Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV) is a serious constraint to tomato production worldwide. Losses are significant because the disease is difficult to control and most of the commercially available tomato cultivars are susceptible to TSWV. This study was intended to provide information that could be used to design more appropriate disease management strategies. The objective was to determine the relationship of tomato plant growth and fruit yield with the time of TSWV symptom appearance. Experiments were carried out during Spring 1999 and 2000, using drip irrigation and plastic film mulched beds with black plastic mulch alone (1999) or different colored mulches (2000). The mulches used were black, black-on-silver, gray-on-black, red, silver-on-black, silver (painted) and white-on-black, and bare soil. The 1999 experiment included a single TSWV-susceptible cultivar (Florida-47), while the 2000-experiment included two TSWV-susceptible (Florida-91 and Sun Chaser) and one TSWV-resistant cultivars (BHN-444). Colored mulches and tomato cultivars affected the time between transplanting and appearance of first symptoms of TSWV. For all tomato cultivars, vegetative top fresh weight (FW), fruit number and total fruit yield increased linearly with the time the plants remained free from TSWV symptoms. Marketable fruit yield also increased as the time from transplanting to the first appearance of symptoms increased. When data for cultivars were pooled, vegetative top FW and total fruit yield were reduced by 2.1% and 2.3%, respectively, for each day prior to harvesting that plants showed TSWV symptoms.
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