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Uniform and heavy plum tomatoes

When these indeterminate plum tomato varieties are grown in greenhouses, it is standard practice to prune back to three fruit per cluster to achieve uniform fruit size and larger fruit, with a target of six ounces per fruit.

The first year on an AEA nutrition management program, this grower observed that his plants had so much vigor and energy, he choose to skip cluster pruning, which greatly reduced labor requirements.

This resulted in a harvest of 6-7 fruit per cluster, all relatively uniform in size. The fruit uniformity and uniform ripening meant fewer hand harvest passes were required, further reducing labor costs.

The surprise was fruit weight. While the fruit was in the ideal size range, each fruit weighed an average of 8.3 ounces, instead of the 6 ounce target. As you know, this increase in fruit density correlates with improved flavor and aroma, lengthened shelf life and storability, and nutritional value.

Since the grower is paid by weight, the combination of more fruit per cluster, more weight per fruit, and reduced labor makes an immediate and dramatic difference in profitability.

2021-07-21T07:51:51-05:00July 22nd, 2021|Tags: , |

Uniform fruit size as an indicator of plant energy levels

Very healthy plants with an abundance of energy will have very uniform blossom size and fruit size in each cluster, or on each head, in the case of grain. The higher the degree of uniformity, the more energy a plant has. For those crops where we prune fruit or prune clusters, such as tomatoes and grapes, less fruit needs to be removed and yields can easily be increased once plants reach higher energy levels.

Higher energy levels become obvious when plants begin storing surplus energy in the form of lipids, and reach level three on the plant health pyramid.

How bud uniformity can reduce harvest labor

When plants have high energy, buds become very uniform in size and maturity, and blossoms open and pollinate close to the same time. All of this can result in a condensed harvest window, which is valuable for both machine harvested and hand picked crops.

We have observed as much as 30-35% reduction in harvest time window on a number of varieties, which leads to much greater harvest efficiency.

Here is an example of blueberry buds which will produce uniformly ripe fruit in a time window of a few weeks.

 

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