Early Growth of Muskmelon in Mulched Minitunnels Containing a Thermal Water Tube. II. Air, Soil, and Water Tube Temperatures and Vegetative Growth

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science
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  • 1 Department of Plant Science of 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

Field experiments were conducted during 1997, 1998, and 1999 to determine effects of 10 combinations of mulched minitunnel and thermal water tube on air, soil, and water-tube temperatures and on vegetative growth of `Earligold' netted muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. Reticulatus Group) within the tunnels. Use of mulched minitunnels significantly increased air, soil and water temperatures during the preanthesis phase in all years compared with control treatments. Inclusion of water tubes and venting the tunnels decreased air temperature fluctuations in the tunnels. During the first 10 to 15 days after transplanting, plants grown in nonperforated tunnels had higher relative growth rates (RGRs), net assimilation rates (NARs), and dry weights (DWs) than those grown under perforated tunnels and control plots. Plants in tunnels containing thermal water tubes generally had higher RGRs, NARs, and DWs than those without tubes. During the later part of the experiment, from 11 to 16 days after transplanting until anthesis, however, there were no consistent effects of mulched minitunnels on RGR, NAR, and plant DW. Tunneled muskmelons had significantly higher RGRs, but generally lower NARs than those grown without tunnel. Use of mulched minitunnels significantly increased plant DW at anthesis in 1997, but not in 1998 and 1999. Plants grown in the minitunnels containing a thermal water tube generally had higher RGRs, NARs, and DWs than those without water tubes. Ventilating nonperforated tunnels generally increased RGR, NAR, and plant DW. Plants grown in the tunnels reached anthesis 10 days earlier than those without tunnels.

Contributor Notes

Associate professor and corresponding author.
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