For years gardeners wanted a large, beefsteak-type tomato that was delicious, early to bear, and highly disease resistant. Finally in 1994 those wishes came true with Big Beef. The large fruit has old-time tomato flavor and the vines are resistant to many of the problems that can discourage gardeners. The fruit is borne on vigorous, indeterminate vines from summer until frost. Compared to other beefsteak types, Big Beef is early and will set fruit reliably even in cool, wet weather. We harvest dozens of tomatoes from each plant in our Alabama test garden, where the harvest season lasts two full months and the growing conditions are very good. It grows well throughout the country, earning it an All America Selections designation in 1994; it has since grown to be a national favorite. Vines grow long, so give the plant the support of a tall cage or stake.

Resistant to verticillium wilt (V), fusarium wilt (F) races 1 and 2, nematodes (N), and alternaria stem canker (ASC), gray leaf spot (St), and tobacco mosaic virus (TMV).

For gardeners who enjoy plant history and interesting facts, Colen Wyatt, the breeder of this variety, was one of the most successful home garden vegetable plant breeders in the last half of the 20th century. He also bred Celebrity and Husky Gold tomatoes, which are both also AAS Winners.

  • Light Full sun
  • Fruit size 12 to 16 oz.
  • Matures 73 days after planting
  • Spacing 36 inches apart
  • Plant type Indeterminate

Some Bonnie Plants varieties may not be available in your local area, due to different variables in certain regions. Also, if any variety is a limited, regional variety it will be noted on the pertinent variety page.

At a glance
Nutrition Information

Light requirements: Full sun.

Planting: Space 18 to 36 inches apart, depending on type. (Read the stick tag that comes with the plant for specific spacing recommendations.) Plant deeply, burying 2/3 of the stem.

Soil requirements: Tomatoes need well-drained, nutrient-rich soil. Amend soil with compost or other organic matter prior to planting. Soil pH should be 6.2 to 6.8.

Water requirements: Keep soil consistently moist throughout the growing season. Moisture is critical to prevent cracked fruits and blossom end rot. Mulch soil to reduce water evaporation.

Frost-fighting plan: Tomato is a warm-weather crop—even a light frost will damage plants (28º F to 32º F). Protect newly planted seedlings by covering plants with a frost blanket.

Common issues: Pest-wise, watch out for tomato hornworms (big green caterpillars), slugs, pill bugs, rodents. In addition, humid weather invites fungal diseases like early blight and late blight. Plants may stop setting fruit when temperatures dip below 55˚ F or climb above 90˚ F. Blossom end rot can be a problem, as can misshapen fruit.

Harvesting: In general, perfectly ripe tomatoes show deep color but still feel firm when gently squeezed. Look up your specific variety for more details. Tomatoes do continue to ripen after being picked. Gently grab and twist until the tomato pulls free from the stem, or use a pair of clippers. Cut stems close to fruits.

Storage: Store picked tomatoes at room temperature indoors, or in a shady place outside. Never refrigerate tomatoes, because temperatures below 55° F cause flavor compounds to break down. Tomatoes will store longer if you allow stems and caps to remain in place until you’re ready to eat them. For peak flavor and nutrition, use within a week, although keeping time depends on how ripe fruit is when you pick it.

For more information, visit the Tomatoes page in our How to Grow section.

Nutrition Facts

1 cup sliced raw red tomatoes:
  • Calories: 32
  • Carbohydrates: 7g
  • Dietary fiber: 2g
  • Sugars: 5g
  • Protein: 2g
  • Vitamin A: 30% DV
  • Vitamin C: 38%
  • Vitamin K: 18%
  • Vitamin B6: 7%
  • Folate: 7%
  • Potassium: 12%
  • Manganese: 10%

Nutritional Information

The red tomato is listed on most nutritional lists as a superfood. It is packed with the antioxidant vitamins A and C, potassium and the B vitamins for heart health, and above all a powerful carotenoid called lycopene. This phytonutrient, which is responsible for the bright red color of tomatoes, has been studied for its role in fighting various cancers, and its ability to lower cholesterol. When tomatoes are cooked, even more lycopene is made available. Lycopene has been shown to be especially effective when eaten with fat-rich foods such as avocado, olive oil, or nuts. There are the ingredients for a powerhouse salad!