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Sanjeev K. Bangarwa, Jason K. Norsworthy and Edward E. Gbur

, has been widely used under polyethylene mulch for effective weed control in vegetable production, including bell pepper ( Duniway, 2002 ). However, because of its ozone-depleting potential, methyl bromide is being phased out from the U.S. agricultural

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Dennis R. Decoteau

canopy. The objective of this study was to document the influence of polyethylene mulch surface color on leaf area distribution as measured at two sampling periods: an early sampling period with relatively young plants that had been in the mulch treatment

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Heeock Boo, Honggi Kim and Hyunhwa Lee

by sucrose. This study, therefore, was carried out to clarify the distribution of sugars and related sucrose enzymes at four developmental stages of the eggplant fruit cultured on different polyethylene mulches. Materials and Methods Plant

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Bielinski M. Santos, James P. Gilreath and Timothy N. Motis

Field trials were conducted from 1999 to 2003 to determine whether chloropicrin (Pic) stimulates nutsedge (Cyperus spp.) emergence through polyethylene mulch, and to examine at which Pic rate the stimulatory effect is maximized. Shank-injected Pic rates were 0, 50, 100, 150, 200, and 250 lb/acre. Application rates between 107 and 184 lb/acre of Pic stimulated nutsedge sprouting through polyethylene mulch by 60%, 400%, 58%, and 120% more than the nontreated control during four of the seasons. Rates above 250 lb/acre eliminated the stimulatory effect on nutsedge, reducing densities to the same levels as the nontreated control. The exact physiological mechanism of this stimulation is still unknown.

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Aref Abdul-Baki, C. Spence and R. Hoover

Field experiments were conducted to a) maximize total yield of fresh-market field tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) cultivars using black polyethylene mulch (BPM), and b) increase fruit size and yield during the last 5 weeks of the production period by reducing the number of synthate sinks per plant through eliminating all flowers that appeared during this period. Unmulched treatments under trickle irrigation and multiple applications of soluble fertilizer yielded an average of 43 t·ha-1 for `Sunny' and `Pik-Rite' over the two planting dates. With BPM, total yield increased by 95% to 84 t·ha-1. Although total yield increases due to BPM over the control were highly significant in both cultivars and over the two planting dates, yield increases were higher for the early than for the optimum planting date. BPM also significantly increased early production of `Pik-Rite' but not `Sunny', and the increase in early production was more pronounced for the optimum than the early planting date. Sink reduction during the last 5 weeks of the growing season had no effect on yield or fruit weight during that period.

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S.J. Locascio, G.J. Hochmuth, S.M. Olson, R.C. Hochmuth, A.A. Csizinszky and K.D. Shuler

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) was grown with polyethylene mulch at five locations during a total of nine seasons to evaluate the effects of K source and K rate on fruit yield and leaf K concentration with drip and subsurface irrigation. K sources evaluated were KCl, K2SO4, and KNO3, and K rates varied from 0 to 400 kg·ha-1. Preplant soil K concentrations by Mehlich-1 extraction on the sandy soils and loamy sands used in the study varied from 12 mg·kg-1 (very low) to 60 mg·kg-1 (medium). In seven of the eight studies, K source did not significantly influence fruit yield or leaf K concentration. In the other study with subsurface irrigation at Bradenton in Spring 1992, marketable yields were significantly higher with KNO3 than with KCl as the K source. Tomato fruit yield responded to the application of K in all studies. At Gainesville, Quincy, and Live Oak, with drip irrigation on soils testing low to medium in K, maximum yields were produced with 75 to 150 kg·ha-1 K where the K was broadcast preplant. These rates were 25% to 30% higher than those predicted by soil test. At Bradenton and West Palm Beach on soils testing low to very low in K, where all or part of the K was applied in double bands on the bed shoulder with subsurface irrigation, yield responses were obtained to 225 to 300 kg·ha-1 K. These rates exceeded the maximum recommended K rate of 150 kg·ha-1. Tomato leaf tissue K concentrations increased linearly with increased rates of K application, but were not influenced by K source. These data suggest that the recommendation for K on soils testing low in K be increased from 150 to 210 kg·ha-1 and that this increase should suffice for tomatoes grown with either drip or subsurface irrigation.

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R.E. Gough

In 1999, `Sweet Banana' pepper plants were grown under clean cultivation or SMR—red, silver, or black polyethylene mulches. Plants in each of three replications per treatment were field-set on 15 June. On 22 Sept., plants were excavated, and their root systems were examined. The total number of roots per plant at 5-, 10-, 15-, 20-, and 25-cm depths and 10-, 20-, 30-, 40-, 50-, and 60-cm distances from plant stems were recorded. Distribution and architecture of the root systems also were examined. Plants grown under clean cultivation developed 50 to 60 adventitious roots each, while those grown under red mulch developed about 20, and those under black and silver mulch about nine adventitious roots each. In all treatments, the adventitious roots radiated from the stem at an oblique, downward 35° angle. No plants had vertical roots. Root system architecture was similar among treatments, with 40% of the roots in the upper 5 cm of soil and 70% in the upper 10 cm. Thirty percent of roots were within 10 cm of the plant stem, and 50% were within 20 cm. Nearly 100% of the roots were located within 40 cm of the plant stem. Root count decreased with increasing depth and distance from the plant stem. Plants grown beneath the silver mulch produced the greatest number of lateral roots, followed by plants grown in clean cultivation and under black mulch. Plants grown under red mulch produced the fewest roots. Differences among treatments were significant. Colored mulches influence the total number of adventitious and lateral roots but not the root system architecture of pepper plants.

