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  • Author or Editor: Francesco Di Gioia x
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Two greenhouse experiments were carried out to analyze the shoot sodium (Na+) partitioning, yield, and fruit quality of ‘Cuore di Bue’, a salt-sensitive heirloom tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.), ungrafted or grafted onto interspecific tomato hybrid rootstocks (S. lycopersicum × S. habrochaites) ‘Maxifort’ and ‘Arnold’ in 2009, ‘Arnold’ and ‘Armstrong’ in 2010, grown at different salinity stress (SS) levels (0, 20, and 40 mm of NaCl in 2009; 0 and 20 mm of NaCl in 2010). In both experiments, an interaction was observed between grafting combinations and SS levels in terms of fruit yield, and fruit juice Na+ content. Under no SS conditions, plant grafted onto ‘Maxifort’ and ‘Armstrong’ provided the highest yield in 2009 and 2010 experiments, respectively. In the presence of 20 mm of NaCl, plants grafted onto ‘Arnold’ provided a marketable yield 23.5% (on average) higher than plants grafted onto ‘Maxifort’ or ungrafted in 2009 and 33% (on average) higher than plants grafted onto ‘Armstrong’ or ungrafted in 2010. The further increase of SS to 40 mm of NaCl considerably reduced the productivity of all grafting combinations. At 20 mm of NaCl, plants grafted onto ‘Arnold’ showed also a higher capacity to modulate shoot Na+ partitioning with respect to ungrafted plants by increasing Na+ accumulation in older leaves (52%) and reducing Na+ content in younger and most active leaves (24%), thus enabling the maintenance of higher K+/Na+, Ca2+/Na+, and Mg2+/Na+ ratios compared with ungrafted plants. Fruit total soluble solids content, titratable acidity, and dry matter were unaffected by grafting at any SS level, whereas under SS, the fruit juice Na+ content of grafted plants was consistently lower (from 19% up to 68%) than that of ungrafted plants. Under moderate SS conditions (20 mm of NaCl), the use of rootstock genotypes such as ‘Arnold’ having a particular ability to reduce Na+ accumulation in younger and most active leaves may increase tomato yield and enhance tomato nutritional value by reducing the fruit juice Na+ content.

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Florida had the largest fresh-market tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) production in the United States, with a value of $437 million and 13,355 ha harvested in 2014. Despite the development of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) fertilizer recommendations, tomato growers often use fertilizer rates above the recommended ones, especially when seepage irrigation is used and a longer growing season is foreseen. If a mass balance of N–P–K partitioning could be made in field conditions, a better understanding of nutrition applications could be reached. Therefore, a field study was conducted on seepage-irrigated tomato on a commercial farm in southwest Florida, during the spring and winter season of 2006 to evaluate the nitrogen (N) rate and season effects on tomato plant growth, fruit yield, N, phosphorous (P), and potassium (K) accumulation and use efficiency. The UF/IFAS N-recommended rate (224 kg·ha−1) was compared with a commercial grower (CG) rate (358 kg·ha−1). Both N rates were incorporated at bedding with 61 and 553 kg·ha−1 of P and K, respectively. Fruit yield and plant growth were measured and roots, stems, leaves, and fruit samples were analyzed to determine total N, P, and K content and accumulation in different plant parts. Nutrient recovery (REC) and the partial factor of productivity of applied nutrients (PFP) were calculated for each N rate. In the spring, 120 days after transplanting, plants dry biomass was 11.5% higher (P = 0.01) in the CG N rate than with UF/IFAS N rate, while no significant differences were observed in the winter season. In the spring, N, P, and K accumulation were 250, 56, and 285 kg·ha−1 in plants grown with CG N rate and were significantly lower (23%, 5%, and 23%, respectively) with the UF/IFAS N rate, respectively. In the winter, total N accumulation was 231 kg·ha−1 in plants fertilized at CG N rate and significantly lower (16%) with the UF/IFAS N rate. N rate did not significantly affect P and K accumulation, which were on average 64 and 312 kg·ha−1, respectively. Marketable fruit yield was significantly higher (P = 0.03) with CG N rate than with UF/IFAS N rate (91.1 vs. 81.5 Mg·ha−1), and was significantly higher (P = 0.03) in the spring than in the winter (100.8 vs. 71.8 Mg·ha−1). The NREC was significantly higher (P = 0.01) with the UF/IFAS N rate than with CG N rate and was not significantly affected (P = 0.94) by seasons. The PFPN was significantly higher (P = 0.001) with the UF/IFAS N-rate than with CG N-rate, and was significantly higher (P = 0.04) in the spring than in the winter season. These results suggest that current UF/IFAS N recommendations are more conservative of N and this should lead to reduced leaching potential but, UF/IFAS recommendations must be season specific due to the difference in environmental conditions of fruit maturation in cooler weather of the winter season compared with a warmer environment of the spring season.

