WIMAUMA, Fla. Adding ammo to better compete against hothouse tomatoes, Red Diamond Farms is introducing a brand of field-grown tomatoes.

A division of Tomato Thyme Corp., Red Diamond is also planning to expand tomato production to northwest Ohio.

Tomato Thyme introduces specialty tomatoThe grower-shipper of vine-ripes, heirlooms, grapes and roma tomatoes is rolling out trademarked Ruby Ripes specialty tomatoes.

In December, Red Diamond introduced the tomatoes to some northeastern and southeastern retailers and plans to begin bigger volume of production Jan. 15 in south Florida and expand production to central Florida in April, said Michael Lacey, director of sales and marketing.

Tomato Thyme markets the flavor attributes of the tomatoes, packed in 1-pound clamshells, as "Little gems, ripe and ready to eat."

Tomato Thyme introduces specialty tomato"We are coming into an area where we feel we can compete," Lacey said. "A lot of people want to compare them to hothouse product, but they"re not grown the same and they"re not the same seed. Customers we have shown them to are excited about the flavor and pricing."

Lacey said the tomatoes possess higher brix than some hothouse tomatoes.

To keep consistent year-round supply and better serve its northeastern retail customers, Red Diamond plans to begin in Tiffin, Ohio, northwest of Columbus, Ohio. August through fall production should also help retailers desiring locally grown produce, Lacey said.

Tomato Thyme introduces specialty tomatoTomato Thyme owner Javier Torres used to run a foodservice company that he sold in 1999. Keeping the company name, Torres began focusing on specialty tomatoes.

"Our company has been built around the vine-ripe," Torres said. "We don"t want to be just another company growing thousands of acres and picking them green. We"re staying away from the gassed greens. That will separate us from the others."

Red Diamond grows tomatoes in Apollo Beach, Sarasota and Homestead from October to late May, in Quincy June through mid-July, and in Tennessee July through October.