Rutgers researchers are working to develop a tomato with the perfect balance of acid and sugar. The new variety will also provide fruit earlier in the season. It will have a higher yield, a uniform color, and be more resistant to cracking. Breeders have been selecting cultivars for evaluation that were commercial F-1 hybrid releases from the 1960s and 1970s. These post-WWII releases had the best F-1 hybrid vigor, multiple disease resistance, yield, and fruit quality of their time.
The ‘Ramapo’ hybrid tomato was developed by plant breeder and Rutgers professor emeritus, Dr. Bernard Pollack, in 1968. It began as a cross of two parent seeds, ‘KCA,’ a tomato from the Campbell Soup line that was resistant to fusarium wilt, and ‘Abbie’ a tomato named after Dr. Pollack’s daughter that was resistant to verticillium. Hybrid tomatoes are developed by cross pollinating two different parent lines to produce a new variety that exhibits increased vigor, disease resistance and hopefully flavor.
Not only do gardeners love Rutgers tomatoes for their flavor, but also for their resistance to cracking and other common tomato diseases. Commercial seed companies previously sold seeds to farmers and gardeners, but over the years, stopped supplying them. Frustrated gardeners contacted Rutgers and a small amount of seed was produced and made available for a short time. Rutgers eventually found a company willing to mass produce the seed and the ‘Ramapo’ tomato was re-released in 2008.