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Fahrurrozi Aziz and Katrine A. Stewart

The types of plastic mulch used in horticultural production often fulfill only a few of the grower's needs. Black plastic mulch controls weeds, but can burn young plants. Clear mulch, while warming the soil and enhancing early crop growth, allows prolific weed growth and development. Accordingly, an experiment using a randomized complete-block design with-four replications was set up to compare the effects of black, microperforated black, silver, and wavelength-selective (IRT-76) green mulches, and bare soil on weed growth and development, and on soil temperature and moisture. Each mulch was evaluated for its optical properties. All mulches significantly reduced final stands of seeded weeds compared with bare soil. IRT-76 green had the warmest mean soil temperatures, followed by silver, black, and microperforated black mulches, and bare soil. Soil moisture content was generally higher under plastic mulches than bare soil.

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Fahrurrozi Aziz, Katrine A. Stewart, and Sylvie Jenni

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.

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Fahrurrozi Aziz, Katrine A. Stewart, and Sylvie Jenni

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.