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James A. Duthie, James Shrefler, Warren Roberts, and Jonathan V. Edelson

In each of seven field experiments, density of watermelon (cultivar Sugar Baby) plants was varied over the range 1000-9000 plants/ha by varying the distance between plants in single-row, replicate plots. Per unit area, reproductive biomass and marketable yield each increased linearly with density. An upper limit on these response variables at high density was not detected in any experiment. The rate of increase per 1000 plants/ha ranged from 1.1 to 3.2 Mg·ha-1, for reproductive biomass, and from 0.5 to 1.1 Mg·ha-1, for marketable yield. The linear effect of density explained >90% of the increase in reproductive biomass in most experiments. The effect on marketable yield was more variable because the marketable fraction of reproductive biomass often was highly variable. In most experiments, the marketable fraction did not vary systematically with density. The linear rate of change in the marketable fraction with density did not exceed 3% per 1000 plants/ha on average in any experiment. Intraspecific competition intensified rapidly as density was increased in some experiments. Intensity of competition appeared to vary among environments.

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Philipp W. Simon

Central Asia is the center of origin for many Allium species and a rich genetic source of wild relatives of onion and garlic. For this reason germplasm collections of cultivated Alliums have targeted the acquisition of seed and bulb samples from this region, and several plant expeditions from Asia, Europe, and North America have collected Allium germplasm in Central Asia. Central Asian Allium germplasm has been valuable both as raw materials for scientific research leading to published data, and as starting materials for genetic improvement of the crop. Utilizing this germplasm it has been possible to improve garlic so it can be bred like other seed-propagated crops. Several interspecific crosses have been made between onion and other Central Asian wild relatives and these crosses have yielded useful traits for onion improvement. Allium germplasm from this region has also been important in elucidating the systematics and origins of diversity in onion and garlic. By any of these measures, Central Asian Allium collections have been valuable. Challenges and successes in collecting, maintaining, evaluating, and using these collections remain.

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G. Schroeck, I.L. Goldman, and M.J. Havey

Since the 1930s, more than 130 inbred lines and 60 hybrid cultivars of onion have been released in the public sector in the United States. Other than breeder's reports from the period 1946-1965 and anecdotal information kept by onion workers, no systematic treatment of the pedigree of public onion germplasm releases has been developed. The objective of this research was to collect, characterize, and display the genetic relationships among more than 200 public onion germplasm sources used in the United States since 1931. Pedigree information revealed that most modern onion cultivars in the United States descend from a few open-pollinated populations brought to this country by immigrants. For example, selection in the open-pollinated populations Common Yellow and Silverskin by onion farmers in the eastern U.S. resulted in the formation of Yellow Globe Danvers, which was a precursor to virtually all Eastern storage onion germplasm in the U.S. Open-pollinated populations such Yellow Globe Danvers, Valencia, Sweet Spanish, Bermuda, and Grano formed the foundation germplasm for the first public U.S. onion breeding programs. Findings from this study suggest a relatively narrow germplasm base of public onion germplasm in the United States; however, this narrow pool coexists alongside significant gains through scientific breeding efforts, particularly during the past 75 years.

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Xin Zhao, C.B. Rajashekar, Edward E. Carey, and Weiqun Wang

Demand for organically grown produce is increasing, largely due to concerns of consumers about health and nutrition. Previous studies have not shown a consistent difference of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, between organic food crops and the conventional counterparts. However, to date, little consideration has been given to phytochemicals, secondary plant metabolites with potential health-promoting properties. We first discuss factors that can infl uence the levels of phytochemicals in crops, and then we critically review the results of published studies that have compared the effects of organic and conventional production systems on phytochemical contents of fruit and vegetables. The evidence overall seems in favor of enhancement of phytochemical content in organically grown produce, but there has been little systematic study of the factors that may contribute to increased phytochemical content in organic crops. It remains to be seen whether consistent differences will be found, and the extent to which biotic and abiotic stresses, and other factors such as soil biology, contribute to those differences. Problems associated with most studies tend to weaken the validity of comparisons. Given the limitations of most published studies, needs for future research are discussed.

