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Impact of soil chemistry, nutrient supplements, and fungicides on the health and yield of field-grown processing tomatoes

Maharaj, Nilesh N., Miyao, Eugene M., Michael Davis, R., Uroz, Stéphane, Leveau, Johan H. J.
European journal of plant pathology 2018 v.152 no.4 pp. 855-868
Fusarium, Fusarium wilt, Verticillium wilt, canopy, cation exchange capacity, dietary supplements, fruit yield, fruits, fungicides, leaves, necrosis, nutrients, potassium, poultry manure, ripening, root rot, root-knot nematodes, soil amendments, sunburn, tomatoes, vigor, vines, California
We report the results of a 3-year study in which we collected and analyzed soil and yield data from experimental plots in six commercial processing tomato fields in Yolo and Solano counties in California. Our objective was to assess the effect of soil chemistry and soil-delivered nutrients and fungicides on tomato plant health and fruit yield at harvest. Marketable yield, leaf necrosis, and fruit loss due to sunburn differed significantly between individual fields, with averages ranging from 81.2–138.5 Mg ha⁻¹, 32–72% leaf necrosis and 1.9 to 8.8% sunburnt fruit, respectively. Higher-yielding fields showed significantly lower levels of leaf necrosis and sunburn damage and a positive correlation with pre-plant soil parameters such as potassium concentration and cation exchange capacity (CEC). Interestingly, soil amendments of composted poultry manure or other nutrient supplements in low-CEC fields, but not high-CEC fields, resulted in higher fruit yield and less leaf necrosis. While all fields showed symptoms typical of Verticillium wilt and some fields showed symptoms of Fusarium wilt, Fusarium crown and root rot, corky root, and root knot nematode, none of our soil amendments, including chemical and biological fungicides, significantly or consistently reduced incidence or severity of these diseases. We discuss our findings in the context of premature vine decline of tomato, an emerging phenomenon in production fields in the Sacramento Valley, which is characterized by the loss of plant vigor and canopy cover at the onset of fruit ripening and for which causative agent(s) and management options in California remain elusive. (247 words).