Mitigating the adverse effects of semi-arid climate on capsicum cultivation by using the retractable roof production system

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Gascoyne region; protected cropping; Cravo greenhouse; canopy temperature


Agriculture | Horticulture


Capsicum (Capsicum annuum L.) belongs to the Solanaceae family and is an economically important vegetable crop. However, the crop is very sensitive to adverse weather conditions such as high temperatures and excessive sunlight, which cause flower and young fruit to drop and sunscald to mature fruits. Using protected cultivation such as shade covers or net houses is a feasible agronomic approach to protect the crop from high light intensity, which increases plant growth, reduces fruit damage, and increases marketable fruit yield and quality. Low-cost protected cropping options such as fixed-roof net houses have proved cost-effective and suitable for fruiting vegetable production in semi-arid climatic regions. However, this structure type is unable to protect the crops from rainfall, is prone to cyclone damage and is inflexible to accommodate various vegetable crops which have different requirements for healthy and productive growth. This study was conducted in Carnarvon, which has semi-arid climatic conditions and is a key horticultural district of Western Australia, to compare the Retractable Roof Production System (RRPS) and open field (OF) conditions in the production of capsicum. The data showed that the RRPS modified the internal light, temperature and humidity in favour of the capsicum crop. The RRPS-grown capsicum had higher plant height and lower canopy temperature on hot days than those in the OF. The mean marketable fruit yield of capsicum varieties grown in the RRPS was significantly higher than those in the OF with fruit yields of 97 t ha−1 and 39.1 t ha−1, respectively, but the fruit quality remained unchanged. Overall, the data suggest that the RRPS altered the internal microenvironment and enhanced capsicum crop growth, physiology and fruit yield by setting climatic parameters to automatically control the opening and closing of the roof, the insect net and side curtains, and activation of the fogging system. The future perspective of the deployment of RRPS for capsicum production under climatic conditions in Carnarvon was also discussed.



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