[tomato] mycorrhiza and environmental stress...

Thomas Giannou (Tomato@GlobalGarden.com)
Wed, 3 Mar 1999 20:23:15 -0800


Yours is a situation in which I would advise trying to use a Mycorrhiza
inoculant with those tomato's from the time you start them and again at the
time that you put them into the ground.  The environmental stress of high
temperatures would be minimized because the Mycorrhiza and other Biotics, if
the inoculant had those too, would raise the health of the plant to a much
higher level.  That higher level of health puts the plant in a position of
being drought resistant, and would retain water better and longer during
periods of high temperatures.  The elevated health would also cause the
plant to be resistant to diseases and the bugs would also tend to leave
those plants alone.  In addition, use aged composted manure mixed well into
the soil where you plant those tomato's.  It will serve to insure a good
supply of organic material the Mycorrhiza and bacteria can go to work on,
and the Mycorrhiza will carry nutrients into the plant.  It's important to
mix the compost well into the soil.

Here's another point about using aged compost manure as an answer all
solution.... it doesn't fit all soil conditions.  If the soil has a problem
with being too basic in it's pH, adding manure will make the condition of
that soil worse.  You can purchase an inexpensive pH test kit and test a
number of soil samples and then add soil amendments to raise or lower the
PH.  If you use Mycorrhiza inoculants, you don't have to be concerned about
PH or salinity and many other negative cultural conditions.  Plants that are
inoculated with VAM fungi and which benefit from VAM fungi are isolated from
those factors by the VAM fungi.

I took some cross sections of stems from maples, quaking aspen, roses,
Spirea, and raspberries that had been treated with Mycorrhiza and compared
the cross sections under a microscope with cross sections taken from
untreated plants.  In the treated plants, I found the outer layers of the
stems were thicker and much better developed and the cells were distinct and
uniform.  The untreated plants had outer layers that were much thinner and
were irregular.   I also noticed that the xylem vessels in the treated
plants were more numerous, were evenly distributed, and were significantly
larger in diameter than the untreated plants.  The xylem vessels carry water
and minerals from the roots into the plant.  With those thicker outer layers
on the stems,  loss of water due to high temps is significantly reduced,
thus the plant demonstrates it is much more resistant to higher
temperatures.  Also, in all of the plants treated with Mycorrhiza, I noticed
the phloem sieve tubes were significantly larger.  Those tubes carry
nutrients manufactured in the leaves to the rest of the plant.  The leaves
on tomato plants treated with Mycorrhiza were larger than the untreated
plants.  I have found that to be true with all the treated plants.  It's not
just the stems that retain water, it is also the leaves.  I took leaves from
treated and untreated plants and laid them on white paper out in the sun for
several hours.  The leaves from Mycorrhiza treated plants stayed soft and
pliable.  The leaves from the untreated plants quickly dried up and became
crispy critters.

Another thing I found to be extraordinary is that tomato's treated with
Mycorrhiza at a friends place in California just outside of LA were
producing three crops on the same plants.  I don't know if that is normal or
not in areas that are warmer because I have never lived in one of those kind
of areas.  But my friends untreated tomato plants didn't produce three crops
of tomato's.  In fact, they were still working on the first crop during that
time.  The elevated level of health and the internal structure improvements
noted above are the reason for the multitude of tomato's being grown.  My
wife likes me to grow beef steak tomato's.  They were ripe August, 7.   In
many past attempts, they are generally not ripe until quite late in
September and we often have green tomato's we have to bring into the house
to ripen due to frosts.  This last year, all the beef steak tomato's ripened
and were picked before the end of August.  By the time the frosts did start,
another crop of tomato's had started on my plants, but they were too small
to bother with.  This last year, we lost the month of May to cold weather
(50's) and the tomato's did not progress.  So, the time to maturity was two
months here in Spokane.  We had a few days where the temps were above 100
degrees and those tomato's made a lot of progress in that heat.

My point is that even though there are certainly different situations around
the country, the use of Mycorrhiza inoculants can significantly impact how
plants grow where environmental stresses typical in those geographic areas
would be prohibitive.  So, what you think might not work in your area, may
not necessarily be the case.

I have an interesting letter on my web site from some people who grow grapes
in Southern California.  Here's the URL to that letter:
http://www.tandjenterprises.com/documents/biovam_grape_trial.htm   What I
have noticed is that the benefits of using Mycorrhiza inoculants on a
variety of plants are basically the same for most of the plants that are
benefited by VAM fungi.  (I have seen tomato's, grapes, strawberries,
raspberries, lawns, Maple trees, Roses, Spirea, Quaking Aspen, cucumbers,
onions, and several other plants exhibit most of the same benefits after
they were inoculated with Mycorrhiza.)  These people who used Mycorrhiza
inoculants with their grape plants had 65 years of combined experience and,
in my opinion (and theirs too), went through a nightmare of events that
would normally have produced a total crop failure, but because their plants
were treated with Mycorrhiza, a major disaster was averted.  Note what they
have to say about drought conditions and about 112 degree F. temperatures
that would have normally wiped them out.   It was due to Mycorrhiza
inoculants being applied to their vineyard that they were able to avoid a
total loss.  So, I think it is reasonable to expect that plants that benefit
from VAM fungi would do much better in situations that previous practices
would lead one to say no.  The resistance to environmental stresses due to
the use of Mycorrhiza inoculants might just overcome what right now might
seem to be impossible.

