- Vegetables: tomatoes
- Crop Production: fertigation, irrigation, organic fertilizers
- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study
- Pest Management: cultural control, integrated pest management
- Production Systems: organic agriculture, transitioning to organic
Heirloom tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) varieties have been grown increasingly by small growers for their superior flavor and outstanding eating quality. However, production of heirloom tomatoes has been rather challenging due to the lack of varietal resistance to soilborne pests and high incidence of cracked and misshapen fruits. Pest problems become more evident under organic production as cultural control methods may show limited effectiveness due to the long-term survival or wide host range of pathogens in soils. As an environmentally friendly approach to reduce pesticide use and improve crop productivity and quality, grafting with resistant rootstocks has been employed in Asia and the Mediterranean to successfully manage a number of soilborne diseases and root-knot nematodes. Interest in tomato grafting is emerging among growers in Florida. This study will examine the effectiveness of using vigorous rootstocks with high disease resistance to produce a competitive crop in organic heirloom tomato production. In addition to disease management particularly root-knot nematode control, we aim to determine the influence of tomato rootstocks on fruit yield and quality. A cost-benefit analysis will also be conducted to provide up-to-date information on economic feasibility for organic production of grafted heirloom tomatoes.
Project objectives from proposal:
Objective 1: Examine the effectiveness of using rootstocks in organic production of grafted heirloom tomato to provide resistance or tolerance to soilborne diseases and root-knot nematodes.
Objective 2: Assess growth promotion, yield increase, and fruit quality in grafted heirloom tomato production under organic growing conditions.
Objective 3: Analyze the costs and returns of producing and using grafted heirloom tomatoes in organic farming systems and provide updated information on the economic feasibility of adopting tomato grafting technology for these systems.
Objective 4: Outreach; Teach growers and extension agents how to graft and about the benefits of grafting and work with growers and extension agents to increase and promote sustainability in agriculture.