Sweet basil varieties have undergone field trials to select for cold hardiness and resistance to threatening plant diseases. Rutgers researchers, lead by Jim Simon and Andy Wyenandt, developed three new varieties of sweet basil that are resistant to basil downy mildew. The following varieties were released by VDF Specialty Seeds in 2018:
- Rutgers Obsession DMR: Sweet basil for field and potted plant production; vigorous growth, high leaf-to-stem ratio, dark green color, highly resistant to fusarium wilt.
- Rutgers Devotion DMR: Genovese-type basil for potted plant production and fresh market; uniform, upright growth and dome or cup-shaped leaf.
- Rutgers Thunderstruck DMR: Sweet basil primarily for field production; medium-sized, slightly ruffled leaf with bright green color
- Rutgers Passion DMR: A beautiful sweet basil for potted plant and field production. Exhibits vigorous growth with a high leaf to stem ratio; ability to regrow after many harvests over a season, and slightly cupped leaf of a greater size compared to Rutgers Obsession DMR.
Sweet basil is the most commercially important annual culinary herb crop grown in the U.S. and one of the most popular garden herbs. Commercially, basil is grown for culinary use for both fresh and dry consumption and also to a limited extent is a commercial source of essential oil and oleoresin that are used in perfumes, food flavors, and aromatherapy products.