PLANT AGE AT CATFACE INDUCTION DETERMINES SEVERITY OF THE DISORDER

in HortScience

In a preliminary experiment, tomatoes were induced to catface by a temperature treatment of 2 weeks at 16/10C (day/night), starting at the 6-leaf stage. Fruits of the second and third, but not the first cluster showed catface symptoms. If catfacing induction could be further delayed by growing transplants in a non-inducing environment until most flower primordia have been initiated, plants might escape the disorder. In 2 field trials, plants were greenhouse-grown for 33, 47, or 61 days, and induced to catface by a GA3 foliar spray (15 ul·1-1) at transplanting. Catfacing was significantly increased by GA, sprays (23 vs 11% of all fruits in 1989, 22 vs 8% in 1990). In both years, there was a highly significant interaction between plant age and catfacing incidence, with high levels for young and medium-aged, but lower levels for old GA-treated transplants. Marketable yields were highest for youngest and medium-aged plants in 1989 and 1990, respectively. Old plants were checked in growth after transplanting and produced lowest yields in both years. Avoiding catfacing by use of old transplants thus has doubtful practical value.

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