Even a tomato plant is sometimes ‘tired’
How does the tomato plant use its energy in the different phases of the season? For the first time, changes in tomato plant development during the full commercial crop cycle were tracked and mapped. The study was conducted by the Swiss company Vivent, a company active in the electrophysiology of commercial plants.
By monitoring the long-term electrical potential of farmers in Switzerland, France and the Netherlands, Vivent was able to track how the plant’s electrical activity changed between February, when seedlings were planted in greenhouses, and October 2021, when the plants were disinfected. The graph shows how the electrical potential of the plant changes over time.
Vivent CEO Carol Plummer said: “Plants obviously change their vigor completely in early summer, and then again at the end of August. We believe plants change their fitness strategy across different life stages. Long daily activity potentially reflects the plant’s ability to increase Maximum energy production with large leaf areas during ideal summer conditions.”
Electric life stages of tomato crops
The first three and a half months with relatively stable shoots reflect the intensive development of tomato roots (green phase) and crown development (yellow phase) in preparation for the intensive propagating phase in summer. The sudden appearance of a U-shaped trend and higher amplitudes of daily fluctuations (red phase) from June to August characterize the period of highest productivity and strong vegetative vitality. A decrease in the voltage values over the past two months (brown phase) indicates a decrease in plant vitality due to lower temperatures and limited light availability. The graph shows the average values measured in 8 different plants.
Opportunities to get higher returns and better product quality
Carroll believes that careful, targeted management of transitions through life stages, supported by plant electrophysiology, provides opportunities for increased yields and better product quality. “We look forward to working with farmers to research and develop strategies to extend the production period.”
These long-term measurements have also revealed other aspects of how plants respond to environmental stimuli, including farmers’ interventions. For example, topping tomato plants at the end of the season is a technique that ensures that the plant focuses more on developing existing fruit than on new flowering—contrary to expectations—for relatively little pressure.
for more information:
Nigel Walbridge (email)
Vivent / PhytlSigns
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