Onions grown in New Mexico currently are hand-harvested. In order to remain competitive and to lower production costs, growers will need to harvest onions mechanically. The current recommendation for harvest time is when 80% of onion tops have fallen. The objective of this study was to measure several bulb quality traits when bulbs were harvested at four different stages. Twelve short- and intermediate-day onion cultivars of different maturities were sown during Sept. 2004 in Las Cruces, N.M. Bulbs were harvested at four stages of physiological maturity: 20% tops down (TD), 80% TD, 1 week after 80% TD, and 2 weeks after 80% TD. After curing, data on harvest date, bulb diameter, height, firmness, number of growing points, average center diameter, fleshy scale number, and thickness were collected. For most traits, no differences existed among the different treatments. For the earliest-maturing cultivars, the maximum bulb firmness and number of scales were observed when bulbs were harvested 2 weeks after 80% TD. For later-maturing cultivars, the maximum number of scales was observed 1 week after 80% TD, while the maximum bulb firmness was observed at 2 weeks after 80% TD. For latest-maturing cultivars, bulbs harvested at 1 week after 80% TD were firmer than bulbs harvested at other times. For later-maturing cultivars, average scale thickness was greatest when bulbs were harvested 2 weeks after 80% TD. From this work, a delayed harvest of 1 to 2 weeks after 80% TD resulted in firmer bulbs with more scales.
Neel Kamal and Christopher S. Cramer
Jagtar Singh and Christopher S. Cramer
Onion growers in New Mexico often withhold irrigation for overwintered onion varieties during the months of December and January. This study was initiated to determine if this deficit irrigation program is detrimental to onion bulb quality. Twelve short- and intermediate-day onion cultivars, which differed in their maturity, were seeded in Sept. 2004 in Las Cruces, N.M. Once plants were established, 12 plots of each cultivar were not irrigated during the months of December and January (dry treatment), while the same number of plots was irrigated during these months (wet treatment). Once a plot had 80% of the plants with tops down, all bulbs were harvested, cured, and data on date of harvesting, bulb diameter, bulb height, firmness rating, number of centers, scale number, and scale thickness of first and third fleshy layers were collected. For most of the bulb traits measured, there was no difference between the two irrigation treatments for the cultivars tested. For the earliest-maturing cultivars, bulbs grown in the dry treatment had on average more fleshy scale layers than the bulbs grown in the wet treatment. For later-maturing cultivars, bulbs grown in the dry treatment had more growing points (centers) per bulb than the bulbs grown in the wet treatment. For the latest-maturing cultivars, average fleshy scale layer thickness was greater for bulbs grown in the dry treatment. From this work, a winter deficit irrigation program appears to be detrimental to the percentage of single-center bulbs for later-maturing, autumn-sown onion cultivars.
Neel Kamal and Christopher S. Cramer
Onions grown in New Mexico are currently harvested manually at 80% tops down (TD). Mechanical harvesting is a matter of urgency for growers in order to remain competitive and to reduce their cost and time. The objective of this study was to find the effect of different harvest stages on bulb quality. Twelve different onion cultivars were sown in Feb. 2004 in Las Cruces, N.M. The experiment was laid out in split-plot design with four harvest treatments based on physiological maturity—20% TD, 80% TD, 1 week after 80% TD, and 2 weeks after 80% TD as whole plots, with cultivars as sub-plots. After curing, data on harvest date, bulb diameter, height, firmness, number of growing points, average center diameter, fleshy scale number, and scale thickness were collected. Maximum number of scales was observed when bulbs were harvested 2 weeks after 80% TD, while average scale thickness was greatest when bulbs were harvested 1 week after 80% TD. Significant treatment by cultivar interaction was observed for bulb firmness. Cultivars Cimarron, Sierra Blanca and NMSU 04-52-2 produced firmer bulbs in all treatments, while NuMex Casper, NuMex Jose Fernandez and NuMex Centric produced firmer bulbs than others, only at 20% TD. Maximum bulb firmness was observed in NMSU 04-28 and NMSU 03-52-1 than others, when harvested 1 or 2 weeks after 80% TD. Overall, bulbs harvested 1 to 2 weeks after 80% TD exhibited firmer bulbs with more scales and greater scale thickness.
