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Soil & Environ.

29(1): -- - --, 2010
Online ISSN: 2075-1141
Print ISSN: 2074-9546

Short Communication
Foliar applied 2, 4-dichlorophenoxy acetic acid
improved tomato growth and yield
W. Anwar1, T. Aziz1*, F. Naveed2 and S.T. Sahi1
Sub-campus University of Agriculture, Faisalabad at Depalpur, Okara
University College of Agriculture, B.Z. University, Multan

Auxins are important growth hormones, involved in cell division, growth and differentiation in plants. This
experiment was conducted to ascertain the impact of synthetic auxin “2, 4-Dichlorophenoxy acetic acid” (2, 4-D)
on vegetative growth and yield related traits of two tomato varieties (Rio Grand and PO-240) differing in growth
pattern). Seeds of both varieties were sown in plastic trays containing a mixture of leaf manure and fine textured
soil and were transplanted in soil after 8 weeks. There were four treatments viz 0, 5, 10 and 15 mg L-1 of 2, 4-D
applied as foliar spray after one month after transplanting and second spray was applied after two months of
transplantation. Both varieties showed significant differences in growth and yield in all treatments. Tomato variety
PO-240 produced more flowers and fruit weight than Rio Grand. Application of 2, 4-D significantly improved
growth attributes and fruit yield of both varieties compared to control treatment. The increase in growth and yield
of tomato varieties was maximum when 5 mg L-1 of 2, 4-D was applied as foliar spray, but decreased beyond this
concentration. It is suggested that 2,4-D should be sprayed to tomato crop at lower concentration to improve fruit

Keywords: Auxin, 2, 4-D, tomato, growth hormones

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) is an inflorescence, leaf to flowers ratio, number of flowers and fruit
important vegetable crop, which is widely grown all over the set. Among auxins, 2, 4-D and 1-Naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA)
world, including Pakistan. It is a very profitable crop are synthetic compounds and can improve plant growth in
particularly when grown off-season in tunnels. Tomato similar fashion to natural auxin. Campanoni and Nick (2005)
consumption in the country is increasing day by day which reported that 2, 4-D efficiently triggers cell division in plants
direly needs an increase in per unit yield of tomato. Its while NAA triggers cell elongation. In tissue culture studies,
yield can be increased and sustained by agronomic, both of these synthetic auxins played an important role in cell
nutritional management or by some exogenous growth (division and elongation). Growth regulators control
supplementation with enzymes or growth hormones. and regulate the growth and development of tomato along
with the induction of uniformity in ripening and thus
Plant growth is a combination of cell division, elongation
improve the quality of tomato fruit (Singh and Choudhary,
and differentiation and is influenced both by environment
1966). Fruit set in tomato can be induced by treatment with
stimuli and endogenous developmental progress. Adaptive
growth regulators to improve the yield substantially
changes in plants in response of both factors are
(Sawhney, 1984). Exogenous application of 2, 4-D to
coordinated by phytohormones (Campanoni and Nick,
tomato plants can substantially influence the changes in de-
2005; Teale et al., 2006). Several important growth and
carboxylase during parthenocarpic fruit growth in tomato
development processes in plants are controlled and
resulting in increased fruit set and yield. Application of 2, 4-
influenced by plant growth regulators (PGR) such as auxins
D also decreased low temperature induced malformation of
(Hobbie, 1998; Zahir et al., 1998; Berleth and Sachs, 2001;
tomato thus improved quality and yield (Asahira et al., 1982).
Cline, 1996; Asghar et al., 2003). Auxin is involved in cell
Little is documented on the best dose of these synthetic
division and cell elongation, tropisms, cell differentiation
compounds in Pakistan. The present experiment was conducted
(Yamagami et al., 2004; Campanoni and Nick, 2005; Teale
to evaluate the efficacy of 2,4-D on growth and yield of tomato
et al., 2006), apical dominance and branching (Cline, 1996;
crop and to evaluate the best dose of 2,4-D for tomato growth
Klee and Romano, 1994).
and yield.
Application of PGR to tomato plants have marked effect on Two varieties of tomato Rio Grand (determinate type)

