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Douglas C. Sanders*, Roger Crickenberger, Billy Dunham, Edwin J. Jones, and John M. O'Sullivan

Most administrators regard strategic planning as a structured process to produce fundamental decisions and actions shaping and guiding what their organization is, does, and why it does it. A concerted focus on the future is usually involved in the effort. In North Carolina, all Extension Agriculture and Natural Resource Agents, Specialists, Directors and State Staff recently utilized such a structured process in a 3-day conference entitled “The Summit”. The success of this strategic planning process can be measured by the degree to which the process lead to strategic management within NCCE. The Summit used a framework that fully explored forces affecting or impeding strategic thinking. That framework was a day of laying groundwork and with various keynote speakers helping to set the stage; a day of stakeholder direction and attendee active listening and debate; and a day of group reflection. The results of this conference were chronicled in “White Paper” written by a team representing all major in-house stakeholders. While many of the usual problems affecting Extension were reviewed, stakeholder input to both administration and staff is re-shaping the way NCCE uses resources and directs programs. Ten recommendations came out Action te Such an outcome is strategic management, and the framework of The Summit may allow other similar organizations to also have successful strategic planning meetings.

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Luz M. Reyes, Dennis Osborne, Donn R. Ward, and Douglas C. Sanders*

One key to protecting the nation's food supply is training packinghouse and field workers in food safety principles. Southern producer/packers are typically grower/packers. Such producers usually are seasonal, have their own packinghouse operation and are small scale. They use migrant and seasonal labor. Also worker training, sanitary practice and facilities are either somewhat limited or completely lacking in such operations. Further, the use of seasonal and migrant labor dictates the use of Spanish language interpreters for training. These trainers are in marked shortage. To help meet this need for trainers and training materials we developed a bi-lingual (Spanish/English) “flip chart” GAPs training aid. It contains 48 charts explaining food safety principles to be considered in the field and in the packing operation. These educational materials can be used by small farmers, growers and packers for training sessions. Such material is particularly useful in preparing for third-party audits.

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

Between 2000 and 2004, a 12-state consortium in the southeastern United States used a “train-the-trainer” effort to introduce good agricultural practices (GAPs) to the region's fresh produce growers, packers, and consumers. Supported by the National Food Safety Initiative, the consortium created and implemented training by using a program and supporting materials specifically applicable to conditions and commodities in southern states. Because several factors distinguish the southeastern U.S. fresh produce industry from that of other regions in the U.S., a region-specific training program addressing distinguishing factors was needed. Distinguishing factors include: 1) southeastern U.S. producers are typically grower-packers, with some notable exceptions in Florida and Texas; 2) most such producer entities are seasonal, have their own packinghouse operation, are small-scale in that they pick what they grow and pack and often use migrant and seasonal labor; 3) modern worker training, sanitary practice, and facilities and supervisory expertise are either somewhat limited or completely lacking; and 4) the use of seasonal and migrant labor dictates the use of Spanish language interpreters and training. To meet fresh produce food safety training needs for the region, project leaders created a 329-page training program and associated PowerPoint presentation-containing compact disc, nine four-page crop-specific brochures relating GAPs to crop “groups,” a Spanish language handwashing video and a new model recall program for the fresh produce industry. The leveraging effect of this train-the-trainer effort ultimately reached nearly 20,000 people in this multi-disciplinary, multi-state, integrated project, thus expanding and reinforcing regional cooperative extension efforts.

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

This paper summarizes the management framework, organizing plan, and results of a multi-state, multi-institutional partnership delivering a targeted “train-the-trainer” program addressing food chain security in the southeastern U.S. The partnership provided good agricultural practices (GAPs) and good manufacturing practices (GMPs) –based training to fresh fruit and vegetable (produce) growers and packers throughout the region. Twelve southern states cooperated in this project: Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. This 2000–04 work was funded by National Food Safety Initiative grants. Although proposed long before events of 11 Sept. 2001, the project and its results are increasingly relevant since that time. This is because consumer expectations regarding the nation's food supply now include a new security consciousness addressed in this project.

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Jeanine M. Davis, Douglas C. Sanders, Paul V. Nelson, Laura Lengnick, and Wade J. Sperry

Boron deficiency in fresh-market tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) is a widespread problem that reduces yield and fruit quality but is often not recognized by growers. Tomatoes were grown in field and hydroponic culture to compare the effects of foliar and soil applied B on plant growth, fruit yield, fruit quality, and tissue nutrient levels. Regardless of application method, B was associated with increased tomato growth and the concentration of K, Ca, and B in plant tissue. Boron application was associated with increased N uptake by tomato in field culture, but not under hydroponic culture. In field culture, foliar and/or soil applied B similarly increased fresh-market tomato plant and root dry weight, uptake, and tissue concentrations of N, Ca, K, and B, and improved fruit set, total yields, marketable yields, fruit shelf life, and fruit firmness. The similar growth and yield responses of tomato to foliar and root B application suggests that B is translocated in the phloem in tomatoes. Fruit from plants receiving foliar or root applied B contained more B, and K than fruit from plants not receiving B, indicating that B was translocated from leaves to fruit and is an important factor in the management of K nutrition in tomato.

