Effects of Within-row Intercropping with Snow Peas on Yield and Quality of Cherry Tomatoes in an Organic High Tunnel Production System
Kong, Y.; Schiestel, K.; Llewellyn, D.; Zheng, Y.
HortScience 55(11): 1730-1736
ISSN/ISBN: 0018-5345 Accession: 071070643
Intercropping can increase land use efficiency in high tunnel crop production, but it may also lead to decreases in yield and quality of main crops due to the potential competition for resources. This study evaluated the agronomic viability of intercropping snow pea (Pisum sativum L., 'Ho Lan Dou') with cherry tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L. var. cerasiforme 'Sarina hybrid') without additional inputs of water and fertilizers on peas in an organic high tunnel production system under Southern Ontario climate conditions in Guelph, Ontario, Canada (lat. 43.5 degrees N, long. 80.2 degrees W) during 2015 and 2016. In each 80-cm-wide bed, the tomato crops were planted alternately in double rows spaced 30 cm apart, with in-row spacing of 110 cm, which resulted in a planting density of approximate to 24,000 plants/ha. The snow pea seeds were sown between the tomato plants (i.e., within the same beds as tomatoes) in holes (two seeds per hole), with four rows in each bed and in-row holes spaced 10 cm and at least 25 cm away from the tomato plants, which resulted in a seeding rate of approximate to 650, 000 seeds/ha. The same amount of water or fertilizer was applied to the intercropping and nonintercropping plots based on the needs of the cherry tomato plants. Plant growth, fruit yield, and quality were compared between tomato plants with and without intercropping. Intercropping with snow peas did not affect total marketable fruit yield, unmarketable fruit percentage, fruit quality traits (e.g., individual fruit weight, soluble solids content, dry matter content, and postharvest water loss), or early-stage plant growth of the cherry tomato. Therefore, it is at least an agronomical possibility to intercrop snow peas with cherry tomatoes on the same beds without additional inputs of water and fertilizer on snow peas in an organic high tunnel system. The additional yield of pea shoots or pods in the intercropping treatment also increased economic gross returns in the high tunnels, although the economic net return might vary with the costs of seeds and labor involved in snow pea growing.