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James E. Brown, James M. Dangler, Floyd M. Woods, Ken M. Tilt, Michael D. Henshaw, Wallace A. Griffey, and Mark S. West

Silver reflective plastic mulches were compared with conventional bare-ground culture of yellow crookneck summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L. var. melopepo Alef.) for reducing aphids and the following mosaic virus diseases: cucumber mosaic, watermelon mosaic I and II, zucchini yellows mosaic, and squash mosaic. Plants grown on silver plastic mulch produced higher marketable yields than those grown on bare ground. Other colors (white, yellow, and black with yellow edges) of plastic mulch were intermediate in their effects on aphid population and virus disease reduction. Silver reflective mulch alone and silver reflective mulch with insecticide were superior to other colors of plastic mulch in reducing aphid populations. Silver reflective plastic mulch, with or without insecticide, resulted in 10 to 13 days delay in the onset of the mosaic diseases noted.

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Mark G. Hutton and David T. Handley

white inter-row much, reflective silver mulch, and standard black plastic mulched beds on bell pepper yield and quality and (2) compare the effects of two in-row plant arrangements on pepper yield and quality under these different mulch systems

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Juan Carlos Díaz-Pérez

and RZTs showed a decreasing trend in the fall and an increasing trend in the spring. Plastic film mulches differed in their soil-warming ability with RZTs in both spring and fall seasons being highest in black mulches and lowest in silver mulches

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E. Fava, D. Janik, C. Madramootoo, and K.A. Stewart

Production of red bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L. cv. King Arthur) is relatively new to Quebec, and management techniques need to be further developed in terms of insect and disease control as well as fertigation techniques. The purpose of the experiment was to compare the fertigation of peppers using either the conventional method (weekly fertigation) or fertigation based on the readings of the SPAD 502 chlorophyll meter. The experiment compared the effects of these fertigation treatments, with respect to insects and diseases, on either a silver or black mulch. The study done in 1995, demonstrated that using the chlorophyll meter saved 28 kg N/ha compared to the weekly fertigated plants. However, this decrease did not affect the population of insects or the disease incidence on the plants. The main differences occurred between the black and silver mulch treatments for aphid populations. Plants on silver mulch had significantly lower numbers of aphids than the other treatments. Plants on black mulch also had low aphid population compared to plants grown on bare soil. The relationship between silver mulch and viruses or tarnished plant bug were not as apparent. However, the viral infections and tarnished plant bug populations on the plants tended to be lower than those on most of the black mulch treatments. Sunscald was not influenced by mulch or fertigation treatments. This may be partly attributed to the amount of leaf area. The number of fruit invaded by European corn borer was too low to draw any conclusions. Blossom end rot, sclerotinia, and bacterial spot were not present in the field in the 1995 season. The results from the 1996 season should further elucidate these results.

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R.E. Gough

In 1999, `Sweet Banana' pepper [Capsicum annuum L. (Grossum Group)] plants were grown under clean cultivation or with red, silver, or black polyethylene selective reflecting (SMR) mulches over the soil surface. Plants in each of three replications per treatment were field-set on 15 June. On 22 Sept., the plants were excavated and their root systems examined using a trench profile method and a succession of trench wall slices. The total numbers of roots of each plant at depths of 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 cm and 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and 60 cm from the plant stem were recorded. Distribution and architecture of the root systems were also examined. Plants grown under clean cultivation developed 50 to 60 adventitious roots each, while those grown under red mulch developed ≈20 and those under black and silver mulch about nine adventitious roots each. In all treatments, the adventitious roots radiated downward from the stem at an angle of 35° from the horizontal. 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 the roots were within 10 cm, 50% within 20 cm, and nearly 100% within 40 cm of the stem. Root numbers decreased with increasing depth and distance from the stem. The greatest number of lateral roots were produced under silver mulch, intermediate numbers under clean cultivation and black mulch, and the fewest roots under red mulch. Colored mulches influenced the total number of adventitious and lateral roots but not the root system architecture of pepper plants.

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John Jifon*

Use of plastic mulch to increase rhizosphere temperatures is a common practice in spring production of vegetable crops. However, supraoptimal soil temperatures during the fruit maturation period in early summer can impair root function and reduce produce quality. The effects of colored plastic mulch on rhizosphere temperature and `Primo' muskmelon root respiration were investigated in the field during Fall (Aug.-Nov. 2002) and Spring (Mar.-May 2003) seasons. Rhizosphere temperatures (measured at 0.1 m below the soil surface with thermo-couples) and respiration under four plastic mulches (black, silver, white, and clear), and a bare ground control were studied. The soil warming properties of the different mulches differed between Spring and Fall. Bare ground rhizosphere temperatures declined from ≈33 to 21°C in the Fall and increased from 14 to 26 °C in Spring. In both studies, black and clear plastic mulches had the highest rhizosphere warming effects (3-8 °C) compared to bare ground. In the Fall, average midday soil temperatures under the white and silver mulches were 2-3 °C cooler than the bare ground treatment. Canopy establishment was accelerated by plastic mulches in Spring but not in Fall. Root + soil respiration was positively correlated with measured rhizosphere temperatures (r = 0.69), with the highest respiration rates recorded under the clear and black plastic mulches. More than 80% of fruits from the clear plastic treatment were deformed and unmarketable. The number of marketable fruit was similar among the black, white and silver mulch treatments and significantly greater (32% in Spring & 12% in Fall) than in the bare ground treatments.

