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Michael Gold, Mihaela M. Cernusca, and Larry Godsey

Edible chestnuts are an ancient tree crop undergoing a global renaissance. Scattered efforts are under way throughout the U.S. to develop domestic chestnut production based on chestnut cultivars from Europe or Asia. Concurrently, it is necessary to redevelop the domestic market by reintroducing the chestnut as a food crop to a new generation of U.S. consumers. A study was conducted to gauge the familiarity of participants with chinese chestnuts (Castanea mollissima), eastern black walnuts (Juglans nigra), and northern pecans (Carya illinoensis) to determine their interest in buying, consuming, and preparing these nuts and the key attributes that influence purchase decisions. The study also determined participants' interest in obtaining more information about the production, marketing, cooking, preparation, and nutritional information of nuts. Results of the study show that consumers were not familiar with chestnuts. Most had never tasted a chestnut, but did have interest in exploring them as a new food. Quality and nutrition-diethealth were consistently listed as the most important attributes influencing purchase and consumption decisions for chestnuts and black walnuts but for pecans, locally grown was the most important attribute.

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Richard G. Snyder

A successful greenhouse tomato crop depends on the optimization of several factors; among these factors are water, nutrition, and all facets of environmental control. Good pollination, however, is one of the most important requirements for the production of fruit of high yield and quality. Poor pollination causes fruit that are smaller, angular, or puffy, due to reduced seed numbers and poor gel fill in the locules. In Spring 1993, two 7.3 × 29.3 double plastic-covered greenhouses were used to compare the conventionally used electric pollinator to bumblebees for effective pollination; replicated variety trials were performed within each. In one greenhouse (12 replications, RCBD), `Trust' performed better than `Caruso' in yield and quality, although it was smaller in fruit size. In the other greenhouse (four replications, RCBD), `Match' and `Switch' were better than all others (`Belmondo', `Capello', `Laura', and `Rakata') for most yield and quality variables. Means across varieties were similar for the two pollination techniques, with marketable weights identical. For gutter-connected greenhouse ranges of 0.1 ha or larger, bumblebees are an economically viable option for pollinating hydroponically grown tomatoes.

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Lindsay C. Paul and James D. Metzger

Vermicomposting is a promising method of transforming unwanted and virtually unlimited supplies of organic wastes into usable substrates. In this process, the digestive tracts of certain earthworm species (e.g., Eisenia fetida) are used to stabilize organic wastes. The final product is an odorless peat-like substance, which has good structure, moisture-holding capacity, relatively large amounts of available nutrients, and microbial metabolites that may act as plant growth regulators. For these reasons, vermicompost has the potential to make a valuable contribution to soilless potting media. The objective of this study was to evaluate the transplant quality and field performance of vegetable transplants grown in vermicompost. Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.), eggplant (Solanum melongena L.), and pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) transplants were grown in a commercial soilless mix including 0%, 10%, or 20% (v/v) worm-worked cattle manure. Growth of vegetable transplants was positively affected by addition of vermicompost, perhaps by altering the nutritional balance of the medium. Transplant quality was improved in peppers and eggplants while tomato transplant quality was slightly reduced. There were no significant differences in field performance.

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Tara Auxt Baugher and Stephen S. Miller

A 2-year study was designed to test the effect of four growth-suppressing treatments on the incidence of nectarine [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] pox, nectarine fruit quality, and the growth and nutritional status of nectarine trees. Root pruning was the only treatment that significantly reduced the incidence of nectarine pox. The percentage of red surface was increased by root pruning, foliar-applied paclobutrazol, and girdling. Root pruning and paclobutrazol suppressed extension shoot growth. Root pruning decreased fruit N, P, K, Mg, Mu, Fe, B, and Zn levels and increased fruit Ca. Results of the study support earlier observations that nectarine pox is associated with excessive shoot growth, excessive levels of fruit N and K, and low levels of fruit Ca. Chemical name used: Beta-[(4-chlorophenyl) methyl] -alpha-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-l-H-1,2,4 -triazole-l-ethanol (paclobutrazol).

