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T.K. Hartz, F.J. Costa, and W.L. Schrader

The study was undertaken to determine the physiochemical properties and nutrient supply characteristics of composted green yard and landscape waste (CGW) and to document its performance as a field soil amendment or constituent of potting media. Three CGW samples were collected from each of two composting operations in California from Nov. 1993 to Apr. 1994. Macronutrient content varied widely between operations, and among samples from the same operation, with mean total N, P, and K levels averaging 1.1%, 0.26%, and 0.67%, respectively. Controlled-environment incubation of a moist 1 CGW: 9 soil blend (2 weeks at 30 °C) was conducted to determine net N mineralization from CGW. Despite low C: N ratios (<12), five of six CGW samples showed net immobilization, a characteristic of immature compost. An in-field incubation of soil amended with 1% or 2% CGW (w/w) showed no net N release from CGW over 4 months. In a field trial, bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) fruit yield was increased by soil amendment with CGW (17 or 34 t·ha–1) under a low N fertilizer regime (168 kg·ha–1), but was unaffected where sufficient fertilizer N (280 kg·ha–1) was applied. CGW was compared with peat as a constituent of potting media; both were blended 1:1 (v/v) with perlite and used in the production of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) and marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) plants under varying fertigation regimes (constant feed of N at 0, 50, or 100 mg·L–1 as 15N–13P–12K). CGW was equivalent or superior to peat in plant growth; CGW did contribute to crop macronutrient nutrition, but the highest fertigation rate was required for optimum growth.

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T.K. Hartz*, P.R. Johnstone, and J.J. Nunez

Cracking of carrot (Daucus carota L.) roots during harvest and handling is a serious problem for the commercial industry, particularly for `cut and peeled' products. Thirty commercial fields of cv. `Sugar Snax' in California were surveyed over the period 2000-03. Soil texture was determined, and soil and crop nutrient status, air temperature and soil moisture were monitored. In 10 fields the effect of excessive N fertilization was investigated; 90-180 kg·ha-1 N was sidedressed in addition to the growers' N regime. At one site a comparison of 10 cultivars was conducted to determine the root cracking sensitivity of commercial cultivars suitable for the cut and peeled market. In all fields roots were hand harvested, with undamaged roots 18-24 mm in diameter selected for study. Roots were cooled to 5 °C and subjected to an impact test to rate cracking sensitivity. Fields varied widely in root cracking sensitivity, with 4% to76% of roots cracked in the impact test. Cracking sensitivity was positively correlated with the % silt and clay in soil, and with air temperature in the final month of growth. Irrigation management had no consistent effect on cracking sensitivity. N application in excess of the growers' N regime did not increase carrot yield, but increased root cracking sensitivity by an average of 30%. Root cracking varied among cultivars from 10% to 49%. However, when the periderm was peeled from roots before impact testing, incidence of cracking declined to 2% or less in all cultivars. Periderm strength or flexibility is apparently the dominant factor in carrot cracking sensitivity, and environmental and management variables that affect cracking sensitivity must do so by affecting the periderm structure.

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T.K. Hartz, A. Baameur, and D.B. Holt

The feasibility of field-scale CO2 enrichment of vegetable crops grown under tunnel culture was studied with cucumber (Cucumis saivus L. cv. Dasher II), summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L. cv. Gold Bar), and tomato (Lycopersicon escukntum Mill. cv. Bingo) grown under polyethylene tunnels. The drip irrigation system was used to uniformly deliver a CO2-enriched air stream independent of irrigation. Carbon dioxide was maintained between 700 and 1000 μl·liter-1 during daylight hours. Enrichment began immediately after crop establishment and continued for ≈4 weeks. At the end of the treatment phase, enrichment had significantly increased plant dry weight in the 2 years of tests. This growth advantage continued through harvest, with enriched cucumber, squash, and tomato plots yielding 30%, 20%, and 32% more fruit, respectively, in 1989. In 1990, cucumber and squash yields were increased 20%, and 16%, respectively. As performed, the expense of CO2 enrichment represented less than a 10% increase in total preharvest costs. A similar test was conducted on fall-planted strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa Duch. cvs. Irvine and Chandler). Carbon dioxide enrichment under tunnel culture modestly increased `Irvine' yields but did not affect `Chandler'.

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D.W. Burger, T.K. Hartz, and G.W. Forister

Seed germination and crop growth characteristics were determined for Tagetes spp. L. `Lemondrop', marigold; Catharanthus roseus Don. `Little Pinkie', vinca; Petunia hybrida Vilm. `Royalty Cherry', petunia; Dendranthema×grandiflorum (Ramat.) Kitamura `White Diamond', chrysanthemum; Pittosporum tobira Ait. `Wheeleri', sweet mock orange; Photinia ×fraseri Dress., photinia and Juniperus sabina L. `Moon Glow', juniper grown in various size containers containing blends of composted green waste (CGW) and UC Mix. Seed germination, plant height, and stem and root fresh and dry mass were lowest in unamended CGW. For most plants studied, a CGW: UC Mix blend containing at least 25% UC Mix was required for adequate growth and development. Germinating seeds and young seedlings were most adversely affected by unamended CGW. As plants grew and were transplanted into larger containers (10- and 15-cm pots, 530 and 1800 mL), they were better able to grow in media with higher CGW content.

