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J.A. Kirkpatrick, T.E. Morelock, L.R. Howard, and F.J. Dainello

Fresh-market spinach production has risen in the United States in the past few years as well as total value of the crop. Increased crop value may be attributed to more “value added” spinach products being produced and marketed. Public awareness of nutrition is rising due to more information being distributed concerning cancer prevention, antioxidants, and neutraceuticals. Spinach is high in the carotenoids beta-carotene and lutein, a known antioxidant for the prevention of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It is also high in vitamins A, C, E, and folate, fiber, and the mineral iron. In this respect, spinach producers have an advantage over growers of salad vegetables such as lettuce. While this is an advantage, more innovative “value added” methods of marketing this product to the consumer are needed. A dark-green, semi-savoy spinach type developed at the Univ. of Arkansas was studied to determine shelf-life and storage capabilities of root cut plants in transparent clamshell containers. Plants were held at temperatures ranging from 1 to 6 °C. Leaf turgidity and visual characteristics were rated on a 1 to 5 scale. Acceptable characteristics and shelf-life of spinach stored in clamshell containers were seen up to 14 to 21 days when plants were stored at or near 1 °C. These results indicate that spinach packaged in transparent clamshell containers will maintain an acceptable shelf-life and could be beneficial to fresh market spinach producers.

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L. Brandenberger, R. Wiedenfeld, R. Mercado, J. Lopez, and T.E. Morelock

Southern peas for the processing market are an important crop for producers in South Texas, but little testing of new varieties or breeding lines has been carried out. Grower field trials during three different years and an on station trial provided an opportunity to evaluate >30 different pea cultivars or breeding lines. Cultivars and breeding lines were evaluated for earliness, maturity, yield, and performance in high-pH soils. Yields varied significantly each season, with Arkansas Blackeye # 1 providing consistently high yields in the three grower trials. Both Arkansas 87-435-68 and Texas Pinkeye produced significantly higher yields in the high soil pH trial at Weslaco. Yields for Arkansas 87-435-68 and Texas Pinkeye in the Weslaco trial were 1428 and 1231 lb of dry peas per acre, respectively.

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T.E. Morelock, J.A. Kirkpatrick, D.R. Motes, J.C. Correll, and F.J. Daniello

The current national trends in nutrition have resulted in a very high interest in the benefits of proper diet. It is very apparent that adding foods high in antioxidants to the human diet can have drastic affects on human health by reducing the risk of cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary disease, as well as age-related degenerative diseases. It is well-known and well-documented that spinach is one of the very best vegetables in antioxidant potential. It is high in beta-carotene (provitamin A) and is also very high in lutein (a carotenoid that is a strong antioxidant but with no vitamin A activity). Lutein has also been documented to have the potential to significantly reduce macular degeneration in humans when added to the diet on a regular basis. With these health benefits in mind the Univ. of Arkansas is releasing the spinach breeding line that has been tested as 88-310. It is a slow-growing semi-savoy that exhibits excellent color and has a moderate level of white rust resistance. It has excellent plant type, producing a very attractive compact rosette plant that is very desirable for root cut whole plants or for various types of clipped spinach. It is best-suited to both fall and overwinter production in Arkansas and for winter production in the Texas wintergarden. Seed for tests can be obtained by contacting T.E. Morelock, Dept. of Horticulture, Univ. of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR 72701.

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S.M. Hum-Musser, T.E. Morelock, J.B. Murphy, and R.L. Henry

Seed germination of spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) is partially inhibited by a high germination temperature (35 °C). Tolerance of high germination temperatures varies widely depending on the variety used. We ascertained that seed germination of these spinach varieties was thermoinhibited at 35 °C and secondary dormancy was not induced as seeds germinated when transferred to optimum germination conditions (20 °C). Treatment with 99% oxygen and 10 ppm kinetin significantly increased germination of thermoinhibited varieties at 35 °C. During heat stress, all organisms produce heat shock proteins (HSPs), which may function as molecular chaperons, are possibly required for the development of thermotolerance, and may be crucial for cell survival during heat stress. Western blotting of SDS-PAGE gels using antibodies to various heat shock proteins indicated that spinach varieties with the highest degree of thermotolerance have higher levels of HSP expression than varieties with the lowest degree of thermotolerance during germination. These results suggest that thermotolerance could be further improved, either through a breeding program or possibly by genetic engineering.

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L.P. Brandenberger, J.C. Correll, T.E. Morelock, and R.W. McNew

Resistance to race 3 and 4 of downy mildew (Peronospora farinosa f.sp. spinaciae) was examined in separate field inoculation tests. Three Arkansas cultivars and three other commercial spinach cultivars were compared by periodically scoring individual leaves for disease severity 7 to 28 days after inoculation. Leaves were scored on a 0 to 6 scale with 0 = 0% of the leaf surface being covered with sporulation and 6 = 90-100%. Resistance was evaluated by comparing disease ratings on a given day as well as the area under the disease progress curve. Arkansas spinach cultivars exhibited significantly lower disease severity ratings in field inoculation tests for all sample dates for both races 3 and 4 when compared to known susceptible cultivars.

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A.G. Gillaspie, O.L. Chambliss, R.L. Fery, A.E. Hall, J.C. Miller Jr., and T.E. Morelock

The Vigna Crop Germplasm Committee has established a core subset for the USDA cowpea germplasm collection. The subset consists of 9.3% (700 accessions) of the 7525 accessions currently contained in the collection. The subset was selected on the basis of country of origin, taxonomic characteristics, and known disease and pest resistance characteristics. Theoretically, the lines in the subset represent the genetic diversity present in the entire collection. A listing of the accessions in the subset is available from the Vigna germplasm curator (A.G. Gillaspie). The listing can also be accessed through the USDA's Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN).