Moonbeam, the new agritech tomato, takes off!

Cornell University said it has developed another potential star in the tomato world: the Moonbeam.

Photo source: Cornell Agritech

The new variety is the result of research conducted at Cornell Agritech in Geneva.

“Moonbeam is a very good eating experience from start to finish … from first bite to aftertaste,” said Phillip Griffiths, associate professor of horticulture at Cornell Agritech, who started developing Moonbeam in 2006.

Moonbeam, an agritech-enhanced variety using innovations in plant breeding and conditions which negate the need for pesticides, is considered a white grape tomato, with a citrus flavor. It joins five other small tomatoes in the Cornell-developed Galaxy Suite collection: Supernova, a marbled mini-Roma; Midnight Pear, a small, dark pigmented, pear-shape fruit; Comet, a plump, red grape tomato; Sungrazer, an orange-coloured grape tomato; and Starlight, a slender, finger-shaped, yellow grape tomato.

The High Mowing catalogue calls Moonbeam a “glowing white, translucent grape tomato with oblong frame and delicious, fruity bite. This remarkable tomato has dramatic visual appeal, especially when added to a small tomato mix. Not only are these white grape tomatoes stunningly unique, they are packed with a tasty punch of unbeatable flavour.”

Griffiths said that beyond taste, Moonbeam is a highly productive grape tomato with outstanding texture and exceptional looks that is suited for home gardens, commercial fields and high tunnels. It has a good shelf life and it is less likely to split, said Cornell.

Tomato medleys — or variety packs — are becoming popular in grocery stores, Griffiths noted. A decade ago, attractive small tomato medleys were only found in farmers markets, he added. Today, major supermarkets use medleys to engage consumers who want different shapes and colours, and smaller, bite-size fruit.

“If you look at a lot of medley packaging, they tend to be focused on yellow, orange or red,” Griffiths said. “The colour groups are lacking in the white and the black types, such as the Midnight Pear tomato. Tomatoes like Moonbeam and Midnight Pear help to contrast the medley groups and make them more aesthetically pleasing.”

Cornell said Griffiths began developing the Moonbeam tomato 13 years ago, but he shelved it to pursue other varieties. In 2015, said Cornell, he reached back to his original research and replanted them.

“It was then I realised how good a product it actually was,” he said.

Consumers can cook or roast the Moonbeams, add them to pasta or toss them fresh into salads, Cornell said.

“Integrating tomatoes of different colours, different flavors and different textures is something that makes food more fun and entertaining. It adds to whole eating experience,” Griffiths said.

“Moonbeam is a really nice addition to the Galaxy Suite. They’re out of this world.”