Great Basin Fresh Market Tomato Trial

Project Overview

FW11-011
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2011: $9,205.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: Nevada
Principal Investigator:
Rick Lattin
Lattin Farms LLC

Commodities

  • Vegetables: tomatoes

Practices

  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, technical assistance
  • Pest Management: row covers (for pests)
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture

    Summary:

    During 2012 and 2013 seven varieties of tomatoes were grown inside and outside of a Utah State University-type hoop house (or high tunnel) on the Rick Lattin Farm located in Fallon Nevada. The tomatoes selected represented three types popular with local growers. The types include a beefsteak type, a roma type, and an heirloom. The purpose of the project was to test two hypotheses:

    1) Tomatoes grown under high tunnels reduce the incidence of Beet Curley Top Virus (BCTV) in organic, fresh market tomatoes and,
    2) The use of locally developed BCTV resistant seeds reduces the incidence of BCTV in high tunnel and field grown organic fresh market tomatoes.

    The plants in the tomato trial were evaluated for yield, number of fruits produced, appearance, marketing percentages (2012), and the number of plants that had survived (2013). This data was collected over three harvest periods. In addition, two field days, a formal presentation, and tour were completed.

    The preliminary results indicate that plants grown in hoop houses generally produce higher yields with better quality fruit. The commercial varieties also seem to produce more and better fruit than the locally developed tomatoes. A Nevada Cooperative Extension fact sheet detailing the project results to date is being produced for publication in 2014. The results of this project will provide important information to other growers who are considering utilizing hoop houses in fresh market tomato production operations.

    Introduction

    Small vegetable production in hoop houses is gaining in popularity throughout western Nevada. The increased interest is due to the desire of many people and businesses to purchase locally grown vegetables. Because western Nevada is subject to early and late plant killing freezes, season extending technologies such as hoop houses are an important production aide. The number of hoop houses used in production has grown exponentially, in part, because federal financial assistance provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service has reduced the out of pocket expense to local growers. This combined with the simplicity and low cost of the Utah State University hoop house design has resulted in a rapid growth in the number of hoop houses used. For example, in the Lahontan Valley of western Nevada there are approximately 84 hoop houses, whereas six years ago there were just a few.

    Tomatoes are one of the most popular crops grown by the small growers of western Nevada. Unfortunately, in many years the presence of Beet Curly Top Virus (BCTV) in the tomato plants has severely limited survival and subsequent production. Because of the difficulties in controlling the disease vector (leaf hoppers) and the desire of many of the growers to produce organically, another method of reducing disease incidence without using chemicals is needed. Production of tomatoes in hoop houses has been reported to reduce the incidence of this important disease. A local plant breeder and grower was reported to have developed tomato varieties which displayed resistance to BCTV. However that claim had never been tested in a formal trial. 

    During 2011 Mr. Rick Lattin and Dr. Bill Mewaldt applied to the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program for grant funds to test the two hypotheses:

    1) Tomatoes grown under high tunnels reduce the incidence of Beet Curley Top Virus (BCTV) in organic, fresh market tomatoes and,
    2) The use of locally developed BCTV resistant seeds reduces the incidence of BCTV in high tunnel and field grown organic fresh market tomatoes.

    They contacted Mr. Jay Davison, the local Alternative Crop Specialist for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension organization for assistance with the project. Trials were established and completed during 2012 and 2013.

    Project objectives:

    1) The Principle Investigators (PIs) and Technical Advisor (TA) will design a scientifically valid experiment to determine significant differences in infection rates and production of fresh market tomatoes due to Beet Curly Top Virus (BCTV).

    2) In the 2012 growing season, the PIs of this project will plant, grow, evaluate, and compare three varieties of open pollinated, locally developed tomatoes and three varieties of commercially available fresh market tomatoes in high tunnels for resistance to BCTV.

    3) During the 2012 growing season, the PIs of this project will plant, grow, evaluate, and compare three varieties of open pollinated, locally developed tomatoes and three varieties of commercially available fresh market tomatoes in the field for resistance to BCTV.

    4) During the 2012 growing season, the PIs of the project, with the TA, will hold mid-trial and late-trial field days for western Nevada farmers to explain the purpose of the experiments, increase awareness of the fresh market tomato market, and increase the number of contacts of farmers currently and potentially growing fresh market tomatoes.

    5) By the end December 2012, the PIs will compile and analyze the data collected from the high tunnel and field experiments. The data will be analyzed using standard statistical techniques (ANOVA) in cooperation with the TA.

    6) By the end of February 2013, the PIs, in cooperation with the TA, will write and publish the results of the experiments in a University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) Fact Sheet that will be distributed to all local farmers currently engaged in vegetable production and made available to other interested producers via the UNCE website.

    7) During March 2013, the PIs and TA will present the results and distribute the fact sheet at the Nevada Small Farm Conference to increase the awareness of the potential of small scale, fresh market tomato production in western Nevada and increase the knowledge levels of the attending producers concerning tomato variety selection and production practices.

    8) In October 2012, the PIs/TA will develop, distribute, and evaluate a formal survey of all local farmers growing fresh market tomatoes to measure the success of the project. The information collected will be provided to the Western SARE administration in the form of a final report by December 2012.

    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.