A Look at ‘Iron Lady’ Tomato

A few GIEI bloggers and gardeners have commented on ‘Iron Lady’ F1 Hybrid released this year by Cornell University (in partnership with North Carolina State University), and sold through High Mowing Seeds. This cultivar is a big step forward in the battle against tomato diseases. It has resistance to late blight, Septoria leaf spot, Fusarium wilt, and Verticillium wilt, AND tolerance to early blight.

I grew four plants at the Home and Garden Information Center and one at home. It’s a determinate cultivar that makes vigorous top growth and sets fruit in tight clusters over a relatively long period. I did not keep track of planting and harvesting dates. The description claims 75 days to maturity (from transplanting). It seemed slow to ripen but produced  nice firm, smooth fruits (4-6 ounces).


There was a lot of Septoria leaf spot in home gardens this year and ‘Iron Lady’ came through unscathed. We did have some minor early blight infection (see photo above) that did not affect growth, fruit cover, or yield.

Sure, there are tomatoes with better texture and flavor but this level of disease resistance is unmatched! Can’t wait to test the other hybrids coming out of this breeding program.

6 Comments on “A Look at ‘Iron Lady’ Tomato

  1. Thanks for this, Jon. I've been interested to hear the wide range of experiences people have been having with tomato plants this year. It sounds as though this would be a good addition to a garden, a kind of hedge against tough years, though I was hoping you'd say the flavor was something special. (Then again, flavor is so subjective). It looks as though it would be a good candidate for slow roasting and marinating to keep in the frig for snacks or sandwiches or hors d'oeuvres on a toasted slice of baguette smeared with a little goat cheese.


  2. Red tomatoes are my favorites…your home garden looks great and your efforts are visible, very appreciable. Well! It is important to understand disease resistance codes for tomatoes so you can grow the strongest, healthiest tomato plants possible.


  3. thanks for this review–tomato blights (early and Septoria) are my nemesis and HM sold out of iron Lady before I could get any last year, so I wanted to see what people who tried it thought.


  4. My father and I have grown several varieties of tomatoes from seed in my garden located at Love Point on Kent Island MD since 1942 and found that over the years ” Better Boy” is the best all around for slicing, juice & canning.. FYI, my wife, son, daughter, & I are all Terps who have to be feared. The grass in then BYRD Stadium grew very well in the early 50’s since it was fertilized with a lot of my blood! Are you a Turtle?


  5. I concur that Better Boy is the best of the modern (post 50s) hybrids for flavor and quality. Early Girl beats it by two weeks to the table. I prefer the flavor of Brandywine but it is unreliable in a hot summer. An early to late July planting often yields a lot of good autumn fruits though since setting conditions often improve after late August. My experience overall is that for quality fruits after Labor day you need a second planting of most varieties anyway, May planted plants get unthrifty and don’t last the season. I expect tomatoes until November 1 or frost. Green ones harvested then should ripen until Christmas. One trick for flavor in October is to harvest at pink blush stage. Vine ripening to full red in 45 degree nights reduces quality a lot. Best finish the ripening inside at 70F.


  6. Bought four potted Iron Lady plants along with five other varieties of tomato from a large reputable local greenhouse. Planted these separate from the others. All were sprayed regularly with Soap Shield Copper Spray to control any diseases and had a dose of Tomatoes Alive fertilizer. Also no tomatoes in this bed the previous years. These fared the worst of all of them. The others stayed relatively 95% disease free and these showed quite a bit more of it. The tomato harvest was great this year. Today alone I harvested twenty pounds off all the plants. Tomatoes off the Iron Ladies were just a little larger than a cherry tomato. All the other varieties looked nice and healthy and deep red. These were and have been paler than the others and the condition of the tomatoes wasn’t that great. The tomatoes themselves had black spots and about 25% were garbage. Been gardening for over thirty years and even won an award for best vegetable garden in the local newspaper’s circulation area. So, I know what I’m doing. Thses were probably the most disappointing of any variety I’ve tried.


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