Document Type





High fuel costs have encouraged producers of greenhouse tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) in the mid-Atlantic region to reduce air temperatures during the day. However, effects on fruit ripening and yield are not known, especially under the low light conditions found in off-season production. This 2-yr study compared fruit ripening and yield of tomato under two temperature regimes during the fall season. Two sets of 18 tomato plants, three rows of six, were grown in soilless culture under either a warm or cool temperature regime. Temperatures were similar during night hours but allowed to rise to at least 21- 24 degrees C in the cool greenhouse section and 23-26 degrees C in the warm section, depending on daily solar heating. Mean 24 hour temperature difference between zones was less than 2 degrees C. Ripe tomato fruit were harvested and weighed 3 times per week for 8 weeks and the remaining un-ripened green tomatoes were weighed at the termination of the experiment to obtain total fruit biomass. The warm zone produced significantly greater weight of ripe tomatoes (23%) than the cool zone. However, total fruit weight (ripe and green), was not significantly different. Thus a relatively small increase in temperature (2 degrees C) during the mid-day was associated with a significant increase in fruit ripening but not in total fruit weight. This study showed that greenhouse temperature could be used to better manage fruit production to match weekly market demand without affecting total fruit weight and that consistently maintaining a cool greenhouse would delay tomato ripening and likely increase the potential for plant stress due to high fruit loads remaining on the vines.