Early Growth of Muskmelon in Mulched Minitunnels Containing a Thermal Water Tube. I. Carbon Dioxide Concentrations in the Tunnel

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Plant Science, McGill University, Macdonald Campus, 21,111 Lakeshore Road, Ste. Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, H9X 3V9 Canada
  • | 2 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Horticultural Research and Development Centre, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, 430 Boul. Gouin, St. Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, J3B 3E6 Canada

Temperature modification is the most investigated environmental factor considered to affect muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. Reticulatus Group) growth in a mulched minitunnel production system. Until now, effects on CO2 concentrations within the tunnel have been ignored. Experiments on production of `Earligold' netted muskmelon were conducted in 1997, 1998, and 1999 to determine daily CO2 concentrations for 10 mulched minitunnel and thermal water tube combinations. Carbon dioxide concentrations under nonperforated (clear or infrared-blocking polyethylene) tunnels were significantly higher (three to four times) than that of ambient air. Soil respiration under the plastic mulch was primarily responsible for increased CO2 levels in the tunnel. Daily CO2 concentrations in the tunnels varied little during early muskmelon growth, but fluctuated widely as the plants developed. Ventilation significantly decreased CO2 concentrations in the tunnels but levels remained significantly above the control and perforated tunnel treatments. When using mulched minitunnels for muskmelon production, daily CO2 concentrations should be recognized as a significant factor influencing growth.

Contributor Notes

Associate professor and corresponding author.
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