Colored Mulches Affect Yield of Fresh-market Tomato Infected with Meloidogyne incognita


  • B. A. Fortnum
  • D. R. Decoteau
  • M. J. Kasperbauer


The effects of different-colored polyethylene mulches on the quantity and spectra of reflected light, earliness of fruit set, fruit yield and quality, and root-knot disease were studied in field-grown, staked tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum). White mulch reflected more photosynthetic light and a lower far-red-to-red ratio than red mulch, whereas black mulch reflected less than 5 percent of any color. Soil temperatures and fruit yields were recorded for tomato plants inoculated with Meloidogyne incognita race 3 at initial populations of 0, 1,000, 10,000, 50,000, or 100,000 eggs/plant and grown over black, white, or red plastic mulch in both spring and fall. Soil temperatures were lower under white mulch than under red or black mulch. Tomato yields declined as inoculum level increased. Plants grown over red mulch in the spring and inoculated with 50,000 eggs of M. incognita had greater early marketable yields than similarly inoculated plants grown over black or white mulch. Tomato plants inoculated with 100,000 eggs and grown over white mulch or red mulch in the spring had greater total yields per plot than similar plants grown over black mulch (7.39 kg and 7.71 kg vs. 3.65 kg, respectively). Key words: colored mulch, light quality, Lycopersicon esculentum, Meloidogyne incognita, nematode, photomorphogenesis, photospectrum, physiology, root-knot nematode, tomato.