Indeterminate vs. Determinate?

I'm looking at tomatoes and I see this in the description. What is the difference?
Cheers, Jim
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On Sun, 07 Mar 2004 07:20:11 +0000, Play4aBuck wrote:

Determinate refers to a tomato plant with fruit ripening at the same time. Indeterminate is a plant with fruit ripening in stages.
If you are into production work and want your crop to be ready for harvest when you are, determinate works fine. The typical home gardener most often prefers indeterminate plants so the tomatoes ripen over a period of time.
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Unless you are planning on canning/processing your tomatoes. Then, you would probably want to grow mostly determinates so that your harvest can be processed in one or two large batches (instead of a number of smaller batches all season), and a couple of indeterminate plants for eating tomatoes through the season.
Rich
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Mostly in the size of the plant. Tecnically indeterminate plants keep on growing, although the average height is about 8 ft. Some like Brandywine or Trip-L-Crop get past 12 ft. Big determinates, sometimes listed as semi-determinates average about 5 ft. These include Rutgers, Marglobe, Celebrity, Ace 55 and host of other popular cultivars. ISI's like the Husky series and many of the "bush" cultivars go 2.5 to 4 ft. There are of course small determinates that only go 18 inches to 30 inches. These are usually super early cultivars or processing cultivars. Patio, Siberia, Subarctic are examples. The issue is so confusing that the same cultivar is often listed in different catalogues as determinate , semi-determinate, and indeterminate, I am relying on a combination of experience and the NC sate web site.
AS for the determinates ripening the tomatoes all at once, avoid the ones designed for processing like Campbells' 1327, heinz 1439 . There are hundreds of these medium small determinates that were bred for mechanical harvest so they need quick uniform ripening. At least as far south as Virginia the main season determinates bred for fresh market use will cover the season. i.e. they ripen over a 6 - 8 week period.
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