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Manipulation of Tomato Fruit Quality Through Temperature Perturbations in Controlled Environments

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Paper number  034102,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.15036) @2003
Authors:   David H. Fleisher, A.J. Both, Catalin Moraru, Logan Logendra, Tom Gianfagna, Tung-Ching Lee, Harry Janes, James Cavazzoni
Keywords:   production scheduling, fruit-set, plant-production, greenhouse, controlled environment, advanced life support

Quality factors such as size, color, taste, and nutritional content are important criteria for marketing of greenhouse tomato fruit. While the majority of the research on fruit quality factors focuses on effects of post-harvesting and storage conditions, the environmental conditions during plant growth and the time for which the fruit is allowed to ripen on the vine also influence fruit quality. Growth chamber experiments were performed with tomato (cv. Laura) aiming to study the influence of air temperature perturbations during fruit set on fruit quality at maturity, the time to harvest, and the harvest window. Plants were grown in 6 pots and pruned to the 2nd true leaf above the first fruit cluster. Nutrients were provided through a drip irrigation system. All plants were grown under the same environmental conditions except for a two week period beginning 10 days after fruit-set during which plants were assigned to one of three day/night temperature treatments, 28/23C, 23/18C, and 18/13C. Five tomato fruits were harvested from each plant at three distinct physiological ages; breaker stage (taken as the point at which 25% of the fruit begins to turn red), breaker stage plus three days, and breaker stage plus six days. Harvested fruits were analyzed for mass, size, color, soluble solids content, pH, acidity, viscosity, and other quality parameters. Initial results show significant temperature effects on fruit size, mass, developmental rate, and fruit processing characteristics. The results are applicable towards the development of more efficient plant production strategies for greenhouse growers and for NASAs advanced life support research program.

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