Influence of polyethylene mulch, irrigation regime, and potassium rates on field cucumber yield and related traits
Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) was field grown from April 2001-July 2001 to determine the effects of mulch, irrigation regime, and potassium (K) rates on yield and related traits (i.e., leaf relative water content, water-use efficiency, and macronutrition). This was a factorial experiment with two irrigation levels (125% A pan daily versus 75% A pan every three days), two mulch levels (mulched versus unmulched), and three KO levels (20, 40, or 60 g/m). Plants receiving reduced water application (75% A pan every 3 days) showed significant reductions in all parameters when compared with well-watered plants (125% A pan daily). The use of black polyethylene mulch (BPM) covers improved the plant dry matter, chlorophyll concentrations, fruit yield, and relative water content in leaves of well-watered plants and also improved K availability to the plants by keeping soil moisture higher than that of stressed plants without mulch. Using BPM increased plant water-use efficiency compared with that under the reduced water (RW) treatment. Reduced water application enhanced electrolyte leakage compared with that recorded under the well-watered (WW) treatment. Mulching decreased electrolyte leakage under the RW treatment. Increased K rates significantly enhanced leaf K in the mulched and WW plants. However, increased K rates did not increase leaf K in the RW plants. Reduced water application reduced leaf concentrations of all nutrients tested, i.e., nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), K, calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg). However, mulching enhanced the concentrations of these elements, although their concentrations were still lower than those under the WW treatment. These results clearly indicate that field-grown number plants under mulched treatments were less stressed under semi-arid conditions and also that mulched treatments increased K availability to the plants.