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Tomato fruit quality and processing ability are impacted by irrigation regime as well as genotype and maturity stage

Vilas Boas, A., Page, D., Giovinazzo, R., Bertin, N., Fanciullino, A. L.
Acta horticulturae 2019 no.1233 pp. 89-96
brix, carotenoids, dry matter content, energy costs, evapotranspiration, flowering, fruit quality, fruiting, genotype, harvesting, humidity, industry, irrigation management, leaf conductance, leaves, maturity stage, raw fruit, soil, sugars, tomatoes, total soluble solids, viscosity, water potential, water supply
In order to investigate how preharvest conditions impact fresh fruit quality, and especially their quality attributes related to industry use, we identified and quantified fresh fruit traits which are impacted by low water supply and their consequences on puree quality, with a focus on viscosity, sugar/acid balance and carotenoid content. A first trial in 2016 indicated that lowering water supply until reaching only the replacement of 60% of the evapotranspiration (ETP) all along the fruit development impacted plants without significantly affecting yields, but impacted the fruit reactivity to the process. To confirm these results, and seek for the limits of reducing water supply, the same experiment was designed except that a more severe water deficit was applied: only 50% of replacement of the ETP, still all along the fruit development (from anthesis to harvest). The results obtained in 2017 were compared to those obtained in 2016 on the basis of same variables. Soil humidity, leaf conductance, leaf and fruit water potential and fruit growth were monitored revealing interactive effects between crop and process management. It pointed out links between fresh fruit characteristics and puree quality, depending on genotype and watering regime. As in 2016, WD hardly reduced yield, but increased dry matter content. The puree viscosity strongly depended on the genotype, and the viscosity was disconnected from the soluble solid content (brix). The fruits enzymatic reactivity, estimated through the difference of viscosity measured between hot-break and cold-break purees were reduced dramatically under WD for all the genotypes. This work opens new perspectives for managing puree quality in the field and for reducing water use in the preharvest period and energy cost during processing.