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Tomato, Rutgers

Short Description

HEIRLOOM. Its flavor, both for slicing and cooking, is still unequaled.

Full Description

The legendary Jersey tomato, introduced in 1934, is a cross between J.T.D. (an old New Jersey variety from the Campbell Soup Co.) and Marglobe. Its flavor, both for slicing and cooking, is still unequaled. Red fruits are slightly flattened. Tall vines, Fusarium resistance.
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Item#: 50617A
Order: 1 Pkt. (125 seeds)
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Item#: 22662
Order: 3 Plants
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Product properties

Days To Maturity The average number of days from when the plant is actively growing in the garden to the expected time of harvest.

74 days

Fruit Weight The average weight of the fruit produced by this product.

4-6 ounces

Sun The amount of sunlight this product needs daily in order to perform well in the garden. Full sun means 6 hours of direct sun per day; partial sun means 2-4 hours of direct sun per day; shade means little or no direct sun.

Full Sun

Spread The width of the plant at maturity.

32-54 inches

Height The typical height of this product at maturity.

68-80 inches

Sow Method This refers to whether the seed should be sown early indoors and the seedlings transplanted outside later, or if the seed should be sown directly in the garden at the recommended planting time.

Indoor Sow

Plant Shipping Information

Plants ship in Spring in proper planting time (click for schedule)


Item 22662 cannot ship to: AA, AE, AK, AP, AS, CN, FM, GA, GU, HI, MH, MP, PR, PW, VI
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How to plant tomatoes in the garden.
For the best yields follow the tomato planting guidelines in this video.
Watch video
Tomatoes- Staking and Caging
Support your tomato plants for maximum growth and yields.
Watch video

How to Sow and Plant

  • Sow tomato seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost in spring using a seed starting kit
  • Sow seeds ¼  inch deep in seed-starting formula
  • Keep the soil moist at 75 degrees F
  • Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days
  • As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
  • Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
  • If you are growing in small cells, you may need to transplant the seedlings to 3 or 4 inch pots when seedlings have at least 3 pairs of leaves before transplanting to the garden so they have enough room to develop strong roots
  • Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding.

Planting in the Garden:

  • Select a location in full sun with good rich moist organic soil. Make sure you did not grow tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or potatoes in the bed the previous year to avoid disease problems.
  • Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
  • Tomatoes should be set 30-48 inches apart in a row with the rows spaced 3-4 feet apart. It can be tempting to space tomatoes more closely at planting time, but if you plant too closely you will increase the chance of disease, and decrease yields.
  • Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball. 
  • Carefully remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the root ball with your hands to encourage good root development. 
  • Tomatoes can be planted deeply, with the stem buried to the first set of leaves. The more deeply they are planted the more roots will form, providing the plant with additional support and better ability to take up nutrients. Some gardeners plant tomatoes by digging a horizontal trench and laying the plant in the trench with the top 2-4 inches of the plant pointing upward.
  • Fill the planting hole with soil to the top and press soil down firmly with your hand leaving a slight depression around the plant to hold water. 
  • Use the plant tag as a location marker. This is particularly important if you are trying different varieties. It is very difficult to tell which variety is which from the foliage.  
  • Water thoroughly, so that a puddle forms in the saucer you have created. This settles the plants in, drives out air pockets and results in good root-to-soil contact.
  • Place your plant support at this time. You can try tomato cages or staking. Unsupported plants will sprawl on the ground, require no pruning, and will probably produce a larger yield of smaller fruit than will staked plants. For larger, cleaner, more perfect fruits, support plants as they grow. Growing on stakes: Place strong stakes in the ground and set plants about 6 inches from the stakes. Growing in cages: Place a cage around a single plant; let the vines grow and enlarge within the cage, no pruning  will be necessary

How to Grow

  • Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating. 
  • Mulches also help retain soil moisture and maintain even soil temperatures. This is especially important for tomatoes as their roots may be easily damaged when weeding, and this can lead to blossom end rot.
  • Keep plants well-watered during the growing season, especially during dry spells. Plants need about 1-2 inches of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It's best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
  • If growing on stakes: As the plants grow, allow only one or two main stems to grow and pinch out any other side shoots as they form. Gently tie the one or two remaining shoots to the stake; don't pull them tightly against the stake. If growing in cages, no pruning is necessary.
  • Whether to remove the side shoots, or suckers, that grow out of the leaf axils or not depends on the support system used. Gardeners using stakes usually snap off these side shoots. They typically get earlier and larger tomatoes but overall production tends to be less. If tomatoes are grown in cages, the suckers are generally left on, although it's a good idea to pinch the tip out of them when they are 6-8 inches long. Regardless you may want to remove all the growth from the bottom 6-10 inches of the plant. This helps to improve air circulation and reduce the spread of diseases such as early blight. Wait until the plants are knee-high. In the morning when the plants have the most water in them, snap off the lower growth while it is small. Any plants that look sick with distorted foliage or have a mosaic pattern on the leaves should be removed as they may have a virus that can spread to the other plants. It is best to do this early in the season.
  • Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.

