Effect of Fertilizer Rate and Panel Orientation on Growth and Fruit Yield of Sweet ’n’ Neat Cherry Tomato in Greenhouse Vertical Production
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
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This study evaluated container production of Sweet 'n' Neat cherry tomato (Solanum lycopersium L.) using a novel, inexpensive A-frame vertical structure compared to a traditional horizontal bench production system in a greenhouse setting. The objective of this research was to compare how three plant orientations (south facing A-frame panel, north facing A-frame panel and horizontal bench) and three controlled release fertilizer (CRF) rates [2.8, 4.1, and 5.4 kg/m3 (4.7, 7.0, and 9.3 lb/yd3)] affect cherry tomato fruit yield. There were two experiments conducted. The experimental design for each was a randomized complete block design. All plants received pre-plant incorporated CRF and drip irrigation. Data collection included growth indices, total fruit yield, marketable fruit yield, days to first flower and fruit, foliage nitrogen (N) content, shoot dry weight, and substrate solution EC and pH. The two vertical panels produced more marketable fruit when compared to the horizontal bench regardless of CRF rate, while each vertical panel only occupied half the greenhouse growing space compared to the horizontal bench. The peak harvest time for cherry tomato on the A-frame structure was 90 to 100 days after transplanting (DAT) compared to 90 DAT on the horizontal. The south panel produced more total fruit while the north panel had greater foliar N content and shoot dry weight. Fewer days to first fruit occurred on the south facing panel than the north panel. CRF rate had little affect of marketable fruit yield but did affect fruit ripening. The only interaction between CRF rate and plant orientation was in experiment 1 for cherry tomato at the four different maturity stages. Earliest red fruit was harvested on the south panel receiving low CRF rate. Both production orientation and CRF rate had little impact on container substrate EC or pH.