Adjustment in planting time is one of the effective means of improving cut flower output under open field conditions. A field experiment was carried out on Gerbera with eight different dates of planting (15th March - 15th October) on Alfisol during 2006 to 2009. Difference in planting time induced a significant difference in performance of Gerbera, due to variation in soil moisture content (153.2 g/kg in May planting to 301.6 g/kg in August planting, coinciding linearly with rainfall received). However, the treatment with June planting produced the best response in terms of number of leaves/plant (15.96), leaf area (138.78 cm2), plant height (27.09 cm), flower size (9.12 cm), stalk length (35.77 cm), number of flowers (220.1/m2) and flower yield (2.95 kg/m2) compared to rest of the other dates of planting. The study, hence, suggested that an effective benchmark of optimum soil moisture (201.0 g/kg, that is, 82.8% of 33 KPa soil moisture) is necessary to harness upon the benefits of suitable planting time under rainfed open field conditions.
Key words: Soil moisture, planting time, vegetative growth, flower yield, Alfisol, Gerbera.
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