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Competition for Assimilates and Fruit Position Affect Fruit Set in Indeterminate Greenhouse Tomato

N. BERTIN
Annals of Botany
Vol. 75, No. 1 (January 1995), pp. 55-65
Published by: Oxford University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42761694
Page Count: 11
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Competition for Assimilates and Fruit Position Affect Fruit Set in Indeterminate Greenhouse Tomato
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Abstract

Localization and characterization of fruit set in winter tomato crops was investigated to determine the main internal and external controlling factors and to establish a quantitative relationship between fruit set and competition for assimilates. Individual fruit growth and development was assessed on a beef tomato cultivar during the reproductive period (first nine inflorescences). A non-destructive photograph technique was used to measure fruit growth from very early stages of their development and then calliper measurements were made on big fruits. From these measurements we determined the precise developmental stage at which fruit growth stopped. Fruit potential growth, which is defined as the growth achieved in non-limiting conditions for assimilate supply, was also assessed by this method on plants thinned to one flower per inflorescence. The latter was used to calculate the ratio between actual and potential growth, which was found to be a good index of the competition for assimilates. Time lags of fruit set were observed mainly on distal organs. When more than three flowers were left on each inflorescence, distal organs developed at the same time as proximal organs of the following inflorescence. Consequently they were submitted to a double competition within one inflorescence and among inflorescences. It was shown that, what is commonly named 'fruit set failure', is not an irreversible death of the organ and that a small fruit could resume growth after a delay of several weeks as soon as the first fruits ripened and thus ceased to compete for assimilates. In that case proximal fruits resumed growth before distal ones. The delayed fruits contained only few seeds but a germination test confirmed that fertilization took place before fruit set failed. Competition for assimilates was calculated during plant development by the ratio between actual and potential fruit growth. Potential growth of proximal fruits was strongly dependent on the position of the inflorescence on the stem, whereas potential growth of distal fruits was lower than or equal to that of proximal fruits of the same inflorescence and it was independent on the inflorescence position. We took into account both inflorescence and fruit positions to establish a quantitative relationship between fruit set of individual inflorescences and the ratio between actual and potential fruit growth.

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