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  • Author or Editor: Alba Clivati McIntyre x
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Yellow shoulder disorder (YSD) is a physiological disorder of processing tomato that affects both the appearance and nutritional quality of the fruit. This disorder reduces the suitability of fruit intended for the whole-peeled and diced product markets. The YSD involves an interaction between plant genotype and the environment. A number of soil factors have been related to the incidence of YSD, including organic matter, phosphorous, K/Mg ratios, and soil K. Varieties of tomatoes differ in their susceptibility to color disorders, thus variety selection offers growers one strategy to manage this color disorder. The use of supplemental K application at a time when plants are blooming and actively growing offers a second strategy for management of YSD. To this end, a field study was conducted at the Southwest Purdue Agricultural Program in southwestern Indiana to study the effects of different sources of K on the color and quality of tomato fruit. Potassium chloride, potassium nitrate, and potassium sulfate were applied at first flowering in a solid, broadcast application. Appropriate controls were used to balance the nutrients supplied in addition to K. Supplemental K, regardless of source, improved fruit hue, though the trend was not always statistically significant between treatments. Variety specific effects were observed. This is a complex disorder and its management will entail minimizing risk of incidence through careful selection of variety and field location.

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The economics of processing tomato production are driven by soluble solids content, viscosity, color, and color uniformity of the fruit. Ripening disorders that affect color are a major limitation to the economic success of processing whole-peel and diced products. The causes of ripening disorders are not completely understood, although it is clear that soil nutritional status, weather, plant genetics, and interactions among these variables are important factors. We sampled both soil and fruit from fields in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana and were able to correlate soil fertility properties and fruit color. The correlation between soil properties and fruit color was different for fine- and coarse-textured soils. Fine-textured soils presented more frequent, but weaker, correlations with absolute color and within-fruit color differences when compared with coarse-textured soils. For fine-textured soils, exchangeable K correlated with a measure of within-fruit variation, L* difference (L*diff; r = −0.21, P < 0.01). Other measurements of K nutrition, K·Mg−½ ratio, Kact, and K%CEC, all correlated to the same extent (r = −0.29, P < 0.01). The highest correlations were identified between soil-available P and L* (r = −0.33, P < 0.01) and L*diff (r = −0.31, P < 0.01). In coarse-textured soils, exchangeable K correlated with L* (r = −0.373, P < 0.05), b* (r = −0.49, P < 0.01) and Hue° (r = −0.37, P < 0.05). K·Mg−½ ratio and Kact yielded higher correlation coefficients with absolute color measurements when compared with fine-textured soils. Soil-available P was correlated with L* (r = −0.375, P < 0.05), a* (r = 0.49, P < 0.01), Hue° (r = −0.46, P < 0.01), and C* (r = 0.40, P < 0.01). For coarse soils, K·Mg−½ ratio, Kact, and available P were important properties when the color of tomato fruit is of value. In all cases, higher exchangeable K and P nutrient status had a positive correlation with fruit color. Our sampling could not detect interactions among weather, genetics, and soil, and further work will be necessary to clearly describe the role of interactions in determining fruit quality in tomatoes.

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