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A.A. Csizinszky, D.J. Schuster, and J.E. Polston

Field studies were conducted for three seasons, Fall 1994, Spring 1995, and Fall 1995, on the effect of ultraviolet (UV)-reflective films (mulches) on the silverleaf whitefly (Bemisia argentifolii Bellows and Perring), the incidence of tomato mottle virus (ToMoV), and on fruit yields of staked, fresh-market tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.). The UV-reflective mulches were metallized aluminum (aluminum) and painted aluminum (silver) on either black or white plastic film. The aluminum and silver mulches were evaluated with and without a white (fall) or black (spring) 25-cm-wide painted band in the bed center. Controls were the conventional white (fall) or black (spring) polyethylene mulches. Highest reflected energy (μmol·m–2·s–1) to the plants at 15 cm from the mulch surface was measured on the aluminum mulch with or without a white painted band. Lowest energy was reflected from the white or black controls and from silver on black mulches with or without a black painted band. Whitefly populations in the fall were lower (P ≤ 0.05) on the aluminum than on the silver mulches. In the spring, when whitefly populations were low, whiteflies were more numerous on the black control and silver on white, than on the aluminum mulches. In the fall seasons, the proportion of plants with symptoms of ToMoV transmitted by the silverleaf whitefly were higher on the controls than on the aluminum mulch. In the spring, the proportion of plants with symptoms was not affected by mulch treatments. Yields in the fall were similar with UV-reflective or white control mulches. In the spring, fruit size and marketable yields were greater (P ≤ 0.05) on plants with silver on white mulch than on the control black mulch.

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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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Martha Maletta, Melvin Henninger, and Kristian Holmstrom

Potato leafhopper (PLH) control and plastic mulch culture for certified organic potato production were evaluated in 2003 and 2004. The trials were conducted on the Rutgers Snyder Research and Extension Farm's certified organic fields. Production practices conformed to the National Organic Program. The potato cultivar grown was `Superior'. In 2003, PLH controls were: untreated control (UTC); Surround WP, 25 lb/acre; PyGanic EC 1.4, 1 pt/acre; Surround plus PyGanic; and silver plastic mulch. PyGanic and Surround/PyGanic treatment reduced PLH nymph counts and damage (hopperburn–HB), when compared to the UTC. Counts were higher and HB more severe in silver mulch plots than in the UTC, but marketable yield was more than double the UTC. PyGanic and Surround/PyGanic treatment yields were 50% higher than the UTC. In 2004, PLH controls were: PyGanic EC 1.4, 1–2 pt/acre; Diatect V, 2–4 lb/acre; and Surround WP, 25 lb/acre. The crop was grown on bare ground or silver plastic mulch. Nymph counts and HB were lowest on PyGanic- and Diatect-treated plots. Nymph counts and HB for UTC and Surround treatment were higher on plastic mulch than bare ground plots. Marketable yield was highest from PyGanic-treated plots. PyGanic or Diatect treatment yields were higher from plastic mulched than from bare ground plots. The PLH control and plastic mulch culture significantly increased organic potato yields. Marketable yield from the UTC was lower than the New Jersey average for conventional potato (275 hundred wt/acre) by 71% on bare ground and by 39% with plastic mulch in 2003; 59% on bare ground; and 52% with plastic mulch in 2004. PLH control with PyGanic combined with plastic mulch culture resulted in yields just 7% less than the state average; yield on bare ground was 26% less.

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Richard L. Hassell, Tyron L. Phillips, and Teri Hale

The small, “B” size potatoes (<2 inches but ≥1.25 inches in diameter) represent a keen interest in new, specialty food items. Exotic shapes and color shades of the specialty varieties are also known for intense flavors and variations in textures in firmness and fiber that consumers are looking for today in an ever increasing health consciousness among consumers. In 2004, the varieties `French Fingerling' (West Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), W2275-3R (Univ. of Wisconsin) and B1145-2 (USDA, Beltsville, Maryland) were planted in a double row 8 inches between tubers and 18 inches between rows in a replicated trial using colored mulches. The mulch color included red, white, black, blue, green, and silver foil. These plastic mulches were laid on 6-ft centers. The mulches were shown to affect the microclimate of soil temperature, as expected, and therefore affecting yield. These temperature differences were measured with a Campbell CR 10X weather station (Logan, Utah) probes at 2 inches above the soil surface and 4 and 6 inches below the soil surface. Plant stands were excellent with all mulches, however, blue mulch caused early emergence while white and silver delayed emergence. Just the opposite effect happened when it came to yields. The highest individual tubers per plant came from the silver mulch with the blue having the lowest tuber yields. Cultivar differences were also seen in there ability to produce marketable tubers. `French Fingerling' had the highest plant vigor and also the most marketable tubers per plant. B1145-2 produced most of its tubers greater than 2 inches in diameter with the tubers nonuniform in shape. W2275-3R produced a very uniform round tuber with few defects. Yields were higher this past year, however, there was a greater incidence of hollow heart due to excess water and higher fertility.