Project objectives from proposal:
Our project builds on our 2004 NE SARE Partnership grant that gave us excellent data and networks with other hothouse tomato growers in the region.
SARE has funded only one high tunnel project to date that included heirloom varieties. We are building on that project by including two of the highest performers from that trial, as well introducing other varieties that have previously performed well in upstate New York field trials. This would be the first trial to make quantitative comparisons between a certified organic and advanced IPM high tunnel tomato system.
Our goal is not a strict evaluation between organic and IPM high tunnel production. Both styles offer more sustainable off-season tomato production as energy, nutrient and pesticide inputs are dramatically reduced, if not eliminated when compared to conventional greenhouses. However by expanding our research to two farms we will be able to trial more varieties and gather data on different production inputs and yields.
For this trial IPM management will include scouting, pest ID, economic threshold and biorational pest control, with conventional fertilizer. In our 2004 trial we applied no pesticides, and would like to continue this approach. Organic management will adhere to USDA National Organic Program regulations. The participating organic farm is certified by Northeast Organic Farming Association, New York chapter (NOFA-NY).