Jersey tomatoes could get even tastier with return of popular variety

MOORESTOWN, N.J. (WPVI) -- In the Garden State we love our Jersey tomatoes.

"There is just a special flavor to it. They're sweet, they're firm, you just can't beat them," said Bernadette Rivera of Eastampton, New Jersey.

And in the quest to create a more perfect tomato, agents from the Rutgers Cooperative extension in Burlington County continue testing the Rutgers 250. It's a remake of a juicy, tasty tomato from almost a century ago.

"With the Jersey 250 we're looking at, we want the yields, too, and we want disease resistance, but we want flavor," said Ray Samulis, agricultural agent.

When the Rutgers variety was first introduced in 1934, it was considered a breakthrough because of its great taste and good looks - and that's what they're trying to bring back.

Researchers got some old seeds, crossbred them with newer varieties and created a tomato that's designed for flavor and interior quality.

Because it's a new variety, agricultural agent Ray Samulis measures the size of the tomatoes he grew this year at the Burlington County Agricultural Center in Moorestown. He also inspects them for cracks, insects and blemishes.

Word about the Rutgers 250 is spreading to farmers including Steve Specca at the Corn Stop on Route 206 in Springfield. He will harvest his first crop in the next few weeks.

"They come here for Jersey fresh and that's what we've got to give them. If Rutgers is giving us a new tomato that is going to blow the rest of the competition out of the water, we gotta have it," said Steve Specca, farmer.

"For homeowners, gardeners and small-scale farmers that sell tailgate markets, they'll do very well," said Samulis.

Because remember, it's all about the taste.
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