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Randolph G. Gardner, Ph.D.

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Randy Gardner with heirloom tomatoesTomato Breeder
and Professor Emeritus,
Horticultural Science

Breeding of Improved Tomato Cultivars (Large-fruited, Roma, Grape, Cherry) with Multiple Disease Resistance and High Fruit Quality

Educational and Professional History

July 1, 2008–Present, Professor Emeritus, NC State University
1991-June 30, 2008, Professor at NC State University
1982-1991, Associate Professor at NC State University
1976-1982, Assistant Professor at NC State University
1973-1976, Ph.D. in Pomology from Cornell University
1970-1972, M.S. in Horticulture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
1965-1969, B.S. in Horticulture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Program Emphasis


The fresh-market tomato breeding program emphasizes the development of improved, disease resistant cultivars adapted to production in North Carolina and surrounding areas. Currently, emphasis is on combining early and late blight resistances, Fusarium wilt race 3, and tomato spotted wilt virus resistance into superior tomato breeding lines and hybrids. In terms of horticultural traits, breeding is for earliness, large fruit size, firmness, color, flavor, smoothness, crack resistance, shelf life (rin and nor genes), and high temperature fruit set. Combinations of quality features and disease resistance are sought in a variety of types (large-fruited, Roma, cherry, grape) and in red and yellow fruit colors. Male sterility is being incorporated into desirable backgrounds to facilitate hybrid seed production.


Breeding will continue toward further improving fruit quality and disease resistance in breeding lines and cultivars. Molecular markers will be used where available to assist in selection for desired genes.

Projected Impact

Tomato growers will be able to sustain and, hopefully, increase production and profitability as a result of growing improved cultivars. Consumers will benefit from improvements in fruit quality and diversity in types of fresh-market tomatoes. Advancement of disease resistance genes from wild backgrounds into cultivated types will benefit tomato production and cultivar development worldwide.

Cultivars and Breeding Lines Released

Numerous named cultivars and breeding lines have been released from the program. Descriptions of the releases are available by mail on request. Also, descriptions area available in the HortScience articles listed below in the publications section. Most of the named cultivars have been released on an exclusive basis to a single seed company for seed production and sales. Royalties from seed sales come back to NC State University with a portion being used to support the breeding program.

Trial samples of all cultivars and breeding lines are available at no charge to interested tomato breeders. Breeding lines released in recent years require completion of a Seed Transfer Agreement prior to seed being sent. Other lines are available on request without a written agreement. However, many of the lines require a Parental Use Agreement, with royalties paid, for use as parents in hybrids for commercial seed production and sales.

The program cooperates with public and private breeders worldwide.

