WILLSBORO, NY — The farmer-driven Northern New York Agricultural Development Program has announced the results of 2016 vegetable research providing market growers with insight into the production challenges associated with the increasingly popular cherry-type tomatoes. The project report, which also includes data on labor efficiency, weed control, and brown leaf mold susceptibility, is posted online at www.nnyagdev.org .
“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 training systems: an intensively pruned single leader, or plant branch; 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,” Ivy noted.
“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 plant growth of the cherry tomato, another challenge high tunnel vegetable growers face is the disease of brown leaf mold. This project included a variety trial comparing a popular but brown leaf mold-susceptible variety “Sun Gold” with three disease-resistant varieties in terms of taste and productivity. The trial conducted taste testing with the four varieties of cherry tomatoes with 60 growers and volunteers.
This 2016 research also included field trials planted at the Willsboro Agricultural Research Farm at Willsboro, NY, to evaluate 13 single or mixed summer cover crop options for weed suppression in field-planted vegetable crops.