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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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Karen L. Panter

management to soil management to the various crops being grown with this season-extending technology. The colloquium objectives were two-fold. The first was to impart applied information on the commercial practices used to produce horticultural crops

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Donald Krizek, Patricia Millner, Mary Camp, David Clark, Mark Davis, Bryan Butler, John Teasdale, Deborah Fravel, Sara Reynolds, Ruth Mangum, and Ted Currier

Afield study of organic production of tomato (Lycopersiconesculentum Mill.) in high-tunnels was conducted in 2004. `Mountain Fresh' was transplanted 31 Mar.; `Ultra Sweet' and `Sun Leaper' were transplanted on 21 July. The primary objective was to determine the feasibility of obtaining two crops of fresh-market tomatoes by starting plants 4–8 weeks earlier than the average last spring-killing frost, and extending the growing season 4–6 weeks past the average first fall-killing frost. Plants were started at weekly intervals for 4 weeks in both seasons. Data and observations were recorded on the yield of marketable fruits, plant growth and development, and plant health. Other objectives were to evaluate: 1) the benefits of using a selective UV-blocking film on plant growth and development, disease events; and 2) compost amendments on soil improvement and disease control. Major cultural challenges included water management, soil texture/drainage, prevention of chilling injury, plant support, and adequate ventilation. Major disease/pest challenges involved stalk rot caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum in the spring, powdery mildew in spring and late summer, Alternaria and Septoria leaf blight in late summer, and aphids, tomato hornworm, corn earworm, and beet army worm also in late summer. In addition, macrofaunal intrusions by fox, mice, and birds occurred sporadically. Poor drainage and stalk rot in the spring necessitated relocating the tunnels to an uninfested site with better drainage. The fall crop yielded high numbers of marketable quality fruits, well beyond the 15 Oct. average killing frost date. The results suggest that with improved management, there is a considerable potential for profitable extended-season production of organic tomatoes in this region.

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H. Chris Wien

Flowering plants grown and marketed locally as cut flowers have become economically important in recent years, concentrating on species that are too delicate to ship long distances. Although the bulk of this production is done outdoors, extending the season at both ends by using high tunnels (unheated greenhouse structures covered with a single layer of polyethylene), has become popular. To determine the advantages and drawbacks of using high tunnels as season extension structures for cut flowers, variety trials of seven and four flower species were conducted in 2004 and 2005, respectively, both in a high tunnel and in an adjacent field. In the cool, rainy 2004 season, plants in the tunnel were ready for harvest 20 days sooner than the same varieties outside. Outside plants had 25% more stems than tunnel-grown plants, but there was no difference in average stem length. In the dry, warm season of 2005, tunnel-grown plants were 8 days earlier, and had 58% more stems, which were increased in length by 16% over field-grown plants. Lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) and snapdragons (Antirrhinum) were grown in both seasons, and gave similar results both times. Tunnel-grown lisianthus showed a 34% increase in stems per plant, and an 8% increase in stem length, and the stems could be harvested 8 days earlier. Snapdragons were 9 days earlier in the tunnel both years, but tunnel-grown plants produced 22% fewer stems. Disease and insect pressures occurred in both locations, but pest species causing problems differed. With careful choice of species to be grown in tunnels, cut flower production in this environment can be optimized.

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Guochen Yang and Paul E. Read

A forcing solution containing 200 mg 8-hydroxyquinoline citrate per liter and 2% sucrose has been demonstrated to extend the season for obtaining softwood growth suitable for use as explants in micropropagation (Yang & Read 1989). Forcing dormant woody stems in the off-season in this fashion also enhances the macropropagation of woody plant species by providing softwood outgrowth that can be rooted as softwood cuttings. GA3, IBA, IAA and NAA were incorporated into softwood growth which was later used as cuttings for rooting by adding plant growth regulators at various concentrations to the forcing solution. GA3 incorporated into the forcing solution hastened bud break, increased shoot elongation, but inhibited rooting of softwood cuttings taken from stems forced in this manner. IBA, IAA and NAA in the forcing solution exhibited typical auxin effects on rooting of cuttings by increasing root number per cutting and root elongation. In order to expedite macropropagation of woody plants, GA3 and IBA were added SEQUENTIALLY to the forcing solution. Addition of IBA to fresh forcing solution following initial use of GA3 in the forcing solution counteracted the negative effects of GA3 and stimulated rooting. This protocol is proposed as a method to assist propagation in rooting difficult species by softwood cuttings in the off-season.

