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The benefits of protected agriculture in assuring production under suboptimal climatic conditions, are well recognised. Microclimate control is further seen as a likely approach for small farmers in mitigating the effects of climate change. However, the typical greenhouse can be a prohibitively large investment for a smallscale farmer. Tropical row covers can be a flexible, low-cost approach to protected agriculture in open fields of small farms, especially if modular designs are used. The effect of tropical row covers on the growth and yield of hot pepper (Capsicum spp.) was tested using specially built covers. These were made as mini-tunnels from PVC conduit, insect screen and plastic to make them durable and mobile. Each structure was 1.7 m wide χ 3.3 m long χ 1.3 m high. The upper arch was covered with clear plastic while the lower sides and ends had fine insect mesh. These covers were distributed in the field and each one had an adjoining open plot, occupying the same area, as a control. There were six replicates. For plants growing under the covers, the average number of fruit per plant was 73.6 versus 15.2 in the open (FPr, <.001 ). Pepper berries grown under the covers were larger on average (12.59 g vs. 7.44 g; FPr< .05). The covers also reduced the incidence of broad mite (Polyhagotarsonemus latus) and bacterial spot (Xanthomonas campestris), thus facilitating good growth.


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