PLASTIC MULCHED BED WIDTH EFFECTS ON PEPPER AND CANTALOUPE YEILD

in HortScience

The phase out of methyl bromide has precipitated a need to reduce usage of the all purpose fumigant. Reduction in methyl bromide use can extend the life of existing stocks and make it more likely to continue critical use exemption for future production. Traditional widths for plastic mulch covered beds in Georgia ranges from 32 to 36 inches. By reducing bed top widths, it could be possible to reduce the amount of methyl bromide applied by as much as 60%. The objectives of this work were to evaluate the effects of narrower bed tops and lower rates of methyl bromide on pepper and cantaloupe growth and yield. Bed top widths of 36, 30, and 24 inches were each tested with broadcast rates of 400 and 300 lb/acre of both 67:33 and 50:50 methyl bromide-chloropicrin at Tifton, GA in the fall of 2005. Bed widths were the main plot and methyl bromide rates the sub plot. Plots were 20 feet long with two rows of pepper planted per bed with 12 inches between plants and one row of cantaloupe planted per bed with two feet between plants. All beds were on 6-ft centers and fertilizer rates were constant across plots within a crop. There were four replications. Otherwise normal cultural practices were employed. Crops were harvested at maturity and data collected on yield and plant growth. Pepper yields were depressed by early cold weather. The 24-inch bed tops produced significantly lower yields of extra large, large and total fruit, but had greater top dry weight and root fresh weight than the 36-inch beds. There were no differences found among methyl bromide rates for cantaloupe or for pepper except extra large fruit were greater at the highest rate compared to the lowest. There were no differences among bed top widths for cantaloupe yield or plant growth.

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