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The Dad’s Sunset Tomato

Every garden or orchard has its prized possession—the plant that Dad eagerly monitors year-round, brags about to friends and family, and perhaps gives a little extra love to! In many gardens, that “trophy” crop is Dad’s Sunset tomato.

Aptly named, this beautiful tomato imitates the gold, orange, and yellow hues of a beautiful setting sun. In fact, everything about this unblemished fruit is picturesque—from its uniform roundness to its smooth, radiant complexion.

Keep reading to learn the ins and outs of this award-winning tomato!

Closeup of orange-colored tomatoes on plant similar to the Dad's Sunset Tomato.
Shutterstock ID 1168964257 Featured Image: Dad’s Sunset

History of Dad’s Sunset Tomato

Dad’s Sunset tomato is a mid-to-late season, indeterminate, heirloom tomato that is known for its sweet flavor and slight tartness.

Widely considered to be among some of the better-tasting tomatoes, Dad’s Sunset is a popular slicer—thanks to its thick skin and meaty consistency. Dad’s Sunset was even named, “Best Tasting Tomato” at the 2004 Heirloom Tomato Contest!

Characteristics of Dad’s Sunset Tomato

Tomato Type: Heirloom

Plant Type: Indeterminate

Season: Mid to Late

Fruit Color: Gold/Orange Fruit

Foliage Color: Green

Leaf Type: Regular

Ripening Season

Dad’s Sunset tomato is a relatively late grower. While some people report ripening as occurring mid-season, others see ripe fruit during late season. Generally, expect your tomatoes to ripen around the 75–100 day mark.

Tomato Qualities

Most orange and yellow tomatoes are noticeably sweeter and less acidic than red tomatoes, and that is definitely the case with Dad’s Sunset tomatoes! The fruit is mouthwateringly sweet, yet still possesses the essential tanginess that we expect when we bite into a tomato.

In terms of tomato texture, Dad’s Sunset boasts excellent firmness and thick-walled glossy skin that covers its meaty core.

Tomato Size

Dad’s Sunset tomato is a uniformly round, medium-sized fruit that typically measures roughly 2–3 inches in diameter and weighs approximately 10–14 ounces.

Closeup of yellow-orange tomato on vine.

Planting Zones

In terms of the climate that Dad’s Sunset tomato requires, it’s good news for most growers! The recommended USDA hardiness zones are 3–11A, so these tomatoes can be grown throughout most of the United States.

Size and Spacing

Dad’s Sunset tomato plants grow to approximately 4–6 feet tall at full maturity and should be spaced roughly 2–3 feet apart. Leave space between rows so that the fruit can be easily harvested!

Pollination

All tomatoes are self-pollinating, you can grow them without relying on other crops. Many growers, however, choose to cross-pollinate with other tomato plants for a larger crop yield.

Just keep in mind that indeterminate plants typically outgrow determinate plants and can end up thwarting their growth. For this reason, it’s wise to cross-pollinate indeterminate tomato varieties rather than a mix of both indeterminate and determinate tomato plants.

Tomato blossoms.

Plant Care

The following sections will provide highlights about tomato care. For a complete guide on optimal tomato plant care, from planting to harvesting and storage, please check out our article on How To Grow Tomatoes: The Complete Guide For the Best Tomatoes.  You may also be interested in our blog post on how to grow big tomatoes!

If you want your Dad’s Sunset plants to thrive and produce tasty tomatoes, you’ll need to give them plenty of love and care from the get-go. Keep these important tips in mind!

Sunlight

Like most tomato varieties, Dad’s Sunset tomato plants require full sun exposure in order to produce healthy fruit. Make sure your tomatoes get 6–12 hours of sunlight per day!

Soil

Slightly acidic soil is needed for proper plant growth. Plant your Dad’s Sunset seed or plants in soil that has a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0.

Water

It’s recommended that you give your Dad’s Sunset tomato plants 1–2 inches of water per week. Be sure to water at the base of the plant and account for any rainfall!

Person watering tomato plants with watering can.

Fertilizer

Tomatoes require specific nutrients (such as calcium) to produce their best crops of fruit. To learn how to determine what your tomatoes need and when they need it, consult our ultimate tomato fertilizer guide.

Pruning/Pinching

Because Dad’s Sunset tomatoes are indeterminate, you will need to prune them aggressively. Otherwise, the plants will continue to grow and potentially affect your crop.

Pruning and pinching are a tomato care technique that can help your tomato put forth its best yield. But you need to know when to do this and what tomatoes need it. To help you with this, visit our pruning tomatoes guide.

