Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Black or blue? Mulch color affects okra growth, yield

Date:
April 19, 2010
Source:
American Society for Horticultural Science
Summary:
Plastic mulches have been used in vegetable production in the United States since the 1950s. Black plastic (polyethylene) mulch generates warmer soil temperatures and holds more moisture than bare soil. Researchers evaluated the effects of colored plastic mulches on growth and earliness of fruit production on okra. Early yield was generally greatest with dark mulch colors, combined total yield was greatest with black and blue plastic mulch but no significant economic advantage was found.

Plastic mulches have been used in vegetable production in the United States since the 1950s. Black plastic (polyethylene) mulch, which alters the plant's growing environment by generating warmer soil temperatures and holding more moisture than bare soil, is the standard mulch used in vegetable production. A new research study evaluated the effects of colored plastic mulches with and without row covers on growth and earliness of fruit production on okra.

According to the report in the latest issue of HortTechnology, the color of mulch used produced significant differences in okra growth and yield.

Previous research studies indicated that using black plastic instead of bare soil results in higher yields, earlier harvests, and cleaner fruit attributed to soil temperature and moisture differences. Other mulch colors have also been used successfully; white plastic has been shown to generate cooler soil temperatures than black, and is preferred during the summer growing season in warmer regions because of its ability to maintain soil moisture.

To test the effects of mulch color on okra, Garry G. Gordon of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service and colleagues from Auburn University's Department of Horticulture grew the vegetable, direct-seeded in single rows, on sandy loam soil in Shorter, Alabama. Treatments consisted of five mulch colors: black, white, red, silver, and blue installed either with or without spun-bonded row cover. Soil temperatures were 4 to 7C lower than air temperatures in all treatments.

The use of darker-colored (black, blue, and red) plastic mulches increased early and total yield of okra compared with bare soil with and without row cover. Increased soil and air temperatures did not always correlate to an increase in yield, however. "From the results, we can conclude that the use of dark plastic mulch is advantageous to growers of okra in climates that do not have cool springs," Gordon noted. Early yield was generally greatest with dark mulch colors and the combined total yield was greatest when black and blue plastic mulch were used.

Another dimension of the study involved the use of floating spun-bonded polyester row covers. Row covers have been shown to alter other vegetables' microenvironment by increasing temperatures for the crop during the day and into the night. In the okra study, plants grown in soil under a row cover were taller and generally more robust than plants grown without row covers. Marketable yield was greater with the use of a row cover, but early yields were reduced by the presence of row cover -- an outcome the research team attributed to the high air temperature in late May during the study.

Data analysis revealed no significant economic advantage to using either blue or black plastic mulch for growing okra. The report noted that "the positive (economic) effect may be more pronounced with leafy vegetables." The scientists recommended that more research be done to determine what effect row covers with various colored plastic mulches have on the earliness and production of vegetable crops.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Horticultural Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gordon, Garry G., Foshee, Wheeler G., III, Reed, Stewart T., Brown, James E., Vinson, Edgar L., III. The Effects of Colored Plastic Mulches and Row Covers on the Growth and Yield of Okra. HortTechnology, 2010 20: 224-233

Cite This Page:

American Society for Horticultural Science. "Black or blue? Mulch color affects okra growth, yield." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 April 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100419173008.htm>.
American Society for Horticultural Science. (2010, April 19). Black or blue? Mulch color affects okra growth, yield. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100419173008.htm
American Society for Horticultural Science. "Black or blue? Mulch color affects okra growth, yield." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100419173008.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins