Effects of mulching materials on agronomic characteristics, pests of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) and their natural enemies population

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The trial was to study the effect of different mulching materials on agronomic characteristics, pests and their subsequent effect on the natural enemies of the pests of pepper (Capsicum annuum). A field experiment was conducted at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Biology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), between December, 2010 and March, 2011. The mulching materials used were (1) straw mulch, (2) plastic mulch and (3) live-mulch of cowpea plant. The experimental field contained fifteen plots using a randomised complete block design in three replications. Parameters measured were pests of Capsicum annuum, some natural enemies of the pests, days to 50% flowering, plant height, plant girth, damage caused and yield assessment which included damaged fruits caused by the pests, number of fruits, fruit weight (in grams), and percentage increase in fruit yield. Plant height was seemingly highest under straw mulched soils. Straw mulch also flowered early as compared to the live-mulch of cowpea and plastic mulch but the margin was narrow. None of the mulches exhibited higher pest suppression ability over the other. However, Straw mulch had apparently larger population of natural enemies than the other treatments. Damaged fruits in the three mulching materials did not differ significantly. Control plot soils had significantly (P<0.05) higher temperatures than the mulched soils. The results indicated that straw mulch enhanced plant height and increased fruit number and percentage yield whilst live-mulch of cowpea and plastic mulch reduced plant height, fruit number and percentage yield. Data generated in this study have shown that cowpea mulch may be more effective in suppressing pest populations of pepper but straw mulch may provide a better refuge for the natural enemies and should be recommended as an integral option for pest management in pepper production. Ad you may be interested in Full-text
Article published in Agriculture and Biology Journal of North America ISSN Print: 2151 - 7517, ISSN Online: 2151 - 75 25 , doi:10.5251/abjna.2012.
Mulching materials, Capsicum annuum, pests, natural enemies, soil temperatures
Agriculture and Biology Journal of North America, Agric. Biol. J. N. Am., 201 2 , 3 ( 6 ): 253 - 261