Distribution of nutrients in the root zone affects yield, quality and blossom end rot of tomato fruits
Tabatabaei, S. J., Gregory, P. J. and Hadley, P. (2004) Distribution of nutrients in the root zone affects yield, quality and blossom end rot of tomato fruits. Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology, 79 (1). pp. 158-163. ISSN 1462-0316
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Tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. 'DRK') were grown hydroponically in two experiments to determine the effects of nutrient concentration and distribution in the root zone on yield, quality and blossom end rot (BER). The plants were grown in rockwool with their root systems divided into two portions. Each portion was irrigated with nutrient solutions with either the same or different electrical conductivity (EC) in the range 0 to 6 dS m(-1). In both experiments, fruit yields decreased as EC increased from moderate to high when solutions of equal concentration were applied to both portions of the root system. However, higher yields were obtained when a solution with high EC was applied to one portion of the root system and a solution of low EC to the other portion. For example, the fresh weight of mature fruits in the 6/6 treatment was only 20% that of the 3/3 treatment but the 6/0 treatment had a yield that was 40% higher. The reduction in yield in the high EC treatments was due to an increase in the number of fruits with BER and smaller fruit size. BER increased from 12% to 88% of total fruits as EC increased from 6/0 to 6/6 and fruit length decreased from 67 mm to 52 mm. Fruit quality (expressed as titratable acidity and soluble solids) increased as EC increased. In summary, high yields of high quality tomatoes with minimal incidence of BER were obtained when one portion of the root system was supplied with a solution of high EC and the other portion with a solution of moderate or zero EC.