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Fred B. Phillips, James W. Rushing* and Brenda J. Vander Mey

The Charleston Area Children's Garden Project is a community-sponsored initiative affiliated with the Clemson Univ. Coastal Research and Education Center and the Landscapes for Learning Program. The Project transforms vacant lots and other unused spaces into neighborhood outdoor learning centers. Garden activities are free and open to all. The children plan, plant, and tend the garden under the supervision and guidance of adult Garden Leaders. Whatever is grown, the children take home. A “sidewalk learning session” is held in the garden each week. At these sessions, the garden manager, parents, neighbors, or visitors teach the youngsters about garden-related topics from insects to siphons, from origami to pickling, and a multitude of other topics designed to stimulate learning and child participation. The Project is designed to give children a hands-on learning experience outside the classroom setting, to make neighborhoods more attractive, and to build a sense of community. The Project is totally funded by grant monies and has grown from one garden in 2000 to ten gardens in 2004. Gardens are planted with the involvement of neighborhood associations, the Boys and Girls Clubs, the Homeless Shelter, and in conjunction with after-school programs. The Project makes use of such resources as The Growing Classroom and the Junior Master Gardener Teaching Guide. An array of program materials has been developed that are designed for use in the coastal communities of South Carolina.

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Jorge M. Fonseca, James W. Rushing and Robert F. Testin

The influence of temperature and O2 concentration on respiration and shelf life of fresh-cut watermelon was investigated. Product stored at selected temperatures from 1 to 30 °C showed increasing respiration and reduced shelf life with increasing temperature. Oxygen depletion and CO2 evolution were measured using a closed system method and rates of O2 consumption and CO2 production were computed. A mathematical model found to predict the CO2 production as function of temperature and O2 showed an elevated rate of CO2 production at about 14% O2 or lower. A modified atmosphere trial that compared product stored at 7 to 9 °C in air with product at either 14% or 8% O2 revealed increased respiration in the latter treatments, suggesting a relatively high anaerobic compensation point (ACP) at >14% O2. Our results suggest limited applicability of modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) for this product. Fresh-cut watermelon had extended shelf life and reduced respiration rate when stored at 1 to 3 °C and in >14% O2 atmospheres.

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James W. Rushing, Wilton P. Cook and Larry Spell

Water analyses from six commercial tomato packinghouse dump tanks in South Carolina revealed that metal and pesticide residues accumulate in the dump-tank water during daily operation. The amount that accumulated varied widely as follows: Asana (esfenvalerate), 0.3 to 13.8 ppb; Bravo (chlorothalonil), 0.1 to 2.7 ppm; copper, 2.0 to 7.3 ppm; and manganese, 0.1 to 2.5 ppm. Contamination appeared to be lowest when growers implemented integrated pest management (IPM) during production. In a subsequent controlled study, tomatoes were produced under the following pest-management practices: IPM protocol with pesticide applications based on scouting reports, modified IPM with one arbitrary pesticide application at bloom, and weekly pesticide application regardless of pest pressure. In a small-scale dump tank simulating commercial packinghouse operation, the water used for tomatoes that were produced with a weekly spray schedule had about 2 to 10 times the amount of pesticide and metal residues found in the water used for tomatoes grown under IPM protocol. Modified IPM protocol resulted in intermediate levels of residues. These results confirm that IPM field practices can reduce residues in tomato packinghouse wastewater.

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Desmond R. Layne, Zhengwang Jiang and James W. Rushing

Replicated trials were conducted in Summers 1998 and 1999 at two commercial orchards (A and B) to determine the influence of a metalized, high density polyethylene reflective film (SonocoRF) and aminoethoxyvinylglycine (ReTain), on fruit red skin coloration and maturity of `Gala' apples (Malus sylvestris var. domestica). There were four experimental treatments: 1) nontreated control; 2) reflective film (RF); 3) ReTain; and 4) RF + ReTain. RF was applied 4 weeks before anticipated start of harvest by laying a 5-ft-wide (150-cm) strip on each side of the tree row in the row middle. ReTain was applied 4 weeks before harvest at the commercial rate in one orchard and at 60% of the commercial rate in a second test. ReTain delayed fruit maturity. Fruit from RF trees had a significantly greater percent surface red color than fruit from trees not treated with RF. Fruit from RF + ReTain were significantly redder and had higher soluble solids concentration (SSC) than fruit from trees treated with ReTain alone. There were no differences in size, fruit firmness or starch content between fruit from RF and RF + Retain. RF appears to be a method to increase red skin coloration in `Gala' apples treated with ReTain without adversely impacting maturity.

