Plastic mulching failed to improve yield of tomato in the semi-arid
Plastic mulches have been extensively used in tomato fields around the world; its use is recent but growing in Brazil, especially in semi-arid regions. However, whether plastic mulches are beneficial to tomato grown in the Brazilian semi-arid and should replace other traditionally used practices is little known. Two on-farm experiments were carried out aiming at assessing the yield response of ‘Trucker’ hybrid tomato to plastic mulching in interaction with other practices, viz, irrigation, earthing up, and plant population. The first experiment consisted of a randomized block design with six treatments arranged in a 3 x 2 factorial and replicated four times: three crop practices (earthing up, plastic mulching and bare soil) combined with two plant populations (12,500 and 10,416 plants ha-1). The second experiment was a randomized complete block design with four replications, in a split-plot arrangement. Irrigation levels (305, 440, 495, 610 and 725 mm cycle-1) were assigned to plots, and mulching and earthing up to subplots. Fruit diameter, fruit weight and crop yield were evaluated. Plastic mulching had no effect on crop yields and water-use efficiency at both experiments. Overall, the results suggest planting ‘Trucker’ tomato at 12,500 plants ha-1, 580-630 mm cycle-1 of irrigation, and without plastic mulching.
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