Floating Row Cover and Transparent Mulch to Reduce Insect Populations, Virus Diseases and Increase Yield in Cantaloupe
The influence of floating row cover on cantaloupe, alone or combined with transparent polyethylene mulch, was evaluated to determine its effect on population densities of aphids, sweetpotato whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius), and the vegetable leafminer, Lyriomyza sativae Blanchard, as well as virus incidence and yield of cantaloupe, Cucumis melo L. Cv. Durango. The study was carried out in a dry tropic region of Colima, Mexico. Aphids, sweetpotato whitefly and vegetable leafminer were completely excluded by floating row cover while the plots were covered. Transparent polyethylene mulch reduced aphids and whitefly populations, but did not affect infestation by L. sativae. Floating row cover delayed the appearance of virus-diseased plants for two weeks with respect to control (bare soil). Furthermore, the transparent mulch reduced virus incidence. The yield (weight) and number of cantaloupe melons harvested were nearly four-fold higher in mulch plus row cover plots (when the cover was removed during perfect flowering) compared with the control plots, while the yield with floating row cover alone was tripled. The yield from mulched plants alone and covered plants (the cover removed during vegetative growth) was higher than that from plants grown on bare soil.