COUNTERACTING LOW LIGHT LEVELS IN PROTECTED STRAWBERRY CULTIVATION USING REFLECTIVE MULCHES
Plastic mulches of various types are used to influence the yield and quality of strawberries in protected cultivation. In this study a white and an aluminised plastic mulch have been used in an attempt to compensate for low light levels not uncommon in more northerly latitudes. Plants of the everbearing cultivar Flamenco were raised in growing bags under 50% shade netting, with the reflective mulch covering the entire space between plants. Control plants were grown with and without the shading using a black, non-reflective mulch of a similar material to the reflective ones. The plants were glasshouse-grown in SE England and fruits harvested, weighed and graded between the end of July and the end of October. For fruit with a diameter >25 mm (commercial Class 1) there was a significant negative difference in cumulative yield over the season between plants grown without shade and those under shade with a non-reflective mulch (P≤0.01). There was no significant difference in yield between the unshaded control and fruits harvested under shade either over white or aluminised mulch, and no significant difference between these reflective treatments. The use of mulches did not alter the distribution of yield across the season. These data indicate that simple reflective mulches can be used to support strawberry yield, under protected cultivation, when environmental light levels are low, and can reduce seasonal variation. Their use might also help to extend the harvesting season or expand the growing region into regions with lower irradiance.
Grout , B.W.W. and Greig, M.J. 2012. COUNTERACTING LOW LIGHT LEVELS IN PROTECTED STRAWBERRY CULTIVATION USING REFLECTIVE MULCHES. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 956:489-492
strawberry, Fragaria × ananassa, protective cultivation, reflective mulch, reduced light, compensated yield