High Tunnel Production of Tomatoes and Snapdragons for Season Extension in Southeastern Alabama
Type of DegreeThesis
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Tomato and snapdragon production were evaluated for high tunnel production in southeastern Alabama during the spring and fall production cycles for season extension feasibility. ‘BHN 640’, ‘FLA 91’, ‘Sunleaper’, and ‘Carolina Gold’ tomato varieties were grown for early-spring production in 2004. The varieties did not differ in total marketable yields; however ‘BHN 640’ and ‘Sunleaper’ produced heavier early yields compared to the other varieties. In the fall of 2004, a study was conducted to determine the suitability of ‘BHN 640’ and ‘FLA 91’ varieties for late season extension. ‘BHN 640’ produced greater yields than ‘FLA 91’ for the large, medium, marketable and unmarketable fruit grades. In spring 2005, a planting date study was conducted to evaluate optimum planting time for season extension. Higher marketable yields were obtained from the first and second planting date studies than from the fourth planting date study. Two growth chamber studies were conducted to evaluate cold tolerant tomato varieties along with standard varieties as suitable candidates for high tunnel production. The growth chambers were set to mimic late-fall or early-spring weather conditions in southeastern Alabama. High variation within each experiment yielded no clear indication of a best variety. However, it appeared that ‘Northern Delight’, ‘Polar Beauty’, and ‘Santiam’ performed well in both studies. Snapdragons were evaluated for high tunnel production using various nitrogen fertilizer rates, plant spacings, and plastic mulch colors to determine optimum production practices in southeast Alabama. In spring 2004, a nitrogen study was completed to determine optimum rates for snapdragons grown in this system. Four rates of Polyon® 19-6-12 controlled-release fertilizer were applied at the following rates: 80, 160, 240, and 320 lbs. per acre of nitrogen. The 240 lbs./A of N rate yielded the best results for stem and inflorescence length. A snapdragon plant spacing study using 3”x 4”, 4”x 4”, and a 4”x 5” spacing was conducted to determine the optimum spacing for production. The 3” x 4” spacing was determined to yield a superior quality snapdragon. Various colored plastic mulches (red, white, and blue) were evaluated to determine the color mulch that resulted in optimum growth within a high tunnel in summer and fall, 2005. Inflorescence length was longer on red plastic compared to the white plastic mulch in the summer study. ‘Opus Yellow’ yielded longer inflorescence lengths than other varieties in this study. White plastic mulch resulted in the longest inflorescence length and ‘Apollo Purple’ snapdragon produced longer stems lengths than other varieties in the fall study.