Person pinching suckers off tomato plant.

Disease

Although Dad’s Sunset tomato is somewhat resistant to diseases, it’s far from immune. Common diseases—such as Fusarium wilt and Septoria leaf spot—may threaten your crop.

To learn how to detect, treat, and take steps to prevent diseases, read our tomato diseases guide.

Pests

You’re not the only one who thinks tomatoes are delicious! Pests may also be interested in your crop. For information to help you spot, eliminate, and deter 15 different pests, visit our guide on common tomato pests.

When to Harvest Dad’s Sunset Tomatoes

As is the case with many crops, you may be tempted to pick your tomatoes as soon as you spot signs of ripening. The problem with Dad’s Sunset tomatoes, however, is that ripening times vary from crop to crop.

What’s more, as these tomatoes are indeterminate, new fruit is constantly ripening; so you can’t pick them all at once!

Rather, you will want to examine each fruit—both color and size. Fully ripened Dad’s Sunset tomatoes will have their rich color palette and will measure roughly 2–3 inches in diameter.

Yellow-orange tomatoes on the vine.

Common Uses for Dad’s Sunset Tomatoes

How does the tomato from a Dad’s Sunset compare to other tomatoes when it leaves your garden and makes its way onto your plate? Here’s a little bit more about the flavors and different uses for this tomato!

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

In general, yellow beefsteak tomatoes tend to be on the sweet side, and that is certainly true of Dad’s Sunset.

This wild tomato has a delicious sweetness to it and is only slightly tart in flavor, creating a relatively balanced flavor overall. Some even refer to a Dad’s Sunset tomato as having a citrus flavor or complex flavor!

Picked yellow-orange colored tomatoes on a  board.

Cooking

Beefsteak tomatoes, like Dad’s Sunset, are considered to be “slicers”, meaning they’re meatier, less watery, and as a result, more often used in salads than in sauces. Don’t let this stop you from using Dad’s Sunset to make a sauce, however. You might enjoy a slightly more fruity flavor!

Eating Raw

Because of its sweet and intense flavor, relatively minimal tartness, and meaty core, Dad’s Sunset tomato can be eaten raw. It makes for a wonderful salad tomato due to its rich flavor!

Glasses of juice made from tomatoes and other fresh fruits and vegetables.

Canning/Freezing/Drying

Because Dad’s Sunset tomatoes are indeterminate, your fruit will ripen at different times. This means that you may be able to consume your Dad’s Sunset tomatoes as they ripen—eliminating the need to can, freeze, or dry leftover fruit.

If you’re not able to keep up with a large crop yield, however, you may need to store leftover tomatoes. Can them (learn how here), freeze them for up to 12 months, or dry them using a dehydrator!

Recipe Ideas

If you’re accustomed to using red tomatoes in the kitchen, you may be hesitant to toss Dad’s Sunset tomatoes in just any dish. Rest assured that this is an exceptional tomato for platters and homemade sauces alike. Here are a few of our favorite recipes for yellow and orange tomatoes:

Yellow and Red Tomato Pico De Gallo

Yellow Tomato Pasta Sauce

Red and Yellow Tomato Salad

Pasta with tomato sauce made from yellow or orange tomatoes.

Health Benefits of Dad’s Sunset Tomatoes

Tomatoes are loaded with all types of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients—including vitamin B9, vitamin C, vitamin K1, potassium, lycopene, beta carotene, and more.

Thanks to its rich nutritional value, the tomato boasts enormous health benefits—such as preventing heart disease and cancer, lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation, and promoting healthy skin.

Orange-colored tomatoes on a cutting board, one cut in half.

Where to Buy Dad’s Sunset Tomato Plants or Seeds

If you want to get your hands on Dad’s Sunset tomato seeds or plants, there are a number of places to buy them online—such as HR Seeds, Growin’ Crazy Acres, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Where to Buy Dad’s Sunset Tomatoes

Many regard Dad’s Sunset tomato as a market tomato because of its aesthetic appeal. Stop by your local farmers market or supermarket to see if you can spot this fruit. Otherwise, you may need to consider growing your own!

Final Thoughts on Dad’s Sunset Tomato

A single yellow-orange colored tomato on a mat.

We hope that this guide was helpful to you—whether you’re simply interested in learning about Dad’s Sunset tomatoes or whether you’re strongly considering growing your own!

If you’d like to learn about other tomato varieties, check out all of our tomato-related blog posts here.