A Vegetable Crops Extension Publication
University of Florida
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Cooperative Extension Service
VEGETABLE CROPS CALENDAR
Upcoming In-service: Beneficials and Biorationals for Vegetable Pest Management
Evaluation of Potato Varieties in the NE184 Regional Selection Program Under Florida Growing Conditions
Restoring the Competitiveness of Vegetable Production in Florida vis-a-vis Mexico
Heated Dump Tanks Don't Soften Tomatoes
*Growing Garden Tomatoes in Cans
List of Extension Vegetable Crops Specialists
(Note: Anyone is free to use the information in this newsletter. Whenever possible, please give credit to the authors. The purpose of
trade names in this publication is solely for the purpose of providing information and does not necessarily constitute a
recommendation of the product.)
-i -- ._ ** .4 .
2001 FL107 In-Service:
April 23-25: Beneficials and Biorationals for Vegetable Pest Management.
Small Farm Conference and Trade Show 2001 April 7, 2001- 8:30-3:00 Volusia County Fairgrounds, Deland. Contact
Richard Tyson at (407)665-5554 email@example.com or Betsy Lamb at (561)468-3922 x138 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gulf Coast Research and Education Center Vegetable Field Day Tuesday, 15 May 2001 Bradenton, FL. Contact
Donald N. Maynard at (941)751-7636 x239 email@example.com.
Twilight Field Day June 5 NFREC-Suwannee Valley. Contact Bob Hochmuth at 386-362-1725 or
Florida State Horticulture Meeting June 10-12 Stewart, FL.
American Society for Horticultural Sciences Annual Meeting July 22-25 Sacramento, CA.
Florida Tomato Institute Sept. 5 Naples, FL.
Florida Agriculture Extension Professionals Meeting Sept. 10-14.
FACTS Meeting Oct. 2-3 Lakeland, FL.
Cucurbitaceae 2002- December 8-12, 2002 Naples Beach and Golf Club, Naples, FL. Contact Donald N. Maynard at
(941)751-7636 x239 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upcoming In-service: Beneficials and Biorationals for Vegetable Pest Management
Below is the most current schedule for the FL 107-sponsored In-service Training to be offered from Monday, April 23 to
Wednesday, April 25, 2001 at the University of Florida, Gainesville. This in-service has been the focal point of FL 107 for
several years and we encourage all members of the FL 107 design team to attend. Of course, non-members are also welcome!
At the end of March, well send out more detail. Please call or e-mail Susan Webb (352-392-1901 x158; email@example.com) or
Steve Sargent (352-392-1928 x215; firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Beneficials and Biorationals for Vegetable Pest Management B 23-25 April
Monday afternoon (1:00PM 8:00PM):
1304 B1306 Fifield Hall
Overview of concepts in biological control Dr. Jim Cuda
Augmenting natural enemy populations Dr. Marjorie Hoy
Entomology & Nematology Teaching Lab (2216), Bldg. 970
Use of entomopathogens in vegetable IPM Dr. Susan Webb
Identification of natural enemies laboratory Dr. Susan Webb
Catered Dinner (Courtyard, Entomology & Nematology)
Tuesday morning (8:00AM 1:00PM):
Meet at Fifield Hall
Visit to Entomos, a local producer of predaceous insects
Tours of organic and sustainable vegetable production
Tuesday afternoon (1:00 PM B 5:30 PM):
1304 B1306 Fifield Hall
Lunch (deli sandwiches, fruit, etc.)
Biorationals (soaps, oils, botanicals) in vegetable IPM Dr. David Schuster
Biologicals and biorationals in disease management Dr. Donald Hopkins
Entomology & Nematology Computer Teaching Lab (1027), Bldg. 970
Computer software update, PestAlert, Featured Creatures Dr. Tom Fasulo
Dinner at local restaurant with group or on your own
Wednesday morning (8:00AM 12:00 noon):
1304-1306 Fifield Hall
FL107 design team meeting and drawing (don=t miss it!)