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Mark W. Farnham

A collection of collard (Brassica oleracea L., Acephala group) germplasm, including 13 cultivars or breeding lines and 5 landraces, was evaluated using randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers and compared to representatives of kale (Acephala group), cabbage (Capitata group), broccoli (Italica group), Brussels sprouts (Gemmifera group), and cauliflower (Botrytis group). Objectives were to assess genetic variation and relationships among collard and other crop entries, evaluate intrapopulation variation of open-pollinated (OP) collard lines, and determine the potential of collard landraces to provide new B. oleracea genes. Two hundred nine RAPD bands were scored from 18 oligonucleotide decamer primers when collard and other B. oleracea entries were compared. Of these, 147 (70%) were polymorphic and 29 were specific to collard. Similarity indices between collard entries were computed from RAPD data and these ranged from 0.75 to 0.99 with an average of 0.83. Collard entries were most closely related to cabbage (similarity index = 0.83) and Brussels sprouts entries (index = 0.80). Analysis of individuals of an OP cultivar and landrace indicated that intrapopulation genetic variance accounts for as much variation as that observed between populations. RAPD analysis identified collard landraces as unique genotypes and showed them to be sources of unique DNA markers. The systematic collection of collard landraces should enhance diversity of the B. oleracea germplasm pool and provide genes for future crop improvement.

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J.B. Magee, B.J. Smith, and Agnes Rimando

Control of muscadine diseases is necessary to minimize yield loss and is especially important for highest quality fresh-market berries. In a systematic disease control spray program, four fungicides registered for grapes were applied sequentially at 10- to 20-day intervals from early bloom until just before harvest to five muscadine cultivars. Objectives of the study were to: 1) determine the effects of the spray schedule on foliage and berry diseases; and 2) study the relationship between disease incidence and resveratrol content of the berries. Resveratrol, a phytoalexin, has shown potential value in prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease and certain cancer processes. Foliar diseases were rated visually twice during the season. Berry disease ratings were made at harvest. All fungal foliage and berry diseases were significantly reduced by fungicide treatments. Resveratrol was determined separately on berry skins, seed and pulp/juice by gas chromatography/mass spectroscopy (GC/MS). Overall, resveratrol levels in berry skins from unsprayed vines were much higher than those of sprayed vines. Concentrations varied by cultivar and within cultivar by treatment. The relationship between resveratrol concentration in skins and total disease score or scores of specific diseases was not established. Seed resveratrol concentrations differed by cultivar but were not affected by the fungicide treatments. Resveratrol concentration of seed was lower than that of skins. Accumulation of resveratrol in juice/pulp was much lower than in skins and seeds.

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Margaret Cliff, Katherine Sanford, Wendy Wismer, and Cheryl Hampson

This research used digital images to explore some of the factors responsible for consumer preference of visual characteristics of apples (Malus ×domestica Borkh.). The images systematically varied in color and shape (Expt. A: 9 images) and type, shape, and background color (Expt. B: 10 images), while keeping apple size constant. Visual assessments of the apple images were collected from 144 consumers (Expt. A) and 165 consumers (Expt. B) in British Columbia (BC), Nova Scotia (NS), and New Zealand (NZ) using balanced incomplete block designs. Canadian consumers (BC and NS) preferred red apples over green or yellow. NZ consumers liked equally red and green apples, and preferred both to yellow apples. At all locations, consumers in Expt. A significantly preferred round and conical shaped apples to oblong apples. When the combined effects of type, shape, and background color were evaluated, NZ consumers rated the striped, round apples the highest, and least preferred both round and oblong, blush-type apples with yellow backgrounds. NS consumers tended to prefer blush apples regardless of type and background color, and BC consumers were more accepting of a range of apple types, shapes, and background colors.

