In glasshouse-grown tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. `Virosa'), deficit irrigation (DI), in which plant water potential was allowed to decrease from –0.5 to –1.2 MPa, reduced plant growth and fruit yield, size and count, and caused blossom-end rot. Deficit-irrigated fruit had higher color intensity, lower water content, and higher concentration of sucrose, glucose, and fructose than well-watered (control) fruit. Fruit concentrations of Ca, Mg, and K were the same for both treatments on a dry weight basis, but they were higher in DI fruit than in control fruit on a fresh weight basis. Fruit gas exchange was measured for two 30-day-apart harvests. For both harvests, DI fruit produced higher quantities of CO2 and ethylene than control fruit. Ethylene and CO2 production peaks coincided for the first harvest in both treatments. In the second harvest, the CO2 production peak preceded that of ethylene. Despite yield reduction, DI enhanced fruit desirability in terms of higher concentration of soluble sugars and higher color intensity.
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