Research matters... Breeding better tomatoes

The annual yield from glasshouse-grown tomato crops has increased by more than 100 per cent since 1950. Much of that increase has been credited to improved growing techniques and these have usually been developed from applied horticultural research.

What is less clear is the contribution made by plant breeding over this same period. In the short-term experiment described below, eight tomato cultivars - released at different times over the past 50 years or so - were grown at the same time, in the same system of cultivation and in the same aerial and root environment.

The cultivars were Moneymaker (released in 1950), Premier (1960), Extase (1960), Sonatine (1975), Calypso (1982), Liberto (1988), Gourmet (1991) and Encore (2002). Most aspects of their growth were measured but few seemed to correlate with the year the tomatoes had been released.

However, light-use efficiency and leaf photosynthetic rate were both positively correlated with release year, indicating that modern cultivars fix more carbon dioxide and produce more dry matter for each unit of light that falls on them. Leaf photosynthetic rate appeared to have increased by about 15 per cent between 1950 and 2002, thus confirming that plant breeding has also contributed to the observed increase in yields.

Physiological and Morphological Changes Over the Past 50 Years in Yield Components in Tomato by Higashide and Heuvelink (2009). Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 134 (4): 460-465. ISHS members can view Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science from the website www.ishs.org.


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus

Read These Next

What is being done to develop biocontrols against orchard pests?

What is being done to develop biocontrols against orchard pests?

The SIVAL horticultural trade show in Angers, France, this week (16-18 January) heard about several initiatives to promote more environmentally sustainable orchard growing.

What does the 25-year plan mean for growers?

What does the 25-year plan mean for growers?

Published on 11 January, the Government's long-awaited 'A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment' brings together a number of policy strands into a single framework that will impact many sectors, not least fresh produce, over the coming decades.

What will 'embracing change' mean for horticulture?

What will 'embracing change' mean for horticulture?

At the Oxford Farming Conference, whose theme was "embracing change", Defra secretary Michael Gove expanded on what a post-Brexit UK agriculture and land-use policy will look like and how it will impact farmers and growers.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +
Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Professor Geoffrey Dixon

GreenGene International chair Geoff Dixon on the business of fresh produce production
 

Read Professor Geoffrey Dixon