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The Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomato

Yellow tomatoes have an unfortunate reputation for being some of the bland-tasting varieties.  But the Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato is a nice surprise – it proves yellow can be delicious!

Touted as one of the best-tasting yellow beefsteak varieties (possibly one of the best beefsteaks, period), this hefty tomato has a devoted gardening fan base that loves to rave in online forums about its taste.

If you’ve been disappointed with lackluster yellow tomatoes in the past, keep reading to learn about the Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato.  You might give yellow tomatoes another chance this year!

Closeup of a large yellow heirloom tomato on a plant similar to Dr . Wyche's Yellow tomato.

History of the Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomato

The Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato has one of the more interesting histories of any tomato.  It was originally grown by Dr. John Wyche, who called it the “Hot Yellow†tomato.   Dr. Wyche was a Cherokee dentist who also owned a circus that spent winters in Hugo, OK where Dr. Wyche lived. 

After retiring, Dr. Wyche took up gardening and heirloom seed collecting.  He fertilized his gardens with elephant manure and used lion and tiger waste as deer and rabbit deterrent.  Growing “Hot Yellow†was one of his retirement projects.

Shortly before Dr. Wyche’s death, he sent seeds to John D. Green in 1985.  Green then sent seeds to tomato expert Crag LeHoullier in 1992.  LeHoullier renamed the tomato in honor of Dr. Wyche before commercially releasing the tomato and entering it in the Seed Savers Exchange yearbook.

Characteristics of the Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomato

Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato is an indeterminate, open-pollinated, “created heirloom.† This creative term describes tomatoes whose seeds produce genetic replicas of the tomatoes they came from, but haven’t been “validated†for the 100 years required for an official heirloom.

Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato vines grow 4-6 feet long with sparse foliage and produce a heavy, reliable yield of large, yellow beefsteak fruit.  It requires staking, cages, or trellises to keep the weight of the fruit from damaging vines.

Closeup of cluster of three yellow tomatoes on the vine.

Ripening Season

The Dr. Wyche’s Yellow is a mid-season tomato, with fruit maturing 75-85 days after transplanting.

Tomato Qualities

The fruit is a golden-yellow to tangerine-orange color with a flattened globe shape (oblate).  The skin is smooth and nearly blemish-free.  The flesh is meaty, firm, and juicy with few seeds.  

Some growers say it won’t win beauty contests, while others praise its looks.  Growing conditions may affect the fruit’s appearance.

Tomato Size

A Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato is large, weighing 10-16 ounces on average.  It can grow to a whopping 28 ounces.

Large yellow-orange colored heirloom tomato.

Planting Zones

Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato grows in zones 3-11.

Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last spring frost.

Size and Spacing

Plant young Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomatoes 24-36 inches apart.  Put support structures in place for future growth.

Pollination

Tomatoes are self-pollinating and most varieties don’t need help with pollination (unless they’re being grown in greenhouses).  If you have bees and wind, that’s all it takes to get the job done.

Tomato blossom near wire fencing.

Plant Care

Some growers have reported the Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato is prone to catfacing.  Other than that, it requires average tomato 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!

Sunlight

Tomatoes need 6-8 hours of sunshine a day.

Soil

The ideal soil conditions for tomatoes are well-draining, loamy, slightly acidic (pH 6.2 – 6.8), and amended with compost.  Adding crushed or ground eggshells to the soil prevents blossom end rot.

Person holding handfuls of organic compost.

Water

Reports are that the Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato needs more water than the average tomato variety and dry conditions result in low yields.  Provide 1-2 inches of water a week and monitor how much fruit develops to determine if you need to adjust weekly water amounts.

Tomatoes need soil that’s consistently moist, never soggy.  If soil dries out between watering, the fruit cracks.  To retain soil moisture, spread a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around your tomato plants, but keep the ground clear of mulch three inches around the base of the plant. Water on a regular basis at the base of the plant to keep the foliage dry. 

Fertilize

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

Most tomatoes produce their best crops of fruit when they’re pruned. Lush, bushy tomato plants won’t give you much, if any, fruit — make pinching suckers a regular part of your tomato care.

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 sucker from tomato plant.

