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  • Author or Editor: Daniel E. Shoup x
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‘Cherokee Purple’ tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) plants are a highly sought-after heirloom cultivar in the United States but are low yielding and highly susceptible to soil-borne pathogens, and may benefit from being grafted. Soilless systems such as aquaponics and hydroponics help increase yield, mitigate disease, and serve as an alternative to field production. The objective of this study was to evaluate a grafting combination of ‘Cherokee Purple’ × ‘Maxifort’ and nongrafted controls in 1.85-m2 media grow beds with hydroponic and aquaponic systems using copper nose bluegill in a greenhouse. Grafting increased stem diameter, leaf count, stem height, flower count, and bud count compared with nongrafted plants. In aquaponics, grafting increased the phosphorus uptake over nongrafted plants grown in the aquaponic system. Grafting resulted in greater fresh (49.2%) and dry (40.0%) shoot biomass, and fresh (33.3%) and dry (42.8%) root biomass. Grafting also increased the uptake of copper and sulfur in the aquaponic systems. The hydroponic systems resulted in greater leaf count, soil plant analysis development, stem height, shoot biomass, and greater boron, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and manganese levels than aquaponic systems. Total fruit number and weight were greater in hydroponic systems than in aquaponic systems by 35.4% and 30.4%, respectively, but fruit splitting was a problem in both. Aquaponics resulted in greater root fresh weight than hydroponics. The nutrients zinc and copper increased with the use of aquaponic systems over hydroponic systems. This research suggests that the type of system can affect growth and nutrient uptake, and ‘Cherokee Purple’ should not be used in a soilless system because of excessive fruit splitting, leading to unmarketable fruit and low yield, unless environmental conditions can be managed during the heat of the summer.

Open Access