© 2010, Soil Science Society of Pakistan (

2 Anwar, Aziz, Naveed and Sahi

and PO-240 (Indeterminate type) varieties (coded as V1 and plants and branches and number of fruit set from start of blooming to
V2, respectively) were selected for the study. Determinate termination of blooming. Tomato fruits, harvested separately
variety had a bushy type and indeterminate variety has a from each experimental unit, were weighed on the electrical
vine type of growth habit. Seeds of these varieties were weighing balance. Volume of randomly selected fruits was
sown in plastic trays containing a mixture of leaf manure measured by immersing the fruit in known amount of water
and fine textured soil. Plastic trays were kept under a small and taking the volume increase in cm3. Field was flooded two
plastic tunnel to protect the seedlings from low days before uprooting the plants. Fresh weight of tomato
temperature. After 8 weeks of emergence, seedlings were plants was taken after uprooting five randomly selected plants
transplanted in the experimental area. Experimental field was from each experimental field. Roots were washed gently with
prepared by deep ploughing and planking. Seed beds were tap water, and weighed. Dry weights were recorded after
prepared at the distance of 0.60 m. The experiment was oven drying the samples in forced air driven oven. Data
laid out in randomized complete block design with three were analyzed by performing ANOVA and Duncan’s
replications. Each experimental unit had dimension of 2.43 Multiple Range test was used to separate the effects of
m × 3.04 m. Seedlings were transplanted 0.30 m apart treatment means (Steel and Torrie, 1984).
within a line with bed-to-bed distance of 0.60 m. Seedlings
were transplanted on both sides of the bed. Each Plant Height
experimental unit had both tomato varieties. Non- Auxins are reported to promote growth at low
experimental area was kept both around the field and each concentration by enhancing the better utilization of
experimental unit. photosynthetic process. It was observed that highly
NPK fertilizers were applied @ 100 kg N, 150 kg P205 significant differences appeared among plant heights on
and 60 kg K2O per hectare in the soil. Phosphorus and exposure to different concentrations of 2,4-D within and
potash fertilizers were applied before the time of between the two tomato varieties (Table 1). Plants of PO-240
transplanting. Nitrogen was applied in split doses; half dose were significantly taller than Rio Grand (Table 1). Foliar
before transplanting and other half 6-8 weeks after transplanting. application of 2,4-D improved plant height by 1.5 folds in
First irrigation was given just after transplanting, taking care to both varieties; however, maximum plant height was observed
avoid over flooding, while subsequent irrigations were applied at with 5 mg L-1 2,4-D concentration used as foliar spray. 2,4-D
10 to 12 day intervals keeping in view the water needs of the crop is involved in cell division and cell elongation of plants
and field conditions. (Campanoni and Nick, 2005). As the level of 2,4-D was
increased in foliar spray, the increase in plant height was
Table 1. Effect of different levels of 2,4-Dichlorophenoxy acetic acid on plant height (cm), number of branches,
number of flowers and number of fruit set on two tomato varieties (Rio Grand and PO-240). 2,4-D
solution was applied as foliar spray to the treatment plots

