Establishing propagation protocols and assessing weed risk of litchi tomato, Solanum sisymbriifolium

Project Overview

FNE17-869
Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2017: $5,459.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2019
Grant Recipient: Cobblestone Farm
Region: Northeast
State: Connecticut
Project Leader:
Diane Dorfer
Cobblestone Farm

Commodities

  • Fruits: litchi tomato

Practices

  • Crop Production: cropping systems, varieties and cultivars
  • Pest Management: weed ecology

    Proposal summary:

    Litchi tomato is a member of the tomato family, bearing attractive sweet berries with a flavor
    reminiscent of cherries, raspberries, and rose hips. Litchi tomato is widely unknown, but may have
    potential as a novel fruit crop for vegetable growers. Plants bear fruit in one year with a long harvest
    window, have low start up costs, and few pests. Given the market demand for organically grown
    small fruits and the challenges of producing these crops, litchi tomato may have a place on small
    diversified farms. This study will conduct research to establish seed germination protocols,
    determine how seed sowing dates affect yield, collect baseline data on labor and yields, and assess
    the weed risk of litchi tomato. A weed risk assessment is important because in some parts of the
    world introduced litchi tomato has become a noxious weed. Information from this project will be
    shared through farmer and consumer fruit sampling, a conference poster, newsletter article, and
    social media.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The goal of this project is to make a preliminary examination of the feasibility of litchi tomato as a
    novel niche crop. There are two primary goals. (I want to figure out how to best grow this thing and
    make sure it won’t take over the world!) I will conduct greenhouse germination trials to better
    understand when to start seeds for maximum yields and also test if treated seeds germinate better.
    Seedlings will be planted out in the field in a randomized block design, and I will collect growth and
    phenological data. Yield and harvest data will be collected. To assess weed risk, small plots will be
    sown with litchi tomato fruits in the fall of the first year to mimic natural dispersal of the fruits. The
    plots will be monitored over the next year for germination, flowering, and fruit set and maturation.

    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.