Artificial shading promotes growth of taro plants

ABSTRACT Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is a plant with a long crop cycle, what hinders its cultivation in properties with area limitations. The association of crops is an option for this kind of situation. However, in order to plan the cultivation using the intercropping system, it is important to define the tolerance levels of the taro plants and the period of highest sensibility to shading. This study aimed to evaluate the behavior of the 'Japanese' taro crop, regarding growth, cultivated under levels and periods of artificial shading. A split-plot randomized block design, with 13 treatments and four replications, was used. The plots consisted of four shading levels (control = full sun, 18 %, 30 % and 50 % of shade), maintained throughout the cycle or during three months, in three periods (initial = 0-3 months; intermediate = 3-6 months; final = 6-9 months). The subplot was composed of eight plant samples (60, 90, 120, 150, 180, 210, 240 and 270 days after planting). The shading levels increased the total and specific leaf area, leaf area and mass ratios and dry mass partition. Thus, the taro plants showed the capacity to make leaf adjustments to suit changes in light intensity. The shading intensity of 18 %, during the whole cycle or in any of the periods studied, provides a high expansion of the leaf area.