Final Report for FNC10-805

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2010: $5,899.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Alan Nolte
Nolte Hills
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Project Information

Summary:

PROJECT BACKGROUND
Alan and Betty Nolte are long time nursery growers who have spent many years perfecting indoor growing methods.  The premise of their project was to transfer the technique of trellising tomatoes — common in greenhouse production — to an outdoor setting.   Grafted plants have been utilized in the indoor setting and found to be superior in taste, production and hardiness so grafted specimens were also used in this trial.

Plant grafting techniques were used in the operation for the past 4 years. The greenhouses have also been heated with a furnace which used wood chips for fuel for the past 4 years.

PROJECT DESCRIPTION
GOALS
1. To test the effectiveness of an indoor trellising system in an outdoor setting.
2. To trial various indeterminate tomato cultivars to see how their production compared in the indoor vs. outdoor setting.
3. To utilize grafted plants and measure their production.

PROCESS
1.  The outdoor trellising system was constructed in March of 2011.  
2. Tomato plants were set out with the intent of growing for the 2011 season.
3. A flood washed out all the plants and the project was put on hold for the rest of the season, due to the fact that the growing season was cut short and it was too late to conduct the trial again.  
4. The trellising system remained intact, so in 2012, the project resumed, using the original design.  
5. INDOOR STATS:
01/20/12 Tomatoes planted indoors 100 Cherokee Purple, 100 Big Dena, 100 Geronimo
02/03/12 1st  inspection and clipping of tomatoes to string/suckering Third bloom cluster
First tomatoes are set on Geronimo and Big Dena
02/17/12 2nd inspection/clipping of tomatoes.  Suckering.  Condition is very good. First tomatoes on Cherokee Purple

03/01/12 3rd inspection/clipping   No insects. 4th bloom cluster on Big Dena
03/15/12 4th inspection  clip/sucker No insects
03/29/12 5th inspection. Suckered/clipped. Cherokee purple are streaked because of cloudy days. 6th bloom cluster.
04/14/12 6th inspection/ clipped and suckered.
Small amount of aphids present.
Picked 30 lbs Big Dena/25 lbs Geronimo
04/28/12 7th Inspection.   7th bloom cluster
Picked 165 lbs Big Dena/145 lbs Geronimo
05/12/12 8th Inspection.  Took leaf samples for test.  Clipped and suckered. No insects/no fungus
Picked 180 lbs Big Dena, 173 lbs Geronimo
05/27/12 9th Inspection.  First Cherokee Purple.  Suckered and clipped.   8th bloom cluster. Picked 370 lbs Big Dena, 30 lbs Cherokee Purple, 360 lbs Geronimo
06/11/12 10th and final inspection as stipulated in the SARE grant.  Suckered and clipped.
374 lbs Big Dena, 238 lbs Cherokee Purple, 354 lbs Geronimo

TOTAL INDOOR PRODUCTION:
1119 lbs Big Dena, 268 lbs Cherokee Purple, 1058 lbs Geronimo
Total 2245 lbs/100 plants=22 pound per plant average
22 @ $2.25 per pound = $49.00 per plant

6. OUTDOOR STATS:
04/15/12 Planted tomatoes 100 Cherokee Purple, 100 Goliath, 100 Mt. Fresh
04/30/12 1st inspection. First bloom cluster open.
05/14/12 2nd inspection. Clipped and suckered. No insects. First fruit observed. 2nd and 3rd bloom clusters.
05/30/12 3rd inspection.  Clipped and suckered. No insects. 4th bloom cluster.
06/12/12 4th  inspection.  Cherokee Purple has leaf speck.  Sprayed all plants.  Took leaf sample.  Suckered and clipped. 5th and 6th bloom cluster.
06/28/12 5th Inspection. Clipped and suckered. 7th cluster.  Picked 18 ripe tomatoes, Goliath and Mt. Fresh.
07/15/12 6th Inspection. Noting some heat stress. Clipped and suckered. 8th cluster set. Picked 15 lbs Goliath, 18 lbs Mountain Fresh.
07/30/12 7th Inspection.  Heat stress more noticeable.  Temps have been as high as 101 degrees F. Clipped and suckered.  Signs of sun scald.  Will stop suckering to give plants more shade. 9th cluster.  
Picked 8 lbs Cherokee Purple, 23 lbs Goliath, 28 lbs Mountain Fresh.
08/14/12 8th Inspection.  Observe more heat stress.  Leaves rolling, fruit is sun scalded. Clipped but did not sucker. Picked 19 lbs Goliath, 25 lbs Mountain Fresh, 12 lbs Cherokee Purple
08/30/12 Inspected plants.  Plants have grown to the top of the wire.  Clipped.  More heat Stress noted.  Production has decreased. Picked 9 lbs Cherokee Purple, 16 lbs Goliath, 21 lbs Mountain Fresh

