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Abstract

Chive (Allium schoenoprasum L.) is one of the most popular culinary herbs in the Virgin Islands. There is always high demand for chives in local markets, but local production cannot supply the increasing demand. Low production level of chive in the Virgin Islands is attributed to constraints including insect pests, weeds and high cost of irrigation water. A study was conducted to evaluate the benefits of organic mulches on yield and economic returns from chive production. The study compared the effect of three organic mulches (grass straw, shredded paper and wood chips) against a synthetic mulch (white on black plastic) and no mulch (bare soil) at two locations (University of the Virgin Islands-UVI and VI Department of Agriculture-VI DA). No significant differences in plant height were observed at either or at VIDA. At UVI, bare plots produced higher number of slips than the plastic and wood chips mulch treatments. At the VIDA, the number of slips from the plastic mulch was superior to paper mulch. Chive grown with paper mulch and no mulch at UVI produced the highest fresh yield followed by straw mulch. At VIDA, all mulch treatments produced a higher yield than the bare, but plastic and wood chip mulch were significantly superior to bare plots. At both locations, all mulch plots resulted in lower weed population than bare plots. Average net economic return above mulch cost from small plot (0.06 ha) was highest ($5482) with paper mulch followed by grass straw mulch ($5167). The use of plastic and wood chip mulch resulted in lower net returns compared to bare plot. To improve production and income, herb growers should consider using organic mulch such as shredded paper and grass straw.

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