Effects of tillage and mulching on the growth, development and yield of late-season tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) in the humid south of Nigeria
The late-season period in the humid tropics is characterized by drought and the production of crops such as tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.), okra (Abelmoschus esculentum), pepper (Capsicum spp.) and leafy vegetables depends upon the utilization of stored soil water. The efficient use of stored soil moisture ensures maximum plant adaptation and yield stability. The growth, development and yield of tomato grown on mulched and unmulched hand-hoed, raised beds and ridged sandy loam soil during the late cropping seasons of 1994, 1995 and 1996 in Akure, Nigeria was investigated. Hand-hoeing reduced soil temperature and conserved more soil moisture than ridging or the raised bed while grass mulch improved soil temperature and soil moisture regime compared with bare ground. Root biomass and root/shoot ratio increased in the order ridging, raised bed and hand-hoeing while shoot biomass, leaf area/plant and percentage fruit set decreased in the order raised bed, ridging and hand-hoeing. Number of fruit and fruit yield/plant produced by raised beds were significantly higher than those produced by ridging and hand-hoeing. Mulch ameliorated the hydrothermal regime of the soil, improved the vegetative and flowering performance and significantly increased the fruit yield of tomato over bare ground.(Received June 15 1999)
c1 To whom all correspondence should be addressed.