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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, E.M. Miyao, and J.G. Valencia

Diagnosis and Recommendation Integrated System (DRIS) norms were derived for processing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) from a 1993-94 survey of >100 fields in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys of California. Relative foliar N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and S concentrations were expressed in ratio form, with DRIS norms calculated as the means of fields with fruit yield ≥90 Mg·ha-1. Norms were developed for three growth stages: first bloom, full bloom, and 10% of fruits ripe. Optimum foliar nutrient concentration ranges were calculated by regression analysis from DRIS nutrient indices of high-yield fields. These optimum ranges were in general agreement with existing empirically derived sufficiency ranges for N and P, higher for Ca, Mg, and S, and much lower for K. The relatively low foliar K levels observed were attributed primarily to the strongly determinate growth habit of currently used cultivars. In the fields sampled, yield-limiting nutrient deficiency appeared to be rare.

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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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P.R. Johnstone, T.K. Hartz, and D.M. May

California melon (Cucumis melo) growers commonly apply calcium (Ca) fertilizers during fruit development to increase fruit firmness and improve storage life. Drip-irrigated field trials were conducted in central California in 2005 and 2006 to evaluate the efficacy of this practice on honeydew (C. melo Inodorus group) and muskmelon (C. melo Reticulatus group). In the 2005 honeydew trial, three weekly applications of 10 lb/acre Ca from calcium nitrate (CN), calcium thiosulfate (CTS), or calcium chloride (CC) were injected into the irrigation system during early melon development. In the 2006 muskmelon trial, two applications of 15 lb/acre Ca from CTS or CC were made early, or two applications of CC late, in melon development. The effect of these Ca fertigation treatments on fruit yield, soluble solids concentration, flesh firmness, and Ca concentration were compared with an untreated control receiving no Ca fertigation. Calcium fertigation had no effect on marketable yield, quality, or Ca concentration of honeydew or muskmelon fruit regardless of application timing or Ca source applied. Loss of firmness during either 2 weeks (honeydew) or 1 week (muskmelon) of postharvest storage was unrelated to Ca fertigation treatment and was not correlated with Ca concentration in fruit tissue. We conclude that under conditions representative of the California melon industry, Ca fertigation at typical application rates is ineffective in improving honeydew or muskmelon yield or fruit quality.

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T.K. Hartz, E.M. Miyao, and J.G. Valencia

Diagnosis and Recommendation Integrated System (DRIS) norms were derived for processing tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) from a 1993-94 survey of >100 fields in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys of California. Relative foliar N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and S concentrations were expressed in ratio form, with DRIS norms calculated as the means of fields with fruit yield ≥90 Mg·ha-1. Norms were developed for three growth stages: first bloom, full bloom, and 10% of fruits ripe. Optimum foliar nutrient concentration ranges were calculated by regression analysis from DRIS nutrient indices of high-yield fields. These optimum ranges were in general agreement with existing empirically derived sufficiency ranges for N and P, higher for Ca, Mg, and S, and much lower for K. The relatively low foliar K levels observed were attributed primarily to the strongly determinate growth habit of currently used cultivars. In the fields sampled, yield-limiting nutrient deficiency appeared to be rare.

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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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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, 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).

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

Mustard cover crop residue has been reported to have a “biofumigant” action when incorporated into the soil, potentially providing significant disease suppression and yield improvement for the succeeding crop. Such activity could be particularly useful in processing tomato rotations, where consecutive cropping invariably results in yield decline. Agronomic and environmental effects of growing over-winter mustard cover crops preceding tomato production were investigated in three field trials between 2002 and 2004. Two mustard cover crops [`Pacific Gold', a brown mustard (Brassica juncea), and `Caliente', a blend of brown and white mustard (Sinapis alba)] were compared to a legume cover crop mix, a fallow bed treatment (the standard grower practice in this region), and, in two of the three trials, a fumigation treatment using metam sodium. No suppression of soil populations of Verticillium dahliae or Fusarium spp. was observed with the mustard cover crops, nor was there any visual evidence of disease suppression on subsequent tomato crops. In these fields, the mustard either had no effect, or reduced tomato yield, when compared to the fallow treatment. At one of two sites, metam sodium fumigation significantly increased tomato yield. The presence of a cover crop, whether mustard or legume, reduced winter runoff by an average of 50% over two years of trials. No benefit of mustard cover cropping beyond this reduction in winter runoff was observed.