(Sargent and Webb, assoc. prof., Entomology and Nematology Dept., Vegetarian 01-03)
; -...-... ...,--.......:.'.. .. ...1
.| .' _. ._ : _. ___ ."- "..*'
Evaluation of Potato Varieties in the NE184 Regional Selection Program Under
Florida Growing Conditions
Potatoes are an economically important crop for Florida. Potatoes are grown on approximately 40,000 acres state wide with an
approximate annual value of $140 million. Potato growers in Florida are interested in new varieties that demonstrate higher
yield, increased disease resistance or tolerance, more uniform tuber size distribution, and better processing characteristics
compared to standard varieties. New potato varieties must be continually tested against standard commercial varieties to
determine if they possess advantages that will allow producers to remain competitive in the global marketplace. The variety
trials reported here were conducted to provide information on the performance and adaptation of new potato clones under
Florida growing conditions. The data will be combined with results from trials from East coast states to evaluate variety
performance under a wide range of geographic, climatic, soil, and cultural conditions. The tests at the Hastings REC contribute
to the Regional Project NE184 entitled, "Development of New Potato Clones and Varieties in the Northeast."
The trial was conducted at the Hastings Research and Education Centers Yelvington Farm in Hastings, FL. Crops in the
tri-county area around Hastings, Florida are grown in 60-foot wide beds consisting of sixteen rows. The rows are raised with a
between row spacing of 40 inches (center to center). The soil at the field site is classified as Ellzey fine sand (sandy, siliceous,
hyperthermic Arenic Ochraqualf; sand 90-95%, < 2.5% clay, < 5% silt). The crop was irrigated with seepage irrigation as
Potatoes were planted in beds following a sorghum/sudan grass summer cover crop (Sorghum bicolor(L.) Moench x S.
arundinaceum (Desv.) Stapf var. SX17, Dekalb Genetics Corporation, Dekalb, IL). The cover crop was disked into the potato
beds in September 1999. Potato beds were fumigated with 1,3-dichloropropene (Telone II, Dow Chemical, Indianapolis, IN, 58
L/ha) in early January 2000.
Varieties were replicated in single row 20 ft plots. Seed pieces were hand cut to an approximate size of 2.5 oz prior to planting
on an eight inch within row spacing with a carousel planter. The potato rows were hilled after plant emergence. Metribuzin
(Lexone DF, 20 oz a.i./acre) was broadcast on the bed at hilling.
Fertilizer (1100 Ib/acre 14-2-12 granular) was incorporated into the beds prior to planting. An additional 700 Ib of 14-2-12 was
side-dressed five weeks after planting.
Plots were harvested with a single-row commercial potato digger. Potatoes were graded using commercial grading equipment.
Tubers were washed and culls were removed and weighed. The remaining potatoes were separated into five size classes and
weighed. A 20-tuber sample was randomly chosen from each plot and used to calculate specific gravities following the weight in
air/weight in water method. After gravities were calculated, the sample was rated for appearance characteristics and sliced into
quarters to rate for internal problems. Plant maturity and plant size were rated at full flower. Tuber skin color, skin texture, tuber
shape, eye depth, and overall appearance were rated at harvest following NE184 protocols.
Due, in part, to its performance in the NE184 trial, AF1615-1 is being evaluated in 2001 on five Florida grower sites including 23
acres of commercial farm ground. AF1615-1 may be considered for joint release pending data from the 2001 commercial trials.
Table 1. Florida Rating Code Table Plant and Tuber Characteristics z
Air Pollution Vine Maturity
Dead Very Early
Mod. Defol. +
-- Med. Early
Mod. Injury Medium
-- Med. Late
Mild Injury +
No Symptoms Very Late
Skin Texture Tuber Shape
Part. Russet Round
Heavy Russet Mostly Round
Mod. Russet Round to Oblong
Light Russet Mostly Oblong
Slight Net Oblong to Long
Mod. Smooth Mostly Long
Vine Maturity at Vinekill
Yellow and Dying
Starting to Mature
Green and Vigorous
Cream Very Smooth Cylindrical
Very Shallow Excellent
ZBased on the standard NE184 rating codes for plant and tuber characteristics.
Table 2. Production Statistics for NE184 Variety Trial Results at the Hastings REC.
