Harvest Maturity Affects Fruit Yield, Size, and Grade of Fresh-market Tomato Cultivars

in HortScience
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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, 2016 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher, NC 28732

Eight staked, determinate tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) cultivars were harvested when green (before breaker stage) or when pink (breaker stage and riper) in two replicated field studies. In general, total yield and average fruit size were reduced when fruit were harvested at the green stage. Harvest maturity had only a small effect on occurrence of most fruit defects, except fruit cracking, which was more severe for pink than for green fruit in the early season experiment. Although total yields for pink harvested fruit were higher than for green harvested fruit in the early season study, the high incidence of fruit crack in pink fruit resulted in similar yields of U.S. combination grade (U.S. no. 1 and U.S. no. 2) fruit for both treatments. Because the largest fruit often bring a premium price, harvesting fruit when pink probably will result in a higher price per kilogram than harvesting fruit when green. Fruit harvested green, however, are generally firmer, more crack resistant, and require fewer harvests than fruit harvested pink.

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