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Barry Duncil and Robert Geneve

Wild rye (Elymus) contains several species of cool season grasses that are important components of forest and woodland ecosystems. Little specific information is known about seed dormancy in wild rye species, but cool season grasses generally display endogenous, non-deep physiological dormancy that would normally be satisfied by moist chilling during winter to permit early spring germination. However, few studies have documented the effect of extended chilling stratification on dormancy release in cool season grasses. Therefore, the objective of this study was to document the dormancy condition of representative wild rye species and to observe the impact of chilling stratification on dormancy release. Three species of wild rye (E. virginicus, E. macgregorii, and E. villosus) were selected based on their taxonomic and ecological relationships. All species showed conditional dormancy with respect to germination temperature. At 15 °C, E. virginicus, E. macgregorii, and E. villosus germinated at 75%, 81%, and 40%, respectively, compared to 5%, 3%, and 12% for each species at 20 and 25 °C. Chilling stratification at 10 °C improved germination compared to non-stratified seeds to 95% and 94% for E. m acgregorii and E. villosus, but had no effect or reduced germination in E. virginicus. Stratification at 5 °C was not as effective as 10 °C for dormancy release and appeared to cause chilling injury in E. virginicus and E. macgregorii. The data suggest that these wild rye species express a form of conditional endogenous, non-deep physiological dormancy that is most pronounced when seeds are germinated at non-optimal temperatures.

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D.R. La Bonte, A.Q. Villordon, J.R. Schultheis, and D.W. Monks

The influence of a black polyethylene tunnel cover (BTC) was evaluated for its effect on quantity and quality of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] transplants in plant beds in Louisiana and North Carolina. Use of BTC increased production of `Beauregard' transplants from 63% to 553% in comparison with the bare ground control. `Jewel' was less responsive; BTC treatments increased transplant production by at least 48% in Louisiana over the bare ground control, but no increase was observed in North Carolina. Individual transplant weight was at least 34% less in BTC treatments than in the control. The first harvest of cuttings in BTC beds was at least 14 days prior to that in control beds. Transplant quality was assessed as yield of storage roots in repeated trials that extended throughout the normal growing season. Yield of storage roots was not affected by BTC in early season plantings, but was frequently lower for BTC treatment transplants in middle and late season plantings. We therefore do not recommend this method as a means of increasing sweetpotato plant production from bedded roots.

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Aref A. Abdul-Baki, J.R. Teasdale, R. Korcak, D. Chitwood, and R Huettle

Fresh-market tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) cvs. Sunny and Sunbeam were grown in bare soil (BS), Horto paper (HP), black polyethylene (BP), hairy vetch (HV), crimson clover (CC), and hairy vetch plus rye (HVR) mulches. Yields were highest in HV (85.8 t·ha–1), followed by HVR 69.3 t·ha–1) and CC (65.7 t·ha–1), and averaged 47% above BP for the 3-year period. A 5- to 9-day earliness was exhibited by BP over other treatments. Fruit weight was significantly higher in all three organic mulch treatments than in the other three treatments. Mulch biomass was highest in HVR (5.91 t·ha–1), whereas N fixation was highest in HV (188 kg·ha–1). Tomato harvest was extended by the HV treatment over the BP treatment by 3 to 4 weeks, during which tomato prices were higher than those in early or mid-season.

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Sylvie Jenni and Katrine A. Stewart

Quebec vegetable growers are increasingly using agricultural plastics (plasticulture) not only for gains in crop yield, earliness, and quality, but also for weed control and water and fertilizer conservation. Curcubitaceae include heat-loving crops that respond well to plasticulture. Melons are among the most responsive of all crops because they are sensitive to both low soil and air temperatures and to wind, but are very tolerant of high temperatures. The objective of this project was to develop a bioeconomic model that will predict the yield and timing of a melon crop under a number of mulch/tunnel combinations, evaluate the profitability of each production regime, and establish the optimal combinations that will maximize profit and continuity of supply over an extended growing season. A compartment model representing state, rate, and driving variables will be presented.

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Douglas V. Shaw

The extended production season of strawberries raised in mediterranean environments depends on plant development that occurs during the winter months. Seedling genotypes from 20 bi-parental crosses and their nine parent genotypes were fully vernalized and grown at 11, 14, and 17C, to test for adaptation to growth at minimal temperatures. Genetic variance parameters were estimated and tests for genetic x temperature interactions were conducted for five vegetative growth traits. Highly significant (P < 0.01) genetic effects were detected for all traits, and broad-sense heritability estimates ranged from 0.09 to 0.41. None of the genetic x temperature interactions were significant for seedling genotypes, and interactions were significant only for leaf dry weights for parental genotypes. These results indicate a genetic basis for variable vegetative growth rates, but provide no evidence for specific adaptation to growth at low temperatures.