Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: December 14, 1999
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Phytochrome is an important photomorphogenic pigment system that regulates many aspects of plant growth, development and productivity. The accumulated information on phytochrome regulation of morphogenesis in controlled environments as well as the phytochrome regulated growth responses to far-red light (FR) reflected from nearby growing plants has led to development of colored mulch technology. Although other photoreceptors are involved in affecting some flavor and nutrient components in food crops grown over colored mulches, the FR/R photon ratio reflected from mulch on the soil surface to sun-grown plants can have major impact on allocation of new growth among developing roots, stems, leaves, fruit, and seed. An objective of the colored mulch technology is to retain the water conservation, soil warming, and weed control benefits of standard black plastic mulch and to add the yield and quality enhancing benefits of reflected morphogenic light at little added cost to the grower. Enhanced yield of tomato and strawberry have already been documented over the red selective reflective mulch versus standard black plastic mulch, as have some affects on flavor and nutrient quality of food crops. The colored mulch technology has advanced during the last 15 years from a laboratory theory to reality in improving crop yield and quality, with worldwide implications.