Thursday, May 1, 2014

Yes, West Virginia Does Have Its Own Tomato - And It Is 50 Years Old

Today at our May Day Hort meeting Vintage Sprout who will be registered soon brought a flat of WV 63 Tomato.  From a 2013 internet article WV Seeds of History: "A limited supply of seeds for the West Virginia 63, a blight-resistant tomato developed at West Virginia University, will be available for home gardeners beginning March 4. The tomato, bred by WVU Professor Emeritus Mannon Gallegly, was created to resist blight and was unveiled in 1963 as part of West Virginia’s centennial celebration. Signs of blight, which is of concern to many gardeners, include brown spots or lesions on the stems, olive green or brown patches on the leaves, and white fungal growth underneath. “Overall, it’s a good canning tomato and a good slicing tomato for the table,” said Gallegly, who retired from WVU’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design in 1986. “A lot of people just eat slices of the tomato between two pieces of bread. That’s the way I eat ‘em.” As WVU celebrates the tomato’s 50th birthday, and as West Virginia celebrates its 150th birthday, Gallegly and WVU colleagues have harvested a supply of seeds to let Mountaineer fans grow a piece of history in their own yards and patios. - See more at:

Vintage Sprout germinated seeds and brought close to a dozen plants to our meeting to share with the group.  Hopefully we will be successful, save our seeds and share.  Last year this was a highly sought out seed and there were over 19,000 requests for packets.  We are happy that this tomato was brought back last year for our Sesquicentennial and proud to have a tomato named after our state.   Hope to send some back to Seed Share this fall so that you can all enjoy this wonderful tomato.

Follow our journals below.

May 24, 2014 (WV Sprout)
Looks like this is the first entry here - who else from Hort took the WV '63.  I know Fonda had a lot.  Please let us know how yours are doing. 

I left on vacation on May 2.  A little hesitant, I put my little plant outside.  Since there was a late frost warning (May 17) the plant was given some evening protection.  I don't think it went down to 32 but know it was 37 or so from checking my weather app while out in Colorado.  But all was OK.  Below is a photo of the plant today.

Not as big as my Brandywine Pink
but showing some good growth!
June 21, 2014
Checking on my tomatoes today.  Here is my WV 63 which is an indeterminate variety.  Not nearly as big as my Brandywine Pinks but doing well given all the rain that we have had! 

Definitely showing progress from the May 24 post above
July 30, 2014
Having definite deer problems with this tomato.  It is a smaller plant anyway than the Brandywine Pink and not as many tomatoes.  All the green tomatoes are gone and you can see the chomped stem below.  Have sprayed twice this week  -  once with Bobbex and once with sour milk.  But, continuing to have lots of rain, so going to have to keep at it!  Have put a couple of more larger trellis around it and some bamboo stakes through the metal rings of the tomato cage to try to discourage.

Deer damage from chomping off the
 top of the plant stems.
WV 63 Journal from Kitty Sprout (also on her journal page)
July 23, 2014   Tomatoes. I received three WV Heirloom plants from a Sprout who was not going to be able to tend her plants this year, and two Brandywine Pink plants from WV Sprout. I planted all the tomatoes in a small area off my front porch where I planted last years. Last years three plants provided us with tomatoes for all of August. I have suckered the plants. They are tall and bushy. So, here's hoping.

August 1, 2014  My tomatoes are turning red. Husband had a WV 63 for dinner last night. He said best of season, even beats Farmer's Market.


Procedure for collecting & saving WV 63 Tomato seeds.

August 23, 2014 (WV Sprout)
Kitty Sprout seems to be the only one with success with her tomatoes.  Her husband loves them and keeps eating them before we can get to them!  But she did hide one to use in our workshop last Monday on 'how to save tomato seeds'.  It really is a delicious tomato.  A very small tomato - so if you do find a few seeds at Shirley Menice, you may expect a big crop, but not a big tomato.  But...the upside is the flavor.  We hope that you will grow and share this tomato as it really is a delight!  WV Sprout, Horsey Sprout & Mam sprout all have plants with lots of green tomatoes.  Our WV summer, I think, has been partly to blame.  Super temperatures in the 70's and mid 80's: not our usual sunny, hot 90's. We all agree that this has contributed to slow tomato growth and ripening.  As our tomatoes ripen we will continue to add photos.  More on our tomato trials and tribulations on a separate post coming soon.

Green WV 63s on Kitty Sprout's plants.

WV 63s ripening on the vine.

WV 63 is second from the left - getting ready to save seeds.

A few for lunch!  Beautiful.

April 6, 2015  Here we are again - full cycle.  This morning I took some of our WV 63 tomato seeds saved carefully from last year's crop.   Again, I placed moist, soilless mix in small 6 pack cells.  I placed a seed in each cell.  I did two 6 pack trays - one for me and one for Kitty Sprout.  I then placed each of the trays in a gallon size Ziploc baggie with a straw for support to keep the bag up off the soil.  They were then placed on my kitchen island which gets lots of nice light and warmth and will wait to see what happens! A month until our last frost date here so plenty of time for them to develop.  Last year they were a little leggy, so starting a little bit later this year.  Any other sprouts starting some?
Two 6-pack starter trays of WV 63 tomatoes - hopeful for germination!

April 21, 2015  Our love affair with the WV63 continues.  Seeds were again saved in the fall and distributed to a few people.  Several packets were taken to Brooklyn for seed share at Shirley Meneice.  We'd love to hear from any of you who took these seeds!   I took my seeds to my sister, Helen,  to germinate as she has lights and always has amazing success with healthy tomato plants.

March 15, 2017: 48 seeds planted.  Close to 100% germination.
April 5, 2017: transplanted from the small seed trays into 4" pots.  (Left photo)
One more week passed and lots of growth.  The long range weather forecast is good and Helen needs room under the lights for other plants, so I brought trays home and put outside to harden off.  Not quite ready to go in the garden but soon. 
April 21, 2017:  Helen's are in the ground.  Mine are still on the side porch.  A huge thunderstorm yesterday so I am glad not to have put them out yet.  You can see my raccoon protecting grates!  (Right photo)  Lots of rain expected the next few days so mine will go in the first of next week.


Meanwhile Mannon Gallegly who first created this tomato (see link at top of page) is hard at work helping to create a disease free tomato.  Although he retired in 1986, he earned emeritus status and has continued to teach and research.  The Charleston Gazette-Mail wrote an article on April 4, about his newest research.  Tomatoes have a blight (Septoria lycopersia) which causes a leaf spotting fungus.  Gallegly blames this on the marmorated stink bug.  Trials started this year on two new varieties created in their research labs. 

April 28, 2017  My plants are rapidly disappearing to friends.  I'm putting mine in the ground later tonight.  It is too hot right now, but they have hardened off and growing rapidly.  The remainder are on my front porch awaiting distribution.  (right photo)  Fonda got off to a late start, but her plants are rapidly growing (left photo) and will be ready for distribution soon. 



  1. Last update for today. WV63 tomato holding its own. I know some others of you took some of these plants - how are yours doing?

  2. Update on my WV63. Lots of growth!

  3. Fighting the deer with my WV 63. Sprayed with Bobbex and sour milk and fortified tomato cage. Any other suggestions?

  4. Kitty Sprout - see how beautiful your WV63 is! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Started some WV63 tomatoes today with seeds saved from last year's crop! Any other sprouts doing the same?

  6. A new year with our WV 63 tomatoes. Great germination this year and plants are ready to go into the garden as well as to our membership. If anyone took seeds at Shirley Meneice Conference in Brooklyn last September we hope you will send in your comments and photos!