NCSU Cultivars and Breeding Lines
Replicated Trial Yield Data

Selected Publications

  • Panthee, D.R. and Gardner, R.G. (2013). ‘Mountain Vineyard’ hybrid grape tomato and its parents: NC 4 Grape and NC 5 Grape tomato breeding lines. HortScience, 48: 1189-1191.
  • Panthee, D.R. and Gardner, R.G. (2013). ‘Mountain Honey’ hybrid grape tomato and its parent NC 6 Grape breeding line. HortScience, 48: 1192-1194.
  • Ling, K.S., Li, R., Panthee, D.R. and Gardner R.G. (2013). First report of potato spindle tuber viroid naturally infecting greenhouse tomatoes in North Carolina. Plant Disease, 97: 148-149.
  • Gardner, R.G. and Panthee, D.R. (2012). Tomato spotted wilt virus resistant fresh-market tomato breeding lines: NC 58S, NC 123S, NC 127S and NC 132S. HortScience, 47: 531-532.
  • Joshi, B.K., Gardner, R.G. and Panthee, D.R. (2012). Diversity analysis of tomato cultivars based on coefficient of parentage and RAPD molecular markers. Journal of Crop Improvement, 26: 177-196.
  • Gardner, R.G. and Panthee, D.R. (2012). ‘Mountain Magic’: An early blight and late blight resistant specialty type F1 hybrid tomato. HortScience, 47: 299-300.
  • Joshi, B.K., Gardner, R.G. and Panthee, D.R. (2011). GGE biplot analysis of tomato F1 hybrids evaluated across years for marketable fruit yield. Journal of Crop Improvement, 25: 488-496.
  • Panthee, D.R. and Gardner, R.G. (2011). ‘Mountain Majesty’: A tomato spotted wilt virus resistant fresh-market hybrid tomato and its parents NC 714 and NC 1CS. HortScience, 46: 1321-1323.
  • Panthee, D.R. and Gardner, R.G. (2011). Genetic improvement of fresh market tomatoes for yield and fruit quality over 35 years in North Carolina: A review. International Journal of Vegetable Science, 17: 259-273.
  • Gardner, R.G. and Panthee, D.R. 2010. Grape tomato breeding lines: NC 1 Grape, NC 2 Grape and NC 3 Grape. HortScience, 45: 1887-1888.
  • Panthee, D.R. and Gardner, R.G. 2010. ‘Mountain Merit’: A late blight resistant large-fruited hybrid tomato. HortScience, 45: 1547-1548.
  • Robbins, M.D., M.A.T. Masud, Panthee, D.R., Gardner, R.G., Francis, D.M. and Stevens, M.R. (2010). Marker assisted selection for coupling phase resistance to Tomato spotted wilt virus and late blight in tomato. HortScience, 45: 1424-1428.
  • Gardner, R.G. and D. R. Panthee. 2010. NC 1 CELBR and NC 2 CELBR: Early blight and late blight resistant fresh market tomato breeding lines. HortScience 45: 975-976.
  • Gardner, R.G. and D. R. Panthee. 2010. ‘Plum Regal’ fresh-market plum tomato hybrid and its parents, NC 25P and NC 30P. HortScience 45: 824-825. Gardner, R.G. and J.W. Scott. 2008. Cultivar selection. In: Tomato Crop Management. Mike Davis and Ken Pernezny eds. APS Press. (In review).
  • Scott, J.W. and R.G. Gardner. 2007. Breeding for resistance to fungal pathogens. In: Genetic Improvement of Solanaceous Crops Vol. 2: Tomato. M. K. Razdan and Antur K. Mattoo eds. Science Publishers, Enfield, NH, USA. p 421-456.
  • Gardner. R. G. 2006. ‘Plum Crimson’ hybrid tomato and its parents, NC EBR-7 and NC EBR-8. HortScience 41:259-260.
  • Gardner, R. G. 2006. ‘Mountain Crest’ hybrid tomato and its parent line, NC 1 rinEC. HortScience 41:261-262.
  • Sato, S., M.M. Peet., and R.G. Gardner. 2004. Altered flower retention and developmental patterns in nine tomato cultivars under elevated temperature. Scientia Horticulturae 101:95-101.
  • Sato, S., M.M. Peet., and R.G. Gardner. 2001. Formation of parthenocarpic fruit, undeveloped flowers and aborted flowers in tomato under moderately elevated temperatures. Scientia Horticulturae 90:243-254.
  • Lawrence, C.B., N. P. Singh, J.S. Qiu, R.G. Gardner, and S. Tuzun. 2000. Constitutive hydrolytic enzymes are associated with polygenic resistance of tomato to Alternaria solani and may function as an elicitor release mechanism. Physiological and Melecular Plant Pathology 57:211-220.
  • Gardner, R.G. 2000. ‘Carolina Gold’, a hybrid tomato; and its parents, NC 1Y and NC 2Y. HortScience 35:966-967.
  • Gardner, R.G. 2000. A male-sterile cherry tomato breeding line, NC 2C ms-10, aa. HortScience 35:964-965.
  • Gardner, R.G. 2000. ‘Plum Dandy’, a hybrid tomato; and its parents, NC EBR-5 and NC EBR-6. HortScience 35:962-963.
  • Gardner, R.G. 2000. ‘Sun Leaper’, a hybrid tomato, and its parent, NC HS-1. HortScience 35:960-961.
  • Koka, C. B., R. E. Cerny, R. G. Gardner, T. Noguchi, S. Fujioka, S. Takatsuto, S. Yoshida, and S. D. Clouse. 2000. A putative role for the tomato genes Dumpy and Curl-3 in brassinosteroid biosynthesis and response. Plant Physiology 122:85-98.
  • Gardner, R.G. and P.B. Shoemaker. 1999. ‘Mountain Supreme’ early blight-resistant hybrid tomato and its parents, NC EBR-3 and NC EBR-4 tomato breeding lines. HortScience 34:745-746.
  • Gardner, R.G. 1999. NC109 tomato breeding line. ‘Mountain Fresh’ F1 hybrid. HortScience 34:941-942.
  • Gardner, R.G. 1999. ‘Monte Verde’ tomato. HortScience 34:940.
  • Bryan, H.H., L.J. Ramos, M.M. Codallo, J.W. Scott, and R.G. Gardner. 1998. Cultigen and plant spacing effects on plant growth, disease, yield and fruit quality of tomatoes. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 1997.
