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Bernard H. Zandstra, William R. Chase, and Joseph G. Masabni

Pickling cucumbers (Cucumis sativus L.) for machine harvest were interplanted with barley (Hordeum vulgare L.), oat (Avena sativa L.), rye (Secale cereale L.), sorghum-sudan (Sorghum vulgare L.), or wheat (Triticum aestivum L.). Cover crops 3 to 5 (7.6 to 12.7 cm) or 6 to 10 inches (15.2 to 25.4 cm) tall were killed with sethoxydim. Cover crops seeded at ≈12 seeds/ft2 (129 seeds/m2) provided protection from wind erosion and minimal crop competition. Additional nitrogen to obtain maximum yield was required when small grain cover crops were interplanted with cucumbers. Barley emerged rapidly, grew upright, and was killed easily with sethoxydim, making it ideal for interplanting. All cover crops caused some cucumber yield reduction under adverse growing conditions.

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Haijie Dou, Genhua Niu, Mengmeng Gu, and Joseph G. Masabni

Consumption of basil (Ocimum basilicum) has been increasing worldwide in recent years because of its unique aromatic flavor and relatively high concentration of phenolics. To achieve a stable and reliable supply of basil, more growers are turning to indoor controlled-environment production with artificial lighting due to its high environmental controllability and sustainability. However, electricity cost for lighting is a major limiting factor to the commercial application of indoor vertical farming, and little information is available on the minimum light requirement to produce uniform and high-quality sweet basil. To determine the optimal daily light integral (DLI) for sweet basil production in indoor vertical farming, this study investigated the effects of five DLIs, namely, 9.3, 11.5, 12.9, 16.5, and 17.8 mol·m−2·d−1 on basil growth and quality. ‘Improved Genovese Compact’ sweet basil was treated with five DLIs provided by white fluorescent lamps (FLs) for 21 d after germination, and gas exchange rate, growth, yield, and nutritional quality of basil plants were measured to evaluate the effects of the different DLIs on basil growth and quality. Results indicated that basil plants grown under higher DLIs of 12.9, 16.5, or 17.8 mol·m−2·d−1 had higher net photosynthesis, transpiration, and stomatal conductance (g S), compared with those under lower DLIs of 9.3 and 11.5 mol·m−2·d−1. High DLIs resulted in lower chlorophyll (Chl) a+b concentration per leaf fresh weight (FW), higher Chl a/b ratios, and larger and thicker leaves of basil plants. The shoot FW under DLIs of 12.9, 16.5, and 17.8 mol·m−2·d−1 was 54.2%, 78.6%, and 77.9%, respectively, higher than that at a DLI of 9.3 mol·m−2·d−1. In addition, higher DLIs led to higher soluble sugar percent and dry matter percent than lower DLIs. The amounts of total anthocyanin, phenolics, and flavonoids per plant of sweet basil were also positively correlated to DLIs, and antioxidant capacity at a DLI of 17.8 mol·m−2·d−1 was 73% higher than that at a DLI of 9.3 mol·m−2·d−1. Combining the results of growth, yield, and nutritional quality of sweet basil, we suggest a DLI of 12.9 mol·m−2·d−1 for sweet basil commercial production in indoor vertical farming to minimize the energy cost while maintaining a high yield and nutritional quality.

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Haijie Dou, Genhua Niu, Mengmeng Gu, and Joseph Masabni

