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Open AccessArticle

Improved Porosity of Insect Proof Screens Enhances Quality Aspects of Zucchini Squash without Compromising the Yield

1
Department of Agricultural Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, 80055 Portici, Italy
2
Department of Engineering for Innovation, University of Salento, 73100 Lecce, Italy
3
Research and Development Lab, Sachim srl, 70017 Putignano, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Plants 2020, 9(10), 1264; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants9101264
Received: 17 August 2020 / Revised: 21 September 2020 / Accepted: 22 September 2020 / Published: 24 September 2020
In a global climate change environment, assuring optimal growing conditions is a difficult challenge, compromising the food supply for a rapidly rising population. The climatic conditions in the protected environment lead to high temperatures and fast insect development, impacting productivity and vegetables qualitative attributes. Consumers’ interest in healthy food requires sustainable tools to manage biotic and abiotic factors and, from this perspective, anti-insect nets represent an excellent “green” solution. For this purpose, our goal was to compare two different anti-insect nets on microclimate, production, and qualitative traits of Cucurbita pepo L. fresh fruits. The experiment was conducted in three separate polyethylene high tunnels, with 50 mesh anti-insect nets of different porosities being installed on the openings of two tunnels, while the third tunnel was a control without nets. Microclimate measurements, as well as yield, physiological, and phytochemicals variables, were assessed. The 50 mesh net led to a decrease in marketable yield (22.5%), fruit number (18.0%), CO2 net assimilation rate (6.0%), and transpiration rate (29.5%). Total soluble solids, antioxidant activities and total ascorbic acid concentration had an opposite trend. The 50 mesh AirPlus net improved quality aspects of zucchini fruits by increasing total ascorbic acid, total phenols, and antioxidant compounds, with no negative impact on yield. View Full-Text
Keywords: Cucurbita pepo L; anti-insect nets; mesh density; high tunnel; air temperature; airflow; qualitative parameters Cucurbita pepo L; anti-insect nets; mesh density; high tunnel; air temperature; airflow; qualitative parameters
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Formisano, L.; Pannico, A.; El-Nakhel, C.; Starace, G.; Poledica, M.; Pascale, S.D.; Rouphael, Y. Improved Porosity of Insect Proof Screens Enhances Quality Aspects of Zucchini Squash without Compromising the Yield. Plants 2020, 9, 1264.

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