BACKGROUND: The agricultural production system and cultivation practices are critical factors in determining yield and food nutritional quality. Controversy remains regarding whether or not organic foods have a nutritional advantage when compared with their conventionally produced counterparts. In this study the effect of conventional and organic production systems on yield, physicochemical and nutritional properties of four field tomato cultivars (Perfectpeel, Rio Grande, Hypeel 108 and Firenze) was determined. In the organic system, different fertiliser combination treatments were used.
RESULTS: When production system data were combined, marketable yield was not affected by cultivar. When averaged across cultivars, organic yield was about 63% of conventional yield. The production system affected fruit soluble solids, pH, titratable acidity and firmness only in some cultivars. However, no effect was found on lycopene and total phenolics in all cultivars. In the organic system, fertiliser combination treatments affected tomato yield of Rio Grande and fruit quality of Firenze and Hypeel 108. A general trend of higher quality data was obtained by using mixed compost C2 combined with its extract and codahumus 20.
CONCLUSION: The production system affects tomato yield and some fruit quality attributes. The effect on fruit quality varies among cultivars, thus highlighting the need to use a range of varieties in this kind of study. Copyright © 2009 Society of Chemical Industry