Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2000
Publication Date: N/A
Kaolin cover sprays and mycorrhizal inoculation of tomatoes at transplanting were evaluated for their efficacy in improving tomato plant water status and agronomic performance in a supra-optimal, semi-arid environment. Seven week old "Heatmaster" tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum, Mill.) were transplanted with or without a vesticular -arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculant (Gomes intaradices, Schenk & Smith) on 19 Feb. 99 into a Raymondville clay loam soil in Weslaco, TX (Lat. 26 deg 12 min). One-half of the inoculated and one-half of the uninoculated plants were sprayed between 16 March and 1 June with seven applications of the kaolin-based particle film 'Surround'. The trickle-irrigated plots were 5.6 m*2 in size and treatments replicated four times in RCB design. Commercial cultural practices were followed, but no fungicides were used. Results indicated that mycorrhizal inoculation tended to accelerate fruit maturation and that particle film applications delayed fruit development relative to the control treatment. Mycorrhizal (only) treated plants had the highest yields at the second (of eight) harvests compared to the other treatments. There were no significant differences between treatments in leaf temperature, diffusive resistance, transpiration rate, water potential and soil profile moisture, except between sampling dates. Fruit mineral nutrients, pigments, dry matter, avg. wt., total marketable and total season yields were not significantly affected by any treatment. When fruits were sectioned into proximal and distal halves, ten out of the 14 nutrients measured, in addition to dry matter and total carotenoids, were higher in the distal end.