Bell pepper production under saline stress and fertigation with different K+/Ca2+ ratios in a protected environment
ABSTRACT. Bell peppers are sensitive to salinity; therefore, it is necessary to find alternatives to reduce saline stress. An experiment was conducted in a greenhouse at Federal Rural University of the Semi-Arid Region, in Mossoró, Rio Grande do Norte State, Brazil, to evaluate the effects of salinity and K+/Ca2+ ratios on bell pepper production. The experimental design consisted of randomized blocks in a 5 x 4 factorial scheme with four replicates, corresponding to five K+/Ca2+ ratios (F1 = 3.3/1, F2 = 2.8/1, F3 = 2.2/1, F4 = 1.8/1, and F5 = 1.5/1) and four salinity levels in the nutrient solution using NaCl (1.75, 3.25, 4.75, and 6.25 dS m-1). The following parameters were evaluated: the number of fruits (total, marketable and unmarketable), the mean weight of fruits (marketable and unmarketable), fruit production (total, marketable and percentage of marketable fruits) and a salinity tolerance index. Generally, nutrient solution enrichment with K+ or Ca2+ did not cause significant increments in bell pepper yield. The fertigation treatments F2, F3, and F5 led to a higher bell pepper tolerance to salinity, allowing waters with higher salt concentrations to be used without causing a reduction in the yield.