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Robert J. Dufault, Ahmet Korkmaz, Brian K. Ward, and Richard L. Hassell

Extending the production season of melons (Cucumis melo L.) by using very early and late planting dates outside the range that is commercially recommended will increase the likelihood of developing a stronger melon industry in South Carolina. The objective of this study was to determine if early (February) transplanted melons or later (June through July) planting dates are effective in extending the production season of acceptable yields with good internal quality of the melon cultivars: Athena, Eclipse, and Sugar Bowl and Tesoro Dulce (a honeydew melon). Melons were transplanted in Charleston, S.C., in 1998, 1999, and 2000 on 12 and 26 Feb., 12 and 26 Mar., 9 and 23 Apr., 7 and 21 May, 4 and 18 June, and 2 July and required 130, 113, 105, 88, 79, 70, 64, 60, 60, 59, and 56 days from field transplanting to reach mean melon harvest date, respectively. Stands were reduced 67%, 41%, and 22% in the 12 and 26 Feb. and 12 Mar. planting dates, respectively, in contrast to the 26 Mar. planting date but ≤15% in all other planting dates. Planting in February had no earliness advantage because the 12 and 26 Feb. and 12 and 26 Mar. planting dates, all reached mean melon harvest from 19 to 23 June. Comparing the marketable number of melons produced per plot (averaged over cultivar) of the standard planting dates of 12 and 26 Mar. indicated decreases of 21%, 32%, 36%, 36%, 57%, 57%, and 54%, respectively with the planting dates of 9 and 23 Apr., 7 and 21 May, 4 and 18 June, and 2 July. The most productive cultivar of all was `Eclipse', which yielded significantly more melons per plot in all 11 planting dates followed by `Athena' (in 8 of 11 planting dates), `Tesoro Dulce' (7 of 11 planting dates), and `Sugar Bowl' (2 of 11 planting dates). In our study, any planting date with melon quality less than the USDA standard of “good internal quality” or better (Brix ≥9.0) was considered unacceptable because of potential market rejection. Therefore, the earliest recommended planting date with acceptable yield and “good internal quality” was 12 Mar. for all cultivars; the latest planting dates for `Athena', `Eclipse', `Tesoro Dulce', and `Sugar Bowl' were 4 June, 18 June, 7 May, and 9 Apr., respectively. With these recommendations, the harvest season of melons lasted 40 days from 24 June to 3 Aug. for these four cultivars, which extended the production season an additional 2 weeks longer than the harvest date of last recommended 21 May planting date.

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Richard L. Hassell, Robert J. Dufault, Tyron Phillips, and Teri A. Hale

Seeds of pale coneflower (Echinacea pallida), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), and valerian (Valeriana officinalis), classified as “old” (1-year-old seed) or “fresh” (seed crop produced in the current year), were germinated at 62, 65, 69, 72, 75, 78, 82, 85, 89, and 92 °F, (16.7, 18.3, 20.6, 22.2, 23.9, 25.6, 27.8, 29.4, 31.6, and 33.3 °C). The optimum germination temperature, defined in this study as the temperature range within which the percent germination is greatest in the shortest period of time, was determined. Old and fresh pale coneflower seed germinated optimally after 5 days at 69 °F. Old purple coneflower seed required 5 d at 78 to 82 °F, but fresh seed germinated optimally after 3 days at 75 °F. Old feverfew germinated optimally after 5 days at 65 °F, but fresh seed germinated to its optimum after 5 days at 69 °F. Old and fresh valerian seed germinated to its optimum after 3 days at 75 °F.

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Robert J. Dufault, K. Dean Batal, Dennis Decoteau, J. Thomas Garrett, Darbie Granberry, Wayne McLaurin, Russell Nagata, Katharine B. Perry, and Douglas Sanders

The experiment screened two spring and two fall planting dates in six regions within North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The objective was to extend the production over the southeastern United States rather than at a single location. Spring harvests lasted from mid-April to early July. Summer-to-winter harvests lasted from mid-August to late January. Collards were not harvested in any of the locations from late January to mid-April or from early July to mid-August. More extensive planting dates may further increase the longevity of production.

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Laurie Hodges, Douglas C. Sanders, Katharine B. Perry, Kent M. Eskridge, K.M. `Dean' Batal, Darbie M. Granberry, Wayne J. McLaurin, Dennis Decoteau, Robert J. Dufault, J. Thomas Garrett, and Russell Nagata

Four bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) cultivars were evaluated for yield (total weight of marketable fruit) performance over 41 environments as combinations of 3 years, three planting dates, and seven locations across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Cultural practices, including trickle irrigation and double rows planted on black-plastic-covered beds, were uniform across all environments, except for fertilization, which was adjusted at each location based on soil tests. Comparing production over 3 years between the mountain location and the Coastal Plain location in North Carolina, yields were lower on the Coastal Plain. Spring plantings provided higher yields than summer plantings at both locations. Yield increases were obtained from hybrid cultivars over that of the open-pollinated (OP) standard [`Keystone Resistant Giant #3' (KRG#3)] in the summer planting in the mountains compared to the Tidewater Coastal Plain. Across the three-state region, hybrid cultivar yields were higher than those of the OP cultivar for the second spring planting date in 1986 and 1987. Although the hybrid yields were higher than that of the OP standard, the hybrid `Skipper' yielded less than the other hybrids (`Gator Belle' and `Hybelle'). `Gator Belle' generally out-yielded `Hybelle' at all locations, except in Fletcher, N.C. This difference may be related to the relative sensitivity of these two cultivars to temperature extremes, rather than soil or geographic factors, because there was a tendency for `Hybelle' yields to exceed `Gator Belle' in the earliest planting date. Based on the reliability index, the chance of outperforming KRG#3 (the standard) was 85% for `Hybelle', 80% for `Gator Belle', but only 67% for `Skipper'.