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…]

Tropical Plant Called Moringa Shows Promise in Health, Anti-Aging Products

Ilya Raskin is seeking cures and treatments for ailments afflicting hundreds of millions of people… Raskin’s laboratory at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences studies the health benefits of crops and medicinal plants. A major focus is on revealing the molecular effects of chemical compounds in plants, vegetables and fruits on chronic diseases, including inflammatory and autoimmune diseases and gut problems.

Read the entire article at The Jersey Tomato Press »

Science shines at Rutgers Day on the Cook Campus

Rutgers marked its 250th anniversary on Saturday with huge celebrations on all of the campuses, and an estimated 100,000 individuals, many as couples or families, took advantage of the day to see what the various schools at Rutgers offer, from sports to music to food science to agriculture, the arts, and more… On the Cook Campus in New Brunswick, the broad focus was on science, ranging from horticulture to animal science, food science and even firefighting. Rutgers Gardens had a very large plant sale. There was an inflatable tunnel that mimicked the root system of a tree. The annual dog show for the Seeing Eye attracted dog lovers from around the state. The Rutgers Habitat for Humanity club was displaying a barrier-free garage that members had built for the Johnson family of Plainfield.

Read the entire article at Gannett New Jersey »

N.J. faces a pollen explosion in the coming weeks

Might be time to grab some tissues. And some eye drops. And some over-the-counter allergy pills. If you’re allergic to pollen and you haven’t felt any symptoms yet, you will be feeling them soon, according to Leonard Bielory, an allergist who teaches at the Rutgers University School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and also at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Read the entire article at NJ.com »

Rutgers researchers nurture young trees in hopes of reviving American chestnut

As Arbor Day is observed Friday, Rutgers University researchers are making efforts to bring back a species of tree that used to be among the tallest along the Eastern Seaboard. American chestnuts made up about a quarter of Northeast forests until a fungus from trees imported from Asia in the late 19th century wiped them out, said Christina Kaunzinger, a senior ecologist at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences… Rutgers plant biology professor Brad Hillman hopes restoration attempts will succeed. "It would be terrific to see some of the same types of landscapes as in the 1800s and 1700s. It was an important part of the forestry system at the time for a good reason," Hillman said.

Read the entire article at newsworks »