Here's how it works... Jose and the crew mark the best plant in a row with tape. They do not pick that plant. Once the fruit is ready I come along take a look at it and taste it. I look for the right fruit size, some varieties will produce huge fruits which are not what most people want. We like medium fruit and lots of them. Cracking of the fruit has been a big problem in the past. The fruit grows faster than the skin can expand. When we first started growing heirlooms in 1993 over 30% of the fruit was tossed to the ground due to cracking, the figure n ow is less than 5%. If the fruit passes all visual inspections then I taste it. You would be surprised how many fail this test, maybe I am too particular. I look for a flavor that lingers, not just sweet, I want layers of flavor. If it tastes great I put another flag on the nearest post with a code number. For example 01GZ10 is the first selction of green zebra in 2010. Augustin comes along and picks the fruit. He removes the seed and pulp. This is then fermented in a mason jar for a couple of days. The fermented pulp is then washed through a fine sieve and dried on a paper tray. All this time the code follows the seed. Eventually ziploc bags of seed arrive on my desk with the code on it.
It is a simple process and one that makes progress over several years to the point where after tasting these we think you will agree that we are on the right track. Technically speaking the varieties are acclimatized to our soil and climate. I have said for many years now that we never sell our best tomatoes and each year our tomatoes are getting better.