fuzzy skin like a peach, was quite popular at the Missouri State Fair, he said.

Chefs from several area restaurants will prepare fresh salsa and Italian tomato dishes from Bradford’s tomato and pepper stocks.

In addition to tasting tomatoes and dishes, attendees can learn how to grow tomatoes in their home gardens. Jim Quinn, regional horticultural specialist, will answer questions about variety selection, pests and disease and troubleshoot issues from the tomato patch. David Trinklein, MU horticulture professor, will discuss heat tolerance, and Sanjun Gu, horticulture specialist from Lincoln University, will cover ways to improve production.

For more information call Thresa Chism at 573-884-7945 or visit the website at Tim Reinbott provides an overview of growing tomatoes in a video at

CAFNR is changing the core components of society that impact what we eat, where we live and how we’ll face tomorrow. As the University of Missouri’s College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources, we are at the forefront of research and education, working toward global sustainability.

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