Root Distribution and Proliferation of Field-grown Acorn Squash as Influenced by Plastic Mulch and Water

in HortTechnology
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 2 USDA/ARS Water Management Research, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Squash (Cucurbita pepo L. var. pepo) plants were grown on black polyethylene mulch or on bare ground, with trickle or furrow irrigation, and received only natural rainfall, or natural rainfall plus half or all of the estimated supplemental irrigation water required as determined by an irrigation scheduling program. The squash roots predominate in the upper 6 inches of soil throughout the season, with no less than 60% of the root mass located in this layer. The proliferation of roots increased as they extended horizontally from the vertical center line of the plant from 0 to 24 inches. Neither the irrigation treatments nor black polyethylene mulch had any influence on the pattern of root development. Water stress, however, reduced the size of the root system and the crop yield. Yields were not influenced by either furrow or trickle irrigation on the short rows that were used in this study. However, black polyethylene mulch and full irrigation offered the best chance of maximizing squash yields under the conditions of this study.

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