The influence of polyester cover on tomato crops was evaluated to determine its effectiveness in reducing the incidence of tomato yellow leaf curl disease and on tomato yield. Uncovered plots were compared in a randomised block design with 14 treatments having different durations of cover. The identification of begomovirus was carried out by polymerase chain reaction, cloning and complete nucleotide sequencing of viruses from infected plants. Disease incidence was high in plots covered for less than 3 weeks with no significant differences among these treatments and those that were left uncovered. In the three treatments with the longest duration of cover, no disease was recorded but yield was significantly decreased. The optimum covering period was 6-7 weeks, providing protection against disease (10% incidence) and maintaining high yields (3 kg per plant). Floating row covers can play a major role in reducing begomovirus-induced diseases by reducing exposure to whiteflies which transmit these viruses. The current work appears to be the first attempt to optimise the cover period by sequentially removing covers from crops to analyse the consequences in terms of crop biomass, yield and disease and to explore the interactions between these parameters.
- floating row cover
- non-chemical disease management
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agronomy and Crop Science