Characteristics of the RAF tomato «black leg»


Given the importance that this variety can have in the consumption of vegetables, we wanted to dedicate an article to it. In it we are going to talk about all the peculiarities that surround this variety of tomato, as well as some characteristics of its cultivation. If you want to differentiate yourself and surprise, install a garden at home with the Raf tomato. Let’s see it. You will love the curious shape of its ribbed fruits

The term “Raf tomato” is very easy to memorize, but they are not notable for it nor are they known by this strange name. What stands out about it is its strange shape, as if it had “imploded” inward, forming those cracks as pronounced as those we can see in the photo above. But not only that, you have to try it to really know why it has become one of the most sought-after varieties in tomato cultivation.


Well no, although the Royal Air Force may come to the fore , its name is less intricate than it seems and refers to a very important characteristic, its resistance to Fusarium. 

This already makes us think that it has not been a spontaneous variety, but that it has come out of crosses and looking for it to meet the requirement that we have mentioned.

The Raf tomato variety comes from a natural cross between the Marmande Clause 27 tomato variety and a common American breed, with the particularity of being resistant to Fusarium.

Originally, in 1961, its cultivation was carried out in the open air, in mesh and tutored by means of reeds.

The good thing about it is that it is not a hybrid, but has been obtained from traditional varieties, to the detriment of the variety muchomiel (we will talk about it), which did not adapt well to greenhouse cultivation due to Fusarium .

Be careful with that, the muchomiel variety looks a lot physically like the raf tomato variety.

This variety has achieved a great adaptation to the climate and soil of the province of Almería , in Andalusia.

It has a very vigorous bearing and currently there is a tendency to slow down this growth to facilitate its collection. Think that if we let it grow as it is and with the help of tutoring, the Raf variety tomato  can reach 4 meters in height. Normally, under cultivation in production is that you do not want it to exceed one and a half meters in height.

Is there a difference between the cultivation of the Raf tomato and the traditional one?

This is a very important part for all those who want to encourage you with the specific cultivation of this variety. Although basically the procedure is the same, there are some slight differences with respect to the management of the crop when producing this specific type of tomato.

The most important thing of this type is to control the  water-soil variable . The climate does not differ much from the normal conditions of tomato cultivation (except for the time in which it is grown), which you can see in his article.

It is usually planted once the summer has already started. In other words, the cold at the end of the summer season is being sought. Why? Well, because the RAF tomato seeks to obtain organoleptic quality above the visual.

Let’s put it another way, as the growth and thickening of the fruit slows down due to the arrival of cold, the ripening of the fruit is much more complex and therefore its quality will be higher.

It gives time for it to obtain the necessary sugars for its timely ripening.

The normal tomato grown in spring and harvested in summer, grows very quickly given the heat it receives, therefore the quality is not as optimal as that of the Raf tomato . However, you have to play with the climate , since this variety is not more resistant to cold than other varieties.

The Raf tomato needs special cultivation characteristics that reduce its production. So clear.

It usually needs saline soils, poor in organic matter, an exhaustive irrigation control to increase the concentration of sugars in the fruits and a well-cared for and underdeveloped root.

The management of the Raf tomato crop, therefore, is difficult, since agronomic conditions are taken to the extreme.

Although organic matter levels are provided between 1 and 1.5%, it is not very common to see large contributions, since they cause lack of control in the development of the plant and make it difficult to control the development of the roots and the aerial part.

Therefore, we are talking about soils that are not considered fertile, with a cation exchange capacity of less than 15 meq / 100g, where conditions high in sodium prevail.


[alert style = »red»] Contrary to what happens with other crops, the salinity of the water improves the organoleptic relationship of this tomato. [/ alert]

This data is an opportunity for those who have an irrigation system with a high salinity content.

When I was trying to look for resistant varieties with high salinity ranges (and I did not find many species either), the Raf tomato appeared which, curiously, improves when the salt content in the water (measured in dS / m) is high.

To get an idea, if a value of 3 dS / m is tolerable for the tomato (from 3.5 there are already problems), in the case of the Raf tomato and for its quality to be the most optimal possible, we have to go to values ​​of 4 and moderately sodium waters.

Of course, it is not necessary to look for higher values ​​either, since production is greatly reduced.

With regard to the soil , we can follow the same cultivation scheme. The best ones are those that have a good percentage of sand, that is to say, sandy soils or a mixture of loamy and sandy soil.

The characteristics of the drainage in RAF tomatoes are very important and greatly condition the frequency and duration of the irrigations, being these short and spaced. The level of organic matter should be between 1.5 and 2% (we discussed some of this in the background fertilizer  of the plants).


Among all the good things about RAF tomatoes, the biggest drawbacks they have is that they are difficult to grow. They are quite sensitive to problems from certain diseases and pests, as well as growing conditions. It is a tomato that has a high quality and a great flavor but has very low yields. Think that commercially many products are recalled for not having enough ribs or for having stitches or wounds.

That is why new tomato innovations similar to RAF’s have been sought but that solve some problems such as those we have mentioned (increased production and greater resistance to alterations). We are going to comment on some of them:

  • Delizia tomato: it has a growing cycle a little longer than our commented variety and produces much more for each tomato grown. It is resistant to some root diseases and certain viruses.
  • Conquista variety: it is a fairly recent tomato on the market. An alternative to the two previous varieties (Delizia and RAF) was sought with the aim of increasing production time.
  • Marmandino: his neck is black and that is why some people know him as «brindle». It is less ribbed than the RAF and offers the same resistance to disturbances as Delizia and Conquista.

You know, if you like the RAF tomato and are interested in its cultivation you should know that it is somewhat more complicated than the traditional tomato, but its harvest must be a great personal motivation.


Either because you bought it at the greengrocer or because you have decided to grow it, the way to preserve it so that it can last as long as possible is important.

The conservation method is through the refrigerator , normal case. But a tip is that you do not mix it at least without being in a bag with the rest of the products (such as cucumbers, apples or other fruits). These fruits release ethylene, thus increasing the ripening and, finally, the rotting of the fruits.

This is the case of the banana when we put it on top of oranges, apples, pears, kiwis, etc.

The ethylene released by these fruits makes the banana ripen quickly. You know, if you already believe that the purchased bananas are ripe enough, you will have to remove them from the fruit container, so you will get them to hold a little longer. We will talk at length in another post about ethylene and its power to ripen the fruits.

Ah! Experts advise eating Raf tomatoes at room temperature, they say that this way the flavors reach more depth. We will listen to them.

If you dare, you can grow RAF tomato seeds . In a coconut fiber substrate or similar that you can install comfortably at home, you can have 3 or 4 plants and enjoy its tasty fruits. Of course, keep in mind that the conditions of Almería are exclusive!


  • The Raf tomato should not be eaten green, but slightly pink or colored.
  • If the sweetest consumption is appreciated, then we must wait for its ripening and the usual reddish color of the tomato.
  • It should not be mixed with a large number of ingredients, so as not to dilute its flavor. Some type of salted fish, green stems, oil and salt are usually added or consumed alone.
  • Many times it is better to keep it out of the refrigerator so as not to reduce its organoleptic qualities.

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