Submitted to: Agronomy Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/26/1997
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Plastic mulch and drip irrigation are widely used in field production of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) and other high-input crops. Mulches are used to conserve water by blocking evaporation from the soil surface, control weeds with less applied herbicides, and keep fruit clean. Black is the most widely used color. We hypothesized that changing the surface color to reflect more red and a higher far-red to red light ratio could result in phytochrome regulation of photosynthate allocation to improve tomato yield. We developed an "ideal" reflection spectrum for tomato. The red plastic mulch is now being manufactured and marketed. In 1995 and 1996 field tests, plants grown over the new red mulch produced significantly more and larger early crop tomatoes than plants grown over black plastic. Soil temperatures did not differ more than 0.5 degrees C below red and black mulches.