Effect of mulching systems on fruit quality and phytochemical composition of newly developed strawberry lines
The effects of three mulching systems on total yield, average yield per plant, average fruit weight, soluble solids content (SSC), titratable acidity (TA), firmness and oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of two newly developed lines (‘Orléans’ and ‘Saint Pierre’), one advanced selection (‘SJ8976-1’) and two commonly used cultivars (‘Jewel’ and ‘Kent’) were evaluated. The studied mulching systems were: plastic mulch (PM), mulch with row cover (PMRC), and matted-row system (MRS). Results showed that plastic mulch with row cover (PMRC) generally increased yield per plant, average fruit weight, SSC, firmness and ORAC, but differences varied within harvest times. No significant differences in total yield and TA were observed under the selected mulching systems. Both PMRC and PM accelerated the harvest periods compared to MRS. ‘Kent’ and ‘Jewel’ had the highest total yield while ‘SJ8976-1’ and ‘St-Pierre’ had the highest average fruit weight. The highest SSC, TA and ORAC were found in ‘Jewel’. There was no interaction between the mulching systems and genotypes, indicating that the effect of production system is independent of cultivars. PMRC seems to be a better growing system, improving fruit quality and increasing the nutritional value of all genotypes. By allowing off-season fruit production in cool climates, PMRC can be an alternative method to the costly high tunnels.