Production of High-quality Tomato Transplants with a Novel Buffered Fertilizer

in HortTechnology
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  • 1 Southwest Florida Research and Education Center, 2686 State Road 29 North, Immokalee, FL 34142.
  • | 2 Department of Horticulture, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802.

`FTE 30' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) transplants were produced in Florida under standard commercial conditions and supplied with one of six treatments: zero, low (20% of the control rate), or high (control) super-phosphate (SP) fertilizer, or 0.5%, 1%, or 2% buffered-phosphorous fertilizer (Al-P). Growth characteristics were evaluated for four sets of transplants, produced in January, April, May, and August. Two sets of transplants were grown in the field in Florida (started in January and August) and one set was grown in Pennsylvania during the summer (started in May). Phosphorus concentration in leachate was measured weekly from one crop. Plants grown with Al-P showed a 72% to 88% reduction in P released in leachate compared with the high SP control. Transplants produced with 1% or 2% Al-P were of equal size and quality compared with transplants produced with conventional (high SP) fertilization, and had greater total root length and specific root length (length per unit root weight). Transplants grown with 0.5% Al-P were sometimes smaller than other fertilized treatments, while no-P plants were very small and grew slowly after transplanting. There were no significant differences in growth, yield, or fruit quality of plants fromtransplants grown with 1% or 2% Al-P or high SP at either site. Therefore high quality tomato transplants can be produced using buffered-P fertilizer, while reducing P leaching from the containers.

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