Total Yield Market YieldDistribution by Class (%)Y Distribution (%)
Potato Total Yield Market Yieldx -
_ _ IIL
Rus. Norkotah #3
Rus. Norkotah #3117
Norland, Dark Red (red)
Red La Soda (red)
abz 398 ab
Ic-f 343 d-g
|ab 390 a-c
f-h 300 h-k
hi 288 jk
Ig-i 293 li-k
fab 396 ab
|ij 241 IIm
e-h 302 g-k
Xc-e 337 d-h
k 132 n
Ii I 211 m
Ibe 375 b-d
[j I 210 m
cd 348 c-f
Ii I 264 kl
d-g 327 e-j
Fc-e 341 d-h
lbe 365 b-e
a 423 a
be 367 b-e
Id-h 320 f-j
[hi 286 jk
Ic-f I 334 d-i
bc 369 b-e
'_II L L '4 L I I LLU O LU II5 Gravity
99 2 21 39 34 1 95 74 1.0788 bc
94 23 34 36 95 71 1.0700 fg
96 1 19 33 43 2 96 77 1.0655 h
S100 3 I45 33 I 14 011 93 47 1.0615 Ij-l
100 5 53 32 LI 0 92 40 1.0655 hi
100 3 34 33 261 0 93 60 1.0770 c
98 2 27 3928 95 68 1.0820ab
S100 7 59 25 5 88 29 1.0758 cde
98 3 21 36 134 92 71 1.0740 de
98 4 34 31 2611 93 59 1.0690 fg
81 20 72 6 1 0 79 7 1.0700fg
99 1 27 I7 227 0 76 49 1.0583 Im
95 2 32 44 8 0 94 62 1.0675 gh
100 6 41 31 17 0 89 48 1.0570 m
99 3 36 40 19 0 94 58 1.0620 jk
89 2 34 38 95 61 1.0828 a
S100 5 45 36 1 0 93 47 1.0693 fg
100 1 16 24 53 3 95 80 1.0783 b-d
94 1 24 40 27 1 91 68 1.0713 e
100 2 20 38 0 94 73 1.0695 fg
S99 2 I21 35 36 2I 95 74 1.0768 cd
992 95 74 1.0768Lcd
99 4 37 ]36 21 0 94 57 1.0838 a
100 50 29 93 44 1.0630 i-k
S99 3 38 36 111 93 55 1.0645 h-
99 I3 28 I34 9 2 93 65 1.0608 kE
XMarketable Yield: size classes 2 to 4. YSize Classes: 1 = <1 7/8" (B); 2 = 1 7/8 to 2 /"; 3 = 2 to 3/4"; 4 = 34 to 4"; 5 = >4".
ZMeans separated within columns with Waller-Duncan mean separation test at P<0.05.
Table 3. Plant and Tuber Characteristics for NE184 Variety Trial Results at the Hastings REC.
Rus. Norkotah #3
Rus. Norkotah #3117
Norland, Dark Red (red)
Red La Soda (red)
Total Yield Market Yieldx Plant
cwt/A cwt/A Size
424 abz 398 ab 8.8
365 I c-f 343 d-g 6.5
414 lab 390 ~a-c 6.8
324 If-h 300 h-k 4.0
312 Ihi 288 Ijk 5.0
314 g-i 293 i-k 6.0
419 lab 396 Iab 7.5
273 lij 241 Im 6.3
329 le-h 302 Ig-k 8.0
369 Ic-e 337 Id-h 6.0
167 Ik 132 In 2.0
281 ii 211 Im 5.0
399 Ilbc 375 Ib-d 7.0
236 Ij 210 Im 7.3
371 icd 348 Ic-f 5.5
278 Ii 264 IklI 4.0
355 Id-g 327 le-J 4.0
368 I c-e 341 Id-h 7.0
401 Ibc 365 Ib-e 5.5
452 a 423 a 7.0
397 Ibc 367 Ib-e 7.3
341 Id-h 320 I~f-J 7.5
307 hi 286 jk I 7.0
362 Ic-f 334 I d-i 7.5
401 Ibc 369 Ib-e 7.3
Maturity [ T N
6.5 3 5 7 5 6 5.0 0.0
6.8 3 [ 8 6 I 6 1 0
7.8 I 8 8 6 5 1 11
8.8 3 I ] 6 0.0I 0.0
6.5 87 1 5 4 I 010 0.0
6.5 5 8 7 7 1 0.0
6.0 5 I L5 7 131 1.3
4.5 I 2II6 II 8 7 1 31 25
5.0 6 9I 7 0121
7.5 2 2 8 4 8 0.I0 0.0
9.0 8I1 II 5 10.0 0.0
5.5 56 W 7 0.01 0.0
6.5 3 6 7I 7 50.0 0oo
7.5 I 6 5 00
6.5 85 8 5 0 0.0
8.3 85 8 I .5 0.0 1
9.0 I 1 I 5 I 0.0
6.5 3 5 7 4 5 0.01 0 0
8.0 8 I6 06 00
6.8 I 8 J J7 6 1 0.0
6.8 3 6 8 7 5 0.I0 0.0
6.5 6 II 5 10 2.5
3.8 3 6 2 5 .5 I 0.0
5.8 I 2I8 I 2 I 5 0.0 0.0
5.5 8I I 5 1 0.0
XMarketable Yield: size classes 2 to 4. YPercent of tubers showing injury. ZMeans separated within columns with Waller-Duncan
mean separation test at P<0.05.
