Published in HortScience, Volume 32, Issue 2, March 1, 1997, pages 227-229.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author Lauren Garner was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
Mechanical stimulation is known to control excessive stem elongation in highdensity tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) transplants. Mechanical stimulation using physical impedance provided height control equivalent to that obtained using brushing. Low-cost materials can be used to apply the impedance. Mylar film in a plastic frame was equivalent to expensive acrylic sheets in its effect on plant height (40 mm shorter than nontreated, a 40% reduction in the elongation rate during the treatment period), stem diameter (18% thicker), and biomass (14% lighter) when they applied a pressure of 66 N·m-2• Stem elongation was not reduced ifless pressure was applied (25 or50 N·m-2). Height control was equally effective with a solid material (mylar film) and a permeable material (fiberglass insect screen), indicating that restricting air movement is not an important mechanism for the growth response. Overnight treatments resulted in the desired growth response (27 mm shorter than nontreated, a 30% reduction in elongation rate), but 0.5-h treatments had insufficient effect for commercial use (11 mm shorter, 10% reduction in elongation rate). These experiments demonstrate that impedance can be used in commercial production conditions to control tomato transplant height with inexpensive materials. However, satisfactory height control requires a large applied force and a long daily treatment period.