The effects of floating row covers on yield and quality of field-grown capsicum (Capsicum annuum L.)
Capsicums are a warm weather crop. Production in the open field can be limited by cool winter temperatures, particularly in subtropical areas. Very high temperatures in summer can also impact yield and quality. Protected cropping can extend the growing season by moderating extreme temperatures as well as reducing risk from adverse climate events and protecting the crop from insect pests. Floating row covers offer a compromise between the cost of high tech greenhouses and the need to provide some protection to field-grown crops. Netted and 'fleece' floating row covers were applied at, or soon after planting to four field-grown capsicum crops in two subtropical regions of Australia. Maximum daily temperatures were slightly raised under netted row covers. During cooler weather, fleece row covers increased temperatures around the plants. Despite higher temperatures under fleece, fruit maturity was not advanced, though the total percentage of red fruit was increased from capsicums grown through the summer under netting. Total yield was similar under netted covers and the open field, but was increased under fleece. Marketable yield was increased under all row covers, due to the reduction in damage from sunburn, wind and insects. Row covers were effective at excluding Queensland fruit fly, a major pest of capsicums. Results from these trials suggest that row covers are a useful tool for protecting capsicum fruit from damage that can reduce marketability. Higher temperatures under fleece covers may allow the growing season to be extended further into winter in cooler subtropical areas. The covers also offer an alternative management tool for protection against Queensland fruit fly. Cost benefit analysis of the use of row covers is required, as well as further work to integrate row covers with commercial production practices.
Goldwater, A.D., Ekman, J.H. and Rogers, G.S. (2018). The effects of floating row covers on yield and quality of field-grown capsicum (Capsicum annuum L.). Acta Hortic. 1205, 891-896
netting, fleece, low cost protected cropping, fruit fly