ENHANCING PREHARVEST PHYSIOLOGY OF MULTI-PURPOSE PUMPKIN USING COMBINED NITROGEN, MULCH AND GIBBERELLIC ACID
Keywords:Chlorophyll content, Photosynthesis, Stomatal conductance, Transpiration
In recent times, it has become apparent that multi-purpose pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata Duch.) is a very important crop since its leaves, fruits and seeds can be eaten as vegetables, snacks and blended dishes to boost household food and nutritional security. However, it is regarded as a low value crop, leading to poor cultivation, comprehension of preharvest physiological behaviour, and maximization of productivity in Kenya. Consequently, a study was conducted to assess the effects of combined nitrogen, mulch and gibberellic acid (GA3) in enhancing its preharvest physiology of pumpkin. Four N rates of 0, 50, 100 and 150 kg N/ha supplied as CAN, three mulch types as none, unpainted, and black-painted rice straw, and three GA3 rates of 0, 40 and 80 mg/L were assessed. The experiment was arranged in split-split plots in randomized complete block design, replicated three times in two seasons, and each plant occupied 2 m x 2 m space. Nitrogen was applied to main plots, mulch to sub-plots, and GA3 to sub-sub plots. Pre-harvest physiological variables measured were stomatal conductance, chlorophyll, photosynthesis, and transpiration. Data values were subjected to analysis of variance using SAS Version 9.3. Separation of significant means was done using the least significant difference test at α = 0.05. Results showed that nitrogen and mulch individually and interactively did not significantly (P > 0.05) affect most pre-harvest physiological parameters. The effect of GA3 was not significant on stomatal conductance and leaf chlorophyll, but it was negative and significant on both photosynthesis and transpiration in season 1 which was drier than season 2. Based on the present results, the influence of combined nitrogen, mulch and GA3 on multi-purpose pumpkin cannot be entirely depicted by analysing preharvest physiology. Adoption and application of treatments that promote desired preharvest physiology of multi-purpose pumpkin is recommended, including 50 kg N/ha to enhance stomatal conductance and leaf chlorophyll, and unpainted rice straws to enhance leaf chlorophyll content and photosynthesis.
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