Effect of Growing Medium and Harvest Term on Yield and Several Quality Traits of Two Cultivars of "Cherry" Tomatoes
The objective of the study was to determine the effect of growing medium in greenhouse cultivation on the yield and fruits quality of "cherry" tomato two cultivars. Cultivars 'Dasher F1' and 'Pareso F' were chosen for the experiment. The growing mediums compared were: standard mineral wool slabs and coconut fibre slabs, chosen as an environmentally friendly alternative to mineral wool. Tomato seeds were sown in December; seedlings were planted to the experimental greenhouse in January. The fruits were harvested at 5th stage of maturity, according to USDA classification (i.e. 'light-red'), and subjected to analyses. Harvest terms for quality evaluation of the fruits were June and September. There were determined for the fruits: total and marketable yield, and quality parameters: pH of the fruit juice, titratable acidity, total sugars, soluble solids, total phenolic acids, lycopene, α±-carotene and β-carotene contents. The results showed that the fruits harvested in September showed a higher dry matter and carotenoid content that the fruits harvested in June. However, the fruits harvested in June were characterized by a higher total sugars content, higher pH of the juice and higher soluble solids content. The plants grown in both mediums had fruits of similar quality, but the plants grown in coconut fibre showed noticeably higher total yield. Therefore, it can be concluded that the coconut fibre can be used as the environmentally friendly medium for greenhouse cultivation of "cherry" tomatoes, the alternative to mineral wool.
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