Evaluating Cherry Tomato Varieties for Brown Leaf Mold Resistance in High Tunnels

Worksite Location
CCE Clinton and Essex Counties
Faculty Sponsor
Christine Smart, Professor, Integrative Plant Science
Field Mentors/Supervisors
Amy Ivy, Senior Educator, CCE Clinton County
Stipend Amount
$4,000
Project Summary and Intended Outcomes

The use of high tunnels to extend the growing season and protect valuable crops from weather extremes is expanding rapidly across the state and region. Leaf mold, caused by the fungal pathogen Passalora fulva, has become a widespread problem on tomatoes grown in high tunnels. This pathogen is generally not a problem for field-grown tomatoes, but the unique environmental conditions in high tunnels are perfect for leaf mold development. The best management practice for this disease is the use of resistant varieties. While advances in breeding for resistance have occurred with slicing tomatoes, there has been less work with cherry tomatoes. This project will assess several varieties of cherry tomatoes grown at the Cornell Willsboro Research Farm as well as at two cooperating grower farms. We will also explore training and pruning methods for this type of tomato. This project will provide growers with information on the level of susceptibility to the leaf mold pathogen in different tomato varieties.

Roles and Responsibilities

Assist with pruning and training the research plots at the Cornell Willsboro Farm, conduct weekly assessments of leaf mold severity, and assist with weekly harvest and data collection. Interact with growers and receive feedback on other qualities of the varieties including horticultural traits, appearance and flavor. Other high tunnel and fresh market vegetable production opportunities will be available including foliar nutrient sampling, post harvest handling and consumer input on evaluating the varieties at farmers markets.

Qualifications and Previous Coursework

Must be a full-time CALS freshman, sophomore or junior. Graduating seniors are not eligible. Must meet NYS Department of Motor Vehicle requirement, if applicable.

Coursework in horticulture and pathology desirable, but not required.

Benefits and Skills

1) Learn appropriate research trial design and the importance of detail in data collection.
2) Engage in high tunnel production and identify unique issues that arise in that production system.
3) Increased ability to identify plant pathogens and general pest issues that arise during vegetable production.
4) Interact with fresh market growers and consumers
5) Engage with, and learn from CCE Clinton and Essex Counties personnel.