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Growth yield and nutrient uptake of transplanted fresh market tomatoes as affected by plastic mulch and initial nitrogen rate

Growth yield and nutrient uptake of transplanted fresh market tomatoes as affected by plastic mulch and initial nitrogen rate

Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 112(5): 759-763

Two field experiments were conducted with two cultivars of transplant tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) with and without plastic mulch, varying the initial rate of N fertilizer, but maintaining the total N rate at 168 kg .cntdot. ha-1 by sidedressing. In 1982, 0 and 112 kg .cntdot. ha-1 initial N rates, and bare ground, black mulch, and clear plastic mulch were compared on a gravelly loam soil. In 1983, initial N rates used were 34, 67, 101, or 134 kg .cntdot. ha-1, with bare ground and clear mulch on a silt loam soil. Effects of the plastic mulch dominated both experiments. Mulching increased rate of basal branch appearance and led to early flowering on branches. Total plant growth, as measured by vine weights at final harvest, was increased by mulch in both years. Mulching increased early yield only in 1983, but increased total yields by 13% and 79% in 1982 and 1983, respectively. Initial N fertilizer rates did not influence total yields significantly in either experiment, although high initial N rate, combined with clear plastic mulch, led to a significant decrease in percent marketable fruit in 1982. In 1983, mulching increased shoot concentrations of N, NO3-N, P, K, Ca, Mg, Cu, and B (P = < 0.01) in spite of the fact that mulched plants were larger than unmulched plants at sampling time, 24 days after transplanting. Nitrogen fertilizer increased only the N and P concentrations and to a lesser extent than did the mulch.

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