The goal of the programme is to rapidly improve the tomato's capacity for processing. This covers certain factors such as the levels of dry matter contained in the fruit, color, and texture.
Research is underway to make a rapid improvement in the quality of processing tomatoes. The basic technological characteristics that determine the quality of processing tomatoes are the percentage of dry matter, colour and texture.
A network of 6 experimental plantations was established in the 5 participating countries, with a common experimental design, to investigate the influence of soil and availability of water and nitrogen on yield and quality of processing tomatoes. A second network of 4 experimental plantations was established in Italy and France for complementary studies on the management of water supply and on the influence of other nutrients such as sulphur, calcium and magnesium. Preliminary results show that increasing water supply influences yield and weight of red tomatoes in a positive way and decreases the soluble solids concentration of the juice (SSC%). A high increase of SSC% requires a water shortage which dramatically reduces yield.. Nitrogen effect on yield and SSC% was rarely significant. Neither water shortage or nitrogen had any effect on pH or the colour of the paste. No significant results were obtained with respect to other nutrients.
A smapling and analysis line has been studied in the processing factory, to determine if their are correlations between what can be produced and measures raw tomato quality. A partially automated assessment line has been studied. A common protocal including 6 experiments has been drawn up in four countries for carrying out tests including the agronomic and technological evaluation of tomatoes destined for tomato paste production. This will provide a base for European experimental varieties network and for a computerised databank.
The programme calls for 3 overlapping actions which should result in a coherent solution for the problem of improving industrial quality in processing tomatoes. To provide the incentive for improving quality there are 3 necessary conditions which are studied through 3 actions :
Action A - Provide growers with knowledge on the growing practices necessary for improved processing qualities and especially plant nutrition and irrigation. This is coordinated by the National Institute for Agronomic Research, the Montfavet Station : Dr. Yvon DUMAS
Action B - Establish precise standards for raw tomatoes and provide the means to control all the tomatoe batches at factory entrance. This programme is coordinated by the Canning Industry Experimental Station in Parma : Dr. Carlo LEONI
Action C - Use high performance varieties and reduce the time it takes to market new varieties (particularly hybrids) through the creation of a European Experimental Network and a Data Information Bank. This programme is coordinated by the University of Evora : Prof. Carlos PORTAS.
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