2015 Eggplant Variety Trials

In the hot summer of 2012 we had trouble with our lovely tried and tested favorite eggplant (aubergine) variety, Nadia, setting fruit. That was disappointing, because we had tried lots of different eggplant varieties before settling on Nadia. The large purple-black teardrop or oval eggplant are what is popular here. Not the long thin ones, or the pale lavender ones, or the stripey ones. Nor the smaller open-pollinated ones. We found Nadia and loved it. Then we discovered its Achilles heel – it’s not good in hot summers.

Nadia eggplant. Photo by Nina Gentle

Nadia eggplant.
Photo by Nina Gentle

For three years we have trialed some eggplant varieties that we hope will give better yields in hot weather. We chose ones that claimed heat tolerance and were in our “large purple-black teardrop or oval” category. But ironically, we haven’t had hot summers since! I’ve got pretty good data on how the various varieties performed in OK summers.

Epic Eggplant Photo by Nina Gentle

Epic Eggplant
Photo by Nina Gentle

In 2013 we compared Nadia, Epic, Traviata and the open-pollinated Florida Highbush. We counted the harvested fruit but didn’t weigh them. Traviata gave 7.3 fruits/plant, Florida Highbush 6.3, Nadia 6.1 and Epic only 4.4. We noted that we’d planted the Epic at the dry stony end of the bed, in case that affected yields. As we found out the next year, it certainly did! We also had an impression that Florida Highbush had smaller fruit, but we weren’t sure.

Traviata eggplant Photo by Nina Gentle

Traviata eggplant
Photo by Nina Gentle

In 2014 we grew the same four varieties and this time we recorded the weight of each harvest as well as the number of fruit of each kind. This time we got better results overall: Nadia gave 13.4 fruits/plant, Epic 12.5, Traviata 11.7 and the Florida Highbush limped home at 6.8 fruits/plant. We failed to note which variety was at the dry stony end that year! We did find out that the size and weight of each fruit was very similar across the varieties, varying only from Epic’s 0.61 lbs to Traviata’s 0.64 lbs per fruit average.

Florida Market OP eggplant Photo by Nina Gentle

Florida Market OP eggplant
Photo by Nina Gentle

This year we tried the same four varieties and added another reputedly heat-tolerant open-pollinated kind, Florida Market. It’s fruits were smaller and rounder. The variety had a lower yield. It was at the dry stony end (so unfair!) Epic did best, both in number of fruit/plant (10.7) and weight per fruit (0.77 lbs). Good thing we didn’t give up on it after 2013! Traviata provided 8.9 fruits/plant, Florida Highbush 8.2, Nadia only 8.0 (we did get a lot of culls too), and the Florida Market just 7.5.

Florida Highbush OP eggplant Photo by Nina Gentle

Florida Highbush OP eggplant
Photo by Nina Gentle

Overall, it was a less bountiful year compared to 2014, at 812 fruits, 564 lbs – an average of 0.7 lbs each. A lot of eggplant! In 2014 we got more: 927 fruit, 582 lbs – an average of 0.63 lbs each.

What to do next year? Maybe just trial the three hybrids and not the Florida OPs. It would make life easier. Here’s our spreadsheet. I haven’t yet found a tidy way to copy Excel spreadsheets into a blogpost, so if someone knows how, please leave me a message.

2015 Eggplant Harvest Record number and weight of each of the five varieties. If none, write 0
  Nadia   Traviata   Epic   Florida Highbush Florida Market NOTES
# of plants 49 plants 17 plants 18 plants 9 plants 10 plants Record weight in pounds
Date Number Pounds Number Pounds Number Pounds Number Pounds Number Pounds  
18-Jul 1 1.2 0 0 3 1.5 4 1.5 0 0
29-Jul 18 22 13 13.5 16 18.5 2 3.5 0 0
1-Aug 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5-Aug 6 5 3 3 10 10 1 1.5 0 0
8-Aug 31 17.5 14 9 14 10 4 1.5 2 1 Picked too small. Ave 0.4-0.7 lbs each. Goal 0.7-1.0 lbs
12-Aug 4 4 2 1 1 0.5 3 3 1 0.5
19-Aug 54 35 20 14.5 30 21.5 12 8 11 7 Picked a bit small.
26-Aug 20 12.5 10 8.5 23 21.5 5 4.5 13 9.5 Nadia many damaged
29-Aug 17 10 8 6 9 7 3 2 3 2
2-Sep 21 13 7 5 19 14.5 8 5 1 0.5 Nadia many damaged
5-Sep 22 15 10 8 10 7 4 2 5 3.5
9-Sep 18 11 1 2 8 5 2 1 6 3.5 Pl;us approx 1 lb over-ripe FL Mkt
12-Sep
16-Sep 30 20 28 16 0 0 18 11 7 4 Picked small. Epic maybe mixed with FL HB
19-Sep 21 15 0 0 18 13 0 0 5 3
23-Sep 41 28 13.5 8 13.5 8 1 0.2 10 5 Epic and Traviata confused, averaged
27-Sep
30-Sep 44 27.5 7 3 4 2 4 2.5 4 2
4-Oct
7-Oct 33 18 13 7 9 5 2 1 7 3
11-Oct 10 5 2 1 5 3 3 1
Totals 392 261.7 151.5 105.5 192.5 148 76 49.2 75 44.5 812
Per plant 8.0 5.3 8.9 6.2 10.7 8.2 8.4 5.5 7.5 4.5 564.4
Wt/fruit 0.67 0.70 0.77 0.65 0.59
Conclusions Epic did best this year, both in number of fruit/plant and weight per fruit. Last year it was second to Nadia in yield/plant, tops in weight/fruit. Florida Market had smaller fruit and a lower yield. In 2014 we didn’t grow FL Mkt; FL HB came fourth. Total yield 2015 was 812 fruits, 564 lbs. In 2014, we got 927, 582 lbs. Once again it was not a hot summer, so we didn’t find which does best in hot weather. Suggest we drop the FL OPs and just grow 3 vars next year.