The creme of the 2013 Rose of Italy tomatoes did not quite measure up to the 2012 weight.
"It's one-pound, 10.1 ounces," Paul Suszczynski said after he weighed the largest tomato from friend Mike Coviello's plant. "We lost a few ounces."
Still, with a single tomato weighing over a pound and measuring 5.5 inches by 4.5 inches, it's hard to feel disappointed.
"We had all that wet weather in June," Suszczynski, a horticulturist and retired engineer, said.
Another single vine of Coviello's has more than 20 tomatoes growing on it, something Mike credits to the use of rich red sand found in southeastern Pennsylvania, Italy, France, Spain and in Australia. Red sand
"You put in 25 percent red sand, and you can grow anything," Coviello said.
Coviello and his brother Peter, whose family owns and operates the Coviello Bros. garden center in Madison, use a tract of land in Florham Park to grow plants and products for their store, and for their own personal use.
This was where the brothers first started growing their Rose of Italy tomatoes, named after their mother, Rosaria. For over 10 years the brothers have saved the seeds from their best tomatoes for planting the next year. Over time this heirloom tomato has become its own variety, the Rose of Italy, which was studied by Peter Nitzsche of Rutgers University in 2012.