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Douglas C. Sanders, Jennifer D. Cure, and Jonathan R. Schultheis

One or two plants per hill of `Prince Charles' and `Royal Jubilee' watermelon were grown with drip fertigation at five in-row spacings, with or without polyethylene mulch, in four location × year combinations (environments). Rows were 1.5 m apart and in-row spacings were 45, 60, 90, 120, and 150 cm. `Royal Jubilee' yielded more than `Prince Charles' in all environments, and the highest yields were associated with low percent culls and high fruit numbers per hectare. Highest yields of marketable fruits (≥4.5 kg/melon) were obtained using polyethylene mulch and areas per plant between 0.4 and 0.9 m2. Average weight per melon, however, was ≥9 kg only at areas per plant >0.9 to 1.0 m2. Unless there is a market for small fruits (≥4.5–9 kg), optimum area per plant was ≈1.0 m2. Results for one plant per hill at one in-row spacing were similar to those for the alternative planting pattern of two plants per hill at half the in-row spacing, thus supporting the feasibility of using the more economical alternative planting pattern.

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Luz M. Reyes, Douglas C. Sanders, and Wayne G. Buhler

This study was conducted to compare different formulations of a slow-release fertilizer with a conventional fertilizer program to determine their impact on yield and growth of bell pepper (Capsicum annuum). Two formulations of a methylene-urea slow-release fertilizer (Nitamin®) were evaluated on drip-fertigated and plastic-mulched bell peppers during 2006 in the eastern coastal plain and western Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. Liquid slow-release formulations were applied the first 6 or 9 weeks of the growing season and a dry formulation was banded at planting. Treatments were compared with the extension-recommended rate of 200 lb/acre nitrogen (N) (NC-200) and a high-input fertilizer rate of 300 lb/acre N (HI-300) from calcium nitrate injected in 12 weekly applications of drip irrigation. Irrigation was applied twice per week. The slow-release granular formulation at 200 lb/acre N produced the highest marketable yield and better canopy quality in eastern soil. Early marketable yield for this treatment accounted for 46% of the total yield. All slow-release treatments had higher N use efficiency (NUE) values than NC-200 and HI-300 in the eastern study. In loam soil (western study), pepper yield was statistically similar among treatments. Lower rates (150 lb/acre N) of slow-release fertilizer performed as well as NC-200 and HI-300 for marketable yield. Low rates (150 lb/acre N) of one of the liquid formulations performed better in total and marketable NUE than NC-200 and HI-300 in Fletcher, North Carolina. Liquid and dry formulations of slow-release fertilizer showed a potential to be used on bell pepper production across the state at reduced N rates, with greater impact on yield in coarse-textured soils found predominantly in the eastern coastal plain region.

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Wade J. Sperry, Jeanine M. Davis, and Douglas C. Sanders

Two crack-resistant and two crack-susceptible fresh-market tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) cultivars were evaluated at varied soil moisture levels for physiological fruit defects and yield. Cultural practices recommended for staked-tomato production in North Carolina with raised beds, black polyethylene mulch, and drip irrigation were used. Soil moisture levels of less than −15.0, −30 to −40, and greater than −70 kPa were maintained and monitored using daily tensiometer readings. Soil moisture level had no effect on fruit cracking, blossom-end rot, zippers, or yield. However, there-were large differences among cultivars for fruit defects and total and marketable yields.

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Joseph M. Kemble, Jeanine M. Davis, Randolph G. Gardner, and Douglas C. Sanders

The influence of flat cell volume (cavity containing growing medium) on transplant growth and development of NC 13G-1, a compact-growth-habit, fresh-market tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) breeding line, was compared to that of a normal growth habit line, NC 8288. Transplants of each line were produced in four cell volumes (3.3, 27, 37.1, and 80cm3) for 5 weeks, evaluated and then transplanted to larger containers, and grown until anthesis. During the first 5 weeks after seeding, plant dry weight did not differ between the lines; however, plant height of NC 13G-1 was ≈60% of the height of NC 8288. For both lines, number of days from sowing to anthesis decreased as root cell volumes increased. For space-efficient production of large quantities of compact-growth-habit tomato transplants, flats with root cell volumes as small as 27 and 37 cm3 can be used without greatly delaying anthesis.