Harvesting and Preserving Tips

  • Determinate tomato plants ripen a heavy crop over a few weeks. Indeterminate varieties bear fruit continuously till frost. Remember that the days to harvest refers to the time from setting out transplants in the garden.
  • Pick tomatoes when they are as ripe as possible. They should be fully colored and firm and picked regularly to avoid overloading plants.
  • At the end of the season, when you know there will be a frost, pick all the almost-ripe tomatoes you can, and ripen them in brown bags or spread on newspapers at room temperature. Many cultivars will store for months. Store only sound fruit, at 50-60°F. Do NOT refrigerate and try to avoid having the fruit touch each other.
  • The foliage of tomatoes is toxic and should not be eaten.
  • Tomato fruits are enjoyed in many cooked dishes as a flavoring. Use them to make soups, sauces, stews, ketchup, paste, juice, quiche, and pies. Add them to curries, casseroles, and chutney.
Days To Maturity
74 days
Fruit Weight
4-6 ounces
Full Sun
32-54 inches
68-80 inches
Sow Method
Indoor Sow
Planting Time
Sow Time
6-8 weeks BLF
6 inches
Life Cycle
Tomato, Rutgers is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 10.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great learning tool Planted Rutgers to start my 5 year old grandaughter in gardening, I thought it would show her the seed-to-table route taken by garden vegetables, and she could pick a few tomatoes here and there. She and I planted 2 plants which we had started indoors, outside by a 6 foot high wooden fence in her yard. Between those 2 plants, which are now higher that the 6 foot fence, she goes out with a pail and brings in 6 or 7 tomatoes every 2 or 3 days!! This has been going on for almost three weeks and she asked the other day, 'Poppy, when will the plants be wore out'? She is learning now about bumper crops and already wants to plant the same kind of tomatoes next year. Another lifelong gardener. Thanks, Burpee!!
Date published: 2014-09-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best tasting ever! I have to disagree with Citizen Kate from Kansas. Here in Kingman, AZ, summer temps from late June through early September regularly top 100 and often hit 112, and it's very dry. Needless to say I look for tomatoes that are heat and drought tolerant, while still being productive. Rutgers fills the bill. I started my Rutgers indoors on Feb 19 and moved them into the garden on March 6. At first I was disappointed because they developed so slowly and weren't setting any fruit, but in late June it took off and by July 18 I was harvesting my first of literally dozens of delicious 1 1/2" to 2" tomatoes. It's now August 15 and I just picked twenty vine ripened tomatoes from this SINGLE plant this morning and there are more than a dozen more forming as it is indeterminate and blooms and sets fruit continuously. Next to my cherry tomatoes it is the most productive tomato I've ever grown here. This is my favorite tasting tomato -- and I grow several varieties (all heirlooms, so I can save the seeds) to be certain of getting a crop. I'll be growing these from now on. Oh, I'm from SE Kansas originally and we never had trouble growing any tomato so I suspect Citizen Kate's problem stems from overwatering or a mineral deficient soil.
Date published: 2014-08-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Tasty tomatoes... not great in hotter climates This variety is not very hardy in the climate I live in, where we usually get several days with highs in the 100's. They started out great, cranking out lots of new growth and setting lots of tomatoes, but as soon as the highs were getting into the upper-90's, they started developing all kinds of problems. The one tomato I got from the two plants had a very good flavor, but I won't be raising any more of these here.
Date published: 2014-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great all-purpose tomato Every year I like to try new tomato varieties but I always plant some Rutgers. I have yet to find a tomato that can beat the Rutgers for both taste and functionality. It is not only my favorite sandwich tomato because of the fantastic taste but it is also a good canning tomato. It tends to be more meaty with less seeds. It gives my salsa wonderful flavor. The only downfall is that the plants do get very large. If you have a small space this may pose a problem. For me I will continue to plant these wonderful tomatoes each year.
Date published: 2013-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Tomato No doubt the best tomato. Never water the plant, only the roots. Let the "Good Lord" water it. I want taste not beauty. Had friends to laugh at size, but what you want in a tomato is taste not size, put 2 or 3 slices on that sandwich!!
Date published: 2013-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Tasty Tomato This tomato performs very well in my garden. The plants produce many tomatoes in a reasonable amount of time. Also, the tomatoes have a great taste and are just the right size. The only drawback I've discovered with these tomatoes is that mine seem to grow quite tall and they are a heavy plant; therefore, they require a good bit of staking, but I will continue to grow them!
Date published: 2011-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb taste I have been gardening since 1996 and have grown many varieties of tomatoes during that time. I have found that as a slicing tomato there is no equal to the rutgers. I also use is with great success in sauces, salsa and stir frys. Do yourself a favor and give this one a try, you will not be disappointed.
Date published: 2010-03-28
Rated 3 out of 5 by from You can find better heirlooms I know Burpee knows their plants but they missed the mark saying this is "unequaled". Look, if you want a pretty good tasting tomato, this will beat almost every hybrid out there, but this does not at all compare to many of the other heirlooms out there.
Date published: 2007-11-05
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