Q. Dear Twig: What's the biggest tomato ever?
A. The biggest tomato ever in weight — the heaviest, that is — weighed an amazing 7 pounds, 12 ounces. That's actually just a little bit more than the average weight of a newborn baby born in the United States! Whoa. Big tomato ...
Scientists at Cornell University say tomatoes come in a huge range of sizes. One wild type grows tiny fruit that weigh less than a tenth of an ounce: way less than even a blueberry or cranberry.
Other types — ones bred especially to crank out whoppers — grow tomatoes that weigh nearly a thousand times more than that!
The variety called Brandywine, for instance, grows fruit that weigh about 2 pounds each. Dutchman and Giant Belgian tomatoes can tip the scales at up to 5 pounds. The record tomato, the baby-sized one, came from a type called Delicious.
Giant tomatoes tend to look like soccer balls with the air half let out. Big but caved in on top. Also juicier.
P.S. Plant scientists call the tomato a fruit. But in general we call it and use it as a vegetable.
Notes: The record tomato was grown by Gordon Graham in Oklahoma in 1986. Read about him and it in Southern Living, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3676/is_199510/ai_n8715489. Learn more about growing giant tomatoes in Organic Gardening, http://www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s1-5-19-634,00.html. Sources included Guinness World Records 2006 and "Dissecting the Genetic Pathway to Extreme Fruit Size in Tomato ..." by Lippmann and Tanksley, Cornell University. Note, too, the "World's Largest Tomato" (artificial category), http://www.wlra.us/wl/wltomato.htm, Leamington, Ontario, Canada, which Twig in fact has had the pleasure of staring in open-mouth wonder at.
About this column: "Smart Stuff with Twig Walkingstick," a free public service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences - specifically, of the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) and Ohio State University Extension, both part of the College - is a weekly column for children about science, nature, farming and the environment. The reading level typically rates at grades 3.5-4.5. For details, to ask Twig a question, and/or to receive the column free by mail or e-mail, contact Kurt Knebusch, CommTech, OSU/OARDC,1680 Madison Ave., Wooster, OH 44691, email@example.com, (330) 263-3776. Online at http://extension.osu.edu/~news/archive.php?series=science.