Influence of high tunnel production and planting date on yield, growth, and early blight development on organically grown heirloom and hybrid tomato

Mary A. Rogers, Annette L. Wszelaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

High tunnels are rapidly gaining favor from growers in many regions of the United States because these structures extend the growing season and increase quality of high-value horticultural crops. Small to midsized organic growers who sell tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) for the fresh market can benefit from lower disease pressure and higher marketable yields that can be achieved in high tunnels. High tunnels also protect crops from environmental damage and benefit production of heirloom tomatoes as these varieties often have softer fruit and are more susceptible to diseases and cracking and splitting than hybrid varieties. The objective of this study was to determine the impacts of high tunnel production and planting date on heirloom and hybrid tomato varieties by observing differences in plant growth, yield, marketability, and early blight (Alternaria solani) development within an organic production system. This study showed no increase in total yields in high tunnels as compared with the open field, but increased marketability and size of tomatoes, and lowered incidence of defoliation resulting from early blight. Tomato planted earlier in both high tunnels and the open field yielded more marketable fruit during the production season than plants established on later planting dates. Hybrid varieties yielded more marketable fruit than heirloom varieties; however, heirloom tomatoes can have equivalent market value because of greater consumer demand and premium prices attained in the local market.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-462
Number of pages11
JournalHortTechnology
Volume22
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012

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Keywords

  • Alternaria solani
  • Hoop house
  • Protected agriculture
  • Season extension
  • Solanum lycopersicum

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