Organic Heirloom Tomato Production in High Tunnel and Open Field Systems
Organic heirloom tomatoes are a high-value product with a growing demand but there are many challenges to successful cultivation. High tunnel systems may help farmers supply a growing regional market for high-value horticultural crops and take advantage of the lengthy, sub-tropical growing season (USDA hardiness zone 7b-8a) in eastern North Carolina. For this reason, a replicated, systems-level comparison study was carried out to evaluate the production of the popular heirloom tomato, Cherokee Purple (Solanum lycopersicum L. ‘Cherokee Purple’), under organically managed high tunnel and open field systems. Crop yield, fruit quality, microclimate and disease incidence were examined. Results of this study suggest that with proper management techniques, high tunnels can optimize yields, increase fruit quality and provide season extension opportunities.
About this series: Research Innovations, part of the Ag Innovations series, capture the research findings and new strategies for advancing sustainable agricultural systems that have arisen from SARE-funded projects.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant(s) GS07-060, Potential of grafting to improve nutrient management of heirloom tomatoes on organic farms .
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This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. 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.