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Mathieu Ngouajio and Jeremy Ernest

Weed control is one of the benefits associated with the use of plastic mulches used for vegetable production. The mulches decrease light transmission and prevent development of most weed species. Plastics chemistry has developed films varying in their ability to reflect, absorb, and transmit light. Laboratory and field experiments were conducted to 1) measure light transmitted through colored mulches, 2) evaluate weed populations under each mulch type, and 3) determine if light transmission could be used as an indicator for weed populations in the field. The polyethylene mulches were black, gray, infrared transmitting brown (IRT-brown), IRT-green, white, and white-on-black (co-extruded white/black). On average, 1%, 2%, 17%, 26%, 42%, and 45% light in the 400 to 1100 nm range was transmitted through the black, white/black, gray, IRT-brown, IRT-green, and white mulches, respectively. In field experiments, density and dry biomass of weeds growing under the mulches were evaluated. The white mulch had the highest weed density with an average of 39.6 and 155.9 plants/m2 in 2001 and 2002, respectively. This was followed by the gray mulch, with 10.4 and 44.1 weed seedlings/m2 in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Weed density was <25 plants/m2 with the other mulches in both years. Weed infestation was correlated with average light transmission for white, black, white/black, and gray mulches. However, both light quantity and quality were necessary to predict weed infestations with the IRT mulches. Weed infestation under the IRT mulches was better estimated when only wave lengths in the photosynthetically active radiation range (PAR; 400 to 700 nm) were considered. Low weed pressure and high light transmission with the IRT mulches would make them appropriate for use in areas where both weed control and soil warming are important factors.

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Salvadore J. Locascio, James P. Gilreath, D.W. Dickson, Thomas A. Kucharek, J.P. Jones and J.W. Noling

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) was grown to evaluate various chemicals as possible alternatives to methyl bromide soil fumigation. Due to a combination of weeds, nematodes, and soil fungi, the use of a broad-spectrum fumigant has been essential for economical tomato production in Florida. Methyl bromide (MBr) and combinations of MBr with chloropicrin (Pic) are the fumigants of choice for most growers using polyethylene mulch culture. In 1991, MBr was allegedly associated with stratospheric ozone depletion. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has since mandated a phaseout of MBr for soil fumigation in the United States by the year 2001. At three locations in Florida, alternative soil fumigants were evaluated, including soil injected 98% MBr—2% Pic at 450 kg·ha-1, 67% MBr—33% Pic (390 kg·ha-1), Pic (390 kg·ha-1), dichloropropene + 17% Pic (1,3-D + Pic) at 327 L·ha-1, and metam-sodium (935 L·ha-1). Also, metam-sodium and tetrathiocarbonate (1870 L·ha-1) were applied by drip irrigation. Dazomet (450 kg·ha-1) was surface applied and soil incorporated. Pebulate (4.5 kg·ha-1) was soil incorporated with some treatments. Pic and 1,3-D + Pic treatments provided good to moderate control of nematodes and soil fungi except in one of the six studies, in which nematode control with 1,3-D was moderate to poor. Nutsedge densities were suppressed by addition of pebulate. Tomato fruit yields with 1,3-D + Pic + pebulate and with Pic + pebulate at the three sites ranged from 85% to 114%, 60% to 95%, and l01% to 119%, respectively, of that obtained with MBr treatments. Pest control and crop yield were lower with treatments other than the above pebulate-containing or MBr-containing treatments. These studies indicate that no one alternative pesticide can provide the consistent broad-spectrum control provided by MBr. Chemical names used: trichloronitromethane (chloropicrin); 1,3-dichloropropene (1,3-D); sodium N-methyldithiocarbamate (metam-sodium); sodium tetrathiocarbonate (tetrathiocarbonate); 3,5-dimethyl-(2H)-tetrahydro-l,3,5-thiadiazine-2-thione (dazomet); S-propyl butyl(ethyl)thiocarbamate (pebulate).

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Heather A. Hatt Graham, Dennis R. Decoteau and Dale E. Linvill

A polyethylene mulch system that changes its predominant surface color from black to white in the field has been developed and used to grow tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv. Mountain Pride) and squash [Cucurbita pepo var. melopepo (L.) Alef. cv. Dixie Hybrid]. The system uses a black photodegradable polyethylene mulch placed on top of a white nondegradable polyethylene mulch (photodegradable mulch overlay system). As the black photodegradable mulch degrades with increasing exposure to radiation, the white mulch surface is exposed. Differences among plastic systems in the percentage that breaks down may be explained by differential shading of the mulch by the vegetative growth of the crops. None of the formulations of the Plastigone brand photodegradable mulches in the photodegradable mulch overlay system had an effect on tomato or squash production. As the color of the system changed from black to white, soil temperatures under the mulch decreased. Tomato production remained unaffected in one of the two years as long as the mulch remained black for at least the first 20 days during that season. In year 2, the controlled mulch system color change affected neither tomato nor squash production relative to nondegradable white and black mulches used as controls.