TOTAL OUTDOOR PRODUCTION
220 lbs Cherokee Purple; 660 lbs Goliath, 860 lbs Mt. Fresh
Total 1850 lbs/100 plants = 18.5 lbs per plant
18.5 @ $2.25 per pound = $41.62 per plant

PEOPLE
The following people were involved with technical assistance:  
* Dr. David Trinklein of the University of Missouri
* Jim Quinn of the University of Missouri
* The plant pathology lab at
* Janet Hurst of Lincoln University  

RESULTS

TOTAL INDOOR PRODUCTION:
1119 lbs Big Dena, 268 lbs Cherokee Purple, 1058 lbs Geronimo
Total 2245 lbs/100 plants=22 pound per plant average
22 @ $2.25 per pound = $49.00 per plant

TOTAL OUTDOOR PRODUCTION
220 lbs Cherokee Purple; 660 lbs Goliath, 860 lbs Mt. Fresh
Total 1850 lbs/100 plants = 185 per plant
18.5 @ $2.25 per plant = $41.62 per plant

Observations:  This trial was somewhat compromised by the extreme temperatures and drought conditions of 2012.  Undoubtedly outdoor production would have been increased had the conditions been more conducive to growing.  That being said, the average yields between indoor and outdoor production were only 3.5 pounds apart in yield and there was a variance in the varieties used in the trial.

DISCUSSION
I learned the yield between indoor and outdoor production were remarkably similar.  This was somewhat of a surprise to me.  The growing conditions of 2012 should, indeed, be factored into the overall yields, as I would have anticipated a higher yield in the outdoor setting had temperatures and moisture conditions been at an optimum.  

The most interesting thing that occurred within my research is this:  The outdoor tomato crop was followed by a second crop of cucumbers.  I found that the cucumbers grown on the outdoor trellis did remarkably well.  We had excellent yields, beautiful fruit.  I will use this outdoor trellising method again, for cucumbers rather than tomatoes.  I see the trellis having other applications, such as cantaloupes and will try that in the next growing season.

PROJECT IMPACTS

TOTAL INDOOR PRODUCTION:
1119 lbs Big Dena, 268 lbs Cherokee Purple, 1058 lbs Geronimo
Total 2245 lbs/100 plants=22 pound per plant average
22 @ $2.25 per pound = $49.00 per plant

TOTAL OUTDOOR PRODUCTION
220 lbs Cherokee Purple; 660 lbs Goliath, 860 lbs Mt. Fresh
Total 1850 lbs/100 plants = 185 per plant
18.5 @ $2.25 per plant = $41.62 per plant

Keeping in mind that we are heating our indoor growing space with our outdoor wood burning furnace, we would estimate the production costs to be similar.  However, the primary advantage of growing indoors is off-season production, season extension and the fact that we can receive a premium price for our early and late season crops.  

Environmental:  We do heat our greenhouses with wood chips, a waste product.  
The trellising system, itself, is a permanent structure, so we will be using it year after year, avoiding the use of other, more temporary techniques to trellis our cucumbers and other small fruits.

Social impacts:  4095 pounds of food was produced as a result of these efforts.  Tomatoes went primarily to the St. Louis and Columbia markets. Several families derived an income from the production and sale of the tomatoes.

OUTREACH
Two open houses were held at Nolte Hills with approximately 150 people in attendance.  Children attended and they were educated in food production.  Each week Nolte Hills was represented at the Columbia Farmers’ Market, answering questions about production methods.  

Lincoln University will be featuring the Nolte’s in upcoming reports and a publication on “Success Stories” of small farmers in Missouri.

Research

Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.