What’s in Season from the Garden State: The Historic Rutgers Tomato Gets Re-invented in University’s 250th Anniversary Year

Breeder of the 'Rutgers' tomato, Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s)

Breeder of the ‘Rutgers’ tomato, Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s)

Of the hundreds of varieties of tomatoes grown by home gardeners or commercial growers, there are a few standards that have become household names. One of those is the ‘Rutgers’ tomato – a leading home garden and processing variety of the 20th century. While the Rutgers tomato is no longer commercially grown for canned tomato production, it is still a favorite among home gardeners and widely available from seed catalogs and garden centers.

The development of the Rutgers tomato is a lesson in the history of the early 20th century industries of canning and agriculture and a chapter in the story of the famed Jersey tomato. Introduced in 1934 by Rutgers vegetable breeder Lyman Schermerhorn, the variety was named for the university where it was developed. The name, however, belies the tomato’s origins, for the original cross was made at the Campbell Soup Company in 1928, with leading processing tomatoes as the parent varieties. In cooperation with Campbell’s, Schermerhorn selected the best plants from the cross and for the next six years conducted field tests on New Jersey farms and made further selections until in 1934 the most superior selection was released as the ‘Rutgers’ tomato.

At the time of the tomato release, the tomato canning industry was predominant in New Jersey, which went hand in hand with local tomato production. In the book Souper Tomatoes, author Andrew F. Smith described the industry as it first gained a foothold in New Jersey in the late 1800s, “Most farms in southern New Jersey from Trenton to Cape May cultivated tomatoes…Wagons and carriages of every description filled the roads on their way to the canneries. The roads were virtually painted red with squashed tomatoes that fell from the wagons. Most towns had one or more canneries.” [Read more…]

WATER ADVOCATES ISSUE ‘WORKPLAN’ TO HELP WITH MASSIVE SYSTEM UPGRADE

Advocates for improving New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure released their latest plan for fixing it on Wednesday, urging public and private utilities to fix leaks, stop sewage overflows, and prevent flooding during storms — and offering them advice on how to do it…. Dan Van Abs, a Rutgers University professor who sits on the group’s steering committee, said some utilities are already making the necessary changes, and that Jersey Water Works is aiming to facilitate that process.

Read the entire article at NJ Spotlight »

Tropical plant called moringa shows promise in health, anti-aging products

lya Raskin is seeking cures and treatments for ailments afflicting hundreds of millions of people. And he’s trying to find them – along with anti-aging and other beneficial compounds – in myriad plants in 20 countries on four continents. Raskin’s laboratory at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences studies the health benefits of crops and medicinal plants.

Read the entire article at Phys.org »

How a giant space umbrella could stop global warming

The race to find a solution to a rapidly warming world is one of the most pressing challenges facing our planet. One proposal to try to halt this warming is literally out-of-this-world: a giant, space-based sunshade. We’re already modifying our climate by accident, so why not do it by deliberate geoengineering?… And sulphate particles, as it turns out, are extraordinarily effective ozone-destroyers. Professor Alan Robock from Rutgers University authored a report on the risks of such interventions.

Read the entire article at BBC »

Prof. Pal Maliga Honored for Excellence in Plant Biology Research by National Society

Pal Maliga.

Pal Maliga.

Pal Maliga, distinguished professor in the Waksman Institute of Microbiology and professor of plant biology in the Department of Plant Biology and Pathology, has won the Lawrence Bogorad Award for Excellence in Plant Biology Research from the American Society of Plant Biologists.

Maliga received a master’s degree in genetics and microbiology from the Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary, in 1969 and a doctoral degree from the Jozsef Attila University, Szeged, Hungary, in 1972. From 1971 through 1982, Maliga held appointments at the Biological Research Center, Szeged, Hungary, where his research group pioneered mutant isolation, organelle transfer and genetic recombination in cultured tobacco cells.

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