412 Organic Mulch Improves Yield and Economic Returns From Chive Production

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  • 1 University of the Virgin Islands Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, Kingshill, VI 00850 USA

Chive (Allium schoenoprasum) is one of the most popular culinary herbs in the Virgin Islands, and local demand is always high throughout the year. However, local production is not sufficient to meet increasing demands. Chive production is constrained by insect pests, weeds, and high cost of irrigation water. A study was conducted to compare the influence of organic and synthetic mulches on yield and economic returns from chive production. The study also evaluated the effect of mulch on weeds and water use. Chives were planted in plots consisting of three rows 3.6 m long. Plants were spaced 20 cm within rows 41 cm apart. The plots were mulched with grass straw, wood chips, shredded paper, and white plastic. A control plot (no mulch) was also planted for comparison. Plots were arranged in randomized complete-block design with four replications. All plots were drip-irrigated and soil moisture tension maintaned at 30 kPa. Chives grown with grass straw mulch produced taller plants and higher number of tillers (slips) than all other mulch treatments. Total fresh yield of plots with grass straw mulch was superior to all other mulch treatments including the control. On the average, plots with grass straw mulch produced 1203 g/m2 of fresh chives. All mulches resulted in reduced weed population compared to the control (no mulch). Due to high rainfall during the growing season, differences in irrigation water use were not significant. Economic comparison indicated that the net return above mulch costs was 50% higher with grass straw than with other mulch treatments. To improve production and income, herb growers should consider using grass straw and realize other benefits, including weed control and improved soil fertility.

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