France: Garance tomato wows visitors at the Salon d'Agriculture

At the Salon d'Agriculture the Garance tomato wowed amateurs, sellers of seasonal baskets, and other short circuit vegetable growers/sellers (for whom it is aimed at). With its bright red colour, Véronique Lefèbvre (Director of the genetic unit and improval of fruit and vegetables of the Inra at Monfavet) says that ''this fruit has rare qualities'', one of them being its ability to give off about 500 scent molecules.

René Damidaux, inventor of this tomato (which has been in the official catalogue for a year now) says that ''the aim was to create a strong hybrid - this originates from the famous Montfavet 63-5-, and to revive the flavour'', contrary to the majority of the 550,000 tons of tomatoes produced annually in France.

''To obtain a tasty tomato, it has to be picked once ripened, at the time when it lets off all its flavours. This Garance is picked when red, stocked and stored at room temperature. It can keep for over 10 days, out of a fridge, without damage, maintaining a firm skin whilst melting more and more in the mouth''. The Garance is also rich in lycopene, a pigment that fights against cardiovascular illness and is high in vitamin C.

René Damidaux hopes that producers will adapt their way of farming to welcome this fruit, opting for this rather than varieties with larger yields that are picked when green to survive the journey from Southern Spain or Morocco. He also hopes that in the future, the Garance will win the war against the worst artificially saturated ''gourds'', of which have a large part of production travelling over the winter (shorter days- less light, so less sugar). A production method that makes the tomatoes ''disgusting'' says Mathilde Causse, Director of research at Inra. ''It is a very good compromise that offers good yields with up to 12kg/m² '' notes José Catala, Deputy Director of experimental areas at Inra.


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