(Hutchinson, Vegetarian 01-03)
Restoring the Competitiveness of Vegetable
Production in Florida vis-a-vis Mexico
We conducted a field day of "Developing Sustainable Tomato Production in South Florida on Feb. 21, 2001 at Tropical
Research and Education Center, Homestead. Over 30 growers, agricultural suppliers, researchers and congressional aides
attended the field day. The following information was the part of our presentation.
THE PROBLEM: Five crops critical to the long term survival of the vegetable industry in Florida are tomato, bell pepper,
cucumber, egg plant and squash.
From 1990 to1998, the share of the U.S. vegetable market met by U.S. growers fell from 80 to 70%, and that of Florida growers
from 35 to 25% (Van Sickle, 1999).
For tomato the loss of market share has been even greater.
Percent of U.S. Market Supplied
U.S. Tomato Producers 90% 67%
Florida Tomato Producers 47% 25%
Tomato imports from Mexico increased 200 % between 1990 and 1998. The phasing out of methyl bromide in the U.S.
contributes to this trend because this product will continue to be used by Mexican growers until 2015.
In most tomato-producing areas of Florida, methyl bromide is expected to be replaced by Telone C-17 (Van Sickle et al.,
However, Telone C-17 is not approved in Miami-Dade County, because it would leach into drinking water.
No chemical alternative to methyl bromide that performs reliably in Miami-Dade County, is available at this time.
With the ban of methyl bromide, tomato yields are expected to decline by 10 % throughout Florida, and by 20 % in
Moreover, tomato production in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach Counties is projected to cease completely (Van Sickle,
Brewster and Spreen, 2000).
Florida is projected to lose $69 million annually in shipping point revenues for tomatoes, and Mexico to gain $52 million.
Florida will also lose 65 % of the pepper market, mostly to Mexico, while production is expected to cease entirely in
Miami-Dade County and decline by 79 % in Palm Beach County.
Tomatoes: Cost of Production in Miami-Dade County
The preharvest cost of growing an acre of tomatoes is about $6,600, and a respectable yield is 1,400 twenty five-pound cartons
per acre (Smith and Taylor, 2000).
Thus the preharvest cost per carton is about $4.77 in Miami-Dade County.
The cost of harvesting and marketing is about $3.45 per carton.
Therefore the breakeven price is about $8.22 per carton in Miami-Dade County.
Tomatoes: Pjiduc don Cosns Miami-Dade C ountv, 1999-2000
Per Acre Pei Caon
Yield 5 Ib. Canon; 1,400
Fertilize $ 310.50
Methyl romide- hlob pirrTinll l 67) 625.50
Phstk niukh $ 294.(0
Plastic niul hdisposal $ 75.00
Irrigation $ I2.80.
