Hybrid and heirloom high-tunnel tomato variety trial

Project Overview

Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2005: $9,880.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Judson Reid
Cornell Vegetable Program


  • Vegetables: tomatoes


  • Crop Production: biological inoculants, fertigation, organic fertilizers, tissue analysis
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: marketing management
  • Pest Management: biological control, cultural control, integrated pest management, mulching - plastic, prevention
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: soil analysis

    Proposal abstract:

    High Tunnel tomato trial

    High tunnel tomatoes are an excellent option for small farms growing for produce auctions, farm stands, farmers markets and CSA’s. To promote this growing method research and extension is required that examines varieties, culture and sustainable inputs.

    This project will evaluate hybrid and heirloom tomatoes yields in unheated, high tunnels on two separate farms one organic, and one using advanced Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques. Yield data will be recorded for each harvest using a digital scale with total weight per block in pounds, as well as number of fruit. For each variety in the trial mean weight per plant, mean fruit per plant and mean weight per fruit will be calculated. Data will be analyzed using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and treatment means separated using Fishers Least Significant Difference. An economic analysis will compare the economic difference between hybrid and heirloom varieties for high tunnel production. Organic vs. IPM inputs to return ratios will be calculated. Disease incidence and severity will be recorded.

    One participating grower will host an on-farm demonstration during the growing season for other growers to observe first hand production methods and variety differences. The other participating grower will present the results to a grower’s group. Findings will be posted the PI’s webpage and published as possible in regional media and trade and professional publications.

    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).

    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.