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This article in CS

  1. Vol. 30 No. 6, p. 1292-1294
    Received: Aug 28, 1989

    * Corresponding author(s):
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Cowpea Yield Response to Light Reflected from Different Colored Mulches

  1. P. G. Hunt ,
  2. T. A. Matheny and
  3. M. J. Kasperbauer
  1. USDA-ARS, Coastal Plains Soil and Water Conserv. Res. Ctr., P.O. Box 3039, Florence, SC 29502-3039



The spectral balance (quality) of canopy light, which influences plant growth and development, may be altered by colored mulches. Field studies were conducted to evaluate the influence of mulch surface color on spectral composition of canopy light and the effect of these changes on pod yield of ‘Colossus’ and ‘Mississippi Silver’ cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.]. Cowpea was grown on a Norfolk loamy sand (fine-loamy, siliceous, thermic Typic Kandiudult) and mulched with red, white, and black surface-colored mulches for four site-years. The far-red (FR) to red (R) photo ratios of reflected light were expressed relative to the FR/R ratio in incoming sunlight, which was assigned a value of 1.00 at the time of measurement. The FR/R ratios of light reflected from the various colored surfaces were stable relative to sunlight during the study periods; light reflected from black and white mulch surfaces had mean FR/R ratios of 1.05 ± 0.05. Red mulches reflected light with mean FR/R ratios of 1.25 ± 0.05. White, red, and black surfaces reflected = 35, 12, and 3% of the incoming photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD), respectively. Mean daily soil temperatures at 20 mm varied <1 °C among treatments. The cultivar and the color ✕ cultivar treatment effects were not significant. Cowpea grown over red, white, and black mulches had 4-site-yr means of 6.74, 6.32, and 6.02 Mg ha−1, respectively; the red treatment mean was significantly higher (P = 0.08). It was concluded that the FR/R ratio in light reflected from mulch surfaces can influence yield of cowpea.

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