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Carol Miles, Russ Wallace, Annette Wszelaki, Jeffrey Martin, Jeremy Cowan, Tom Walters, and Debra Inglis

) production systems across diverse environments. The objective of this study was to evaluate and compare three mulch products marketed as biodegradable (two starch-based and one cellulose-based), and one experimental PLA-based product, to black plastic mulch

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Luis O. Duque

with black biodegradable or standard black plastic mulch films to increase early-season soil temperature and control for weeds ( Hayes et al., 2019 ). However, there are increased labor, machinery, and supply costs associated with initial placement and

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Adam Dale

Black currant (Ribes nigrum L.) plants of eight varieties were grown either through black plastic mulch or in bare soil and with the area between the rows cultivated or sodded with red fescue (Festuca rubra L.). Over 6 years, black plastic mulch increased yields by 26% over no mulch and cultivation between the rows increased yield by 32% compared to sod. The effect of both treatments was additive, cultivation and black plastic increased yield by 68% over grass and no black plastic. Growers are recommended to plant black currants through black plastic and avoid using sod between the rows.

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E.B. Poling, H. Pat Fuller, and K.B. Perry

Floating rowcovers composed of extruded polypropylene, spunbonded polypropylene, and polyester were used in 1987-88 in eastern North Carolina for cold protection of strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) growing in annual hill culture on black plastic mulch. Treatments consisted of floating rowcovers in either winter, spring, or both with and without overhead irrigation for spring frost/freeze protection, in addition to irrigated and nonirrigated unprotected plots. Winter rowcovers increased air temperatures by 1 to 2C without advancing bloom or harvest date. Significant blossom temperature differences relative to rowcover materials (≈ 1.5C) and irrigation use (≈ 1.5 to 3.0C) were detected over the course of six spring frosts. Time of application of covers (winter or spring) and irrigation in spring interacted in their effects on early yields (25 Apr.-5 May). However, rowcover and irrigation treatments did not have a significant effect on total marketable yield, yield per plant, or berry mass. In the absence of higher prices for early than late-season fruit or of more severe environmental extremes than experienced in the current study, it would be difficult to justify the added expense of rowcovers.

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Ibrahim G. Rubeiz and Marlene M. Freiwat

Tomato cv. Alwadi were grown under floating rowcover, black plastic mulch, mulch plus rowcover, or no protection i.e. control, for studying the effect on yield in terms of earliness, total yield and average fruit size. Early yield was significantly increased by the mulch treatment while the rowcover treatment yielded the least (P < 0.05). Total yield was increased by the mulch and mulch plus rowcover treatments, while the rowover and control treatments yielded the least (P < 0.05). Soil temperature at 10 cm depth varied between 1° to 2°C only under the different treatments. Air temperature under the rowcover exceeded 35 to 40°C on many days, hence causing fruit setting problems and resulting in reduced early yield under the rowcover. Our results show that earliness is enhanced by black plastic mulch, while the rowcover alone can have a negative effect on yield. Time of rowcover removal above the mulch warrants further research.

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Jacqueline A. Ricotta and John B. Masiunas

Black polyethylene mulch and weed control strategies were evaluated for potential use by small acreage herb producers. In both 1988 and 1989, the mulch greatly increased fresh and dry weight yields of basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.). Parsley (Petroselinum crispum Nym.) yield did not respond to the mulch. Preplant application of napropamide provided weed control for 2 weeks, but was subsequently not effective on a heavy infestation of purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.). Hand-hoed and glyphosate-treated plots (both with and without plastic) produced equivalent yields. Chemical names used: N, N -diethyl-2(1-napthalenoxy)-propanamide (napropamide); N- (phosphonomethyl) glycine (glyphosate).

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Rebecca G. Sideman

described in the peer-reviewed literature. Hochmuth and Howell (1983) demonstrated yields of up to 18.6 Mg·ha −1 (332 50-lb bushels/acre) using the cultivar Jewel on raised beds with black plastic mulch in Massachusetts. This study was conducted before

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Rahmatallah Gheshm and Rebecca Nelson Brown

ground as a control in Rhode Island in Spring 2017. Top: Black plastic mulch (left), white-on-black plastic mulch (center), bare ground (right). Bottom: Overview of experiment field. Photos were taken on 22 June 2017, 51 d after transplanting. Our

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E.B. Poling

North Carolina is experiencing a revitalization of the strawberry industry due to the adoption of plasticulture technologies and the California cultivar Chandler, which produces excellent yields and fruit quality on black plastic mulch. With this system, berries can be harvested in just 7 to 8 months after planting. The spring harvest season can last up to 6 weeks in most years. Strawberry plasticulture growers in North Carolina typically experience yields of 17,000 to 18,000 lb/acre (19,054 to 20,174 kg·ha-1). Cash expenses for the system are about $4345/acre ($10,736/ha). The system requires both an overhead sprinkler system for blossom and bud frost/freeze protection, and drip irrigation for supplying water and fertilizer in the prebloom, bloom, and fruiting periods. Sandy loam and clay loam soils are ideal for forming the lo-inch-high (25.4-cm) beds with bedding machines. Usually, 33% of the N, 50% of the K, and all of the P is applied preplant, with the remaining N and K applied through the drip-irrigation system. Problems associated with the plasticulture system include higher initial investment relative to matted-row production, and only one fruiting season is possible with the anthracnose-susceptible `Chandler' in the southeastern United States.

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John Caldwell and Maurice Ogutu

Greater plant diversity is associated with reduced insect pest pressure, but field-scale vegetable production systems incorporating plant diversity have been lacking. Cucumber was grown in 1998 and 1999 at the Virginia Tech Kentland experimental farm, by direct seeding or transplanting into rye/vetch mixture rolled to make a no-till mulch alternating with strips of vetch left to flower as a habitat for beneficial insects between cucumber rows, or direct-seeded into black plastic mulch between habitat strips or with bare soil between rows. Rye and hairy vetch were seeded at 56 kg·ha–1 each the preceding fall; only rye was planted in plots without habitats. A rippled coulter, cutting shank, and daisy wheels mounted on a tractor-drawn toolbar enabled a belt-driven seeder to seed cucumbers without pulling the no-till mulch. One hand weeding in cucumber rows at 3 weeks after planting (WAP) provided weed control equivalent to pre-emergence herbicide. At 3 WAP, no-till transplanted cucumbers had higher above-ground plant dry weights than no-till direct seeded cucumbers in both years, but, at 6 WAP, cucumber above-ground plant dry weights were equal (1999) or higher (1998) in direct seeded no-till than in transplanted no-till or black plastic mulch on bare soil. In 1999, Pennsylvania leatherwings, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus DeG. (Coleoptera: Cantharidae), a cucumber beetle predator, had higher densities and cucumber beetles lower densities in no-till plots than in black plastic mulch plots, and bacterial wilt incidence was reduced in plots with habitat strips and no insecticide application compared to plots without habitat strips and four insecticide applications. Cumulative marketable yields in no-till were 59% higher in 1998 and 23% higher in 1999 compared to yields on black plastic mulch.