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Colored Mulch Trial

M. D. Orzolek and L. Otjen
Department of Horticulture
The Pennsylvania State University

Crops Planted

  • Tomato  'Sunbeam'; 'Mountain Supreme'

Bed Preparation

  • May 16, 1995, Raised Bed Mulch Layer Fertilizer: 400 lbs/A of 0-20-20; 125 lbs/A of 34-0-0 on May 8, 1995

Date Planted

  • April 4, 1995 Date

Transplanted

  • May 25, 1995

Design

  • Randomized complete block with 3 replications Plot Size: 8 plants/replication at 1.5' plant spacing and 8' row spacing.

Irrigation Drip irrigation

  • Pesticides: Dual 1pt/A); Goal (0.3 pt/A) on May 8,1995 Sevin 80S (1 lb/A); Asana (8 oz/A), Bravo 720 (1.5 NA)

Comments

Both varieties of tomato had their best yields on black polyethylene mulch (Four Seasons) and their worst yields on green infra-red thermal (IRT - Climagro) mulch (Table 1). 'Mountain Supreme' had the highest total yields (T/A), however, 'Sunbeam' had more #1's and #2's. Blue (Rochelle), Silver (Polyon), and Brown (Four Seasons) mulches appeared to reduce fruit size in both varieties. Early blight severity also differed depending on the mulch color used (Table 2). Polyethylene mulch colors and formulations affected plant growth, tomato yield, tomato size, and early blight severity on both varieties tested. Although results were similar with both varieties in respect to the highest and lowest yielding mulch colors, the two tomato varieties differed in their individual responses to some colors (e.g. Four Season's Brown and Orange). It is possible that different colors of polyethylene mulch affect the plant microclimate in a variety of ways (reflected wavelength, temperature, moisture, humidity, insects, disease, etc.) which, in turn, affect plant growth, and ultimately yield. It should be noted that not all of the formulations tested were of the same thickness or durability, and that different manufacturers of the "same" color produced material with vastly different characteristics.


Table 1- Yield information of two varieties of tomato as influenced by polyethylene mulch color.

Sunbeam . No. 1 No. 2 No. 3 No. 4 Cull   Total Mkt. Avg.Wgt. % .
Color Mfr # lbs. # lbs. # lbs. # lbs. # lbs. lbs. (oz.) cull % Ton/A
Black 4Season 73 41.5 56 21.5 85 24.4 46 9.1 39 17.6 96.6 6.1 15% 35.5
Black Rochelle 98 58.7 44 17 41 11.6 42 7.4 44 22.8 94.7 6.8 19% 34.8
Grey Rochelle 84 49.4 50 19.6 49 13.9 39 7.4 44 20.7 90.4 6.6 19% 33.2
Brown Polyon 101 60.5 44 17.5 31 8.6 25 3.2 42 21.5 89.7 7.1 19% 33
Brown 4Season 64 36 48 18.5 56 15.7 57 11.4 39 16.7 81.6 5.8 17% 29.9
Yellow Rochelle 71 42.5 49 18.8 45 13 36 7.1 28 13.3 81.4 6.5 14% 29.9
Orange 4Season 80 45.5 45 17.4 41 11.5 28 4.3 45 22.7 78.8 6.5 22% 28.9
Silver Polyon 60 34.1 46 18.1 45 12.7 53 12.5 47 17.3 77.3 6.1 19% 28.4
Green Climagro 43 25 48 18.2 53 15.1 52 9.4 40 13.1 67.6 5.6 17% 24.8
Blue Rochelle 53 29.8 37 14.6 54 14.7 45 7.5 28 10.6 66.6 5.6 14% 24.5
LSD   34 21.6 20 7.6 32 9.1 28 5.9 18 8.4 21.2 1.1 NS 7.8

 

Mountain Supreme No. I No. 2 No. 3 No. 4 Cull Total Mkt. Avg.Wgt. % .
Color Mfr # lbs. # lbs. # lbs. # lbs. # lbs. lbs. (oz.) cull % Ton/A
Black 4Season 34 15.3 84 29.8 162 44.5 121 21.3 28 9.1 110.9 4.5 8% 40.8
Brown Polyon 59 27.4 85 31.3 115 31.8 71 12.4 37 14.6 102.7 5 12% 37.7
Black Rochelle 52 25 81 28.2 124 34.2 92 14.4 37 13.8 101.8 4.7 12% 37.4
Orange 4Season 33 16.2 79 28.1 148 39.8 102 16.5 26 9.7 100.6 4.4 9% 37
Grey Rochelle 48 21.2 70 24.3 118 32.2 107 17 26 11.5 94.7 4% 11% 34.8
Blue Rochelle 23 9.9 66 23.4 131 34.3 102 17.2 19 6.4 84.7 4.2 7% 31.1
Brown 4Season 26 10.6 47 16.1 94 25.3 143 21 34 9.8 73 3.8 12% 26.8
Silver Polyon 21 8.4 44 15.4 104 27.9 143 20.8 29 8.5 72.5 3.8 11% 26.6
Yellow Rochelle 25 11.5 41 14.1 108 28.8 124 18.1 15 5 72.5 3.9 7% 26.6
Green Climagro 29 13.9 41 14.5 107 28.3 89 13.5 23 9.3 70.2 4.2 12% 25.8
LSD   20 9.6 20 7.9 24 6.7 50 7.8 18 6.7 18.9 0.5 NS 6.9

Table 2. Early blight rating on August 29, 1995 (1 = 10% defoliation;
10=100% defoliation)

Mulch Color Mountain Supreme Sunbeam Average
Yellow 2.0 2.5 2.3
Green 1.8 2.8 2.3
Orange 2.2 3.2 2.7
Silver 2.8 3.3 3.1
Black 4.5 4.2 4.4
Brown2 5.3 5.2 5.3
Brown1 5.0 5.9 5.5
Blue 5.3 5.7 5.5
Gray 5.8 6.5 6.2
LSD .05 2.0 2.0  


Polyethylene Mulch Manufacturers

Beemis Plastics
Rissler-Marvel Farm
540 Luther Road
Harrisburg, PA 17111


Climagro
3235 Sartelon Street
St-Laurent, Quebec, CANADA
H4R 1E9
Phone (514) 454-5352
FAX (514) 454-6638


Four Seasons Agricultural Products
1870 The Exchange, Suite 200
Atlanta, GA 30339
Phone (404) 953-4567
FAX (404) 618-7080


Polyon, Inc.
Kibbutz Barkai, Israel 31860
U.S. Rep:
PolyWest
4883 Ronson Court, Suite R
San Diego, CA 92111
Phone (619) 279-6393
FAX (619) 279-6394


Rochelle Plastic Film, Inc.
P.O. Box 606, Hwy 38 W.
Rochelle, IL 61068
Phone (815) 562-7848
Fax (815) 562-7849


Sonoco Products Co.
1 North Second Street
P.O. Box 160
Hartsville, SC 29550