Technical solutions to prevent heat stress induced crop growth reduction for three climatic regions in Mexico

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In the last 15 years a significant increase in greenhouse area has occurred in Mexico, from a modest 50 hectares in 1990 to over 2,000 hectares in 2004. The rapid increase in greenhouse area is a result of an attractive export market, USA. Mexican summer midday temperatures are well above crop optimum and cooling is needed if heat stress induced crop growth reduction is to be prevented. The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness and feasibility of greenhouse cooling systems for tomato culture under desert, humid tropic and temperate Mexican weather conditions. These climate regions are represented by Mexicali, Merida and Huejutla respectively. The cooling systems included a variety of passive and active systems, which through an engineering design methodology were combined to suit the climate conditions of the 3 regions. The evaluation was conducted via simulation, taking into account the most important temperature effects on crop growth and yield. The results showed that the cooling systems were effective in decreasing heat stress to plants. Investment costs of greenhouse with cooling equipment were under USD 50 m-2 and operational costs were under USD 10 m-2 for all equipment combinations and treatments except for the humid tropic climate of Merida. Solutions for Merida were both economically and physically not feasible due to too high humidity levels. This model study clearly indicates that cooling is feasible in desert and moderate climate regions of Mexico but in humid tropic climate regions feasibility is a problem. Application of design methodology and design evaluation with help of simulation greatly contributed to pointing out effective and non-effective solutions to reduce heat stress in hot climates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1251-1258
JournalActa Horticulturae
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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