De Penjar

Crop: Solanum lycopersicum L. (Tomato)

‘Tomata De Penjar’ or ‘Tomàtiga de Ramellet’ are names given to a particular type of tomato cultivated predominantly in Valencia, Catalonia and Balearic Islands. The most important characteristic of this type of tomato is its altered maturity process. They can be considered as the ancestors of the ‘Long Shelf Life’ type (Figás et al., 2018; Pereira et al., 2018). In this sense, long time ago ‘De Penjar’ tomatoes were harvested at breaking stage and hanged in strings in cool ventilated rooms, allowing the availability of fresh tomatoes throughout the wintertime. This practice is currently in disuse, since having tomatoes on the market all year round coming from all over the world, it is no longer necessary to cultivate these varieties to eat tomato in winter. However, now they are again cultivated for their excellent organoleptic qualities (Figás et al., 2015b).

In general, these are small rounded or oblong tomatoes, red, pink or orange (Figás et al., 2015a). They have a thick and hard pericarp and hold two or three locules. The long shelf life characteristic, conferred by the gene alcobaça, (Leal and Tabim, 1974; Kopeliovitch et al., 1982; Casals et al., 2012; Figás et al., 2015b), has contributed to its generalized use as they can be consumed out of its growing season for several months throughout the winter. Traditionally, they are cultivated in the open field from May to October. The fruit acquires its characteristic sensorial properties during the conservation period (Missio et al., 2015).

Cultivation System: open field and greenhouse with drip irrigation.

Geographical Information

Country: Spain

The organoleptic qualities of the ‘Tomata de Penjar’ are due to the climate and to the irrigation water. Concretely, the ‘Tomata De Penjar d’Alcalà de Xivert’, a specific type of ‘Tomata De Penjar’ of great prestige in different Spanish Autonomous Communities, is based on three varieties that come from the municipality of Alcalá de Xivert, located in the north of the Valencia province. This area is made up by a landscape of orchards, rich in water whose level of salt is the precise one to give these tomatoes their particular flavor.

In this sense, the municipality of Alcalà de Xivert is a cultivation area especially important due to its specific edaphic and climatic conditions that confer to the fruits an excellent quality (Figás et al., 2015b). Nonetheless, it is also an important crop in other surrounding municipalities such as Cabanes, Les Useres, Torreblanca and Vall d’Alba.

Farmer(s) description:

The varietal type ‘De Penjar’ includes varieties of tomato with different fruit morphologies, flattened, slightly flattened, round, slightly elongated and heart shaped. In some cases, they have a pointed blossom end. Fruits can be red, orange or pink colored (Figás et al., 2015a). However, in spite of this great morphological variability all of them have in common their long shelf life maintaining an exceptional organoleptic quality. In this sense, this landrace is a clear profitable alternative for the Valencian farmers (Figás et al., 2018; Pereira et al., 2018).

There are a high number of varieties of the ‘De Penjar’ landrace that are consumed as a fresh product along the year. The different colors turn more intense after harvested and hanged in strings. This occurs during the curing time (approximately one month) from the harvest to the commercialization (Missio et al., 2015). The commercialized tomatoes bear a thin skin and juicy flesh. Their flavor is intense, sweet and with a low acidity. Their high content in antioxidants is an additional characteristic that contributes to their interest as a product different and with an added value (Figás et al., 2015b).

Propagation system: Seed, self-pollination

Multiplication procedures and consequences on landrace diversity:

The tomato landrace 'De Penjar' is predominantly autogamous due to its well formed anther cone. However, in some cases there have been observed some degree of stigmatic exertion that can favor crosses between plants. This, together with the mass selection conducted by farmers in their populations, as well as the exchange of seeds among them lead to the cultivation of populations with a high level of genetic variability. In fact, the real scenario is that many growers cultivate mixtures of varieties. In a field of Alcalà de Xivert it can be found tomatoes of different colours and sizes. Some breeding programs have consisted on a precise characterization of these populations and the subsequent typing of the different types (Pereira et al., 2018).

