Eggplant variety trials, first frost

Nadia eggplant. Photo credit Kathryn Simmons

Nadia eggplant.
Photo credit Kathryn Simmons

Last December I wrote about trying new eggplant varieties

After my experience in the hot summer of 2012 with our Nadia eggplant refusing to set fruit in the heat, I started looking for heat-tolerant varieties. We like large, classic purple-black Italian types. For a while in early summer 2012 the Nadia didn’t grow at all – no new flowers, never mind new fruit. I looked at growing some combination of Nadia (67d, good set in cool conditions) with some of 

Epic eggplant from Osborne Seeds

Epic eggplant from Osborne Seeds

Epic 61-64d (early and huge!), from Osborne, Stokes. Recommended in Florida and Texas.

Night Shadow 68d, (size claims vary from “similar to Epic” to “smaller”), Osborne, Stokes, Siegers.

Traviata (variously recorded as 55-60d, 70d and 80d), small but good flavor. Osborne, Johnnys, High Mowing. Recommended in Florida.

Traviata eggplant from Osborne Seeds

Traviata eggplant from Osborne Seeds

Irene  (mid-early). Large, shiny purple, traditional-shaped fruit 5″ x 6-7″. Great flavor, big plant, productive. Seeds from Italy.

Classic 76d, heavy yields, high quality, does not perform well in cool conditions. Harris. Recommended in Florida and Texas.

Santana 80d, large, continuous setting. Siegers. Recommended in Florida.

These are all hybrids, but I also found a couple of promising -sounding OPs:

Florida High Bush eggplant from Seed Savers Exchange

Florida High Bush eggplant from Seed Savers Exchange

Florida High Bush 76-85d, reliable, large fruit, drought and disease resistant. Seed Savers Exchange, Cherrygal/Sustainable Seed Co.  Recommended in Florida and Texas.

Florida Market 80-85d, large, excellent for the South, not for the Northeast. Baker Creek. Recommended in Florida and Texas.

If anyone has any comparisons of two or more of these, I’d love to hear more. (Also if you have others of purple-black, classic shape to recommend.)  I can see the sense of planting several varieties, including a fast-maturing one, followed by more heat-tolerant (but slower) ones.

This year we tried three new varieties. Generally we like to have some reliable workhorses that we know well, and trial a few new things, especially if we hear our favorite varieties are no longer available. So alongside Nadia, we trialed: Florida Highbush is open-pollinated, from the Seed Savers Exchange. Epic and Traviata are hybrids from Osborne Seeds.

Ironically, this summer was not hot. One of the coolest we’ve had in a long time. We just did a final harvest in preparation for our first frost, which happened Sunday night October 20/21, and I crunched the numbers. Our record-keeping was a bit spotty, some days we didn’t write anything down. But the relative yields should be about right.

We planted 38 Nadia, 10 Florida Highbush, 10 Traviata and 12 Epic. Harvests started on July 25, later than our usual July 10, because of the cool weather. We harvested three times a week until 10/17. I was surprised how few fruit each plant provided – about 6. We only recorded the number of each variety harvested each time. I started out noting size and number of cull fruit, but that didn’t last long! Initially, Nadia was providing by far the largest fruit, with Florida Highbush the smallest. Traviata doesn’t claim to be big. In the first week of harvests, Nadia produced most per plant, but this leveled off pretty soon.

Final figures were 7.3 fruits/bush for Traviata, 6.3 for Florida Highbush, 6.1 for Nadia, and only 4.4 for Epic. In all fairness, Epic was the variety nearest the road, where the soil is drier and pebbly, and the sprinklers don’t reach so well. I wish I’d recorded weight as well as count, as Traviata’s 7.3 might not be such a good deal as it sounds.

In conclusion, I’d like to try all three varieties alongside Nadia next year, and keep records on weight as well as number of fruits from each variety. Maybe it will be hot, and I’ll learn what I originally set out to discover..

One thought on “Eggplant variety trials, first frost

  1. Pingback: 2015 Eggplant Variety Trials | Sustainable Market Farming

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