Processing tomatoes were planted on a sandy loam soil on raised beds which were prepared in a conventional method with a power bedder (PB), or with conservation tillage (CT). The CT treatments were prepared by using Glyphosate herbicide to burn-off a fall-seeded rye cover crop at either 10cm, 15cm or 30cm height. The center of the bed was tilled with a modified conservation tillage coulter caddy, prior to planting the tomatoes, to loosen the soil but leave the rye residue on the surface. Crop residue cover on the soil surface after planting the tomatoes increased from 9% in the PB treatment, to 63% with CT at 30cm. Increasing crop residue cover resulted in cooler soil temperatures during the day and warmer soil temperatures at night. Transplant survival and early growth was comparable between the tillage systems. Tomato yield was approximately 10% higher in the PB treatment than in the CT treatments. In the conservation tillage treatments, the tomato plants had lower total nitrogen concentrations in the petioles. Nitrogen immobilization by microbes in the decaying cover crop residue may have contributed to the lower petiole N concentrations, and the yield reduction.
Ronald W. Garton and Irvin E. Widders
Seedlings of processing tomato `H 2653' (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were cultured in 288-cell (< 6 cm3 volume) plug trays in a soilless growing medium. Pretransplant fertilization with nutrient solutions containing 10 or 20 mm N and 2 or 5 mm P for 10 days altered the total ammoniacal-N and P, and the soluble NO3-N and PO4-P concentrations in the shoot tissue at transplanting. Post-transplanting shoot and root growth were more rapid in late May plantings than in earlier plantings. The 20-mm N and 2-mm P pretransplant treatment caused the most rapid shoot growth following early season plantings in the field. Rapid seedling establishment after transplanting was generally not a good indicator of potential fruit yield. The 5-mm P pretransplant treatment produced higher marketable fruit yields in early plantings but not in later. Culture of seedlings under a low fertilization regime (5.4 mm N, 1.0 mm P, and 1.6 mm K) before pretransplant treatment produced as high or higher fruit yields than did seedlings from a higher regimen. Withholding fertilizer temporarily before transplanting resulted in a depletion in tissue N and P concentrations, slow post-transplanting shoot growth, and lower yields.