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Desmond R. Layne, Zhengwang Jiang and James W. Rushing

Replicated trials were conducted during the summers of 1998 and 1999 at commercial orchards in South Carolina to determine the influence of ground application of a metalized, high density polyethylene reflective film on fruit red skin color and maturity of peach (Prunus persica) cultivars that historically have poor red coloration. At each site there were two experimental treatments: 1) control and 2) reflective film (film). Film was applied 2 to 4 weeks before anticipated first harvest date by laying a 150-cm (5-ft) wide strip of plastic on either side of the tree row in the middles. Treatment areas at a given farm ranged from 0.25 to 0.5 ha (0.5 to 1.0 acre) in size and each treatment was replicated four times at each site. At harvest, two 50-fruit samples were picked from each plot per treatment. All fruit were sized and visually sorted for color (1 = 0% to 25%, 2 = 26% to 50%, 3 = 51% to 75%, and 4 = 76% to 100% red surface, respectively). A 10-fruit subsample was selected following color sorting and evaluated for firmness and soluble solids concentration (SSC). All cultivars tested (`CVN1', `Loring', `Bounty', `Summer Gold', `Sunprince', `Cresthaven' and `Encore') experienced significant increases in percent red surface when film was used in 1998 and 1999. This color improvement ranged from 16% to 44% (mean = 28%). On average, fruit from film were 4.2 N (0.9 lb force) softer and had 0.3% higher SSC than control fruit. Growers harvested more fruit earlier and in fewer harvests for film. Fruit size was not affected by film. Reflected solar radiation from film was not different in quality than incident sunlight. Film resulted in an increase in canopy air temperature and a reduction in canopy relative humidity during daylight hours.

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Jorge M. Fonseca, James W. Rushing and Robert F. Testin

Fresh-cut watermelon cubes stored at selected temperatures within the range of 1.1 to 14.5 °C had decreasing quality shelf life corresponding with increasing temperature. At lower temperatures there was a random occurrence of chilling injury symptoms in some cubes that was associated with the section of watermelon from which the cubes were cut. Cubes removed from the top side of the intact watermelon fruit were more susceptible to chilling injury than cubes from other sectors of the fruit. Sanitizing cubes with chlorine (40 ul/l) or ozone (0.04 μL/L) solutions caused an initial reduction in microbial count, but, during storage, the effect diminished and became insignificant compared to controls. Overall quality was lower in cubes receiving aqueous sanitizing treatments, possibly due to mechanical injury occurring during centrifugation to remove excess solution. Overall quality of cubes exposed to UV light (≈250 nm for 1 to 5 min) was better than cubes receiving aqueous sanitizing treatment. The effectiveness of UV treatment in reducing microbial load was dependent on the amount of cube surface exposed to the light. The results emphasize the importance of preventing microbial contamination during processing of fresh-cut watermelon.

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Desmond R. Layne, Zhengwang Jiang and James W. Rushing

