Drip irrigation frequency for processing tomatoes during vegetative growth stage

The objective of this study was to establish a water management strategy for processing tomato vegetative growth stage, under "cerrado" conditions in the Central region of Brazil. Six irrigation interval treatments ranging from 0.5 to 16 days were evaluated. Plant final stand, biomass production, and fruit yield showed a quadratic response to irrigation interval, reaching a maximum for irrigation frequency of 2, 1, and 2 days, respectively. Average fruit mass and number of fruit per plant were not influenced by the irrigation intervals, suggesting that observed yield differences resulted from treatments effect on plant stand. Effective rooting depth increased linearly with irrigation frequency. Plants irrigated at 8 and 16 days intervals showed a rooting system about 10 cm deeper than those irrigated twice a day. Titratable acidity, total soluble solids content, and rotten fruit rate were not affected by irrigation frequency. For best tomato crop performance, irrigations during vegetative stage should be given at a 2-day frequency, which corresponds to a soil water tension of 17 kPa.

Lycopersicon sculentum; water stress; irrigation scheduling; irrigation interval

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