Othe[ oper aiim roSls $ 2560.31
Toral operating coss $ 4,0l L.9
Fixed costs :.?9o.20
Total prelaxt es roess i 6,6". I1 $477
TotA harest & Mar htina rots 41,0 80.00 .i
* 11.50'r..1 8 2 BREAlVETN
Breakeven Price in Mexico
Dr. John Van Sickle (2001) has tracked costs for operators in Mexico with regard to production, harvesting, marketing and
export. Dr. Van Sickle's data indicate the breakeven price in Mexico for export into the United States, where labor is cheap,
appears to be just about $7.00/carton.
Cover Crops: An Emerging Substitute for Methyl Bromide and Plastic Mulch
Costs of producing and exporting
tomatoes from Mexico
7 2 . . .
8 ---- - - - ----------------- 6- -
O 6.21 6.5 6.16
- 6 --- --- --- -- --- -- -
90.91 94 95 95/96 96/97 97 98 98.99 99/00
Dr. Herbert Bryan and colleagues are finding that we can replace methyl bromide through the use of those cover crops which
are lethal to plant-parasitic nematodes. Cover crops such as sunn hemp, velvet bean, 'Iron and Clay' cowpeas, and Sesbania
attract plant-parasitic nematodes to their roots and kill them (Bridge, 1996). These cover crops build down populations of
plant-parasitic nematodes and other pathogens, and also convert atmospheric nitrogen into fertilizer.
Teams led by Dr. A. Abdul Baki, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, and Professor Ron Morse, Virginia Tech, have been
able to convert cover crops into organic mulches to replace plastic mulch for vegetable production in the mid-Atlantic States
(Abdul-Baki and Teasdale, 1997; Morse, 1999).
If we succeed in perfecting such a biologically-based system for tomato production in Florida, savings of about $1,200 in
preharvest costs would be realized. However even with these savings, the preharvest cost would still exceed $7.00/carton.
Clearly we cannot become competitive with Mexico unless we also increase tomato yield per acre.
Achieving Substantial Yield Increases in Tomato in Miami-Dade County
Fortunately yield per acre can be increased significantly. Dr. Yuncong Li and colleagues have shown at this Center that yield
can be boosted by about 20 percent by adding organic matter to the soil.
Moreover, Dr. Li and colleagues found that by using tensiometers to properly control irrigation yields can be doubled. In the
following example this team applied irrigation when the soil moisture tension reached 5 cbars and 20 cbars. Many growers
irrigate when the moisture tension is roughly 5 cbars. However by delaying irrigation until the moisture tension had dried down to
20 cbars, yields were doubled as shown in this chart.
The Envisioned Tomato Production System
The aim of our research is to assemble a tomato production system in which we increase yields through proper irrigation and
addition of organic matter to the soils, and use cover crops to replace the use of methyl bromide, plastic mulch and part of the
This system would affect the cost of tomato production about as shown in this chart:
Such a production system would reduce the breakeven price to below $6.00 per carton and allow Florida's growers to compete
effectively with growers in Mexico.
TOMATOES: Biobdrall h-hased P'odunio n Heav l .Amendid-C(omposi
Per Acre Per Carton
Viplil (15 lh. Cartnam) ? 800
Op eraing r 0S
Ferdlier I 250.59
lMethl hrondide. hlrop ikrrin MC'-67) 0.00
Plastic mulch $ 0.01
PLstir raulrddisposp l 0.01
Irrigatior $ 86,41I
Other oper ang costs $ Y68. I1
Total operating cost $ 2905.21
Fixed (ost $ 2.591:0
Toal prekuesne roas $ 5,498.41 *1.96
ToDal kn mesi & MarIutingcosts $ 9.6601.0 $3.45
TOTAL -OSTr 15.158.11 $5.41 BREAKEVEN
Current Status of Development of Biologically-Based Tomato Production System
We have identified several cover crops, which appear well suited (Li et al., 1999). However we need to reduce the cost
of producing sunn hemp seed.
We need to challenge these cover crops under very stringent conditions: i.e., against very high nematode and pathogen
Yield increases by properly controlling irrigation are clearly attainable. However technology for doing so on large acreages
needs to be further developed.
At this time we are able to control weeds adequately only with plastic mulch. Thus we have considerable work to do in
perfecting organic mulches to achieve a high degree of weed control.
Growers may wish to implement individual parts of this system as soon as they are shown to be robust.
