May 9, 2017
Cherry tomato: Cover crops vs. weeds

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has announced the results of vegetable research providing market growers with an unexpected insight into the production challenges associated with the increasingly popular cherry-type tomatoes. The project report, which includes data on labor efficiency, weed control and brown leaf mold susceptibility, is posted here.

“This research funded by the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program responded to growers struggling with controlling the rampant growth of the cherry-type tomato plants and questioning whether the time they spend pruning this vigorous tomato is worth the effort,” said project leader Amy Ivy, a vegetable specialist with the Cornell University Cooperative Extension Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Program.

The Northern NY trial evaluated and compared the labor, efficiency, and yield of three different tomato training systems: an intensively pruned single leader, a standard double leader, and a less intensively pruned four-leader system.

“Most growers feel the intensive system takes too much time, but our research showed that it took less time to train and harvest than the less intensive system which became a tangle of vines that slowed the work,” noted Ivy.

“Comparing yield and efficiency of harvest with each treatment revealed additional significant difference to help growers decide which system may work best for their individual time and income goals,” Ivy added.

In addition to taming the rampant growth of the cherry tomato, another challenge high tunnel vegetable growers face is the disease of brown leaf mold. This project included a variety trail comparing a popular but brown leaf mold-susceptible variety, Sun Gold, with three disease-resistant varieties in terms of taste and productivity. Sixty growers and volunteers taste tested the four varieties of cherry tomatoes; results are noted in the final report online.

This research in 2016 also included field trials at the Willsboro Research Farm, Willsboro, NY, to evaluate 13 single or mixed summer cover crop options for weed suppression in field-planted vegetable crops.

The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is a research and technical assistance program serving all agricultural sectors in Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. Funding for the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program is supported by the New York State Senate and administered through the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

– Cornell University





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