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Trellis system, plant density, and container type can improve fruit yield and plant growth of a greenhouse hydroponic pepper crop

Trellis system, plant density, and container type can improve fruit yield and plant growth of a greenhouse hydroponic pepper crop

Hortscience 36(3): 434-435, June

The production and quality of hydroponic grown red bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L. cv. HA3378) fruits were tested in a passive ventilated greenhouse during spring and summer 2000 in Gainesville, Florida. Two plant growing systems were used: 1) "V" trellis system (plants pruned to two stems); and 2) "Spanish" trellis system (plants not pruned, with lateral strings and vertical poles for canopy support). Plants were grown in bags (20.4 L, 1-m long) and polyethylene pots (11.5 L) both filled with perlite. Plant population densities were 1.5, 1.9, 3.0, and 3.8 plant/m2. Low night winter temperatures (4 to 15degreeC) during first flowering and fruit setting lead to the production of flat shaped parthenocarpic fruits in the first harvest (3/1/2000). Marketable fruit yield was similar in both growing systems (27 Nocntdotm-2, 5.0 kgcntdotm-2) although production of extra large grade yield was higher in non-pruned (21 Nocntdotm-2, 4.9 kgcntdotm-2) than in pruned (13 Nocntdotm-2, 3.0 kgcntdotm-2) plants. Marketable yield per plant was greater in non-pruned plants than in pruned plants, and was not affected by plant population density. However, marketable yield per m2 increased linearly with plant density from 3.5 kgcntdotm-2 (1.5 plant/m2) to 7.4 kgcntdotm-2 (3.8 plant/m2). Plants in bags produced a greater number of smaller fruits than plants in pots but had the same marketable yields per m2. In spring and summer, the production of fruits with blossom end-rot (BER), epidermal cracking, and spots was high. Non-pruned plants had a lower percentage of BER (39%) than pruned plants (62%). In non-pruned plants the number of nodes was greater than in pruned plants (105 vs. 59), but fruit set was lower (34% vs. 50%). Fruit set per plant decreased with plant density while plant height slightly increased in a greenhouse with simple environmental control systems and production under high temperatures, the "Spanish" trellis system with a density of 3.8 plant/m2 resulted in reduced labor requirements and in greater fruit yields and quality.

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