Understanding the responses of plant growth and secondary metabolite synthesis to different light wavelengths is important for optimizing lighting conditions for vegetable production in indoor vertical farms. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) ‘Improved Genovese Compact’ (green leaf) and ‘Red Rubin’ (purple leaf), green mustard ‘Amara’ (Brassica carinata), red mustard ‘Red Giant’ (Brassica juncea), green kale ‘Siberian’ (Brassica napus var. pabularia), and red kale ‘Scarlet’ (Brassica oleracea), which are high-value and multifunctional culinary herbs and leafy greens, were used to characterize the effects of red (R), blue (B), and green (G) wavelengths on plant photosynthesis, morphology, biomass production, and secondary metabolites accumulation. Light quality treatments consisted of three R and B light combinations, R88B12 (the proportions of R and B wavelengths were 88% and 12%, respectively), R76B24, and R51B49, and two white light combinations, R44B12G44 (the proportions of R, B, and G wavelengths were 44%, 12%, and 44%, respectively) and R35B24G41. Experiments were conducted in a walk-in growth room with a photosynthetic photon flux density set at 224 μmol·m−2·s−1 and a 16-hour photoperiod. Results indicated that the net photosynthesis in purple basil and green kale were positively correlated with B proportions (BP), and that higher BP increased the relative chlorophyll concentration in purple basil and red kale. In contrast, higher BP suppressed stem elongation and leaf expansion and reduced shoot biomass in all tested species except red mustard. Higher BP increased phytochemical concentrations but decreased the total amounts of phytochemicals per plant. For all basil and brassica (Brassica sp.) cultivars, the inclusion of G wavelengths decreased shoot biomass compared with that of plants grown under R and B light combinations with similar BP. Inclusion of G wavelengths stimulated stem elongation in green basil and green mustard under 12% BP; whereas it suppressed stem elongation in purple basil, green kale, red kale, and green mustard under 24% BP. The effects on phytochemical accumulation were species-specific for the inclusion of G wavelengths. Considering biomass production, nutritional values, and working environment for growers, a white light with lower BP and G proportions is recommended for culinary herbs and Brassica leafy greens production at vertical farms.

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Jorge E. Arboleya, Joseph G. Masabni, Michael G. Particka, and Bernard H. Zandstra

Dry bulb onion (Allium cepa) leaves may not dry down normally and bulbs may not attain dormancy during adverse growing seasons. An effective method of artificial leaf desiccation is needed to complement mechanical harvesting and onion conditioning for storage. Desiccants were tested in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003 on onion leaves prior to harvest, and bulb quality was evaluated after 5 months or more of storage. Carfentrazone, diquat, and paraquat desiccated onion foliage well but increased bulb rot and reduced the percentage of marketable bulbs after storage. Bromoxynil and endothall desiccated onion foliage significantly without inducing rot or reducing the percentage of marketable bulbs. Copper sulfate and pelargonic acid increased desiccation of onion foliage but were not sufficiently effective for field use. Neither reduced the percentage of marketable bulbs. If bromoxynil or endothall were labelled for onion desiccation, they could be applied 10-14 days before harvest to enhance natural leaf senescence and facilitate mechanical harvest.

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Xi Wang, Genhua Niu, Mengmeng Gu, Paul A. Baumann, and Joseph Masabni

Mustard Seed Meals (MSMs) are by-products of biodiesel and an alternative to conventional herbicides for organic farming. However, MSMs might also suppress the emergence of vegetable seedlings. The objective of this study was to determine the response of vegetable seedling emergence to different MSM types and rates applied as an alternative herbicide. Six types of vegetable seeds, onion (Allium cepa), two cultivars of lettuce (Lactuca sativa ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ and ‘Buttercrunch’), mustard (Brassica juncea), kale (Brassica oleracea), and Mizuna (Brassica rapa var. japonica), were sowed in petri dishes containing germination mix. MSMs (Sinapis alba ‘IdaGold’ and B. juncea ‘Pacific Gold’) were incorporated into the germination mix at 0, 88, 176, or 265 g·m−2. Petri dishes were sealed for 1, 3, 5, or 7 days after sowing. For onion, ‘Pacific Gold’ had a greater suppressive effect on seedling emergence than ‘IdaGold’. For kale and mustard, ‘IdaGold’ and ‘Pacific Gold’ had similar suppressive effects on seedling emergence, but ‘Pacific Gold’ delayed emergence of kale at 88 g·m−2 when sealed for 3, 5, and 7 days. For Mizuna, ‘IdaGold’ had more suppressive effects than ‘Pacific Gold’ on seedling emergence, while sealing delayed but did not decrease emergence percentage (EP) at the lower rate (88 g·m−2) compared with the control treatment. For ‘Buttercrunch’ lettuce, there were no differences in the suppressive effects between the two MSMs. For ‘Black Seeded Simpson’ lettuce, ‘Pacific Gold’ had more suppressive effects on seedling emergence than ‘IdaGold’ when sealed at the lower rate (88 g·m−2) for longer durations (7 days) or at higher rates (176 and 265 g·m−2) for shorter durations (1 and 3 days). These results suggest that MSMs might suppress vegetable seedling emergence when applied at high rates (176 and 265 g·m−2), and sealing for more than 7 days after sowing may strengthen the suppressive effect. Extending sealing duration at the medium rates could achieve similar weed control results to high rates without sealing.

