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  • Author or Editor: Prosanta K. Dash x
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Hot and humid conditions create challenges for tomato production under a controlled environment. Low tomato productivity is related to the lack of stress tolerance of existing cultivars and their ability to maximize fruit set and yield. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of three management strategies, cultivar selection, grafting, and plant density, for the growth and production efficiency of organically grown hydroponic tomatoes under adverse environmental conditions in Qatar. The experiment used a split-split plot design with ‘Velocity F1’ and ‘Sigma F1’ as the main plot treatments and a factorial arrangement of grafting combinations and planting densities (3.5 and 5.5 plants/m2) as subplots. Tomato cultivar Velocity F1 grafted on Maxifort F1 resulted in greater vegetative growth and improved phenological attributes than nongrafted Velocity F1. Grafted ‘Velocity F1’ plants grown at 3.5 plants/m2 had an increase in leaf photosynthetic rates (18%), less transpiration loss (16%), and less electrolyte leakage (15%) while maintaining stomatal conductance and intercellular CO2 concentrations. At 9 weeks after transplanting, canopy growth was higher (24%) and flowering occurred earlier (3 days) with grafted ‘Velocity F1’ transplants than with nongrafted transplants. Higher fruit sets (20%), pollen viability (22%), and fewer flower drops (17%) were also observed for grafted ‘Velocity F1’ transplants than for nongrafted transplants. Marketable fruit yields were higher (26%) with grafted ‘Velocity F1’ grown at 3.5 plants/m2 than with nongrafted ‘Velocity F1’. Both grafted ‘Velocity F1’ and ‘Sigma F1’ fruits retained acceptable fruit color (L*, a*, b*, C*, °h), firmness, °Brix, titratable acidity, weight, and prolonged shelf life by 4 additional days than nongrafted ones. We conclude that grafted tomato ‘Velocity F1’ grown at a plant density of 3.5 plants/m2 was the best management strategy for enhancing seedlings quality, plant growth, and postharvest quality and alleviating abiotic stresses under this protected environment and hydroponic system.

Open Access

Identifying tomato genotypes that can thrive and produce abundantly under arid climatic conditions and addressing the growing food demand caused by population growth are pressing concerns for food security. This research aimed to assess the growth, physiological, phenological, fruit yield, and postharvest quality of tomato genotypes cultivated in an organic hydroponic system in Qatar, where abiotic stress conditions prevail. Ten different tomato genotypes were carefully evaluated, and comprehensive data regarding their growth and development were collected and analyzed. The performance of these tomato genotypes across all traits related to yield and quality showed significant variations. Notably, the ‘Velocity’ and ‘Sigma’ genotypes consistently exhibited robust vegetative growth and improved phenological characteristics compared with the other tomato cultivars. Specifically, ‘Velocity’ and ‘Sigma’ displayed increased leaf assimilation rates (35% and 32%), stomatal conductance (14% and 11%), and reduced transpiration loss (50% and 44%) compared with ‘SV4129TH’. These genotypes also showed lower electrolyte leakage (32% and 28%) and maintained higher intercellular CO2 concentrations. Furthermore, ‘Velocity’ exhibited an accelerated flowering pattern, with the first flowering occurring 4 days sooner and 50% flowering occurring 5 days sooner than that of ‘SV4129TH’. ‘Velocity’ also demonstrated superior fruit set (14%), pollen viability (24%), and fewer incidences of flower drops (36%) compared with ‘SV4129TH’. Notably, ‘Velocity’ outperformed ‘SV4129TH’ in terms of marketable fruit yields, with a 32% higher yield. In addition to its impressive yield, ‘Velocity’ exhibited superior postharvest quality, including firmness, Brix level, acidity, and color. Therefore, overall, ‘Velocity’ and ‘Sigma’ emerged as promising genotypes with strong abiotic stress tolerance capabilities. The correlation analysis of these traits provided valuable insights into the selection and breeding of genotypes that can withstand abiotic stress conditions, laying the foundation for effective comparisons and selections of genotypes suitable for organic hydroponic cultivation in stressful environments.

Open Access

The majority of strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) production in Florida, USA, uses bare-root transplants that require large volumes of water via sprinkler irrigation for establishment. Although plug transplants can be established without sprinkler irrigation, they generally are more than double the cost of bare-root transplants. We hypothesized that the use of early-planted (September) plug transplants on white-on-black mulch without impact sprinkler irrigation (WP system) would be more profitable and conserve water compared with the typical grower standard practice of black plastic mulch and bare-root transplants planted in mid-October that were established using impact sprinkler irrigation for heat mitigation for 12 d after transplanting (BB system). ‘Florida Radiance’ plug transplants and bare-root transplants were used in the 2-year study that was conducted at Citra and Balm, FL, USA. Water use and early and total strawberry yield of the two systems were compared. Water use in both locations was lower with the WP system than the BB system. Early yield was higher by 683 and 346 8-lb flats/acre with the WP system at Citra and Balm, respectively, compared with the BB system. The total marketable yield with the WP system was 2062 flats/acre and 1917 flats/acre greater at Citra and Balm, respectively, than with the BB system. Partial budget analysis indicated that the WP system at Citra increased the net profit by $14,657/acre, whereas a net profit of $13,765/acre was obtained at Balm. These results will inform decision-making about cropping system modification that can be adopted by Florida strawberry growers to considerably reduce water use in an economically feasible manner.

Open Access