Yield and Nitrogen Concentration of Tomato following Winter Cover Crops

in HortScience
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  • 1 Agricultural Research Station, Fort Valley State College, Fort Valley, GA 31030-3298

Our objective was to determine the effect of winter cover crops on the yield and N concentration of the following crop of tomato. No commercial fertilizer was applied to the tomato crop. Cover crops were planted in fall in a randomized complete-block design with control (fallow), rye, hairy vetch, and crimson clover treatments. `Mountain Pride' tomato was planted in spring after incorporating cover crops into the soil. Soil inorganic N content during the tomato growing season was significantly affected by the nature of cover crops planted during winter. Tomato planted after legumes had significantly greater amounts of inorganic N available for uptake compared to nonlegume or control. A rye cover crop did not have any effect on the yield of the ensuing tomato crop. On the contrary, a 15% increase in tomato fruit yields resulted from cover cropping with legumes. The N concentration in fruit in all treatments was similar. However, tomato grown after rye had significantly lower vegetative N concentration. Total N uptake was significantly greater in tomato succeeding legumes compared to nonlegume or fallow. It was concluded that by adding inorganic N into the soil, legumes increased the fruit yield and N uptake of the succeeding tomato crop.

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