Path Analysis of Tomato Yield Components in Relation to Competition with Black and Eastern Black Nightshade

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Path analysis is a statistical method for determining the magnitude and direction of multiple effects on a complex process. We used path analysis to assess 1) the impact of black nightshade(Solarium nigrum L.) or eastern black nightshade(Solarium ptycanthum Dun.) competition on the yield components of `Heinz 6004' processing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) and 2) the relationship between tomato yield components and total and marketable yield. Either black or eastern black nightshade was interplanted with tomatoes at population densities from 0 to 4.8/m2. Path analysis revealed that increasing weed population density led directly to fewer green and total fruit per plant, two components of marketable yield. However, the percentage of culls per plant and fruit weight were not affected by nightshade population density. Using correlation coefficients alone would have lead to the erroneous conclusion that the percentage of culls did not affect marketable yield; our path analysis demonstrated that decreasing the percentage of culls through breeding or cultural practices will strongly affect marketable yield. The total number of fruit was the most important yield component in determining total and marketable yields per plant. Breeding and management practices that maximize fruit set, increase maturity at harvest, and decrease the percentage of culls would be expected to increase marketable yield.

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