CREATING A RESPONSE SURFACE FOR FRUIT SET AND FRUIT PRODUCTION IN TOMATOES GROWN AT HIGH TEMPERATURE

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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, Box 7609, Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

Global temperature increases are predicted over the next several decades. Earth surface temperatures in 1995 were the highest ever recorded. At day temperatures above 30C or night temperatures above 21C, tomato fruit production decreases. However, the temperature dependence of fruit production has not been described in terms of whether day temperatures, night temperatures, or mean temperatures are the most limiting. The process or tissue most sensitive to heat and most limiting to fruit production is also not known. The objectives of this experiment are to establish the temperature dependence of fruit set in tomatoes and to determine the importance of post-pollen production effects. We imposed a total of nine temperature treatments in a series of four separate experiments. Each experiment consisted of a 30/24C treatment and two other day/night temperature combinations with differing means and/or day/night temperature differentials. As mean daily temperature increased from 25 to 29C, fruit set, fruit number, total fruit weight, and seediness index (a quantitative rate of fruit seed content) declined. Temperature treatments did not affect average fruit weight. Higher mean temperatures promoted flowering except at the highest temperature. Mean temperature was more important than day/night temperature differentials or the specific daytime or nighttime temperature treatment.

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