In the early to mid-20th century, New Jersey was home to many canning companies that used tomatoes in their soups, juices, catsups and other tomato products. New Jersey farms supplied the fresh tomatoes for these industries, so agriculture boomed alongside the processing plants. Not all the tomatoes ended up on the processing lines–many were destined for the fresh market. Every summer, thousands of people from New Jersey, Philadelphia and New York would relish the outstanding taste of these “Jersey tomatoes,” earning their iconic reputation around the world.
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station played an essential role in the production and development of the Jersey tomato. In addition to the agricultural research and recommendations provided to farmers, during this time Rutgers plant breeders developed two leading varieties, ‘Rutgers’ (1934) and ‘Ramapo’ (1968) tomatoes.
Rutgers plant breeders continue to develop tomatoes best-suited for New Jersey’s ever-changing climate, and that possess good flavor. Their efforts benefit both small-scale home gardeners and large-scale commercial farmers. In addition to bringing the Ramapo tomato back on the market and resurrecting two classic Jersey tomato varieties, in 2016, Rutgers NJAES released the reinvention of the ‘Rutgers’ tomato–the ‘Rutgers 250,” named for the university’s 250th anniversary.
Read more history:
Original 1934 announcement for release of Rutgers tomato: “Scientific Breeding Gives New Jersey the Rutgers Tomato”