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Educator’s Corner

All-American Selections for 2017

For those of you who garden, you might recognize the term “All-American Selections”. What exactly makes a plant cultivar an All-American Selection? For a plant type to be considered an All-American Selection it must pass a very vigorous selection process.  Since 1932, the All-American Selections organization has been conducting field trials to evaluate the characteristics of newly developed flower and vegetable seed cultivars. The mission of the All-American Selection organization is “to promote new garden varieties with superior qualities to the public”. Each year plant breeders and developers submit their newest breeding creations to this group of independent judges to be evaluated.

The plants are grown at 40 different test sites in the United States and Canada and are judged by at least one judge per site. There are two AAS test sites in Ohio and one is managed by the Clark County OSU Extension Office and Clark County Master Gardeners (this garden is in the process of being moved to a new site) and the other is a private grower and is not open to the public. Some tests sites evaluate both ornamental and edible cultivars, where as some only evaluate one or the other.  The tested cultivars are evaluated for a number of different characteristics and compared to similar cultivars on the market. Flower cultivars are evaluated for form, color, pest and disease resistance, length of flowering season, etc. Vegetable cultivars are evaluated for taste, days to harvest, fruit quality, and pest and disease resistance. Winning cultivars are selected if they perform well throughout most regions. AAS also awards regional awards for cultivar that do well in some regions, but not all. A new category, flowers from cuttings, was added in 2015.

There are a number of All-American selection display gardens through the United States, in fact there are eight in Ohio alone! The closest are located in Wooster on the Ohio State University, Agriculture and Technical Institute campus and in Youngstown at the Fellows Riverside Garden, Millcreek Metro Park.

Some new and exciting varieties we can look forward to in 2017 are:


Okra ‘Candle Fire’ F1

This new selection is much brighter red than other red okra cultivars. ‘Candle Fire’ is round rather than ribbed and very productive.  It is an attractive plant for both vegetable production and ornamental purposes and the old pods can be used in floral arrangements.  Like most okra varieties, ‘Candle Fire’ is generally pest free but does need to be harvested every two days.

Tomato ‘Midnight Snack’ F1

This cherry tomato is an improved purple selection that starts out red turns an outstanding blue/black color with increased sun exposure. ‘Midnight Snack’ is an indeterminate variety that will need to be staked and pruned regularly.  This variety will provide you healthy snacks from mid-summer to frost.

Tomato ‘Patio Choice Yellow’ F1

Container gardening continues to be an excellent option for those with limited growing space. This compact cherry tomato plant only reaches 18 inches at full maturity and can produce up to 100 fruits per plant.  This variety is recommended for hanging baskets.

Watermelon ‘Gold in Gold’ F1

This usual watermelon sports a yellow striped rind with flesh that is also a golden-orange. ‘Gold in Gold’ is early maturing, disease tolerant, and crack resistant. The final weight is being 11-16 lbs. making it easy to handle.

Watermelon ‘Mini Love’ F1

This Asian-type watermelon is well adapted for container gardening. The vines will only reach about 4 feet, but will produce several personal-sized fruits.  The rinds are thin but crack resistant.  The flesh is deep red and sweet, perfect for a patio garden.

For more information on the All-American Selections:   http://all-americaselections.org/



Jacqueline Kowalski is the Summit County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator for the Ohio State University. For questions on local foods, food production, or other garden-related questions, contact her at kowalski.124@osu.edu or 330-928-4769 ext. 2456.

The Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Hotline is open! For answers to your gardening questions call 330-928-4769, select option 3 or extension 2481 or 2482, Tuesday mornings 9 am-12 pm.

Check out Summit County Extension’s Facebook page to stay up-to-date on local programming and current events!



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