Gardeners have their favorites when it comes to plant varieties.

Whether it’s an heirloom seed saved by great, great Aunt Clara and passed down through the generations, or a new hybrid variety, mention seeds in gardening circles and a vigorous discussion is on.

Many gardeners are adamant that they want no part of genetically engineered seeds. For those folks, a good source of information is All-America Selections, an 87-year old nonprofit organization that conducts nationwide trials of newly introduced ornamental and edible plants. All are bred or produced without using genetic engineering (i.e., without “GMOs.”)

AAS winners are selected by an independent panel of expert judges, and offer gardeners reliable new varieties with superior garden performance.

Listed below are extracts from the AAS descriptions of the 2020 winners. For more information, visit all-americaselections.org/product-category/year/2020.

• Cucumber Green Light F1 Hybrid — This excellent mini cucumber had yields of 40 or more spineless fruits per plant. The attractive fruit matured early and had superior taste. Grow on stakes or poles for an easy vertical harvest.

• Tomato Celano F1 Hybrid — This new grape tomato is best grown with support (like a tomato cage). The healthy plants have excellent late blight tolerance, and bear phenomenal yields of sweet deep-red colored fruit.

• Tomato Early Resilience F1 Hybrid — ‘Early Resilience’ is a round Roma type with a deep red interior. The bushy plants are very resistant to blossom end rot and other tomato maladies. Staking was described as optional. Excellent for canning and cooking.

• Tomato Galahad F1 Hybrid — ‘Galahad’ plants were strong, sturdy plants that produced lots of 3 inch (12 ounce) fruit with a sweet, meaty flavor. Excellent disease and crack-resistance.

• Watermelon Mambo F1 Hybrid — This new watermelon yields multiple, perfectly round 9-inch (11 pound) melons that don’t over-ripen if you can’t harvest them right away. Germination was high and vines were very healthy. A smaller seed cavity resulted in almost the look of a seedless melon but the superior taste of a seeded melon.

• Echinacea Sombrero® Baja Burgundy — This Echinacea is a hardy perennial with vibrant, deep violet-red blossoms that are perfect for cut flowers. A prolific bloomer from mid-summer until the first frost.

• Rudbeckia x American Gold Rush — American Gold Rush has bright, golden-yellow flowers that appear from July to September. Bred for its resistance to Septoria leaf spot, it shows no signs of fungus even in wet, humid conditions. Shorter than other rudbeckia varieties.

I’ve grown many AAS winners over the years and had exceptional luck with them. They should be available from seed catalogs or as transplants from local vendors next spring. Give them a trial of your own.

Jim Janke is an Extension Master Gardener Volunteer in Haywood County. For more information visit www.haywood.ces.ncsu.edu, or call the Haywood County Extension Center at 828-456-3575. ©2020 NC State University. Pictures are courtesy of All-America Selections.

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