Organic processing tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) production is a significant industry in California, yet little nitrogen (N) fertility research is available to guide N management. A total of 37 certified organic processing tomato fields in the Sacramento Valley of California were monitored during the 2012 and 2013 production seasons, with two objectives: 1) to document current N management practices and 2) to investigate the utility of early-season soil and plant N monitoring techniques in predicting seasonal crop N sufficiency.
Growers were surveyed regarding N management practices used and fruit yields achieved. Net N mineralization (Nmin) was measured for 20 fields soils by aerobic laboratory incubation. Carbon mineralization (Cmin) in 24 hours following rewetting of air-dried soil and water extractable organic nitrogen (WEON) and carbon (WEOC) were also determined and evaluated as predictors of Nmin. Nitrogen management was primarily based on the application of manure or manure compost in the fall. Organic fertilizers were applied mainly in spring.