Low Light Stress Influences lower Abscission and Yield of Six Bell Pepper Cultivars

in HortScience
Authors:
H.C. WienDept. of Fruit and Vegetable Science, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14850

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A.D. TurnerDept. of Fruit and Vegetable Science, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14850

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R. NyankangaDept. of Fruit and Vegetable Science, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY 14850

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High temperatures during flowering frequently limit yields of some bell pepper cultivars in New York fields. Previous research has shown that subjecting the plants to low light at flowering can have similar effects. To determine if cultivar differences in flower abscission and yield could be accentuated by such a shade stress, field plots of six cultivars were subjected to 1 week of low light during flowering. Shade cloth tunnels were erected over the plant rows in two experiments, reducing incident light by 80%. Nondestructive abscission counts were taken at the start, and 7 days after the end of a 7-day shade period. Mature green fruit were harvested periodically. Low light stress resulted in 68% and 86% abscission at the first three fruiting nodes in 1992 and 1994, respectively. Cultivars showed differential abscission in unshaded plots, and after shade, producing a significant cultivar: shade interaction. `Ace' showed least abscission and maintained yields with shading; `Camelot' lost nearly all flowers and buds with low light stress, and was reduced by 75% and 91% in marketable yield in 1992 and 1994, respectively. Results indicate that shade stress accentuates abscission susceptibility in bell pepper cultivars. Pepper lines selected for low light tolerance may show promise in resisting flower abscission at high temperature.

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