Black, clear, and wavelength-selective IRT 76 plastic mulches with or without clear, slitted, hooped rowcovers were evaluated for early muskmelon production in 1991 and 1992. Clear and IRT 76 plastic mulches tripled early yield, compared with bare ground, 130 and 45 cwt/acre, respectively. Highest yields both years were from the combination of rowcover with either clear plastic or IRT 76 mulch-181 cwt/acre in 1991 and 379 cwt/acre in 1992. Yield from clear plastic was superior to that from IRT 76 by 41 cwt/acre in 1991, but not in 1992. The minimum soil temperature for IRT 76 compared with clear plastic was +0. 5F and -2F for 1991 and 1992, respectively. Crop rotation and herbicides were used to provide adequate weed control both years. The best cost-effective early muskmelon production system tested involved clear plastic, rowcovers, and trickle irrigation.
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