Hairy Vetch Mulch Favorably Impacts Yield of Processing Tomatoes

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  • 1 Vegetable Laboratory, Plant Sciences Institute, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350
  • 2 Horticultural Crop Quality Laboratory, Plant Sciences Institute, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350
  • 3 Weed Science Laboratory, Plant Sciences Institute, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD 20705-2350
  • 4 Department of Horticulture, Virginia State University and Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Ten cultivars of processing tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) grown in bare soil or on black polyethylene and hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.) mulches were evaluated for yield, fruit processing quality, and leaf necrosis. Yields were higher, fruit was heavier, and leaf necrosis less in hairy vetch than in bare soil or black polyethylene mulch. With the exception of pH, yield and fruit quality component responses to mulch treatments were not cultivar-dependent. Fruit pH, soluble solids concentration, and color equaled values obtained using bare soil production practices. Percent solids was highest with black polyethylene and lowest in hairy vetch. The hairy vetch mulch delayed fruit maturity compared to the bare soil and black polyethylene. The hairy vetch cultural system has the potential to increase yield of processing tomatoes.

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