Neel Kamal and Christopher S. Cramer
Onion thrips (Thrips tabaci Lindeman)–vectored Iris yellow spot virus (IYSV) causes the disease Iris yellow spot (IYS), which is a major threat to the sustainability of onion production worldwide. An increase in thrips resistance to various insecticides, high costs, and the limited efficacy of insecticides under hot and drier conditions found in various onion-growing regions restrict grower’s options for effective control of thrips and spread of IYSV. Because cultivars resistant to thrips and IYS are lacking, this study was undertaken to measure selection progress for IYS resistance after one selection cycle. In 2009, selections were performed on previously evaluated New Mexico State University (NMSU) breeding lines that showed some reduced IYS disease symptoms, and the selected plants self-pollinated the following year. In 2011 and 2012, plants from the original and selected populations along with a susceptible check, ‘Rumba’, were evaluated under field conditions when onion thrips and IYSV were present. Plants were rated for IYS disease severity and the number of thrips per plant was recorded three times during the study in each year. First-generation material, NMSU 10-776, NMSU 10-782, NMSU 10-785, NMSU 10-807, and NMSU 10-813, had fewer thrips number per plant, lower disease severity, and disease incidence than their original breeding lines on at least one or two rating times in both years. Some first-generation breeding lines performed better with a lower thrips number and disease severity than their original population in 1 year or the other. Most entries exhibited fewer thrips, lower IYS disease severity, and less incidence than the susceptible check ‘Rumba’ at most rating times. Overall, some progress was observed in this first-generation material for reduced IYS disease symptom expression when compared with their original populations.
Subhankar Mandal and Christopher S. Cramer
Fusarium basal rot (FBR) of onion, which is caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cepae (Hanzawa) Snyder & Hansen (FOC) results in a substantial loss of marketable bulbs worldwide. One of the main reasons for the lack of FBR-resistant short-day cultivars is the unreliable screening methods available for the mature bulb stage when significant economic damage occurs. The objective of this study was to develop an artificial inoculation method with better quantification of inoculum for an effective selection of FBR-resistant mature onion bulbs. Mature bulbs of seven New Mexican short-day onion cultivars, along with susceptible and tolerant controls, were selected and evaluated for FBR resistance using mycelial and conidial inoculation methods, respectively. Transversely cut basal plates of mature bulbs were inoculated artificially with mycelia or conidia (12 × 105 spores/mL in 2014 and 3 × 105 spores/mL in 2015 embedded in potato dextrose agar plug) of a virulent FOC isolate ‘CSC-515’. Mature bulb evaluation using a visual rating scale (1 = no disease; 9 = >70% basal plate infected) revealed a high degree of FBR severity and incidence irrespective of the genetic background of the cultivars, minimizing the chance of disease escape, which is a significant problem in field inoculation. An attempt to inoculate intact basal plates postharvest resulted in minimal disease development, suggesting that mechanical resistance was conferred by the dry outer layer of the basal plate. The high selection pressure conferred by the conidial inoculation method developed in this study can effectively screen FBR-resistant onion bulbs to replace an unreliable field screening. Concentrations of the conidia lower than 3 × 105 spores/mL are recommended to detect subtle genetic differences in FBR resistance among the onion cultivars and their selected population.
Christopher S. Cramer and Mark P. Bridgen
Disinfected midrib sections of Mussaenda `Queen Sirikit' ≈3 to 4 mm in size were cultured on a basal medium of Murashige and Skoog salts and vitamins, 87.7 mm sucrose, and 5 g Sigma agar/liter supplemented with several concentrations of indole-3-acetic acid (IAA) (0, 5.0, 10.0, 20.0 μm) and 6-benzylaminopurine (BAP) (0, 0.5, 1.0, 2.5, 5.0, 10.0, 25.0, 50.0 μm). Cultures were subculture onto the same treatment after 5 weeks and observed weekly for 15 weeks for the presence of somatic embryos. As somatic embryos were produced, they were subculture onto basal medium supplemented with 0.5, 1.0, 2.5, or 25.0 μm BAP. Callus was first observed at 2 weeks in cultures grown on basal medium supplemented with 5.0–20.0 μm IAA and 0–50.0 μm BAP. Somatic embryos were observed at 8 weeks on basal medium supplemented with 5.0–10.0 μm IAA and 2.5–5.0 μm BAP. Callus cultured on 0–10 μm IAA and 5.0–10.0 μm BAP produced the greatest number of somatic embryos by 15 weeks. Somatic embryos subculture to basal medium supplemented with 25.0 μm BAP proliferated shoots, while eliminating BAP from the medium resulted in root and callus production. Shoots and entire plants were removed from in vitro conditions and successful] y acclimated to greenhouse conditions. Somatic embryo-derived plants flowered sporadically 25 to 35 weeks after removal from in vitro conditions. Variations in sepal number and leaf number per node were observed at 1% to 5%.