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T.K. Hartz, J.P. Mitchell, and C. Giannini

Nitrogen and carbon mineralization rates of 19 manure and compost samples were determined in 1996, with an additional 12 samples evaluated in 1997. These organic amendments were mixed with a soil: sand blend at 2% by dry weight and the amended blends were incubated at constant moisture for 12 (1996) or 24 weeks (1997) at 25 °C. Net N mineralization was measured at 4- (1996) or 8-week (1997) intervals, C mineralization at 4-week intervals in 1997. Pots of the amended blends were also seeded with fescue (Festuca arundinacea Shreb.) and watered, but not fertilized, for 17 (1996) or 18 weeks (1997); N phytoavailability was estimated from fescue biomass N and mineral N in pot leachate. An average of 16%, 7%, and 1% of organic N was mineralized in 12 weeks of incubation in 1996, and an average of 15%, 6%, and 2% in 24 weeks of incubation in 1997, in manure, manure compost, and plant residue compost, respectively. Overall, N recovery in the fescue assay averaged 11%, 6%, and 2% of total amendment N for manure, manure compost, and plant residue compost, respectively. Mineralization of manure C averaged 35% of initial C content in 24 weeks, while compost C mineralization averaged only 14%. Within 4 (compost) or 16 weeks (manure), the rate of mineralization of amendment C had declined to a level similar to that of the soil organic C.

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T.K. Hartz, R.F. Smith, and W.L. Schrader

California vegetable growers are adopting drip irrigation at an accelerating pace, which affords the opportunity for more exacting control of nitrogen nutrition. Consequently, the need for quick, accurate, grower-friendly techniques for monitoring nitrogen status in soil and plant material has increased. Three field monitoring techniques were examined in detail: the analysis of soil water samples drawn by soil solution access tubes (SSAT). leaf reflectance as measured by the Minolta SPAD 502 chlorophyll meter, and petiole sap analysis with a Horiba portable nitrate-selective electrode meter. Nitrate concentration in soil solution was highly stratified in drip-irrigated soils, both with regard to location in the field and position with respect to the drip line, making the use of SSAT technology impractical as a tool for routine N fertigation scheduling. Correlation of SSAT nitrate values to any measure of plant N status was poor. Similarly, leaf reflectance correlated poorly with any measure of tissue N in the crops examined. Nitrate content of petiole sap was highly correlated with conventional laboratory analysis of dry petiole tissue over a range of crops and nitrogen levels.

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T.K. Hartz, K.S. Mayberry, M.E. McGiffen, M. LeStrange, G. Miyao, and A. Baameur

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T.K. Hartz, G. Miyao, R.J. Mullen, M.D. Cahn, J. Valencia, and K.L. Brittan

A survey of 140 processing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) fields in central California was conducted in 1996-97 to examine the relationship between K nutrition and fruit quality for processing. Quality parameters evaluated were soluble solids (SS), pH, color of a blended juice sample, and the percent of fruit affected by the color disorders yellow shoulder (YS) or internal white tissue (IWT). Juice color and pH were not correlated with soil K availability or plant K status. SS was correlated with both soil exchangeable K and midseason leaf K concentration (r = 0.25 and 0.28, p < 0.01) but the regression relationships suggested that the impact of soil or plant K status on fruit SS was minor. YS and IWT incidence, which varied among fields from 0% to 68% of fruit affected, was negatively correlated with K status of both soil and plant. Soil exchangeable K/√Mg ratio was the measure of soil K availability most closely correlated with percent total color disorders (YS + IWT, r = -0.45, p < 0.01). In field trials conducted to document the relationship between soil K availability and the fruit color disorders, soil application of either K or gypsum (CaSO4, to increase K/√Mg ratio) reduced YS and total color disorders. Multiple foliar K applications were effective in reducing fruit color disorders at only one of two sites. In no field trial did K application improve yield, SS, or juice color.

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T.K. Hartz, P.R. Johnstone, E.M. Miyao, and R.M. Davis

Mustard (Brassica spp.) cover crop residue has been reported to have significant `biofumigant' action when incorporated into soil, potentially providing disease suppression and yield improvement for the succeeding crop. The effects of growing over-winter mustard cover crops preceding processing tomato (Lycopersicon escultentum Mill.) production were investigated in six field trials in the Sacramento Valley of California from 2002–04. A selection of mustard cover crops were compared to a legume cover crop mix, a fallow-bed treatment (the current grower practice in the region), and in two of the six trials, fumigation treatments using metam sodium. Mustard cover crops removed 115 to 350 kg·ha–1 N from the soil profile, reducing NO3-N leaching potential. Soil populations of Verticillium dahliae Kleb. and Fusarium spp. were unaffected by the cover crops, and there was no evidence of soilborne disease suppression on subsequent tomato crops. Mustard cover crops increased tomato yield in one field, and reduced yield in two fields. In one of two fields, metam sodium fumigation significantly increased tomato yield. We conclude that, while environmental benefits may be achieved, mustard cover cropping offers no immediate agronomic benefit for processing tomato production.

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T.K. Hartz, L.J. Kies, A. Baameur, and D.M. May

Application of DCPTA, as a seed treatment and a foliar spray, was evaluated for effects on productivity and fruit quality of processing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) and fresh-market pepper (Capsicum annuum L.). Two field trials for each crop were conducted in California during 1992. No DCPTA treatment was effective in increasing vegetative growth or fresh fruit yield of either crop at any site. Total soluble solids concentration and color of tomato fruits were unaffected by DCPTA, regardless of application method. We conclude that DCPTA is not a useful production aid for field-grown tomato or pepper. Chemical name used: 2-(3,4-dichlorophenoxy) triethylamine (DCPTA).