Yields of hurricane-damaged tomato crops in Southern Florida

Kent Cushman, Monica Ozores-Hampton, Eric Simonne, Eugene Mcavoy

Abstract


In 2005, Florida agriculture experienced a second year of devastating hurricanes with $2.2 billion in damage to crops and farms. Hurricane Wilma occurred on 24 October 2005 and stripped tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L) plants of leaf tissue. A study was installed 8 days after Wilma to compare tomato seedlings that were either rescued or replanted. In addition, data from two seepage-irrigated tomato farms during two seasons (2004-2005 and 2005-2006) were used to estimate the effect of severe wind damage on commercial tomato yields. Fruits were counted, graded by size, and weighed in each experiment. Total marketable yields from rescued plants were almost twice that of replanted plants, indicating rescued plants recovered quickly. Replanted plants delayed harvest compared to rescued plants. Hurricane-damaged crops during 2005-2006 consistently yielded 60% lower than undamaged crops during 2004-2005. Reduced yield was mostly in the extra-large size category; though yield of large- and mediumsized fruit increased by 20% to 53% over that of the 2004-2005 season. Petiole sap data indicated that plants received adequate nutrition after the hurricane and plant nutrition did not limit yield. Results indicate seepage-irrigated tomato plantings can be rescued after hurricanes though yield may suffer in the extra-large size category.

Keywords


Lycopersicon esculentum; fruit yield; wind damage

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