Submitted to: Chemtech
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/13/1999
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Many tomato and strawberry growers place plastic mulch on the soil to conserve water and to keep fruit clean. In an innovative approach, we combined the benefits of mulch with information from basic research on effects of color on plant physiological processes during growth and development. This resulted in development of a red selective reflective mulch (SRM-Red). The light reflected from the red mulch acts through the natural growth regulatory system within the growing plant. When compared with standard black plastic mulch, reflection from the red mulch directed more growth to the developing fruit. Tomato and strawberry yields were higher over the SRM-Red than over standard black mulch. In preliminary taste tests of strawberry, most of the tasters preferred the berries grown over red. Cooperative studies on concentrations of flavor components and phytonutrients are in progress.
Technical Abstract: Yield and quality of food crops are important to both growers and consumers. An innovative combination of basic information on effects of color on plant growth processes, and the water conserving benefits of mulch resulted in development of a red plastic mulch whose reflected light results in increased yields of tomato and strawberry. The reflected color [primarily the far-red to red (FR/R) photon ratio] acts through the natura growth regulatory system within a growing plant to influence allocation of new growth among developing parts, including the fruit. Yields of both tomato and strawberry were greater over the FR-reflecting selective reflective mulch (SRM-Red) than over standard black plastic mulch. The increased early crop tomato yield was primarily due to more fruit, and the increased strawberry yield was influenced by larger berries. Taste testers preferred strawberries that developed over the SRM-Red versus standard black mulch. Cooperative studies on concentrations of flavor components and phytonutrients are in progress.