Growth and yield of hurricane-damaged tomato plants

Kent Cushman, Ronald French, Eugene McAvoy


'Florida 91' tomato seedlings (Lycopersicon esculentum L) grown on a commercial farm in south Florida were damaged by hurricane Frances 15 days after transplant (DAT). Plants were observed 34 DAT and placed in one of three categories according to size and apparent injury (best, good, or fair) to assess the ability of these plants to recover. Ten plants of each category were removed with roots intact and dry weights recorded. Fruit from ten other plants of each category were harvested 78 and 92 DAT. At the end of the season, five plants of each category were harvested and dry weights of shoots and roots recorded. Injury caused by hurricane winds was most evident on sections of stem just below the soil surface. Plants rated best exhibited greater plant mass, greater root mass and stem diameter below the injury, and higher yield of extra large and total marketable fruit at first harvest, a time when prices were high, then plants rated good or fair. Plants rated good had greater plant mass, root mass and stem diameter below the injury, and extra large fruit than plants rated fair. At the end of the season, total yield and plant and root dry mass were similar among plants regardless of rating. Investigations of soil-borne diseases were informative but inconclusive. Overall, these results indicate that tomato plants can sustain a surprising amount of wind injury and still produce acceptable yields, though early yields of extra large fruit may be reduced depending on the severity of injury.


lycopersicon esculentum; wind; abiotic stress; risk assessment

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283