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Wayne L. Schrader

61 WORKSHOP 1 (Abstr. 1020-1035) Efficient Use of Minerals to Produce High Yield and Optimum Quality Fruit, Vegetables, and Ornamentals

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O. Smith-Kayode, Richard Thompson, and Yoshiko Yamauchi

Homestead and organic farming systems are the main sources of commodities sold at farmers' markets in Hawaii. Consumers are attracted because the products are generally accepted as safe and of premium nutritional quality. Markets were frequented by many groups, including senior citizens. Two models were studied in urban and rural Hawaii, respectively, to determine the support systems that make then function properly with special attention to the postharvest technology component of operations. Innovative preparation, presentation, and display methods were observed for bananas, ethnic vegetables, and herbs. Homestead and organic farmers work in the mornings and strict use of shade is significant in maintaining freshness from produce temperature standpoint. Hawaiian fresh produce distribution models that emphasize grower participation as found in this study could rapidly expand the horticultural industry and reduce postharvest losses significantly if adopted by developing countries.

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Curt R. Rom, Donn Johnson, Mark Den Herder, and Ron Talbert

Twelve apple orchards and an experimental orchard were evaluated in 2 years for weed population and diversity, primary pests (codling moth, oriental fruit moth, plum curculio and mites), primary diseases, soil water content, and 37 horticultural attributes describing tree growth, fruit growth, productivity, tree nutrition, and management intensity. Data were collected at 2 week intervals. The experimental orchard contained three apple cultivars grown in three orchard floor management systems.

Increased weed ground cover related to earlier and increased mite predator populations in trees, decreased pest mite-days, but reduced tree and fruit growth. Grass weed species appeared more detrimental to tree growth than broadleaf species. Tree training intensity was negatively related to canopy density, and incidence of pests and diseases. Reductions in fruit size and quality were more closely linked to weed competition, and earliness and degree of pest mite infestation than to crop load.

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Mary Lamberts, Teresa Olczyk, Phyllis Gilreath, Gene McAvoy, Alicia Whidden, Darrin Parmenter, Ed Skvarch, Yuncong Li, Christine Coffin, and Donald Pybas

Florida, like other states, is developing BMPs for specific commodities. Vegetables are in a statewide document that includes field crops. Vegetable advisory committee members from the counties in southern Florida were concerned that the existing document was too broad in its scope and that many practices did not apply to production on sandy or calcareous soils. Based on grower comments, extension agents organized grower meetings to address these issues. The first meeting was a presentation by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Water Policy. The second meeting in Miami–Dade was a hands-on session, where growers and industry were divided into three areas—nutrition, pesticides, and water quality. Each group was facilitated by a faculty member or the NRCS conservationist. Other counties used newsletters and other methods to receive grower feedback. Participant comments were compiled and forwarded to FDACS, where they are being incorporated into a greatly revised document. Concerns will be presented.

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Gary W. Stutte

Effective management of site variability has been shown to improve efficiency of chemical use, enhance of fruit quality, optimize irrigations and increase profits. Techniques for localizing and quantifying spatial variation through computer analysis of aerial imagery exist, but the detailed knowledge of soils, site history, and nutrition required for effective management of the variation often are not available in a readily accessible or timely fashion. As a consequence, the benefits of site-specific management have not been fully realized by horticultural managers. These limitations have been partially overcome by developing an information management system which integrates image analysis functions to identify crop stress, a geographic information system to relate stresses to resident and nonresident site factors, and custom spreadsheets that provide a cost/benefit analysis of various management decisions. The system allows a manager to visualize the probable impact of an intervention on variability, yield, and profits in a timely manner.

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Charles S. Vavrina and Doyle A. Smittle

Six onion (Allium cepa L.) cultivars were grown during 2 years to evaluate the effects of environment on bulb quality as measured by sugar and pyruvate (pungency) concentrations. Within each year, bulb fresh weight was not affected by cultivar; however, bulb fresh weights were 36% higher in a year when most of the rain fell during maximum bulb expansion. Total bulb sugar concentration and pungency varied among cultivars and years. Pungency was higher and the sugar: pungency ratio was lower in `Texas 1015Y' and `Sweet Georgia' than in `Dessex', `Rio Bravo', 'Hybrid Yellow Granex', and `Granex 33'. Under low S nutrition, market acceptance of “sweet” onion cultivars that vary slightly in nonstructural water-soluble carbohydrates may be assessed more precisely by the sugar: pungency ratio than by sugar or pungency assessments.