Abdul-Baki, A. A.and J. R. Teasdale. 1997. Sustaninable production of fresh-market tomatoes and other summer vegetables
with organic mulches. Farmers' Bulletin No. 2279, 23 pp. USDA/ARS.
Bridge, J. 1996. Nematode Management in Sustainable and Subsistence Agriculture, Ann. Rev. Phytopathol. 34: 201-35.
Li, Y.C., H.H. Bryan, R. Rao, N. Heckert, and T. Olczyk. 1999. Summer Cover Crops for Tomato Production in South Florida,
P.18-21. The proceedings of the Conference of Florida Tomato Institute, Citrus &Vegetable Magazine.
Li, Y C, M. Zhang, P. Stoffella. 2001. Nitrogen Availability in Vegetable Systems Amended with Biosolid Yard Waste
Compost. Annual Report. T-TAR/USDA.
Morse, R. D. 1999. No-till vegetable production its time is now. HortTechnology, 9 (3): 373-379.
Smith, S. A. and T. G. Taylor. 2000. Tomatoes: Estimated production costs in Dade County area, 1999-2000, Table 33.
Van Sickle, J. 1999. Critical commodities in the Caribbean Basin: A Florida perspective. P. 191-196. In W. Klassen (chair),
Mitigating The Effects Of Exotic Pests On Trade And Agriculture, Part A. The Caribbean. Proceedings of T-STAR
Workshop-X, Homestead, Florida, June 16-18, 1999, sponsored by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension
Service, USDA. 292 pp.
Van Sickle, J. J. 2001. The impact of NAFTA on Florida Agriculture, 1994 -2000. PowerPoint presentation, 23 slides.
Van Sickle, J. J., C. Brewster and T. H. Spreen. 2000. Impact of a methyl bromide ban on U.S. vegetable industry. Bulletin
333, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, IFAS, UF. 20 pp.
(Klassen, professor, TREC-Homestead and Li, Vegetarian 01-03)
Heated Dump Tanks Don't Soften Tomatoes
It has been reported that tomatoes, particularly "pinks", become more susceptible to bruising following immersion in heated
dump tanks. To test this idea, we set up an extensive experiment last November, making every effort to simulate commercial
conditions as closely as possible.
Freshly harvested 'Florida 47' tomatoes grown in the Palmetto area were collected at a range of ripeness stages (green,
breaker, turning, pink, light red), returned to the laboratory and held overnight at 20C (680F). The following day, five tomatoes
at each ripeness stage were submerged for 1, 2, 3 or 4 minutes in heated water (400C; 1040F). Five tomatoes were not
immersed as a control. Immediately upon removal from the water bath, firmness was measured on the equator of each tomato
(two readings/fruit). Firmness was determined using an Instron Universal Testing Instrument fitted with a convex-tip probe 11
mm (0.4 inches) in diameter, and the force was recorded when the probe reached 1 mm deformation. This method
nondestructively simulates manual measurement of firmness.
Not surprisingly, the results showed that tomato firmness decreased as tomato ripeness stage advanced ( Table 1). With each
advanced ripeness stage, firmness decreased from 15.7% to 21.3%.
However, tomato firmness within each ripeness stage category remained constant following immersion up to 4 minutes. These
results indicate that "pink" tomatoes are more susceptible to bruising due to softening that occurs during normal ripening, and
not due to temporary heating of the skin during dump-tank handling.
With the potential to market "pink" tomatoes as higher-priced vine-ripes, greater care must be taken during handling operations
to minimize bruising and other mechanical injuries. Lowering drop heights during handling, installing suspended curtains where
tomatoes are tossed during sorting, and using shorter-height shipping containers are straight-forward, but effective, means to
reduce injuries. Residence time in the dump tank should be from two to three minutes to reduce pathogen loads, but immersion
more than three minutes should be avoided to minimize water infiltration into the tomatoes.
(Sargent and Abbie J. Fox, postharvest bio. sci., Vegetarian 01-03)
u '. -. .... -, "r "-- '
Growing Garden Tomatoes in Cans
Growing good, big, juicy, red-ripe tomatoes will be the aim of many thousands of Florida home gardeners this spring season. To
grow tomatoes, with space limitations, one should consider "canning" tomatoes that is, growing them in cans.
