People are passionate about tomato flavor. Especially New Jerseyans. They remember it when it was good. They long for it when it’s gone. The Rutgers NJAES Rediscovering the Jersey Tomato project looked at several facets of what makes a tomato tasty. And wevdid something about it – bringing back long-lost favorite Jersey tomato varieties from the 1930s – 70s, conducting tomato tastings, communicating with gardeners and farmers on growing delicious tomatoes.
The classic old time Jersey Tomatoes were a portfolio of varieties that did well under New Jersey’s climatic conditions in a different range of soils and ripening at different times of the season. Two popular Jersey tomato varieties, ‘Rutgers’ and ‘Ramapo’ tomatoes were developed at Rutgers NJAES in the 20th century. Our current research and tomato breeding efforts embraces our past contributions and forges ahead with the acknowledgement that consumers’ desire for tasty tomatoes is an important component of breeding and growing tomatoes.
The New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) was established at Rutgers University in 1880, conducting research and providing educational opportunities for New Jersey farmers. Early research on tomato production focused on cultural practices for controlling weeds, diseases and insects, and improving fertilization. In 1900, tomato breeding began by growing nearly all the commercial varieties of tomatoes and crossing many of the different varieties. NJAES tomato research in the 20th century supported New Jersey farmers in growing abundant healthy crops of Jersey tomatoes, and the releases of ‘Rutgers’ and ‘Ramapo’ tomatoes provided growers and gardeners with top-performing varieties.
In 2020, the Rutgers NJAES tomato breeding program released ‘Scarlet Sunrise,’ a tasty bicolor grape tomato. Developed by traditional (non-GMO) plant breeding methods, this cultivar has firm, crack-resistant red/yellow fruit. And, in tribute to New Jersey’s legacy of tasty tomatoes, the breeding program’s emphasis on flavor is depicted in this tomato, with an intense sweet flavor balanced by moderate acidity. The indeterminate plants are high yielding, with mid-late season fruit maturity. ‘Scarlet Sunrise’ is open-pollinated; 70 days to maturity. Red and yellow crack-resistant fruit with sweet intense flavor. High yielding, indeterminate plants.
Rutgers 250 tomato: Rutgers 250 is the result from crossing the same parent varieties as the original ‘Rutgers’ tomato that was released by Rutgers NJAES in 1934. ‘Rutgers 250’ was selected for high fruit quality and flavor and was named in honor of the University’s 250th anniversary in 2016.
Ramapo F1 Hybrid tomato: Ramapo was developed at Rutgers NJAES and released in 1968. It was prized by gardeners for its great flavor, fruit quality, reliability, and productivity. While Ramapo seed was unavailable for many years, Rutgers NJAES continued receiving requests for this popular tomato and eventually reintroduced Ramapo F-1 seeds in 2008.
Moreton F1 Hybrid tomato: Moreton was Harris Seeds’ first F-1 hybrid, released in 1953 and one of the first hybrids grown by Jersey tomato growers. This early maturing, tasty variety was off the market and re-introduced in a cooperative effort by Harris Seeds and Rutgers NJAES. Moreton makes a good earlier maturing garden companion to Ramapo and KC-146. Good for regions with short growing seasons and suitable for growing in containers.
KC-146 tomato: KC-146 (also known as Campbell’s 146) was developed by Campbell’s Soup Company as a processing tomato and released in 1956. This variety was wilt and crack-resistant and better flavored than other processing types. It was eventually replaced with newer varieties with a more disease resistance. Campbell’s maintained the KC-146 stock as their flavor standard. We agree, this is one tasty tomato! Suitable for growing in containers.
Tomato Seed Availability
Seed Availability for Home Gardeners:
Notice for 2022: this is the last year seeds can be purchased from Rutgers NJAES. Seeds will be available through the end of 2022, using the order form linked below. Going forward, alternative sources for these seeds are listed below.
The Rediscover the Jersey Tomato program has ‘Rutgers 250’, ‘Ramapo’, ‘Moreton’ and ‘KC-146’ (Campbell’s-146) and “Scarlet Sunrise” tomato seeds.
These items can be purchased using this order form: go.rutgers.edu/tomato
Tomato seeds should be started indoors 6-8 weeks before the outdoor transplanting date (e.g., for Central NJ, start indoors in late March/early April and transplant outside mid-May).
For questions on growing tomatoes, contact your local Extension office: Cooperative Extension County Offices (Rutgers NJAES).
Sources for tomato seeds going forward:
Rutgers 250 and Ramapo tomato seeds: Tomato – Slicer / Beefsteak | Rohrer Seeds
Moreton tomato seeds: Tomato Moreton Hybrid F1 Seed – Harris Seeds
Scarlet Sunrise and KC-146 (Campbell’s 146) can be found from select sources doing an internet search.
Mention or display of a trademark, proprietary product, or firm in text or figures does not constitute an endorsement by Rutgers Cooperative Extension and does not imply approval to the exclusion of other suitable products or firms.
Rutgers offices: the bulk purchase of seed packets for conferences is no longer available.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension Home Gardening Fact Sheets:
Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station Services:
Bulk ‘Rutgers 250,’ ‘Ramapo,’ and Scarlet Sunrise* Tomato Seed and POP Materials for Commercial Growers
Commercial Sales of Rutgers NJAES Tomato Seeds
To buy bulk seed for commercial sales of Rutgers 250, Ramapo, Rohrer’s Seeds in Smoketown, PA is handling bulk seed sales. The contact person is Jim Gamber at (717) 299-2571 ext. 2 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Bulk Moreton seed is available from Harris Seeds (http://www.harrisseeds.com).
Note: Rutgers NJAES will no longer be posting the Retail Plant/Tomato Sales Listing or selling plant tags for these varieties.