In growing greenhouse tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) using the nutrient film technique (NFT), HNO3 or H3PO4 is usually added to offset the increase in pH of the recirculating solution. For economic and environmental reasons, HCl would be a possible substitute for either HNO3 or H3PO4. Therefore, experiments were initiated to evaluate HCl as an alternative acid in controlling the pH of the recirculating solution in NFT-grown greenhouse tomato. The effects of HNO3, H3PO4, and HCl on the growth, fruit yield, and fruit quality were quantified. In 1995, these effects were tested using `Trust' and `BST 7804' at a recirculating solution pH of 5.5, 6.0, or 6.5; in 1996, only `Trust' was grown at a recirculating solution pH of 6.2. In the 1995 experiment, genotypic differences in marketable fruit yield tended to be smaller when HCl was used to control the recirculating solution pH at 6.0 than when either H3PO4 or HNO3 was used. In `Trust', at a pH of 5.5 under the HCl treatment, fruit quality tended to be higher than in other treatment combinations. In 1996, over a 45-day period, the concentration of Cl− that accumulated in the recirculating solution from added HCl was 313 mg·L−1 (313 ppm). There were no significant effects of the treatments on the growth, fruit quality, or yield of the crop. The total marketable yield was better when HCl had been used, likely due to high fruit production at the early part of the harvesting period. Potential savings for the season can be achieved if HCl is substituted for H3PO4 to regulate the nutrient solution pH in NFT-based greenhouse tomato production.
Experiments were carried out to evaluate two salts, K2SO4 and NaCl, as materials to supplement the electrical conductivity (EC) of the basic nutrient solution in nutrient film technique (NFT). The effects of these materials on the growth, yield and fruit quality of greenhouse tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) grown by NFT were quantified. These effects were tested by increasing the recirculating solution EC from a base value of 1500 μS·cm-1 to that suitable for the crop growth stage with normal feed (macronutrients), 0.38 m (0.53 lb/gal) K2SO4 or 1.14 m (0.55 lb/gal) NaCl, at a common pH of 6.2. In 1995 and 1996, there were no significant effects of the treatments on crop growth. In 1995, the early marketable yield was significantly lower when K2SO4 was used but the yield at the end of the season did not differ among the treatments. Furthermore, with K2SO4, the proportion of grade #1 fruit in early total yield was lower than in the control, while, fruit biomass content was higher than in the NaCl treatment. In 1996, the cumulative marketable fruit weight was unaffected by the treatments. A trend toward high number of large grade fruit occurred with the NaCl treatment. The pH and EC of the fruit homogenate were favorably affected by the NaCl treatment. Adding K2SO4 or NaCl in partial substitution of macronutrients in the recirculating solution may have a role in NFT systems in not only reducing environmental pollution (from nitrates and phosphates) and fertilizer costs, but also in improving fruit quality and, therefore, profit margins.
Encouraging results from previous trials on field vegetables led to the expectation that a kinetin foliar spray from the commercial product KIN-Gro (5000 ppm kinetin) on greenhouse vegetables would positively affect their growth and productivity. Thus, in this study, we evaluated the usefulness of this product on rockwool-grown `Bodega' cucumber (Cucumis sativus), `Rapsodie' tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum), and `4-Ever' and `444' pepper (Capsicum annuum) at the Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Harrow, Ont. Two replicated experiments were conducted to study the effect of kinetin spray on growth and production of all three crops: the first in Spring-Summer 2004 and the second in Fall-Winter 2004. Foliar sprays of kinetin at 2.5, 5, and 10 ppm concentrations were tested against a water spray (control) on each crop. A 2.5-ppm kinetin spray had beneficial effects on the growth of cucumber transplants (taller plants and greater leaf area and fresh weight of leaves and stems). Furthermore, this treatment resulted in higher marketable yield in the Spring-Summer crop and in larger fruit size in the Fall-Winter crop. Regression analysis showed that cucumber marketable yield had an overall quadratic response to kinetin spray concentration in Spring-Summer season maximizing at 5.1 ppm kinetin. Kinetin spray also had beneficial effects on the growth of tomato seedlings, but not on yield. On the other hand, significant beneficial effects were observed on the growth of pepper seedlings and on marketable yield and fruit quality. Regression analysis showed that the response of pepper marketable yield to kinetin spray concentration was positive and linear. It must be noted that, given the rather short-term nature of our experiments, the observed beneficial effects of the kinetin sprays on yield can only be interpreted as beneficial effects on early yield rather than on the total yield. We concluded that under our growing conditions, cucumber production would benefit from a dilute (2.5 ppm) kinetin spray, and pepper production from a high concentration spray (10 ppm); tomato transplant growth will also benefit from a kinetin spray at 2.5 ppm. The results of this study could be of considerable significance to the greenhouse vegetable industry.