Tomatoes grown in cans and other containers produce well, and make attractive plants. To enhance the landscape, cans may
be placed at strategic locations around the exterior of the home.
Table 1. Tomato firmness at several ripeness stages 24 hours after harvest.
Loss in Firmness Between
Ripeness Stage Firmness (N) Lossin Firmness Between
Ripeness Stages (%)
Green 10.2 -
Breaker 8.6 15.7
Turning 7.2 16.3
Pink 6.1 20.8
Light Red 4.9 21.3
(1 Newton = 0.22 pound-force).
Furthermore, tomato fruits produced in this manner are just as tasty and nutritious as those grown in the ground.
This article describes a method of "can culture" used successfully in a home garden in central Florida. The principles used
were sound, and the results were outstanding. There is every reason to believe that the system will work just as well for you.
Containers: The gardener used 5-gallon square cooking oil cans. Anything similar, such as paint buckets, bushel baskets or
plastic garbage cans may be used. Do not use smaller containers unless varieties suitable for hanging baskets are planted.
Location: A four-foot wide strip of black polyethylene was laid out on the ground. It was long enough to accommodate about 24
cans. The cans were placed on the mulch in full sunlight. Containers may be placed wherever they might be most attractive.
Since the containers have their own soil, they can be placed on hard surfaces such as concrete patios or wooden decks (even
Soil: Sawdust was used as a soil-substitute. It is important to use well-rotted, old sawdust for best results. Although this
gardener did not put anything else in the sawdust at the time it was placed into the cans, it is advisable to mix about a half cup
of dolomite in each can to provide sufficient calcium for preventing blossom-end rot.
Varieties: Plants were set directly into the sawdust. The varieties used were 'Floradel,' 'Walter,' 'Big Boy,' and 'Stakeless.' Best
production was obtained from 'Walter' and 'Floradel' and least from 'Stakeless.' 'Big Boy' was only fair. Other varieties
suggested for use are 'Floramerica, ', 'Better Boy,' and 'Solar-Set!' Also, the small-fruiting varieties such as 'Summer Cherry'
do well in can culture. The latter will also permit growing into the warm summer months.
Fertilizer and Watering: A fertilizer solution was prepared and applied daily to each can. The fertilizer solution was mixed in a
five gallon container. The gardener mixed two tablespoonfuls of high analysis soluble fertilizer into five gallons of water. One
gallon of this solution was poured into each tomato can once each day. At the end of each week, the fertilizer was omitted and,
instead, each container of sawdust was given a thorough wetting with the garden hose. The purpose was to wash out
accumulated salts from the fertilizer, since soluble salt buildup can cause root injury.
Alternatives to the methods of fertilizing used might be mixing a slow-release fertilizer into the sawdust before planting; or twice
weekly light applications of dry common fertilizer such as 8-8-8 to the sawdust surface followed by watering in.
Staking and Supporting: All varieties should be supported so that they are made to grow in an upright position. Regular methods
of supporting such as staking and string-trellising may be used. Caging with wire is perfect.
Further care: The usual care and attention was provided as the plants grew. Some pruning was done to remove unwanted
suckers. Pesticides, as needed, were sprayed onto the plants. Weeds were not a problem, since the black plastic kept the
weeds away from the area around the cans, and the sawdust contained no weed seeds.
(Stephens, Vegetarian 01-03)
Extension Veoetable Croos Snecialists
Daniel J. Cantliffe
Professor and Chairman, Horticultural Sciences Department
Timothy E. Crocker
Professor, deciduous fruits and nuts, strawberry
Assistant Professor, strawberry
Assistant Professor, vegetable production
Elizabeth M. Lamb
Assistant Professor, production
Assistant Professor, soils
Mark A. Ritenour
Assistant Professor, postharvest
Ronald W. Rice
Assistant Professor, nutrition
Steven A. Sargent
Assistant Professor and Editor, vegetable nutrition
William M. Stall
Professor, weed control
James M. Stephens
Professor, vegetable gardening
Donald N. Maynard
Stephen M. Olson
Professor, small farms
Charles S. Vavrina
Associate Professor, transplants
James M. White
Associate Professor, organic farming
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