Rutgers Basil History
Rutgers Professor of New-Use Agriculture Dr. James Simon begins to develop an extensive collection of basils from around the world.
Dr. Simon begins breeding basil, first attempting to understand the genetics of aroma formation and the development of lines rich in specific aroma compounds. Breeding for disease resistance began with Fusarium wilt resistance, which was a major problem for commercial basil growers in the 1990s.
A large leaf Italian types of open-pollinated Fusarium wilt resistant sweet basil was soon developed.
Focus on researching downy mildew for solutions, as this new disease came into New Jersey and devastated the commercial basil crop. “In concert with our state vegetable pathologist, Andy Wyenandt, and with encouragement of some of our lead basil farmers like Dennis Dalponte and other Rutgers vegetable specialists, we first sought to address this problem by identifying basils from any species that exhibited tolerance or resistance.” -Dr. James Simon.