Treatment Plant Height (cm) Number of branches Number of flowers Number of fruit set
(mg 2,4-D L-1) Rio Grand PO-240 Rio Grand PO-240 Rio Grand PO-240 Rio Grand PO-240
0 47 d 61 b 9b 13 b 42 c 52 b 23 ab 27 a
5 65 c 86 a 17 a 18 a 62 ab 70 a 28 a 30 a
10 64 c 86 a 10 b 12 b 62 ab 68 a 21 b 29 a
15 56 cd 73 b 11 b 16 ab 46 bc 57 b 24 ab 28 a
Note: The values with similar letters are statistically similar at p<0.5
The concentrations of 2,4-D @ 5, 10, and 15 mg L-1 were decreased. 2,4-D is speculated to promote the cell wall
used in the study and coded as C 1 , C2 and C3, respectively, loosening processes providing a state of extensive flexibility
no 2,4-D was applied as control and was coded as C0. The within the cell leading ultimately to increase in plant growth,
treatment solutions were prepared by dissolving 2, 4-D in measured in terms of increased plant height (Prasad and
0.01% NaOH and then required volume was made using Kumar, 2003). It is worth mentioning that growth
distilled water. The treatment solutions was applied as foliar promoting effect was significant following exposure to
spray after one month of transplantation and second spray lower concentrations of 2,4-D (i.e. 5-10 mgL-1), however,
was applied after two months of transplantation using hand growth retardation resulted with the application of higher
sprayer. The data about various growth parameters were recorded concentrations and these findings are in confirmation to
with standard procedures for plant height, number of branches, previously reported findings (Preece et al., 1984; Pudir and
number of flowers from randomly selected plants by tagging the Yadav, 2001).
Growth response of tomato to foliar applied 2, 4-D 3

Number of Branches depending upon the variety characters (Joseph and Peter,
1981; Singh and Singh, 1992). The impacts of auxin
Interactive effect of cultivars and levels of 2, 4-D on treatment on above-mentioned parameter are consistent
number of branches was not significant (Table 1). The variety with the previous reports for fruit setting (Kinet, 1977;
PO-240 produced more number of branches than Rio Grand. Serrani et al., 2008), improved fruit number and parthenocarpy
Application of 2, 4-D at the rate of 5 mg L-1 increased number (Gemici et al., 2006).
of branches in Rio Grand variety only. Number of branches in
plants grown with higher levels of 2,4-D was though higher Number of Fruit Drop
than in plants grown without 2, 4-D application, yet increase
Fruit drop after development of flowers (pre mature
was statistically non-significant at higher dose of 2, 4-D. It is
fruit drop) reduces yield significantly in fruit
that there exist non-significant differences among the data
trees/vegetables. Both 2, 4-D and GA3 decrease the fruit
relevant to number of branches in groups of plants on
drops in citrus due to delay in citrus rind maturity by
exposure to different concentrations of 2, 4-D within
altering wax deposition and rate and extents of respiratory
varieties, between varieties and interaction between and
gas exchange (Prasad and Kumar, 2003). In the present
concentrations and varieties combinations.
case, the fruit drop was significantly different for both
Number of Flowers varieties. The fruit drop was higher in PO-240 than in Rio
Grand. Application of 2, 4-D significantly decreased fruit
The number of flowers is an important yield drop in both varieties at 5 mg L-1). Variety Rio Grand
parameter which ultimately influence fruit yield. Number showed significantly lesser fruit drop than PO-240
of flowers were influenced significantly by 2,4-D indicating its efficiency in fruit setting. Application of 2,4-
application and tomato varieties (Table 1). Similar to other D at higher doses also decreased fruit drop when compared
parameters, PO-240 produced higher number of flowers with plants grown without supplementation of 2,4-D
than Rio Grand. Application of 2,4-D significantly (Control). The observed decrease in fruit drop following
increased number of flowers in both varieties at lower exposure to different concentrations of 2,4-D may be
concentration (5 mg L-1 and 10 mg L-1). However, at higher repetition of citrus mechanisms in tomato plants. Moreover,
concentration the number of flowers was statistically similar 2,4-D may enhance physiological activities in plants leading
to control. The plant growth regulators are capable to to better utilization of the soil nutrients in comparison with
change the physiology of the plants (Prasad and Kumar, untreated plants and may provide a basis for one of the
2003). plausible explanations of less fruit drops following treatment
Number of Fruit Set with auxin to tomato plants.