  • Peet, M.M., Sato, S. and Gardner, R. 1998. Comparing heat stress effects on male-fertile and male-sterile tomatoes. Plant, Cell and Environment 21:225-231.
  • Peet, M.M., D.H. Willits, R.G. Gardner. 1997. Response of ovule development and post-pollen production processes in male-sterile tomatoes to chronic, sub-acute high temperatures stress. J. Exp. Bot. 48:101-112.
  • Kemble, J. M., J. M. Davis, R. G. Gardner, and D. C. Sanders. 1994. Plant spacing, root cell volume, and transplant age affect production and economics of compact-growth habit tomatoes. HortScience 29:1460-1464.
  • Kemble, J. M., J. M. Davis, R. G. Gardner, and D. C. Sanders. 1994. Root cell volume affects growth of compact-growth-habit tomato transplants. HortScience 29:261-262.
  • Davis, J. M. and R. G. Gardner. 1994. Harvest maturity affects fruit yield, size, and grade of fresh-market tomato cultivars. HortScience 29:613-615.
  • Barten, J. H. M., J. W. Scott, and R.G. Gardner. 1994. Characterization of blossom-end morphology genes in tomato and their usefulness in breeding for smooth blossom-end scars. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 119:798-803.
  • Gardner, R. G. 1993. ‘Mountain Belle’ cherry tomato; NC 1C and NC 2C cherry tomato breeding lines. HortScience 28:349-350.
  • Gardner, R. G. 1993. ‘Mountain Gold’ tomato. HortScience 28:348-349.
  • Gardner, R. G. 1992. ‘Mountain Spring’ tomato; NC 8276 and NC 84173 tomato breeding lines. HortScience 27:1233-1234.
  • Kemble, J. M. and R. G. Gardner. 1992. Inheritance of shortened fruit maturation in the cherry tomato Cornell 871213-1 and its relation to fruit size and other components of earliness. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 117:646-650.
  • Ozminkowski, R. H. Jr., Moll, R. H. and Gardner, R. G. 1991. QUANPLUS: a spreadsheet for calculation of heritability and generation mean separation. HortScience 26:1086.
  • Ozminkowski, R. H. Jr., R. G. Gardner, R. H. Moll and W. R. Henderson. 1990. Inheritance of prostrate growth habit in tomato. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 115:674-677.
  • Ozminkowski, R. H. Jr., R. G. Gardner, W. R. Henderson and R. H. Moll. 1990. Prostrate growth habit enhances fresh-market tomato fruit yield and quality. HortScience 25:914-915.
  • Gardner, R. G. 1990. ‘Mountain Delight’ tomato; NC 8288 tomato breeding line. HortScience 25:989-990.
  • Gardner, R. G. 1990. Greenhouse disease screen facilities breeding resistance to tomato early blight. HortScience 25:222-223.
  • Nash, A. F. and R. G. Gardner. 1988. Heritability of tomato early blight resistance derived from Lycopersicon hirsutum P. I. 126445. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 113:264-268.
  • Nash, A. F. and R. G. Gardner. 1988. Tomato early blight resistance in a breeding line derived from Lycopersicon hirsutum P. I. 126445. Plant Disease 72:206-209.
  • Gardner, R. G. 1988. NC EBR-1 and NC EBR-2 early blight resistant tomato breeding lines. HortScience 23:779-781.
  • Gardner, R. G. 1985. ‘Piedmont’ tomato. HortScience 20(5):960-961.
  • Gardner, R. G. 1985. ‘Summit’ tomato. HortScience 20(4):787.
  • Nash, A. F., R. G. Gardner, and W. R. Henderson. 1985. Evaluation of allelism and seed set of 8 stamenless tomato mutants. HortScience 20(3):440-442.
  • Okie, W. R. and R. G. Gardner. 1982. Breeding for resistance to Verticillium dahliae race 2 of tomato in North Carolina. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 107:552-555.
  • Okie, W. R. and R. G. Gardner. 1982. Seedling screening of tomato for resistance to Verticillium wilt in North Carolina. Plant Disease 66:34-37.
  • Gardner, R. G. 1982. NC50-7 breeding line, ‘Cherokee’, and ‘Mountain Pride’ tomato. HortScience 17:92-93.
  • Gardner, R. G. 1981. Identification of a gene affecting pedicel orientation in tomato. HortScience 16(4):553-554.
  • Gardner, R. G., J. N. Cummins, and H. S. Aldwinckle. 1980. Inheritance of fire blight resistance in Malus in relation to rootstock breeding. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 105:912-916.
  • Gardner, R. G., J. N. Cummins, and H. S. Aldwinckle. 1980. Fire blight resistance in the Geneva apple rootstock breeding program. J. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 105:907-912.

Awards and Honors

  • Educator of the Year Award from the North Carolina Vegetable Growers Association, 2007.
  • Named NC State Friend of Extension by Epsilon Sigma Phi, 2000.
  • Inducted into WNC Development Association’s Western North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame, 1999.
  • Vegetable Breeders Award of Excellence from the Vegetable Breeding Working Group of ASHS, 1995.
  • Award from NC Vegetable Growers Association for contributions in tomato breeding, 1994.
  • Gamma Sigma Delta, Honor Society of Agriculture, 1991.
  • Blue Ribbon Extension Publication Award from Southern Region ASHS, 1990.
  • Research Friend of Extension Award from the NC Agricultural Extension Service, 1989.
  • Award from NC Tomato Growers Association for contributions to tomato breeding, 1986.

Randolph G. Gardner, Ph.D.
Mountain Horticultural Crops Research & Extension Center
455 Research Drive
Mills River, NC 28759
Phone: 828.684.3562 ~ Fax: 828.684.8715