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For five years, the Colorado State University Extension Master Gardeners in Larimer County conducted variety trials to determine which tomato and sweet pepper varieties perform best in Northern Colorado.

Jon Weiss, the Master Gardener Volunteer coordinating the project, is passionate about seeds and gardening. “We have a short growing season in Larimer County, and that creates challenges for backyard gardeners,” said Weiss.  “I want to see backyard gardeners have success.”

So far, the project has trialed 12 varieties of in-ground tomatoes, three varieties of container tomatoes, and 15 varieties of sweet peppers.  As weather conditions vary from season to season, each trial was repeated over two years.  Master Gardeners collected multiple data points from the earliest to produce fruit, the average number of fruits per plant, the weight of fruit, and even the flavor profile. 

Looking for fruit early in the season? Ace bell pepper, Hybrid New Girl tomatoes, and Hybrid Patio Choice Yellow tomatoes had the earliest maturing fruit.  Looking for the highest yield? Once again, Hybrid New Girl tomatoes and Hybrid Patio Choice Yellow tomatoes performed well, and Olympus produced the most out of the bell peppers. 

“These trials showcase the benefits Colorado State University Extension brings to Larimer County,” said Alison O’Connor, PhD, Extension Professor of Horticulture. “Extension brings the resources of a Tier 1 Research university to all of Larimer County.” 

The Larimer County Master Gardeners are not done with the trials.  Next, they will be evaluating cut flowers and winter squash. 

More information about the trials, including methodology, can be found at

Click a photo to enlarge.

Published on: 
Wednesday, February 21, 2024 - 12:14pm

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