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Mulch surface color affects yield of fresh-market tomatoes

Decoteau, D.R., Kasperbauer, M.J., Hunt, P.G.
Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 1989 v.114 no.2 pp. 216-219
far-red light, plastic film mulches, root zone temperature, polyethylene film, crop yield, color, red light, Solanum lycopersicum var. lycopersicum
The influence of polyethylene mulch surface color on the plant light environment and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) production was investigated. White- or silver-painted mulches reflected more total light, and a lower ratio of far-red relative to red light, than mulches painted black or red. Soil temperatures were warmer under the black and red mulches. Mulch color also affected the yield and growth of tomato. Tomato plants grown with red mulch generally had the greatest early marketable yields and produced the least amount of foliage. Plants grown with a white or silver-colored mulch had lower early marketable yields but produced more foliage. These results suggest that mulch surface color can induce changes in the plant microclimate (e.g., spectral balance and auantity of light, root zone temperatures) that can act through natural regulatory systems within the growing plant and affect tomato plant growth and fruit production.