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We’re in the midst of the growing season, so it seems fitting that All America Selections announces a few garden trial winners.

Trials for 2018 introductions have yielded three national winners: “American Dream” sweet corn, “Onyx Red” ornamental pepper and “Red Racer F1” cocktail tomato.

National winners are judged to perform well in all climates.

Judges selected “American Dream” as the top trial choice in sweet corn, introduced by the same company that introduced “Honey ‘n’ Pearl,” a 1988 winner. It a tight trial, “American Dream” was pitted against “Honey ‘n’ Pearl” and won. It is described as having excellent germination, super-sweet kernels that are very tender and an earlier maturation date compared to other varieties, about 77 days.

Judges were impressed by the “vigorous, healthy plants with cobs that have good tip fill of bi-colored kernels.” Plants reach 6 to 7 feet high. It is bred by and will be available from Illinois Foundation Seeds Inc. seed dealers.

Bred by Takii & Co. LTD, ornamental pepper “Onyx Red” is striking enough that people give it a double-take. It’s probably the dark foliage and branches loaded with bright, shiny red fruit that grab their attention. AAS described the ornamental pepper as compact and well-branched for a bold statement as a bedding plant in the garden. The plant’s neat habit makes it a nice potted plant, too. Please note, it is ornamental, not edible.

“Red Racer” is described as a cocktail tomato — small fruit that is larger than cherry or grape tomatoes, but not full-sized, either. Bred by EarthWork Seeds and distributed by Garden Trends Wholesale, uniform clusters are produced on compact determinate plants. The yield is “huge” and 7 to 10 days earlier than comparable tomatoes. It has the added bonus of performing well in small spaces and container gardens. One judge said it was “small in size, but big in taste.”

The AAS designation recognizes an ornamental or edible for significant breeding achievements and proven superior garden performance as compared to other varieties on the market. Judges evaluate characteristics such as earliness, taste, disease-resistance and uniqueness.

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Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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