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  • Author or Editor: D. E. Speights x
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Abstract

Studies were conducted to determine the effects of mulch treatment and soil moisture on plant production, soil temperature and the metabolism of sweetpotato roots. The use of petroleum agricultural mulch resulted in the harvest of sweetpotato slips 2 weeks before any of the other mulch treatments produced usable plants. A single layer or clear plastic, roofing felt, and also black plastic increased the earliness of sweetpotato plant production. The use of a single and a double layer of clear or clear over black plastic resulted in lower slip production and injury to the bedded roots. At a depth of 3 inches all the mulch treatments increased average soil temperatures when compared to the unmulched treatment. A double layer of clear plastic gave the highest average soil temperature at the 3 inch depth. There was little difference in average soil temperature 3 inches under the clear over black plastic, clear plastic, or petroleum mulch treatments.

Sweetpotatoes growing in soil and in soil covered with a layer of petroleum mulch (ENCAP) or hexadecanol (TAGE) had a higher respiration rate than roots growing in air at 30°C. ENCAP and TAGE increased the CO2 emission of sweetpotato roots in comparison to non-mulched controls. Roots growing in soil and in soil mulched with ENCAP had more top and root growth than roots growing in air. TAGE restricted top and root growth of sweetpotato roots growing in soil. Soil moisture increased the respiration rate of sweetpotato roots more than ENCAP at 30°.

Open Access