A word about purchasing commercial Mycorrhiza inoculants.... take a good
look at the table in the URL below.   I had an e-mail conversation with Dr.
Joe Morton of the University of West Virginia.  He had ordered inoculant
from Don Chapman and found it to be a total bust.  He called and demanded
his money back and they refunded his money.  More inoculant was sent to Dr.
Morton from Bio-Organics.  The label on their product says "40 spoors per
cc", but Dr. Morton found only 10 spoors per cc.   Before I started into
this little business, I had purchased a case of quart sized containers from
Don Chapman.  The label said 24 oz net.  They all weighed in at 21 oz net.
At 12 to a case, I was shorted more than one quart of product.  I didn't get
any results from using any of Bio-Organics inoculant.  I had sold some of
that product to some people before I found out what was going on and none of
those people achieved anything with the product.  I replaced the product
free of charge with Bio-Vam.   Don Chapman is a distributor of the product.
He is not a manufacturer, so I don't blame Don for this problem.   The
manufacturer of Don's product is BioTerra.  They need to institute quality
controls so that stuff like that doesn't happen.

Worse yet, in Dr Morton's report, is another company that has made a lot of
false claims and has a product that no doubt would deliver results much less
than Chuck's aged composted manure.  That company is Plant Health Care.  I
am surprised they are still in business because their product has an
extremely low spoor count and they are making claims that simply can not
happen.  Dr. Morton has done a good job of identifying the above situations
and I applaud his efforts to get the problems identified with those
companies.   He doesn't have a vested interest in any of the Mycorrhiza
manufacturers, but has a strong desire (as do I) to make sure this industry
puts in place quality controls and delivers products into the market place
that are at least what the product labels say they are.

I was talking with a Mycologist Scientist from India who is working for
EcoLife corporation in California.  She had spent some time talking with Dr.
Joe Morton at the University of West Virginia and is always calling him to
ask his opinion.  She is in charge of quality control at EcoLife.  She said
she doesn't let any product go out of their facility unless it is rated at
60 spoors per cc.  Their current label says 40 spoors per cc.  I was
encouraged that they at least had quality controls in place.  Before she
started working for EcoLife, she had purchased products from all the
Mycorrhiza manufacturers and tested them to see how well they worked and how
well they matched up with the labeling.  She chose to seek employment at
EcoLife as the manufacturer that had the best product.

Here is Dr. Joe Morton's report:   http://invam.caf.wvu.edu/PHCmarketrev.PDF

I have tested Mycorrhiza products from three companies... Bio-Vam, First
Fruits, and Bio-Organics.   Of the three, only Bio-Vam and First Fruits are
the two products in the market place that I know can be trusted.   The
manufacturer of First Fruit is Jim Dailer and he obtained his starter
inoculant from Dr. Joe Morton.  Dr. Morton said he had tested the First
Fruit product and found it to be excellent.  I found it to be slower acting
than the Bio-Vam product because Bio-Vam has other biotic ingredients
present in it and they work together with the Mycorrhiza to produce quick
and lasting results.  The First Fruit product showed positive results after
about two weeks had passed.  In testing Bio-Vam and the First Fruit
products, I achieved the same kind of findings as are noted by Drs. R.E.
Koske, Gemma, and Jackson in a four year study they ended in 1995 for the US
Golf Association which is published in the USGA Green Section Record
November/December 1995.  I have the permission of the USGA to display that
article on my web site.   Here's the URL for that article:

Best Regards,
Thomas Giannou
Spokane, Washington

-----Original Message-----
From: Olin <millero@worldnet.att.net>
To: Tomato@GlobalGarden.com <Tomato@GlobalGarden.com>
Date: Wednesday, March 03, 1999 4:05 PM
Subject: Re: [tomato] seedling transplant

>I have to agree with Byron that direct seeding tomatoes doesn't work
>everywhere.  In our low desert, the growing season is also too short but
>mainly because of the heat.    The best chance of success is to start the
>seeds around January 1, grow the plants to 1 gallon size and set them out
>late February.  If we were to wait until March when the soil is usually
>warm enough to seed directly, we would be experiencing 95 deg plus
>temperatures by the time the plants start to bloom.
>Olin, Phoenix  AZ