Highly significant differences regarding number of Number and Fruit Weight (g/fruit)
fruits set among different groups of plants exposed to Number of fruits harvested is directly related to the fruit
different concentrations of 2,4-D within the varieties as yield. The number of fruits harvested was significantly more
well as between varieties existed. However, the interactions in PO-240 (21) than Rio Grand (17) when no 2,4-D was
between concentrations and varieties were non-significant. applied. Foliar spray of 2,4-D improved the number of fruits
Number of fruit set was significantly greater in PO-240 at harvested in both cultivars. There were significant (P<0.5)
control treatments than Rio Grand and when averaged over differences in fruit yields among different groups of
all four treatmens (Table 1). Application of 2,4-D plants exposed to different concentrations of 2,4-D
significantly increased number of fruit set in both varieties, within the varieties (Table 2). Fruit yield in two cultivars
however, varieties varied in their response to applied 2, 4-D. did not differ at all treatments. Application of 2,4-D to
Cultivar Rio Grand showed maximum fruit set when 2,4-D tomato plants significantly increased the fruit yield. Maximum
was applied. At higher dose of 2, 4-D, number of fruit set increase in fruit yield (1.7 folds) was observed when 2,4-D
was non-significantly different from control. The fruit was applied in lowest concentration in both tomato varieties.
setting in tomato is generally poor under natural conditions The tomato fruit yield was in decreasing order when
and is badly affected by temperature, humidity and soil concentration of 2,4-D was increased in foliar spray compared
moisture (Singh, 1995). The growth regulators are unable to to lowest concentration (5 mg L-1). The increase in fruit yield
compensate for the adverse environmental conditions but was attributed to increase in fruit volume because of
these are helpful to improve the fruit setting. Low application of 2,4-D (data not shown).
concentrations of 2,4-D have beneficial effects on the plant
response, consequently enhanced fruit setting was evident Auxins are reported to enhance the metabolic rates by
following foliar spray with low (5 mg L-1) concentration of influencing gene regulations through transcription and
2, 4-D. Moreover, response to auxin may be variable translation activities. Moreover, auxins are known to
4 Anwar, Aziz, Naveed and Sahi

improve the capabilities of plants relevant to water Science 29: 24-32.

economy in such a manner that physiological behavior of Hobbie, L.J. 1998. Auxin: molecular genetic approaches in
plants is modified significantly (Prasad and Kumar, 2003). Arabidopsis. Plant Physiology and Biochemestry 36: 91-
The tomato plants exhibited improvements relevant to 102.
growth, sustainable health and enhancement in flowering & Joseph, C.B. and K.V. Peter. 1981. Effect of 2,4-
fruit parameters in such a coordinated manners for Dichlorophenoxyaceticacid on fruit yield, leaf area and
collective contribution toward the higher weight of fruit. flower characters in tomato. Journal of Horticultural
These results are in confirmation with reported findings Sciences 55: 41-43.
(Sumiati, 1987; Edison; 1991; Kishan et al., 1998). Kinet, J.M. 1977. Effect of defoliation and growth

Table 2. Effect of different levels of 2,4- Dichlorophenoxy acetic acid on number of fruit drop, harvested, and
fruit weight (g/fruit) on two tomato varieties (Rio Grand and PO-240). 2,4-D solution was applied as
foliar spray to the treatment plots
Treatment Number of fruit drop Number of fruit harvested Fruit weight (g/fruit)
(mg 2,4-D L-1) Rio Grand PO-240 Rio Grand PO-240 Rio Grand PO-240
0 5.23 a 6.34 a 17 c 21 bc 29.3 c 29.4 c
5 1.19 d 1.46 d 26 ab 28 a 50.6 a 52.3 a
10 2.20 c 2.59 c 22 b 24 b 41.7 b 43.9 b
15 3.99 b 4.65 b 19 bc 23 b 33.6 c 33.9 c
Note: The values with similar letters are statistically similar at p<0.5

substances on the development of the inflorescence in

Conclusion tomato. Scientia Horticulturae 6 : 27-35.
In conclusion, 2,4-D improved growth and yield of both Kishan, S., M.A. Suryanarayana and A. Kumar. 1998. Effect
tomato varieties at lower concentration and should be used for of growth regulators in growth and yield of tomato
sustaining tomato production. (Lycopersicon esculentum) cultivars. Journal Andaman
Science Association 14: 50-52.
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