Original Articles

Comparative performance of tomato cultivars cultivated in two hydroponic production systems

Published in: South African Journal of Plant and Soil
Volume 28, issue 2, 2011 , pages: 97–102
DOI: 10.1080/02571862.2011.10640019
Author(s): M.M. Maboko, South Africa, C.P. Du Plooy, South Africa, I. Bertling,

Abstract

Cultivar selection for different hydroponic production systems is an important management decision, potentially impacting the tomato grower’s profitability. Knowledge on the performance of tomato cultivars, in specific hydroponic systems (open-bag and closed system) under South African conditions, is still very limited. The performance of four cultivars was evaluated in an open and a closed hydroponic (gravel-film technique) system. The commonly grown cultivars evaluated in each of the two hydroponic systems were ‘FA593’, ‘Malory’, ‘Miramar’ and ‘FiveOFive’. For each experiment a randomized complete block design was used with four replicates. Total, marketable and unmarketable yields, as well as internal fruit quality characteristics (total soluble solids (°Brix) and pH) were determined. Although no significant differences in total yield could be established - neither in the open nor in the closed hydroponic system - differences in marketable yield were observed. ‘Miramar’ and ‘Five-OFive’ produced the highest marketable yield in the closed system; the high unmarketable yield of ‘FA593’ and ‘Malory’ in the closed hydroponic system could be attributed to the high number of cracked fruit due to their inherent larger fruit size. There were no significant differences in °Brix between cultivars in the closed system. Cultivar ‘FiveOFive’, ‘FA593’ and ‘Miramar’ produced higher marketable yields than cultivar ‘Malory’ when grown in the open-bag system. ‘Malory’ and ‘FA593’ produced the highest number of fruit exhibiting fruit cracking in the open bag system. In the open system, only cultivar ‘Malory’ had a higher °Brix than ‘Miramar’ and ‘FiveOFive’. The most promising cultivars for local hydroponic tomato production, with regard to yield and quality, were identified as ‘Miramar’ and ‘FiveOFive’, with ‘FA593’ performing equally in the open system only. Further studies need to be undertaken on economical comparison of the two production systems.

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