The Blossom-End Rot Toolkit for Dry-Farmed Tomatoes

In 2023, the Blossom-End Rot Toolkit project was initiated. The goal is to develop methods that farmers can use to profitably produce dry-farmed tomatoes while reducing the incidence of blossom-end rot (BER) and other physiological disorders like yellow shoulders, sunscalding, splitting, cracking, and internal whitening. The tools in the toolkit are as follows: 

  • Sheltering the crop from the wind by planting tall crops adjacent to the tomato crop. This helps to prevent drought stress.
  • Reducing the amount of fertilizer applied to the crop to reduce early season growth.
  • Changing the configuration of the field so that rows are planted farther apart and plants are planted closer together in-row (we increased between-row spacing from 6 ft to 9 ft while decreasing in-row spacing from 30 inches to 20 inches. 
  • Pre-drought stressing the seedlings to activate drought stress memory (we have not yet tested whether this works). 

The findings from the first year of trials were presented at the 2024 Dry Farming Collaborative Winter Convening and the OSU Small Farms Conference. This is a link to a recording of the presentation at the Dry Farming Collaborative Winter Covening. This project is funded by Western SARE. Project partners include Jim Myers, Matthew Davis, Lane Selman, and Teagan Moran.