March 2003

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It is March 4th and we are about three and a half weeks off picking ripe fruit. The last two weeks have been much better for light although the temperatures during the day were very low a fortnight ago, down to zero or 2 degrees C. But we have been using a temperature integration programme with the help of the computer which works out the average temperature during the day and if it is above 17 then the night temperature is lowered correspondingly to a minimum of 14 degrees C instead of 16C. The theory is that the plants can grow all right in a 24 hour average temperature over a period of a week. So there is a carry over from day to day within the week, applying excess temperature over 17 degrees to days which have had less light. Sounds complicated but hopefully it will save us on fuel.
The trusses at the moment are very strong and seem to be setting properly. But there are always unknown hazards in growing a tomato crop and only the plant knows really what it is doing! For instance if there is a heavy weight of crop, still green, on the plant it will compensate by saving on fruit setting in the higher trusses - at least that is what seems to happen and it is very difficult to know exactly if anything can be done to help those trusses - generally the sixth to seventh truss - to set good fruit.
What we really need is to know a lot more about the plant and its root system throughout the growing season. All that we can do is keep a watchful eye on the plants - something the computer cannot do!
Wish us a good crop!

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