Tomato Fruit Yields and Quality under Water Deficit and Salinity

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Effects of deficit irrigation and irrigation with saline drainage water on processing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill, cv. UC82B) yields, fruit quality, and fruit tissue constituents were investigated in two field experiments. Deficit irrigation reduced fruit water accumulation and fresh fruit yield, but increased fruit soluble solids levels and' led to higher concentrations of hexoses, citric acid, and potassium. Irrigation with saline water had no effect on total fresh fruit yield or hexose concentration, but slightly reduced fruit water content, which contributed to increased inorganic ion concentrations. Fruit set and marketable soluble solids (marketable red fruit yield × percent soluble solids) were generally unaffected by either irrigation practice. Water deficit and salinity increased starch concentration during early fruit development, but, at maturity, concentrations were reduced to < 1%, regardless of treatment. Higher fruit acid concentrations resulted from water deficit irrigation and from irrigation with saline water relative to the control in one year out of two. These results support the contention that deficit irrigation and irrigation with saline drainage water may be feasible crop water management options for producing high quality field-grown processing tomatoes without major yield reductions. Appropriate long-term strategies are needed to deal with the potential hazards of periodic increases in soil salinity associated with use of saline drainage water for irrigation.

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