Pick up know-how for tackling diseases, pests and weeds.
Farm bill, farm marketing, agribusiness webinars, & farm policy.
Find tactics for healthy livestock and sound forages.
Scheduling and methods of irrigation.
Explore our Extension locations around the state.
Commercial row crop production in Arkansas.
Agriculture weed management resources.
Use virtual and real tools to improve critical calculations for farms and ranches.
Learn to ID forages and more.
Explore our research locations around the state.
Get the latest research results from our county agents.
Our programs include aquaculture, diagnostics, and energy conservation.
Keep our food, fiber and fuel supplies safe from disaster.
Private, Commercial & Non-commercial training and education.
Specialty crops including turfgrass, vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals.
Find educational resources and get youth engaged in agriculture.
Gaining garden smarts and sharing skills.
Timely tips for the Arkansas home gardener.
Creating beauty in and around the home.
Maintenance calendar, and best practices.
Coaxing the best produce from asparagus to zucchini.
What’s wrong with my plants? The clinic can help.
Featured trees, vines, shrubs and flowers.
Ask our experts plant, animal, or insect questions.
Enjoying the sweet fruits of your labor.
Herbs, native plants, & reference desk QA.
Growing together from youth to maturity.
Crapemyrtles, hydrangeas, hort glossary, and weed ID databases.
Get beekeeping, honey production, and class information.
Grow a pollinator-friendly garden.
Schedule these timely events on your gardening calendar.
Equipping individuals to lead organizations, communities, and regions.
Guiding communities and regions toward vibrant and sustainable futures.
Guiding entrepreneurs from concept to profit.
Position your business to compete for government contracts.
Find trends, opportunities and impacts.
Providing unbiased information to enable educated votes on critical issues.
Increase your knowledge of public issues & get involved.
Research-based connection to government and policy issues.
Support Arkansas local food initiatives.
Read about our efforts.
Preparing for and recovering from disasters.
Licensing for forestry and wildlife professionals.
Preserving water quality and quantity.
Cleaner air for healthier living.
Firewood & bioenergy resources.
Managing a complex forest ecosystem.
Read about nature across Arkansas and the U.S.
Learn to manage wildlife on your land.
Soil quality and its use here in Arkansas.
Learn to ID unwanted plant and animal visitors.
Timely updates from our specialists.
Eating right and staying healthy.
Ensuring safe meals.
Take charge of your well-being.
Cooking with Arkansas foods.
Making the most of your money.
Making sound choices for families and ourselves.
Nurturing our future.
Get tips for food, fitness, finance, and more!
Understanding aging and its effects.
Giving back to the community.
Managing safely when disaster strikes.
Listen to our latest episode!
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture does not promote, support
or recommend plants featured in "Plant of the Week." Please consult your local Extension
office for plants suitable for your region.
Tomatoes just aren't what they used to be. Sure they look great. While they may be
blemish free and bright red, what happened to the taste I remember from a generation
ago? As fewer Americans grow vegetable gardens, an entire generation of children has
grown up unaware of what a homegrown, vine-ripened tomato can taste like.
For taste and quality, I prefer the Traveler tomato of a generation ago over the orbs
now cluttering our grocery shelves.
Traveler tomato is a homegrown tomato released in 1971 by Joe McFerran of the University
of Arkansas Horticulture Department. It has a distinctive pinkish look due to the
absence of a yellow pigment in the epidermis, a characteristic perpetuated during
the breeding process to distinguish it as a high quality product. McFerran developed
the cultivar for the tomato growers of southeastern Arkansas, but it's equally at
home in the home garden.
McFerran, who retired from the university in 1986, grew up during the Depression on
a farm near Charleston in Sebastian County. In 1954, he began working with the state's
McFerran tells me that in post-war Arkansas, every little community in the Ozarks
had a tomato cannery that processed locally produced tomatoes. Each cannery had a
complete set of brand labels and would slap on whatever label the customer wanted
when the cans were sold.
Prices for growers were only $10 per ton for fresh fruit and yields were low, so the
100 or so small canneries began closing as larger firms such as Siloam Spring's Allen
Canning Co. grew. The small canneries were all gone by 1970.
During the 1950s, a fresh market industry developed in the piney woods of southeastern
Arkansas around Warren in Bradley County. Farmers were growing a Louisiana cultivar,
Gulf State Market, and hauling their vine ripened fruit to Little Rock for sale. But
this tomato had problems. During wet periods when the humidity was high, cracks developed
in the fruit that seriously reduced the quality. Also, the variety was susceptible
to fusarium wilt, a serious soilborne disease of tomatoes.
McFerran crossed Gulf State Shipper with a USDA-numbered line resistant to fusarium
wilt and produced a wilt resistant selection called Bradley, which he released in
1961. Bradley, still grown by Warren area tomato growers for their household use,
was a high quality eating tomato, but it still was prone to crack when it rained too
much or the humidity got high.
During the 1960's, McFerran developed a test for selecting tomatoes that showed improved
crack resistance. Out of this work, Traveler was released in 1971.
The southeastern tomato industry has consistently generated sales of $8 to $12 million
dollars, but it has not been immune to the changes wrought by economic conditions.
From its beginning until the mid 1980s, the industry was primarily based on small
growers who produced 5 to 8 acres of fruit, primarily using family labor for growing
and packing the fruit.
The distinctive pink-fleshed Traveler tomato was a marketing advantage while the retail
marketplace was dominated by mom-and-pop stores. But as supermarket chains began to
dominate after the mid 1970s, buyers wanted everything to look the same. To them,
tomatoes should be red. By 1990, the southeastern Arkansas industry began shifting
to the red-fleshed "Mountain" series of cultivars developed in North Carolina. Tomato
growers now often have 20 acres or more of production and rely heavily on migrant
labor to assist in the harvest.
No sinister plot was hatched in the corporate boardrooms of America to deprive the
American public of a quality tomato. The tomato has fallen victim to our mass-market
economy that focuses on production, distribution and eye appeal. To satisfy these
demands, growers have been forced into choices that work counter to eating quality.
The juices and thin skin that make a tomato good for eating run counter to the characteristics
that make it a good shipping tomato.
Traveler and Traveler 76 tomatoes are still around but it may take a treasure hunt
to find them. Some of the independent garden centers still grow Traveler transplants
in the spring, hoarding their remaining seeds like the rare gems they are.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals Extension News - June 28, 2002
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture does not maintain lists
of retail outlets where these plants can be purchased. Please check your local nursery
or other retail outlets to ask about the availability of these plants for your growing