The lineup of 2019 AAS Winners was announced a while back, and in the edibles category it includes three national winners and four regional winners. For those who might not be familiar with it, All-America Selections (AAS) is an independent, non-profit organization that tests new varieties of flowers and edibles in trial grounds all over the U.S. and Canada. I grow quite a few AAS Winners in my garden every year, and I always look forward to trying the new winners here at Happy Acres. There are four tomatoes, two melons and one pepper that got the nod from the AAS judges for 2019.
I’m a big fan of the Chef’s Choice series of hybrid tomatoes, and the newest entry is the sixth in the line. Chef’s Choice Black is a 2019 AAS Regional Winner, and has dark red-purple beefsteak tomatoes that average 8 to 10 ounces and mature in about 75 days. The vines are indeterminate and should be staked or caged. I love black/purple tomatoes, so I am really looking forward to trying this one.
The Fire Fly tomato is a National Winner in the Edibles category. The sweet pale white/yellow fruits are larger than a currant tomato but smaller than a cherry tomato and grow on indeterminate vines. In trials it compared favorably with Coyote and Snow White, both of which I’ve grown here. I’m looking forward to seeing how it does here for me, and how it compares to my favorite white tomato Champagne Cherry.
The third tomato is Red Torch, and it’s also a National Winner. Red Torch has fruits that are oblong and red with yellow stripes. They weigh about 1.5 ounces each, and are borne on indeterminate vines that can produce up to 500 fruits in a season. Judges were pleased with both the earliness and yield of this variety as well as the visual appearance. One judge noted this observation “Very good entry with high yields, great appearance, and great taste. Good disease resistance to the common leaf spots.”
The fourth tomato is a striped cherry tomato called Sparky XSL, and it’s a Regional Winner in the Heartland region. It is one of the few X-tended Shelf Life tomatoes available to home gardeners. The round, sweet fruits weigh about an ounce each and are one inch in diameter, and should start ripening around 60-70 days after transplanting. The vines are indeterminate and will require support from staking or cages.
The third National Winner is a yellow mini bell pepper called Just Sweet. It produces thick-walled, four-lobed peppers that are three inches long, and have a sweet flavor that was a favorite with judges and testers. The vigorous plants get up to three feet tall, but don’t require staking because they were bred to have a strong, bushy habit. It compared favorably to Cornito Giallo and Yummy in trials.
Orange SilverWave melon is a 2019 Regional Winner that produces smooth-skinned 5 inch fruit with sweet orange flesh. The melons are produced on vigorous vines that spread 6 to 7 feet long. Mature fruit can be harvested 75 days after sowing seed, or in 45 days if setting out transplants.
Cal Sweet Bush watermelon is another 2019 Regional Winner. It produces large 10-12 pounds melons on short, compact vines with good foliage cover for the fruits. If grown in the ground, it produces 2 or 3 fruits while container grown plants will produce at least 1 fruit per plant.
One non-edible Winner I want to mention is the Carmine Velour Wave petunia. It’s a National Winner with large 2 to 2.5 inch carmine rose colored flowers. This newest color of the Wave petunia series did very well in the 2018 trials, with judges noting “Unique red/purple color bloomed all summer long” and “Great landscape performance during a hot, humid summer.” I grew Tidal Wave Red Velour last year, which was a 2015 AAS Winner. It was covered in blooms all summer long, and I am looking forward to trying this new addition to the series.
I hope you have enjoyed this review of the 2019 AAS vegetables winners. For a full list of both present and past winners, visit All-America Selections Winners. Their website also has information on where to Buy AAS Winners.
For more information about AAS Winners check out:
- Growing the 2016 AAS Winners
- The 2017 AAS Winners
- The 2018 All-America Selections Winners
- My Favorite AAS Veggies
All photos are courtesy of All-America Selections.