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With the phase-out of methyl bromide due to its impact on ozone depletion, research has focused on developing alternative chemical and biologically based soil disinfestation methods. Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) was developed to control plant-parasitic nematodes, weeds, and soilborne pathogens. However, whether farmers will adopt ASD methods on a large scale is unknown. This study evaluates the economic viability of using ASD in open-field, fresh-market tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) production, drawing on data from field experiments conducted in 2015 in Immokalee, FL, and Citra, FL. The experiment included three treatments: chemical soil fumigation (CSF), ASD1 [the standard ASD treatment with 1482 gal/acre molasses and 9 tons/acre composted poultry litter (CPL)], and ASD0.5 (the reduced rate ASD treatment with 741 gal/acre molasses and 4.5 tons/acre CPL). Results from the economic analysis show that ASD treatments require higher labor costs than CSF regarding land preparation and treatment application. However, yields from ASD treatments are higher than those resulting from CSF, and the improvement in yield was enough to offset the increased labor costs. Relative to CSF, ASD0.5, and ASD1 achieved additional net returns of $630.38/acre and $2770.13/acre, respectively, in Immokalee, FL. However, due to unexpected conditions unrelated to soil treatments, the net return of ASD1 was lower than that of CSF in Citra, FL. Breakeven analysis indicates that ASD treatments would remain favorable even with an increase in the molasses price. However, when the tomato price is low, ASD could potentially lose its advantage over CSF.

Open Access

Increasing the length of irrigation time by reducing the operating pressure (OP) of drip irrigation systems may result in decreased deep percolation and may allow for reduced nitrogen (N) fertilizer application rates, thereby minimizing the environmental impact of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) production. The objectives of this study were to determine the effects of irrigation OP (6 and 12 psi), N fertilizer rate (100%, 80%, and 60% of the recommended 200 lb/acre N), and irrigation rates [IRRs (100% and 75% of the target 1000–4000 gal/acre per day)] on fresh-market tomato plant nutritional status and yields. Nitrate (NO3 )–N concentration in petiole sap of ‘Florida 47’ tomatoes grown in Spring 2008 and 2009 in a raised-bed plasticulture system was not significantly affected by treatments in both years and were within the sufficiency ranges at first-flower, 2-inch-diameter fruit, and first-harvest growth stages (420–1150, 450–770, and 260–450 mg·L−1, respectively). In 2008, marketable yields were greater at 6 psi than at 12 psi OP [753 vs. 598 25-lb cartons/acre (P < 0.01)] with no significant difference among N rate treatments. But in 2009, marketable yields were greater at 12 psi [1703 vs. 1563 25-lb cartons/acre at 6 psi (P = 0.05)] and 100% N rate [1761 vs. 1586 25-lb cartons/acre at 60% N rate (P = 0.04)]. Irrigation rate did not have any significant effect (P = 0.59) on tomato marketable yields in either year with no interaction between IRR and N rate or OP treatments. Hence, growing tomatoes at 12 psi OP, 100% of recommended N rate, and 75% of recommended IRR provided the highest marketable yields with least inputs in a drip-irrigated plasticulture system. In addition, these results suggest that smaller amounts of irrigation water and fertilizers (75% and 60% of the recommended IRR and N rate, respectively) could be applied when using a reduced irrigation OP of 6 psi for the early part of the tomato crop season. In the later part of the season, as water demand increased, the standard OP of 12 psi could be used. Changing the irrigation OP offers the grower some flexibility to alter the flow rates to suit the water demands of various growth stages of the crop. Furthermore, it allows irrigation to be applied over an extended period of time, which could better meet the crop's needs for water throughout the day. Such an irrigation strategy could improve water and nutrient use efficiencies and reduce the risks of nutrient leaching. The results also suggest that OP (and flow rate) should be included in production recommendations for drip-irrigated tomato.

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Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is considered a promising sustainable alternative to chemical soil fumigation (CSF), and has been shown to be effective against soilborne diseases, plant-parasitic nematodes, and weeds in several crop production systems. Nevertheless, limited information is available on the effects of ASD on crop yield and quality. Therefore, a field study was conducted on fresh-market tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) in two different locations in Florida (Immokalee and Citra), to evaluate and compare the ASD and CSF performances on weed and nematodes control, and on fruit yield and quality. In Immokalee, Pic-Clor 60 (1,3-dichloropropene + chloropicrin) was used as the CSF, whereas in Citra, the CSF was Paldin™ [dimethyl disulfide (DMDS) + chloropicrin]. Anaerobic soil disinfestation treatments were applied using a mix of composted poultry litter (CPL) at the rate of 22 Mg·ha−1, and two rates of molasses [13.9 (ASD1) and 27.7 m3·ha−1 (ASD2)] as a carbon (C) source. In both locations, soil subjected to ASD reached highly anaerobic conditions, and cumulative soil anaerobiosis was 167% and 116% higher in ASD2 plots than in ASD1 plots, in Immokalee and Citra, respectively. In Immokalee, the CSF provided the most significant weed control, but ASD treatments also suppressed weeds enough to prevent an impact on yield. In Citra, all treatments, including the CSF, provided poor weed control relative to the Immokalee site. In both locations, the application of ASD provided a level of root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne sp.) control equivalent to, or more effective than the CSF. In Immokalee, ASD2 and ASD1 plots provided 26.7% and 19.7% higher total marketable yield as compared with CSF plots, respectively. However, in Citra, total marketable yield was unaffected by soil treatments. Tomato fruit quality parameters were not influenced by soil treatments, except for fruit firmness in Immokalee, which was significantly higher in fruits from ASD treatments than in those from CSF soil. Fruit mineral content was similar or higher in ASD plots as compared with CSF. In fresh-market tomato, ASD applied using a mixture of CPL and molasses may be a sustainable alternative to CSF for maintaining or even improving marketable yield and fruit quality.

Free access