Christopher S. Cramer and Mark P. Bridgen
Mussaenda, a tropical ornamental shrub developed in the Philippines is being examined as a potential greenhouse potted crop in the United States. Showy sepals of white, picotee, pink or red and fragrant, yellow flowers make Mussaenda an attractive patted plans however, the profuse upright growth habit of some Mussaenda cultivars is undesirable for pot plant culture. With this in mind experiments were conducted to determine the effects of three growth regulators at two concentrations each, as well as the application method and the number of applications on Mussaenda plant height.
Three growth regulators, daminozide (B-Nine), ancymidol (A-Rest), and paclobutrazol (Bonzi) were applied at two commercially recommended rates and two application methods (spray or drench). The treatment were daminozide at 2500 ppm and 5000 ppm (spray), ancymidol at 33 and 66 ppm (spray) and at 0.25 and 0.50 mg/pot (drench), and paclobutrazol at 25 and 50 ppm (spray) and at 0.125 and 0.25 mg/pot (drench). In subsequent experiments, the same growth regulators were applied with an increase in concentration and either two or three applications. The treatments were daminozide at 5000 ppm (spray), ancymidol at 66 and 132 ppm (spray) and at 0.50 and 1.0 mg/pot (drench), and paclobutrazol at 50 and 100 ppm (spray) and at 0.25 and 0.50 mg/pot (drench).
The most attractive potted plants were produced with two applications of daminozide at 5000 ppm or two applications of ancymidol at 0.5 mg/pot (drench). Higher concentrations or additional applications excessively reduced plant height. Three spray applications of 132 ppm ancymidol also produced an attractive potted plant. Paclobutrazol sprays or drenches at any concentration or application number were ineffective for reducing Mussaenda `Queen Sirikit' plant height.
Christopher S. Cramer and Todd C. Wehner
The relationships between fruit yield and yield components in several cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) populations were investigated as well as how those relationships changed with selection for improved fruit yield. In addition, the correlations between fruit yield and yield components were partitioned into partial regression coefficients (path coefficients and indirect effects). Eight genetically distinct pickling and slicing cucumber populations, differing in fruit yield and quality, were previously subjected to modified half-sib family recurrent selection. Eight families from three selection cycles (early, intermediate, late) of each population were evaluated for yield components and fruit number per plant in four replications in each of two testing methods, seasons, and years. Since no statistical test for comparing the magnitudes of two correlations was available, a correlation (r) of 0.7 to 1.0 or –0.7 to –1.0 (r 2 ≥ 0.49) was considered strong, while a correlation of –0.69 to 0.69 was considered weak. The number of branches per plant had a direct positive effect on, and was correlated (r = 0.7) with the number of total fruit per plant over all populations, cycles, seasons, years, plant densities, and replications. The number of nodes per branch, the percentage of pistillate nodes, and the percentage of fruit set were less correlated (r < |0.7|) with total fruit number per plant (fruit yield) than the number of branches per plant. Weak correlations between yield components and fruit yield often resulted from weak correlations among yield components. The correlations among fruit number traits were generally strong and positive (r ≥ 0.7). Recurrent selection for improved fruit number per plant maintained weak path coefficients and correlations between yield components and total fruit number per plant. Selection also maintained weak correlations among yield components. However, the correlations and path coefficients of branch number per plant on the total fruit number became more positive (r = 0.67, 0.75, and 0.82 for early, intermediate, and late cycles, respectively) with selection. Future breeding should focus on selecting for the number of branches per plant to improve total fruit number per plant.