Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 20, 2001
Publication Date: June 1, 2002
Citation: ABDUL BAKI, A.A., TEASDALE, J.R., GOTH, R.W., HAYNES, K.G. MARKETABLE YIELDS OF FRESH-MARKET TOMATOES GROWN IN PLASTIC AND HAIRY VETCH MULCHES. HORTSCIENCE. 2002. VOL. 37. P. 878-881.
Interpretive Summary: Development of production systems that offer high yields, low production cost, and safety to the environment are crucial for the sustainability of U.S. vegetable growers in the highly competitive international markets. We developed a low-input, no-tillage, alternative tomato production system that uses residues from hairy vetch cover crop as a source of nutrients while it uses the mulch to replace the non-degradable plastic mulch for weed control and moisture conservation. Nine out of 12 tomato varieties yielded significantly higher under the alternative system while yields of the other three varieties were similar to those under the conventional systems. Production cost and disease severity were lower under the alternative system. Users of this research are the U.S. vegetable producers, extension specialists, researchers, and consumers.
The use of mulches in vegetable production is undergoing a radical change away from high-input, non-renewable resources, such as plastic, to the use of high-residue organic mulches from cover crops. The purpose of this study was to compare the marketable yield of various fresh-market tomato genotypes when grown under plastic and hairy vetch mulches. In 1996 and 1997, 12 fresh-market tomato genotypes were evaluated for yield on the North Farm of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC), MD in a randomized split-plot design. Tomatoes were grown in conventional tillage plastic mulch (PM) and no-till hairy vetch mulch (HVM). Early blight, caused by Alternaria solani Sor., developed naturally in all 12 genotypes in both years and was recorded over time. Area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC) was similar both years. AUDPC was more severe in PM than in HVM in 1996 (473.6 vs. 407.6) and much more severe in PM than in HVM in 1997 (489.6 vs. 244.6). Adjusting yields for AUDPC had a minimal effect on the data; overall, yields were similar in PM and HVM both before and after adjusting for AUDPC. The mulch x genotype x year interaction was significant for yield. The yield of eight of the genotypes was significantly higher in the HVM than in the PM system both years, ranging from 12 to 57% higher in 1996 and 10 to 48% higher in 1997. As yields of all cultivars in the HVM system were greater than or equal to yields in the PM system, there is a good potential to enhance sustainability, reduce input costs, and improve economic returns by using the no-tillage HVM system.