The Effects of Colored Mulch and ChromatiNet® on Select Cut Flower and Vegetable Production in a High Tunnel Production System
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The objective of these studies was to determine the effects of colored plastic mulch on the quality of select cut flowers in a high tunnel production system. In the first study, snapdragons (Antirhinum majus) were evaluated on red, white, or blue plastic mulch. Blue mulch produced the longest stems for all cultivars except ‘Supreme Gold Yellow’. White mulch produced the longest stems for ‘Potomac Orange’. ‘Potomac Orange’ and ‘Supreme Gold Yellow’ produced the longest stems among the cultivars on blue mulch. White and Blue mulch produced the thickest stems. ‘Potomac Yellow’ produced the thickest stems. White and blue plastic mulch produced the longest inflorescences. ‘Potomac Orange’, ‘Potomac Yellow’, and ‘Supreme Gold Yellow’ produced the longest inflorescences. Blue and white plastic mulch produced the best cut flower characteristics in snapdragon when grown July to October. ‘Potomac Orange’ followed by ‘Supreme Gold Yellow’ followed by ‘Potomac Yellow’ yielded the best results for late summer snapdragon production. In the second study snapdragons and dianthus (Dianthus barbatus interspecific) were evaluated on red, white, blue, black, or bare ground in a high tunnel production system. ‘Cool Bronze’ produced the longest stems on black, red, and white mulch. ‘Cool White’ produced the longest stems on black, blue, and red mulch. ‘Cool Bronze’ produced the thickest stem diameters. Black and blue plastic mulch produced the thickest stems. ‘Cool White’, ‘Cool Bronze’, and ‘Cool Rose’ had the same inflorescence lengths. There was no difference between black, blue, red, and white mulches for inflorescence lengths. In dianthus, black and blue mulch produced the most stems per plant and the longest stems. There were no differences in open flowers per stem rating among the mulch treatments. Black and blue plastic mulch produced the best cut flower characteristics in snapdragon and dianthus October to February. ‘Cool Bronze’ followed by ‘Cool White’ yielded the best results for late fall production of snapdragons. The purpose of this research was to evaluate the application of ChromatiNet® shade cloth in a high tunnel production system for improving fruit yield of colored bell pepper (Capsicum annuum). In two studies, the bell pepper varieties ‘Tequila’ and ‘Stiletto’ in the first, and ‘Magno’ and ‘Permit’ in the second were grown under blue, gray, pearl, or red ChromatiNet® shade cloth, black shade cloth, or no shade cloth. In the first study, ‘Stiletto’ had the highest marketable fruit numbers with blue, pearl, and red shade and no shade. For ‘Tequila’, there were no differences in marketable fruit numbers among the shade cloth treatments. ‘Tequila’ had more unmarketable fruit than ‘Stiletto’, and both varieties had the highest unmarketable fruit numbers with black, blue, gray, and red shade and no shade. The highest marketable and unmarketable fruit weights for ‘Stiletto’ were with black and red shade, respectively, and for ‘Tequila’ were no shade and pearl shade, respectively. ‘Stiletto’ had higher marketable and unmarketable fruit weights than ‘Tequila’ with all shade treatments except unmarketable fruit weight with black shade. Marketable fruit numbers and weights were highest for both varieties in the second harvest, but decreased sharply thereafter. In the second study, the first two harvests, ‘Magno’ had higher marketable fruit numbers and weights than ‘Permit’. For the first harvest, both varieties produced the highest numbers of marketable fruit under red, gray, and no shade. For the second harvest, it was red shade. For the third harvest it was black shade. For the fourth and fifth harvests it was black and red shade. For the sixth harvest it was the same for all shade cloth colors. For the first harvest, both varieties had higher marketable fruit weights with red and grey shade. For the second harvest, it was red shade. Unmarketable fruit numbers were generally highest for ‘Permit’ in the fifth harvest, second to last harvest, and the last harvest. Unmarketable fruit numbers were generally highest for ‘Magno’ in the second to last harvest. ‘Magno’ had higher unmarketable fruit numbers than ‘Permit’ in the first three, the sixth, and the next to last harvests. ‘Magno’ had higher unmarketable fruit numbers with no shade across all harvests, while ‘Permit’ showed no differences. Unmarketable fruit weights were highest in the next to last harvest for ‘Magno’ and the last for ‘Permit’. ‘Magno’ had higher unmarketable fruit weights than ‘Permit’. Across all harvests, ‘Magno’ had the highest unmarketable fruit weights with no shade, and ‘Permit’ had the highest unmarketable fruit weights with red shade. Many factors likely contributed to the variability in response of the bell pepper varieties used in these studies to the shade treatments. ‘Tequila’ and ‘Magno’ generally yielded more than ‘Stiletto’ and ‘Permit’. Because of the variability among varieties, dates of harvest, and colored shade cloth treatments, we are unable to ascertain a definitive shade cloth treatment that would improve colored bell pepper yield in a high tunnel production system under all conditions. Further research needs to be done on the subject to reach a clearer conclusion.