(216) Effect of Supplemental Potassium on Yield and Quality of Processing Tomato

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  • 1 1Purdue University, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Southwest Purdue Ag. Program, Vincennes, IN, 47591
  • | 2 2The Ohio State University, Horticulture and Crop Science, Ohio Ag. Research and Development Center, Wooster, OH, 44691

Physiological disorders affect both the appearance and nutritional quality of processing tomatoes intended for whole-peel and diced products. The cause of color disorders, such as yellow shoulder disorder (YSD), involves an interaction between plant genotype and the environment. Soil factors that correlate with the incidence of YSD are soil K, K:Mg ratios, organic matter, and phosphorus. Fields with an organic matter above 3.5% have a lower incidence of YSD. Progress in developing an integrated crop management system that growers and processors can use to profitably improve quality and nutritional value while reducing color disorders of tomato has been made. Decision tools for managing color disorders have been developed. Varieties of tomato differ in their susceptibility to color disorders; thus, variety use may offer growers a strategy to manage fields with low potassium, phosphorus, or low organic matter. Soil K application through drip irrigation was effective when applied at full bloom when the plants were most actively growing. Trials conducted in Indiana and Ohio during the 2003 and 2004 growing seasons demonstrated that weekly K application as a batch injection or solid application improved fruit color and reduced internal whitening. The effect of K addition is toward improved hue and L (lower values), but that trend is not always statistically significant and variety-specific responses are observed. Environmental factors for this response are explored. Managing this complex color disorder will entail minimizing risk of incidence, rather than preventative or curative applications.

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