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James L. Glancey, Edwin Kee, and Tracy Wootten

The vegetable industry is important to our nation as a provider of nutritious and safe food directly consumed by our citizens. It is also critical to a rich and vigorous national agriculture. During the 20th century, engineering innovations coupled with advances in genetics, crop science, and plant protection have allowed the vegetable industry in the U.S. to plant and harvest significantly more land with higher yields while using less labor. Currently, fresh and processed vegetables generate 16% of all U.S. crop income, but from only 2% of the harvested cropland. Yet, many of the challenges in production that existed a century ago still exist for many crops. Perhaps the most significant challenge confronting the industry is labor, often accounting for 50% of all production costs. A case study of the mechanized production system developed for processed tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) confirms that systematic methodology in which the machines, cultural practices, and cultivars are designed together must be adopted to improve the efficiency of current mechanized systems as well as provide profitable alternatives for crops currently hand-harvested. Only with this approach will horticultural crop production remain competitive and economically viable in the U.S.

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Stan C. Hokanson, Phil L. Forsline, James R. McFerson, Warren F. Lamboy, Herb S. Aldwinckle, and Aimak D. Djangaliev

Malus sieversii, the main progenitor of domesticated apple, is native to areas in Central Asia. To better represent Malus wild germplasm in the USDA–ARS germplasm collections, maintained in Geneva, N.Y., a cooperative project was initiated with the Republic if Kazakhstan to collect and assess that country's wild populations of M. sieversii and to develop more secure in situ reserves to complement ex situ holdings in the United States and Kazakhstan. To date, four exploration trips to the region have included participants from the United States, Kazakhstan, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. Four Kazkh scientists have toured USDA–ARS sites, exchanged information, and collected germplasm in the United States greenhouse screens of 1600 have revealed potentially new sources of resistance to apple scab, cedar apple rust, and fire blight. An isozyme analysis of maternal half-sib families from four regions suggests the populations of M. sieversii collected represent a single panmictic population, with over 85% of total genetic variation due to differences among families. The most recent collections in 1995 were directed towards more ecologically diverse regions, including a site (Tarbagatai) at the most northern limit for M. sieversii equivalent to northern Minnesota in the United States. Some trees in this region produced fruit nearly 70 mm in diameter with excellent aroma, firmness, and color. This germplasm is being systematically characterized for horticultural traits, pest and disease resistance, and molecular markers.

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Marietta Loehrlein and Sandy Siqueira

Landscape and garden use of Coreopsisrosea has been growing recently. With the introduction of the new varieties of Coreopsisrosea `Sweet Dreams' and `Limerock Ruby', there are increased opportunities for commercial sales. While plants can be propagated by vegetative means, seed production is generally less expensive, seed can be stored, and hybrid development depends on seed production. As a result, it is beneficial to understand the reproductive process of the plant. The purpose of this research was to investigate the reproductive development of Coreopsisrosea. This research also seeks to identify, describe and record inflorescence morphological characters, which could be useful in plant systematic and phylogeny studies. To this end, the anthesis process of pink tickseed, Coreopsisrosea Nutt., was studied in 100 inflorescences from 10 plants. Inflorescences were tagged when they were first visible and measured daily for a month. The following measurements were taken: number of ray flowers, inflorescence diameter, diameter of the disc floret cluster (head), timing of anthesis, presence of pollen, and the longevity of opened flowers. The inflorescence anthesis process was 19.8 (±1.6) days long and was subdivided into 13 stages of development. During the 20 days of inflorescence anthesis, the flower was open 27.5% of the time (5.4 days). When the disc florets started to open, they did so from the outer layer of the cluster to the center of the cluster; therefore, florets in the head did not mature at the same time. Micrographs were taken using a dissecting microscope (Cobra dynascope) to illustrate the entire process.