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Joseph M. Kemble, Jeanine M. Davis, Randolph G. Gardner, and Douglas C. Sanders

Compact-growth-habit (CGH) tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) do not require the pruning, staking, and tying required for many fresh-market tomato cultivars. In 1990, 5-week-old transplants of the CGH tomato breeding line NC 13G-1 were grown in single rows with in-row spacings of 31, 46, 61, and 76 cm and in double rows with in-row spacings of 31 and 46 cm. NC 13G-1 produced high early and total season marketable yields when grown in either double-row treatment compared to any single-row treatment. In 1991 and 1992, 4- and 5-week-old NC 13G-1 transplants were produced in five root cell volumes (8.6, 13.6, 27.0, 37.1, and 80.0 cm3), transplanted into double rows with an in-row spacing of 46 cm, and evaluated for yield. Five-week-old transplants produced in 37.1- and 80-cm3 cells flowered sooner after transplanting and produced higher early season yields than 4-week-old transplants produced in the three smaller cells. Midseason yields increased quadratically and late-season yields decreased quadratically as root cell volume increased. Total season marketable yields did not differ among treatments. In 1991, production costs were influenced by root cell volume, but not in 1992. In 1992, net returns for the four smallest cell volumes were similar, and lower than for transplants grown in the largest cell volume. In both years, highest net returns were achieved with transplants produced in 37.1-cm3 cells. Considering the estimated 1992 net returns of $17,000/ha, production of CGH tomatoes may provide an alternative for staked-tomato growers concerned with labor availability and production costs, even though marketable yield from NC 13G-1 was lower than with a conventional cultivar under the standard system.

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Dennis J. Osborne*, Douglas C. Sanders, Leigh Jay Hicks, and Donna Petherbridge

The software package Macromedia Dreamweaver™ and learning management system WebCT™ are becoming de facto standards used to develop university distance education courses. NC State Univ. adopted these tools as part of its extensive support program for creating new distance courses, transforming existing classroom presentations into distance courses or upgrading existing distance courses. While production tools are becoming standardized, a “standard” course framework does not exist because most faculty believe that “no other course is like mine”. However, initial course placement online and course maintenance thereafter would be facilitated if a standardized course framework could be adopted and widely implemented. We developed such a framework, readily adaptable to many courses, by using the Libraries feature in Dreamweaver™ to create a model for easy navigation and standard course formatting for distance courses. Library items can be easily changed for use in different courses, and the entire framework can then be uploaded into WebCT™ for delivery to students. The model is used for several graduate level horticulture courses at NC State Univ.. Using this framework will allow any faculty member to easily fit his or her course into a replicable framework.

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Dennis J. Osborne, Douglas C. Sanders, Donn R. Ward, and James W. Rushing

This paper summarizes the management framework of a multi-state, multi-institutional partnership delivering a targeted “train-the-trainer” program. Procedures associated with assuring on-schedule deliverables and budget compliance will be reviewed. The program provided Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)-based training to southeastern U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable (produce) growers and packers. Twelve southern U.S. states cooperated in this project: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The 2000–04 work was funded by U.S. Department of Agriculture–Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (USDA–CSREES) National Food Safety Initiative grants. This project developed materials, pilot-tested them, refined them for use by a regional group of specialized agents, assisted the agents in delivering the new programming, and evaluated the results.

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Douglas C. Sanders, Dennis J. Osborne, Mary M. Peet, John M. Dole, and Julia L. Kornegay

Many potential students, because of distance from the university campus and/or job requirements, cannot take traditional courses on-campus. This group of learners is “place-bound”—a group of learners who may be employed full-time, most likely married with job responsibilities and/or other situations demanding most of their attention. The Horticultural Science Department and Graduate School at N.C. State University are addressing place-bound limitations in several ways, including the creation and offering of a Graduate Certificate Program in Horticultural Science via distance education (DE). By using DE, high demand, low-seat-available classes can offer additional enrollment for credit. Second, courses can be offered asynchronously or with alternative delivery methods. Also, courses offered collaboratively among institutions can generate a level of interest and enthusiasm that may not exist for “home-grown” courses. Such efforts as these promise to help meet continuing education demands of “non-traditional” students. These include Cooperative Extension's more than 120 Horticultural Crops Extension Agents (“field faculty”) and over 300 other field faculty whose interests include horticultural topics.

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Dennis J. Osborne, Douglas C. Sanders, Donn R. Ward, and James W. Rushing

This paper summarizes the results of a multi-state, multi-institutional partnership delivering a targeted train-the-trainer program. The program provided good agricultural practices (GAPs) and good manufacturing practices (GMPs) based training to southeastern U.S. fresh fruit and vegetable (produce) growers and packers. Twelve southern U.S. states cooperated in this project between 2001 and 2004. In the work 150 trainers introduced nearly 20,000 persons to GAPs principles, including over 2,000 Spanish-speaking workers and a similar number of limited resource/specialty crop/grower/packer/buyer audience members. Actual numbers of persons reached was nearly 20,000, a number arrived at by counting signed-in registrations for events. Cost per person for outreach was about $6.00 per person, including travel expenses. In cooperation with the federal Risk Management Agency, a training component about risk in fresh produce operations was developed. This unit was delivered to historically underserved audiences, small farms and roadside markets, and other non-traditional audiences. This training continues today.

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Glenn H. Sullivan, William J. Ooms, Gerald E. Wilcox, and Douglas C. Sanders

A management expert system that enables producers to fully assess the integrated resource requirements, management risks, and profit potential for growing muskmelon was developed. The expert system environment Guru was used as the development software.