Management plan existence:

The use of morphological, agronomic and internal quality descriptors together with informatic tools such as the Tomato Analyzer software have allowed the precise discrimination of the 'De Colgar' type from other similar traditional varieties (Figás et al., 2015a). In addition, the study of the genome of a large number of populations of this varietal type has made it possible to determine that there are large areas of the genome of the tomato 'De Penjar', differential with the rest of the varietal types, that confer both its quality characteristics as well as its long shelf life (Pons et al., 2017). This will contribute primarily to its valorization as a traditional variety of high quality, its use in improvement programs, as well as its certified use in markets of high quality products.

Added Values

Market - existing and novel:

The 'De Penjar' landrace is commercialized as trusses, as well as in different formats and types of containers. Between the 90 and 95% of the Valencian 'De Penjar' tomato production goes to the market of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. Currently there is an upward trend of the growing surface, and the cultivation in greenhouses is starting in Alcalà de Xivert to allow provide the product to Catalonia during all the year.

Others (e.g. commercial/geographical brands or special traits):

From the mid-20th century to the present, the cultivation of tomato 'De Penjar' has been acquiring a traditional character that, together with the artisanal care of the growers and the geological and climatological peculiarities of the Valencian growing areas, has managed to differentiate substantially this tomato from those that are produced in our country. This raised the interest of the consumers and marketers of Catalonia from the second half of the 80s, reaching nowadays to absorb the Catalan market almost the total production of tomato 'De Penjar' produced in Valencia.

The ‘Associació de Productors i Comercialitzadors de Tomata de Penjar d’Alcalà de Xivert’ was established in 2007 with the aim of revalorizing this tomato landrace. In its effort to preserve the traditional farming, create a brand and thus open new markets, this association got in 2008 the Quality Mark CV (Valencian Community) for the ‘Tomata de Penjar d’Alcalà de Xivert’. This mark, granted by the local Valencian Government, contributed to the valorization of this product. In addition, the uniqueness of this tomato is recognized and its quality is authenticated, as well as its traditional production and its ecological value (Escrivá et al., 2010). This Association ( carry out several activities for the promotion, mainly through agro-food fairs and the organization of a specific fair on ‘Tomata De Penjar d’Alcalà de Xivert’. Also, through this Association, some collaborations with the Universitat Politècnica de València have been established to undertake breeding programs and design new agro-food products (Figás et al., 2018; Pereira et al., 2018).

The ‘Associació de Productors i Comercialitzadors de Tomata de Penjar d’Alcalà de Xivert’ is supported by the Governement of the ‘Generalitat Valenciana’, through grants for promoting the brand 'Tomate De Colgar' as well as for funding research project with public research center as the Universitat Politècnica de València.

The selection programmes conducted by farmers along many years have led to a great number of varieties of this type of tomato. A collection of nearly 70 accessions of this landrace are conserved at the genebanks of the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, UPV (FAO ESP026) (Díez et al., 2017). Also, as a result of the collaboration between the ‘Associació de Productors i Comercialitzadors de Tomata de Penjar d’Alcalà de Xivert’ and the UPV, the set of varieties cultivated in the municipality of Alcalà de Xivert have been characterized (Pereira et al., 2018) and they have been improved for resistance to the Tomato mosaic virus (Tomato mosaic virus, ToMV) (Figás et al., 2018).

The 'on farm' conservation of this variety is guaranteed taking into account the increasing growing trend of the cultivated area and the fact that the farmers are grouped in a consolidated association to promote the cultivation of this traditional variety and its projection to the market

The Genebank of the Universitat Politècnica de València ( holds a collection of this landrace (nearly 70 accessions) available upon request (Díez et al., 2017).

Case study provided by Departamento de Biotecnología de la Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), València, Spain.

To the members of the Associació de Productors i Comercialitzadors de Tomata de Penjar d’Alcalà de Xivert, in particular Mr. Mauricio Calduch Traver and José Joaquín Herrera Juan, who provided lots of information on this landrace through the last five years.

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  • Díez MJ, Valcárcel JV, Torres J, Granell A, Prohens J, Soler S (2017) Variedades tradicionales de tomate de la Comunidad Valenciana del banco de germoplasma del comav. In: I Congrés de la Tomata Valenciana: La Tomata Valenciana d’El Perelló. Universitat Politècnica de València, pp. 85-96.
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