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Hanssens J.,Ghent University | De Swaef T.,Ghent University | Wittemans L.,Research Station for Vegetable Production | Goen K.,Horticulture Research Center Hoogstraten | And 3 more authors.
Acta Horticulturae | Year: 2012

Maintaining good plant water status is crucial for optimal production and quality of tomato in greenhouses. Various new climate control technologies have been introduced to make greenhouse cultivation more energy-efficient, resulting in a modified greenhouse climate. Recently, there has been growing interest in the use of plant-based methods to steer the climate. Monitoring stem diameter variations (SDV) has been extensively studied in tree species, but is also very promising for herbaceous crops. Stem and fruit diameter variations provide crucial information about plant water status, though unambiguous interpretation of these dynamics is often difficult. Mechanistic modelling can help to elucidate the mechanisms driving plant behaviour and is therefore an important tool for interpreting the dynamic response of the plants to changes in microclimate. In the present study, tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum L.) were subjected to elevated air temperature (Ta) and vapour pressure deficit (VPD), while SDV, sap flow and fruit growth were continuously monitored. Results indicated that stem shrinkage became more pronounced and fruits shrank during periods of high Ta and VPD. Simulation results showed that reduced fruit growth resulted from both increased fruit transpiration and decreased phloem inflow. Moreover, xylem backflow appeared when Ta and VPD reached maximum values. It was demonstrated that the reduced fruit growth resulted mainly from changes in stem water potential, rather than fruit water potential.

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