Effect of Media Volume on Water Uptake of Tomato

in HortScience
Authors: M.S. Albahou1 and J.L. Green1
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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-7304

It has been shown that container medium volume affects plant growth and development in conventional production methods. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of media volume on the growth and yield of the determinate tomato genotype `Pik Red' in the closed, insulated pallet system (CIPS). The CIPS contains media pouches with wicks extended down into a water reservoir. Three root media volumes were investigated: 3, 6, and 9 L (3L, 6L, and 9L). The root media were placed in pouches that varied in diameter but had constant depth. The surface area of the wicks in contact with the bottom of all pouch sizes remained constant at 110 cm2. It was hypothesized that increasing the volume of root media would allow sufficient water replenishment during the dark period to meet the plant's need the next day, and thus allow greater growth and fruit yield. Daily water uptake for each individual plant was measured by the principle of atmospheric pressure and water replacement technique. Media volume had no significant effect on water uptake during early stage of plant growth. After 45 days after planting (DAP), water uptake and plant growth were less in 3L media volume. Water uptake was similar in the 6L and 9L treatments between 45–60 DAP. Total water uptake from day 60 to 125 was greatest in the 9L, intermediate for 6L, and least in the 3L treatments. The water uptake from 1–60 DAP was reflected in the fresh shoot weight, and the water uptake was reflected in the fruit weight. Average fruit sizes and the total fruit weights for the 3L were 67.7% and 60.4% those of the 9L treatment, respectively. The 6L treatment fruit yield and fruit size were intermediate between the 3L and 9L.