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Sergio J. Carballo, Sylvia M. Blankenship, Douglas C. Sanders, David F. Ritchie, and Michael D. Boyette

Commercial packing lines in Sampson County, N.C., were surveyed during two growing seasons to study handling methods on susceptibility of bell pepper fruits (Capsicum annuum L.) to bacterial soft rot (Erwinia carotovora subsp. carotovora). Samples were taken from two field packers and one packing house in 1991 and from two field packers and four packing houses in 1992. One field packer and one packing house were common to both years. Fruits were either inoculated with bacteria or untreated and stored at 10 or 21C. Damaged fruits were counted and classified as crushed, cut, bruised, abraded, and other injuries. Fruit injury was less dependent on whether the operation was a packing house or a field packing line than on the overall handling practices of the individual grower. In general, packing peppers in packing houses resulted in an increased number of bruises, whereas fruit from field packing lines had more abrasions. More open skin injuries resulted in greater fruit decay. In both years, fruits stored at 10C had less top rot than fruits stored at 21C. In 1992, they also had less pod rot. Dry and chlorinated lines often had equivalent rot problems.

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Douglas C. Sanders, Jennifer D. Cure, Pamela M. Deyton, and Randolph G. Gardner

Amount of vascular development (veininess) is an important quality factor for processing wholepack tomatoes. The influences of nutrient and soil moisture stress on the amount of vascular development in `Chico III', `Dorchester', and `Roma' tomato fruit were studied. Fruit subjected to nutrient stress showed the highest amount of veininess. Fruit exposed to moisture stress after initial fruit set did not differ from controls in amount of veininess. Amount of vascularization did not differ among cultivars. A method for quantifying veininess was developed and compared with a traditional subjective rating scale. There was a high correlation (r2 = 0.77) between the subjective rating and quantitative measurement of veininess.

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Lucia Villavicencio, Sylvia M. Blankenship, Douglas C. Sanders, and William H. Swallow

Bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.) are classified as nonclimacteric fruits while some hot peppers have been reported as climacteric. Responses of peppers to exogenously applied ethylene-releasing compounds suggest ethylene involvement in the ripening process. Ethylene production and respiration rates in 13 cultivars of pepper: `Camelot', `Cherry Bomb', `Chiltepin', `Cubanelle', `Banana Supreme', `Habanero', `Hungarian Wax', `Mesilla', `Mitla', `Savory', `Sure Fire', `Tabasco', and `King Arthur' were studied under greenhouse and field conditions. Fruit from each cultivar were harvested at different maturity stages determined by color, ranging from mature-green to full red-ripe. Carbon dioxide and ethylene production were measured by gas chromatography. Both variables were significantly different among maturity stages for all cultivars. Respiration rates were between 16.5 and 440.3 mg·kg-1·h-1 CO2. Ethylene production ranged from 0.002 to 1.1 μL·kg-1·h-1. Two patterns of CO2 production were identified: higher CO2 production for mature-green fruit with successive decreases for the rest of the maturity stages or lower respiration rates for mature-green fruit with an increase in CO2 production either when fruit were changing color or once fruit were almost totally red. A rise in CO2 production was present for most cultivars. Ethylene evolution increased significantly at maturity or before maturity in all cultivars except `Cubanelle' and `Hungarian Wax'. Respiration rates and ethylene production were significantly different among cultivars at the mature-green and red stages.

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Douglas C. Sanders, Luz M. Reyes, David W. Monks, Katie M. Jennings, Frank J. Louws, and Jim G. Driver

Compost sources were used to determine long-term influence on common vegetable cropping systems (tomato, pepper, and cucumber). Three sources of Controlled Microbial Compost (CMC) (20 yd3/A) amended with fumigant Telone-C35 (35 gal/A) and Trichoderma-382 [2.5 oz/yd.3 (T-382)] were used during 3 consecutive years. Tomato showed statistic differences (1%) among compost treatments with higher total yields when CMC was combined with Telone-C35 (21%) and T-382 (8.2%). All treatments but Bio-Compost and control presented al least 25% more marketable yield per acre. No differences in fruit size were found for tomato, except for medium-size fruit when Telone C-35 was added. The CMC alone or combined with Telone C-35 and T-382 increased the total plant dry weight at least 18.6%. Pepper crop showed statistic differences with higher number of No. 1 fruit size when CMC was combined with Telone C-35 and T-382. Number of culls per acre decreased for all three compost sources, with no differences from the control. Cucumber yields differed among treatments for total and marketable yields and No.1 size fruit per acre. Best yields were achieved with CMC and when mixed with Telone C-35 and T-382. The lower numbers of culls per acre were found with Bio-Compost and Lexington sources and CMC+T-382. Total plant dry weight was increased in at least 24% when Bio-Compost or CMC compost were used alone or combined with Telone-C35 or T-382. CMC increased root knot nematode soil counts and percentage of root galling, but tended to improve root vigor in cucumbers. It seems that compost sources combined with Telone C-35 or T-382 could improve the cropping management as alternative to methyl bromide. Weed responses will also be discussed.