Replicated trials were conducted in summers of 1998 and 1999 at two commercial orchards (A and B) to determine the influence of a metalized, high-density polyethylene reflective film (SonocoRF, Sonoco Products Co., Hartsville, S.C.) and ReTain (Abbott Laboratories, Inc., N. Chicago, Ill.), on fruit red skin color and maturity of `Gala' apples. There were four experimental treatments: i) Control; ii) Reflective Film (RF); iii) ReTain; and iv) RF + ReTain. RF was laid 4 weeks before anticipated first pick date by laying a 5-ft-wide strip of plastic on either side of the tree row in the middle. ReTain was applied 4 weeks before harvest at the commercial rate in one orchard (A) and at 60% the commercial rate in the other orchard (B). At harvest, two 50-fruit samples were picked from each of four replicate blocks per treatment. All fruit were sized and visually sorted for color (1 = 0% to 25%, 2 = 26% to 50%, 3 = 51% to 75%, and 4 = 76% to 100% red surface, respectively). A 10-fruit subsample was selected following color sorting and evaluated for puncture pressure, soluble solids concentration (SSC) and starch hydrolysis. ReTain delayed maturity and reduced preharvest drop of `Gala'. Fruit from RF trees had a significantly greater percent red surface than fruit from trees not treated with RF. Fruit from RF + ReTain were significantly redder and had higher SSC than fruits from trees treated with ReTain alone. There were no differences in size, puncture pressure or starch hydrolysis between RF and RF + ReTain. RF appears to be a means to ensure greater redness in `Gala' treated with ReTain in South Carolina.

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Desmond R. Layne, Zhengwang Jiang and James W. Rushing

Replicated trials were conducted in summers of 1998 and 1999 at several commercial orchards to determine the influence of a metalized, high-density polyethylene reflective film (SonocoRF, Sonoco Products Co., Hartsville, S.C.) on fruit red skin color and maturity of peach cultivars that historically have poor red coloration in South Carolina. At each site there were two experimental treatments: i) Control; and ii) Reflective Film (RF). RF was laid 2 to 4 weeks before anticipated first pick date by laying a 5-ft-wide strip of plastic on either side of the tree row in the middles. Treatment blocks at a given farm ranged from 0.5 to 1 acre in size and each treatment was replicated four times at each site. At harvest, two 50-fruit samples were picked from each block per treatment. All fruit were sized and visually sorted for color (1 = 0% to 25%, 2 = 26% to 50%, 3 = 51% to 75%, and 4 = 76% to 100% red surface, respectively). A 10-fruit subsample was selected following color sorting and evaluated for puncture pressure and soluble solids concentration (SSC). All cultivars tested (CVN1, Loring, Bounty, Summer Gold, Sun Prince, Cresthaven, and Encore) experienced significant increases in percent red surface when RF was used in 1998 and 1999. This color improvement ranged from 16 to 44% (mean = 28%). On average, fruits from RF were 0.8 lb softer and had 0.3% higher SSC than control fruits. Growers harvested more fruit earlier and in fewer picks for RF. Fruit size was not affected by RF. The influence of RF on orchard microclimate and quality and quantity of reflected light will be discussed.

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Noida A. Biglete, Robert F. Testin and James W. Rushing

A triploid watermelon cultivar, `Crimson Trio' and a seeded cultivar, `Mirage', were shrink-wrapped in four different films: Cryovac D940, Cryovac D955, and Magellan film with and without a blended biocide. Unwrapped fruits served as the control. Fruits were stored at either 1.5, 10 and 21°C for three weeks plus an additional week at 21°C to simulate retail marketing. Total soluble solids (TSS) and pulp color measurements were taken after harvest and at the end of the storage period while weight, disease incidence, chilling injury and visual quality rating were monitored at weekly intervals. Results showed that the seedless variety have better postharvest qualities in terms of storage life, TSS and chilling resistance than the seeded variety. Wrapped fruits had less weight loss, higher TSS and better rind color than the unwrapped fruits at the end of the storage period. However, all wrapping treatments, including the biocidal film increased disease incidence compared to unwrapped controls. Also, wrapping did not alleviate chilling injury, which was most severe in fruits stored at 1.5°C and then held at 21°C for one week.

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James W. Rushing, Wilton P. Cook and Anthony P. Keinath

Transmission of watermelon fruit blotch was not observed during the first week of postharvest storage at either 11 °C or 20 °C when the diseased surface of an affected watermelon was placed in direct contact with the surface of a healthy fruit. Abrasion of either the diseased fruit, the healthy fruit, or both fruit did not facilitate transmission of the disease compared to unabraded controls. After 3 weeks' storage, disease transmission was significantly greater at 20 °C than at 11 °C, illustrating the importance of appropriate temperature management during postharvest handling. Harvesting appears to arrest the development of watermelon fruit blotch if the disease symptoms cover less than approximately 5% of the fruit surface at harvest.