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Importance of cultivar in tomato responses to a new hydroponic growing method

Frisina, C., Jaeger, J., Stefanelli, D., Tomkins, R. B.
Acta horticulturae 2015 no.1107 pp. 209-214
cherry tomatoes, crop production, cultivars, fertigation, horticulture, hydroponics, lycopene, nitrogen, nutrient content, production technology, root systems, total soluble solids, water utilization
Reducing water usage is an important consideration in sustainable protected horticultural production but it can have significant effects on yield and produce quality. A new hydroponic growing system, which greatly reduces water and nitrogen usage by separating the fertigation solution from the root system with a semipermeable membrane, was compared to a conventional hydroponic system over two years to determine the effect of reduced water on tomato production, nutrient content and quality. Two cultivars of cherry tomato were grown using the two systems to determine varietal responses. The two cultivars used, 'Amoroso' and 'Sarina', responded differently to water deficit. Both cultivars received less than 50% of the water and nitrogen used in standard hydroponic systems. 'Sarina' exhibited a reduction in yield of 88% under the low water system with no significant effect on quality or nutritional value, including soluble solids, or lycopene. However, 'Amoroso' fruit grown under the low water system had significantly higher soluble solids and lycopene content compared to the conventional hydroponic system, with a 54% reduction in yield. These results indicate that understanding individual cultivar responses is critical in the successful establishment of reduced water production systems.