HortScience 32:227-229

Using impedance for mechanical conditioning of tomato transplants to control excessive stem elongation

Lauren C. Garner and Thomas Björkman

Department of Horticultural Sciences, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University, Geneva, NY 14456

ABSTRACT Mechanical stimulation is known to control excessive stem elongation in high density tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) transplants. Mechanical stimulation using physical impedance provided height control equivalent to that obtained using brushing. Low-cost materials can be used to apply the impedance. Mylar film in a plastic frame was equivalent to expensive acrylic sheets in its effect on plant height (40 mm shorter than untreated, a 40% reduction in the elongation rate during the treatment period), stem diameter (18% thicker), and biomass (14% lighter) when they applied a pressure of 66 N.m-2. Stem elongation was not reduced if less pressure was applied (25 or 50 N.m-2). Height control was equally effective with a solid material (mylar film) and a permeable material (fiberglass insect screen), indicating that restricting air movement is not an important mechanism for the growth response. Overnight treatments resulted in the desired growth response (27 mm shorter than untreated, a 30% reduction in elongation rate), but 0.5 h treatments had insufficient effect for commercial use (11 mm shorter, 10% reduction in elongation rate). These experiments demonstrate that impedance can be used in commercial production conditions to control tomato transplant height with inexpensive materials. However, satisfactory height control requires a large applied force and a long daily treatment period.

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