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Luis A. Ribera, Marco A. Palma, Mechel Paggi, Ronald Knutson, Joseph G. Masabni, and Juan Anciso

This study investigates the potential impact of food safety outbreaks on domestic shipments, imports, and prices of the produce industry. Moreover, the compliance costs associated with new food safety standards were also estimated. Three case studies were analyzed to assess these potential impacts: the muskmelon (Cucumis melo) outbreak of Mar.–Apr. 2008, the spinach (Spinacea oleracea) outbreak of Sept. 2006, and the tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) outbreak of June–July 2008. The results demonstrate that the costs incurred by producers because of food safety outbreaks in produce are far greater than preventing such incidents.

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Patsy E. Wilson, Douglas D. Archbold, Joseph G. Masabni, and S. Kaan Kurtural

Canopy architecture, yield components, berry composition, pruning weight, Ravaz Index, and midwinter primary bud cold hardiness of own-rooted ‘Vidal blanc’ (Vitis vinifera × Vitis rupestris) were measured in response to balanced pruning formula treatments of 20, 30, or 40 nodes retained for the first 454 g of dormant pruning weight and an additional 10 nodes for each additional 454 g and three cluster thinning levels of one, two, and two+ clusters per shoot in 2006 and 2007. Although the pruning formula affected the distance between shoots along the canopy, and the number of count shoots per hectare, the canopy leaf layer numbers were unaffected in either year. Application of the pruning formula did not affect components of yield in either year. However, the number of clusters and yield per vine were affected by cluster thinning treatments where they increased linearly with the decrease in its severity, explaining 73% and 77% of total variance in yield in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Pruning formula or cluster thinning did not affect berry composition substantially. Cluster thinning improved the percentage of mature nodes on shoots before a killing frost in both years. Cluster thinning to one or two clusters per shoot also improved the lethal temperature killing 50% of the primary buds compared with no cluster thinning in both years of the study. Mature wood weight and total pruning weight displayed a quadratic response to cluster thinning where two clusters per shoot had the greatest weight for both, whereas pruning formula had no effect on pruning weight. Optimum fruit weight–pruning weight ratio was achieved with the 30 + 10 pruning formula and two clusters per shoot cluster thinning treatments in both years of the study. The results of this study provide valuable information for growers of interspecific hybrids such as ‘Vidal blanc’ in the lower midwestern United States as well as in other regions with long, warm growing seasons. Balanced pruning to 30 nodes per 454 g of dormant prunings and cluster thinning to two clusters per shoots optimized yield, maintained fruit composition, improved primary bud cold hardiness, and achieved an optimum fruit weight-to-pruning weight ratio of 10.0 kg·kg–1. Thus, this approach should be used for ’Vidal blanc’ in the lower midwestern United States to sustain production.

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Jose G. Franco, Stephen R. King, Joseph G. Masabni, and Astrid Volder

The inclusion of a smother crop used as a cash crop in an intercropping system may be an effective cultural control strategy for the management of weeds in organic production systems. In addition, a multilayered canopy created when intercropping species with different growth forms may limit germination cues for weed seeds and can allow for a more efficient utilization of resources that reduce competition to target crops from weeds. Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) was evaluated for its ability to reduce weeds in a low-input organic system in Texas when planted alone or in various intercropping combinations that also included peanut (Arachis hypogaea), okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), and hot pepper (Capsicum annuum). Watermelon significantly reduced total weed biomass when planted in monoculture and in all intercropping combinations compared with peanut, okra, cowpea, and pepper monocultures in year 1 of the 2-year study. Total weed biomass was reduced by 81%, 83%, 88%, and 92% in treatments containing watermelon on average as compared with pepper, peanut, okra, and cowpea grown in monoculture, respectively. Less effective weed suppression was obtained with watermelon in year 2. Pepper grown in monoculture had significantly higher weed biomass than all other treatments in year 2. Broadleaf weeds were effectively suppressed across all intercropping treatments in year 1, but nutsedges (Cyperus sp.) were consistently reduced both years, particularly when compared with monocrops with small leaf area such as pepper. The three and four species intercropping combinations consistently had high leaf area index (LAI) values, whereas pepper monoculture had significantly lower LAI values than all other treatments except for cowpea monoculture. There was a significant negative relationship between LAI and total weed biomass 33 d after last planting (r = −0.51, P < 0.01). There was a significant negative relationship between total weed biomass and total fruit yield in year 1 (r = −0.64, P < 0.01) but no significant relationship in year 2. Although findings were inconsistent in year 2 because of changes in precipitation amounts and in relative planting dates, these findings suggest that incorporating a multifunctional intercropping system that includes a low-growing vining crop such as watermelon or at least an architecturally complex mixture can optimize canopy density to reduce weed pressure from resilient perennial weeds such as nutsedge. This may offer organic producers another management tool for the control of perennial weeds.

