Effect of Kaolin clay, Planting Dates, and Color Mulches on Summer Tomato Production in the Eastern Shore of Virginia

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Virginia Tech


As climate change exacerbates heat stress during the summer season, it becomes increasingly critical to develop effective strategies to safeguard the productivity of tomato plants (Solanum Lycopersicon L.). This research delves into the tools and techniques aimed at enhancing the cultivation of summer tomatoes in the coastal region of Virginia. The study explores the optimization of transplant dates, the implementation of reflective mulches, and the application of kaolin clay particle films. Field trials spanning two seasons were carried out, comparing different planting dates in May, June, and July, as well as the use of reflective, black, and white plastic mulches, both with and without foliar kaolin sprays. The findings of this study underscore the impact of transplanting tomatoes in May, demonstrating a substantial increase in yields when compared to transplanting in June and July. Reflective mulches enhanced plant height and fruit production relative to the conventional black plastic mulch. The combination of kaolin clay sprays with standard black mulch, resulting in yield increases of over 35%, rivaling the outcomes achieved with reflective and white mulch treatments. The application of kaolin did not significantly affect leaf-level physiological processes. These results highlight the significant potential of strategic early planting and the adoption of emerging heat mitigation technologies, such as kaolin clay films, in sustaining and enhancing the productivity of summer tomatoes. This becomes particularly relevant as growing conditions continue to evolve due to rising temperatures and the increasing extremity of weather events resulting from climate change.



Plant physiology, Heat stress, Heat mitigation, Soil temperature fluctuations, Abiotic stress, Crop amendment.