With the cold, wet weather we have had this past week it’s hard to believe that spring is right around the corner. Well, cozy up with another hot drink and let’s discuss gardening abbreviations.
When selecting vegetable seeds or transplants, you may see a wide variety of abbreviations on the package or label. Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables planted. Some common abbreviations that you may see on a pack of tomatoes are V, F, FF, A, N, T and TSWV. So what do these letters mean?
These letters are abbreviations that stand for certain resistance traits that are bred into the tomato varieties. V stands for verticillium and the F stands for fusarium. Both of these are soil-borne fungal pathogens that will attack tomato plants. If you see the FF then the variety is resistant to multiple strains of fusarium. Early blight is a disease caused by the fungus alternaria, which is what the A stands for. N stands for nematode and usually refers to root knot nematode. These are microscopic roundworms that feed on and damage plant roots. The T stands for tobacco mosaic virus, and TSWV stands for tomato spotted wilt virus. Both of these viruses can affect tomato and are transmitted by insects such as aphids.
There are some other important resistance traits that you may want to consider this season. If you plant squash or zucchini, you may want to look for a variety that is resistant to powdery mildew. There are also several viruses that infect squash, and likewise there are varieties out there with resistance to these as well. For resistance to these viruses look for the letters CMV or ZYMV.
Many people have a favorite sweet corn variety. The main abbreviations that you will see is su, se or sh2. The su varieties are some of the older varieties. This abbreviation lets you know that these varieties came from the standard mutation for sweetness. These varieties are ones that need to be picked and cooled quickly and eaten within a day. The se stands for sugary enhanced. This gene increases the sugar content of the kernels and slows the conversion of sugar to starch. This improves the shelf life of these varieties. Finally there are the sh2 varieties. These are the supersweet varieties. The abbreviation just stands for shrunken 2. These varieties have two to three times more sugar and the conversion to starch is even slower. What this ultimately means is that these varieties stay sweet and crisp longer. You can find all sorts of combinations of the three genes or mutations.
I hope this information helps you better understand the vegetables that you are purchasing for your garden and gives you the courage try new varieties.
Source: UGA Extension Publications: “Abbreviations in Gardening,” Jeff Cook
DATES TO REMEMBER
March 18-19: Advance Landscape Design, Perry, 6-8 p.m.
March 19-21: Spring Plant Sale, Macon
March 28-29: Spring Home and Garden Show, Perry
For more information on any program area, contact Houston County Extension at 478-987-2028 or drop by our office in the old courthouse, downtown Perry, 801 Main St. Office hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Visit our website at http://www.caes.uga.edu/extension/houston/ for more news about your local Extension office.