Disease 

Seasoned gardeners know that all tomatoes are susceptible to diseases like blight, fusarium wilt, Septoria leaf spot, Verticillium wilt, and Southern bacterial wilt. Keeping the foliage dry by watering the base of the plant and removing any foliage in contact with the soil are your best defenses against tomato plant disease.

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

Pests  

No gardener likes it, but growing tomatoes means dealing with pests. Aphids, whiteflies, tomato hornworms, slugs, pill bugs, stink bugs, and rodents are just a few to be on the lookout for. Companion plants like marigolds, catnip, fennel, dill, basil, and cilantro repel common tomato pests. Netting keeps out birds and larger pests, but can interfere with beneficial insects and pollinators.

For information to help you spot, eliminate, and deter 15 different pests, visit our guide on common tomato pests.

Closeup of a mouse in the garden.
Insects are the only pests feasting on your tomatoes!

When to Harvest Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomatoes

Start checking your Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomatoes for ripe fruit in July.  Fruit ready for harvesting will be a tangerine-orange color.  Sometimes they’ll have green “shoulders†even when fully ripe.  

In that case, use the touch test – a ripe Dr. Wyche’s Yellow feels soft when you gently squeeze it.

For the best flavor, never refrigerate your tomatoes.  Store them on the counter and use them within a few days of picking from the vine.

Person cupping two yellow-orange colored tomatoes on the vine.

Common Uses For Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomatoes

The Dr. Wyche’s Yellow is an all-around tomato suitable for various uses – fresh, cooked, and preserved.

What Does This Tomato Taste Like?

The rich flavor is why gardeners grow this tomato year after year.  It has a sweet, low-acid, fruity-bordering-on-tropical taste.  Some growers say it even tastes better than the Kellog’s Breakfast tomato.

Cooking

Use them in sauces, chili, soups, stews, and casseroles.  Especially large ones can be used for stuffed tomato recipes.  It’s also recommended for roasting.

Eating Raw

Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomatoes are praised for being excellent slicers.  Use them for sandwiches, burgers, and tomato platters.  Dice them for salads, salsas, relishes, bruschettas, tacos, wraps, or pita pockets.

Platter of sliced yellow heirloom tomatoes with balsamic vinegar.
Heirloom tomatoes with balsamic vinegar — one of summer’s simple pleasures!

Canning / Freezing / Drying

Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomatoes are productive and their fruit is large so you’ll need to preserve your harvest.  Like most tomatoes, they can be preserved by canning, freezing, and drying them.

Recipe Ideas

Stuffed Tomatoes 1 (filling without any meat)

Stuffed Tomatoes 2 (filling with meat included)

5-Ingredient Roasted Yellow Tomato Sauce

Pasta With Sun Gold Tomatoes (just substitute diced Dr. Wyche’s Yellows for the Sun Golds)

Yellow Tomato Gazpacho

Using yellow tomatoes changes up Gazpacho!

Health Benefits of Tomatoes

All tomatoes are high in fiber, vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate. They’re also one of the best dietary sources of lycopene, an antioxidant credited with reducing the risks of heart disease and cancer.

But the Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato is a yellow/orange tomato, which means it contains lots of beta-carotene (neutralizes free-radicals), extra folate and niacin, and even higher amounts of vitamin C than darker-colored tomatoes.

Closeup of sliced yellow-orange colored tomato.

Where to Buy Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomato Plants or Seeds

 Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato plants aren’t widely available.  You might find them at local nurseries and garden centers.  Seeds are available through several online retailers and Amazon.

Where to Buy Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomatoes

Heirloom tomatoes aren’t commercially grown and it’s unlikely you’ll find them in your supermarket produce sections.  Visiting farmers markets or contacting specialty produce stores is your best bet for finding fresh Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomatoes.

Wrapping Up the Dr. Wyche’s Yellow Tomato

Yellow tomatoes on the vine.

Dr. John Wych sounds like he was probably a character in his day.  What’s certain is he grew a unique tomato home growers can thank John Green and Craig LeHoullier for.  The Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomato seems to have everything you could want – easy care and large yields of beautiful, tasty fruit to enjoy year after year.

Do you grow Dr. Wyche’s Yellow tomatoes in your garden? If so, we’d love to hear all about them in the comments section below! To read the stories behind other tasty tomatoes, click here for our tomato blog posts.