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Kirk W. Pomper*, Joseph G. Masabni, Desmond R. Layne, Sheri B. Crabtree, R. Neal Peterson, and Dwight Wolfe

The pawpaw [Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal] has great potential as a new fruit crop. A pawpaw variety trial was established in Fall 1995 in Princeton, Ky. as a joint Kentucky State Univ.-Univ. of Kentucky research effort with the objective to identify superior varieties for Kentucky. A randomized block experimental design was used with 8 replicates of 28 grafted scion selections on seedling rootstock. Cultivars being tested included Middletown, Mitchell, NC-1, Overleese, PA-Golden, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, Sunflower, Susquehanna, Taylor, Tay-two, Wells, and Wilson. The other 15 clones were selections from the PawPaw Foundation. In 2002 and 2003, the following parameters were examined: tree survival, trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA), average fruit weight, total fruit harvested per tree, average fruit per cluster, total yield per tree, and yield efficiency. In 2003, 54% of the trees had survived, with `Susquehanna' (13%) showing the poorest survival. Based on TCSA, most selections displayed excellent vigor, with the exception of the selections: 5-5 and `Overleese'. Average fruit weight was greatest in 1-7-2 (194 g), 1-68 (167g), 4-2 (321 g), 5-5 (225 g), 7-90 (166g), 9-58 (176 g), 10-35 (167 g), NC-1 (180 g), `Sunflower' (204 g), and `Shenandoah' (168g), with the smallest fruit in `Middletown' (70 g), `Wells' (78 g), and `Wilson' (88 g). The selections `Wilson' (81), `Middletown' (75), and `Wells' (70) had the greatest average number of fruit per tree, whereas 4-2 (9), 5-5 (17) and 8-20 (15) the fewest. Yield efficiency and average fruit per cluster also varied greatly among selections. Several pawpaw selections in the trial show promise for production in Kentucky.

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Wesley Autio*, LaMar Anderson, Bruce Barritt, Robert Crass-weller, David Ferree, George Greene, Scott Johnson, Joseph Masabni, Michael Parker, and Gregory Reighard

`Fuji' apple trees [Malus ×sylvestris (L.) Mill. Var domestica. (Borkh.)] on five semidwarfing rootstocks (CG.4814, CG.7707, G.30N, M.26 EMLA, and M.7 EMLA) were planted at nine locations (CA, KY MO NC OH PA SC UT and WA) under the direction of the NC-140 Multistate Research Project. After four growing seasons (through 2002), trees on CG.7707 and M.7 EMLA were the largest, and those on M.26 EMLA were the smallest. M.7 EMLA resulted in more cumulative root suckering per tree than did any other rootstock. Yield per tree in 2002 and cumulatively was greatest from trees on CG.4814, CG.7707, and G.30N and least from trees on M.26 EMLA and M.7 EMLA. The most yield efficient trees in 2002 and cumulatively were on CG.4814, and the least efficient trees were on M.26 EMLA and M.7 EMLA. Rootstock did not affect fruit weight in 2002; however, on average, CG.7707 resulted in the largest fruit, and CG.4814 resulted in the smallest. Limited data will be presented on CG.6210, G.30T, and Supporter 4, which are planted only at some locations. Data for the fifth season (2003) will be presented.