(60) Establishment and Growth of Ginger Lilies Under a Sustainable Agroforestry Production System with Moringa in the U.S. Virgin Islands

in HortScience

Specialty cut flowers may be suited to sustainable production system in the tropics and an agroforestry approach was developed to add a commercial value to unused forest areas. Ginger lily (Alpinia purpurata), a specialty tropical cut flower, was planted under a sustainable alley cropping system with moringa (Moringa oleifera), to evaluate the biophysical interactions between system components. Moringa trees were planted in rows 5 m apart and were 5 years old at the time ginger lilies were planted on 1 June 2005. Two rows of ginger lilies spaced 0.6 m in row and 1.7 m between rows were planted on a 1-foot-high bed between moringa rows when trees were about 6 m tall. Alley plot length was 10 m. After a month, plant establishment was 96%. In July, the moringa trees were pruned down to 1.5 m and the biomass (foliage) was used as green manure. Ginger lilies were also mulched with straw. Plots were gradually shaded as moringa shoots developed reducing the photosynthetic photon flux to 40% of direct sun light in September and to 15% four months later. Six months after planting, height and number of shoots in shaded ginger lilies were 58% and 30% of plants in full sun, respectively. Ginger lilies began to flower 5 months after planting in the sunny plots, but no flowers were produced after 7 months in the shady plots. Since soil and tissue nitrate-N was the same between treatments, moringa biomass appears to be insufficient to increase the nutrient status of the crop. In addition, the low light intensity in the alley appears to be suboptimal for growth and production of ginger lilies.

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