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Luther C. Carson, Monica Ozores-Hampton, Kelly T. Morgan, and Steven A. Sargent

Controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) use is a best management practice that may reduce nitrogen (N) loss to the environment. Several factors affect CRF nutrient release; therefore, including CRF in a fertilization program may have challenges. Thus, the study objective was to evaluate the effects of CRF N rate, source, release duration, and placement on seepage-irrigated marketable tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) yield, leaf tissue N (LTN) concentration, post-season soil N content, and postharvest fruit firmness and color. There were two soluble fertilizer (SF) controls [University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences (UF/IFAS) (224 kg·ha−1) and grower standard (280 kg·ha−1)] and six and seven CRF treatments (alone or in combination with SF) in Fall 2011 and 2012, respectively. Cumulative rainfall totaled 31.4 and 37.4 cm during the 2011 and 2012 seasons with average air temperatures of 22.4 and 22.1 °C, respectively. Soil temperatures ranged from 14.2 to 40.6 °C in 2011 and 11.1 to 36.6 °C in 2012 with a strong correlation (r = 0.95) to air temperature. Controlled-release urea resulted in 7.5% to 17.9% plant mortality in 2011 and reduced yields in 2012 compared with CRF N–phosphorus–potassium (NPK) at a similar N rate. LTN concentrations were above or within the sufficiency range for all treatments. In 2011, using CRF-urea at 190 kg·ha−1 N produced similar marketable tomato yield in all fruit categories except season total large tomatoes, which produced significantly fewer marketable tomatoes with 13.5 Mg·ha−1 compared with UF/IFAS and grower standard with 17.9 and 14.2 Mg·ha−1, respectively. In 2012, CRF-NPK (168 kg·ha−1 N) significantly reduced first and second harvest combined large and season total large and total marketable yields compared with the UF/IFAS rate and grower standard treatments. Marketable yield was not significantly affected by CRF (urea or NPK) release duration, but CRF-NPK 180-day release duration significantly increased residual soil N in 2012 compared with CRF-NPK 120-day release with 74.2 and 34.3 kg·ha−1 N, respectively. Rototilling CRF-urea into the bed, which was only evaluated in 2011, significantly increased total season yields compared with CRF-urea broadcast in row before bedding (BIR) with 43.0 and 46.5 Mg·ha−1, respectively. There were no significant yield differences when 50% or 75% of the total N was CRF placed in the hybrid fertilizer system, which is a system with CRF placed BIR with the remaining N as SF-N banded on the bed shoulders. No significant differences among treatments were found for total residual soil N in 2011; however, higher soil N remained in CRF (NPK and urea) treatments compared with SF treatments in 2012, except for Treatment 9. No significant differences were found among treatments for fruit firmness or color in 2011 or 2012. CRF-NPK at 190 to 224 kg·ha−1 N with a 120-day release may be recommended as a result of similar or greater first harvest and total season marketable yields compared with IFAS-recommended rates and low residual soil N. Further research must be conducted to explore CRF placement and percentage urea composition, although use of the hybrid system or rototilling may be recommended.

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Jiwon Jeong, Jeffrey K. Brecht, Donald J. Huber, and Steven A. Sargent

A study was conducted to determine the effect of 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) on textural changes in fresh-cut tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum, Mill.) slices during storage at 5 °C. The relationship between fruit developmental stage and tissue watersoaking development was also determined. Fresh-cut tomato slices prepared from light-red fruit that had been exposed to 1-MCP (1 μL·L-1 for 24 h at 5 °C) retained significantly higher pericarp firmness during storage at 5 °C for 10 d than slices from nontreated fruit or slices stored at 10 or 15 °C and they also had a significantly higher ethylene production maximum. 1-MCP (1 or 10 μL·L-1 for 24 h at 5 °C) had no affect on the firmness of fresh-cut, red tomato slices at 5 °C or on slices prepared from 5 °C-stored, intact red tomatoes. Nor did 1-MCP treatment have a significant effect on electrolyte leakage of tomato slices or intact fruit stored at 5 °C. Slices from fruit of the same developmental stage but with higher initial firmness values had less watersoaking development and responded better to 1-MCP treatment during 8 d storage at 5 °C. 1-MCP (1 μL·L-1) was more effective in reducing watersoaking in light red stage tomato slices when applied at 5 °C for 24 h compared with 1-MCP applied at 10 or 15 °C. Watersoaking development was also more rapid in fresh-cut tomato slices as initial fruit ripeness advanced from breaker to red stage. Our results suggest that watersoaking development in fresh-cut tomato slices is an ethylene-mediated symptom of senescence and not a symptom of chilling injury as had previously been proposed.

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Celso L. Moretti, Steven A. Sargent, Donald J. Huber, and Rolf Puschmann

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum L.) fruits, cv. Solarset, were harvested at the mature-green stage and treated with 50 μL/L ethylene at 20C. Breaker fruits (<10% red coloration) were dropped from 40 cm onto a smooth, solid surface and held along with undropped fruits at 20°C and 85% relative humidity. At table-ripe stage, pericarp, placental, and locular tissue were individually excised and analyzed for total carotenoids, total soluble sugars, soluble solids content, titratable acidity, density (locule tissue), polygalacturonase activity, and electrolyte efflux (pericarp tissue). Internal bruising caused by impact forces significantly affected pericarp and locule tissues, but not placental tissue. For bruised locule tissue, total carotenoids content decreased by 37.1%, vitamin C content by 15.6%, and titratable acidity by 15.3% as compared to control. However, density was increased by 3.0%. For bruised pericarp tissue, vitamin C content decreased by 16.5%, while polygalacturonase activity and electrolyte efflux increased by 33.3% and 24.8%, respectively. The development of abnormal ripening following an impact was confined to locule and pericarp tissues and appears to be related to the disruption of cellular structure and stimulation of enzymic activity.

