Three years of trials in Mississippi have led to the naming of a Mississippi Medallion vegetable award winner for 2007, the fourth vegetable winner in the program's history. The Medallion program looks for garden crops that will perform throughout the state of Mississippi and help improve sales of plant materials to gardeners at retail. The Medallion selection process illustrates how growers and marketers, not just gardeners, can select specialty vegetables and cultivars for production and sale. Between 2003 and 2005, the Mississippi Medallion trials evaluated 11 sweet peppers with no green fruit stage for ornamental and yield value. Each site had three or four replications of all cultivars under evaluation annually with four plants per plot set out on raised beds with drip irrigation. Objective evaluation included total yield, marketable yield, fruit size, and days to harvest. Subjective evaluation included crop uniformity, pest tolerance, and appearance of the fruit based on color, uniformity, and shape. After nine trials, four cultivars were among the highest-yielding group in most trials: Mavras, Tequilla, Blushing Beauty, and Gypsy. The Medallion winner, to be announced in Fall 2006, was selected in part because it was within or near the top-yielding group, by least significant difference, in most trials. The perceived attractiveness of the mature fruit to the evaluating team and the perceived potential marketability of the cultivar moved it above the others under consideration. The reasons for not selecting other cultivars as the winner are as important as the reasons for selecting the winning cultivar. In the Medallion pepper case, these were mostly marketability concerns with the other cultivars, not yield issues, relative to that of the winner.
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