Divergent Transplant Production Practices Produce Comparable Growth, Yield, and Quality of Processing Tomatoes

in HortScience
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  • 1 Department of Vegetable Crops, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

The effect of transplant production and handling practices on processing tomato growth, yield, and fruit quality were evaluated in five field trials in California. In 1999, processing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv. Halley) transplants were obtained from a number of commercial transplant producers and taken to the Univ. of California-Davis (UCD) where treatments were imposed for 1 week prior to transplanting. Treatments included N and P fertilization, exposure to lath house or greenhouse temperature, withholding water, and storage in the dark for 2 days to simulate shipment from greenhouse to field. Nine treatments per site were compared in field trials at Yolo, Woodland, and Knights Landing. In 2000, transplants were grown at UCD under varying nutrient regimes, including P fertilization rates ranging from weekly application of 0 to 90 mg·L-1. Two commercial field trials comparing 8 treatments were conducted near Winters and Newman. Although transplant production and handling practices significantly influenced relative growth rate in the 3-4 weeks following transplanting in all 1999 trials, effects on fruit yield were minimal, with only one treatment at Woodland showing significantly lower yield and no treatment differences in crop maturity, fruit soluble solids, or juice color observed at any site. In 2000, plants receiving no weekly P fertilization showed slower growth in the 3 weeks after transplanting, but no treatment differences were observed after 6 weeks. Fruit yield, soluble solids content (°Brix) and juice color were unaffected by transplant treatment. We conclude that transplant production and handling practices tested had minimal differential effect on the subsequent field performance of processing tomato transplants in the Central Valley of California.

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