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Camille Esmel*, John R. Duval, E.H. Simonne, and Steven A. Sargent

Strawberries are a high value commodity with a short shelf life. Florida is the largest producer of winter strawberries in the United States with 2,790 hectares of production, 90% are located in Hillsborough County. Many Florida growers apply additional calcium (Ca) as a foliar spray despite the lack of conclusive evidence of an increase in fruit quality or yield. It is believed that additional Ca will improve cell wall integrity through Ca linkages with pectins with in the cell wall and increase fruit firmness. Preharvest applications of calcium chloride have shown to delay the ripening of strawberry fruit and mold development. The objectives of this two year study were to determine the effects of Ca on yield, growth, and postharvest quality of strawberry when applied to the soil or as a foliar spray. `Sweet Charlie' strawberry plants were grown on a Seffner fine sand in Dover, Fla. The experimental design was a split-block replicated four times with soil and foliar Ca applications. Main plots consisted of a broadcast preplant incorporation of gypsum (calcium sulfate) 0 kg·ha-1, 36.7 kg·ha-1, and 73.4 kg·ha-1. Sub-plots consisted of foliar applications of 400 mg·L-1 Ca from calcium sulfate, 400 and 800 mg·L-1 Ca from calcium chloride and a water control applied weekly throughout the 2002-03 and 2003-04 growing season. Yield data was collected twice weekly through out the growing season. Fruits were graded for quality based upon size, visual appearance of pathogens degradation, frost/water damage, and misshapen form. Calcium content was determined for leaves, fruit, and calyxes in January and March. Postharvest quality evaluations of pH, titratable acidy, soluble solids, and firmness (Instron 4411) were determined in January and March.

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Luther C. Carson, Monica Ozores-Hampton, Kelly T. Morgan, and Steven A. Sargent

Florida best management practices include the use of controlled-release fertilizers (CRFs), which are soluble nutrients coated with a resin, polymer, sulfur, or a polymer covering a sulfur-coated urea. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of three CRFs (coated, homogenized NH4NO3 and urea, and coated KNO3) rates in a hybrid CRF/soluble nitrogen fertilizer (SNF) system and two SNF rates [University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (UF/IFAS) and grower standard] on seepage-irrigated fall tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) yields, leaf-tissue nitrogen (LTN) concentration, postseason soil nitrogen (N) content, and postharvest fruit quality. Treatments of 112, 168, and 224 kg·ha−1 CRF N plus 56 kg·ha−1 SNF for total N of 168 (CRF112/SNF56), 224, and 280 kg·ha−1 were compared with IFAS (224 kg·ha−1) and grower standard (280 kg·ha−1) of pre-plant SNF. Tomatoes were planted on 29 Aug. 2011 and 3 Sept. 2012 on polyethylene mulch. Air temperature averaged 23.0 and 22.6 °C for the 2011 and 2012 fall seasons with 33.4 and 37.4 cm of rainfall, respectively. Soil temperatures ranged from 15.2 to 40.1 °C in 2011 and 13.6 to 36.6 °C in 2012. Leaf tissue N concentration exceeded the UF/IFAS-recommended sufficiency range for all treatments and sample dates, except CRF112/SNF56 at the last sample date of 2012. There were no differences in extra-large and total marketable yield at first harvest nor in total extra-large yield (three harvests combined) among treatments in 2011; however, total marketable yield for UF/IFAS, CRF112/SNF56, 168/SNF56, and 224/SNF56 was greater than that of the grower standard. In 2012, CRF112/SNF56 and CRF168/SNF56 had the greatest first harvest extra-large and total yield, but there were no differences between season total marketable yields. No differences between treatments were found for total N remaining in the soil postseason in 2011 or 2012. The grower standard, UF/IFAS, and CRF112/SNF56 were firmer at red ripe (less fruit deformation) in 2011, but there were no differences in 2012. In 2011, CRF112/SNF56 and CRF224/SNF56 were rated highest in red color among the treatments, and in 2012 there were no differences. A hybrid system containing lower and equal N rates (112 to 168 kg·ha−1 CRF N and 56 kg·ha−1 SNF56) compared with UF/IFAS-recommended rates produced comparable marketable yield and fruit quality.

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Steven A. Sargent, Adrian D. Berry, Jeffrey G. Williamson, and James W. Olmstead

Three southern highbush blueberry cultivars (Vaccinium corymbosum hybrids) were mechanically harvested (MH) or hand-harvested (HH) and commercially packed before storage for 14 days at 1 °C in two successive years. MH fruit were softer, had lower ratings for overall appearance, and lost up to 20% more fresh weight than HH fruit after 14 days storage. MH ‘Meadowlark’ had fewer soft fruit (<35%) during storage than either ‘Sweetcrisp’ or ‘Farthing’; however, the latter two cultivars had lower incidences of shrivel and weight loss. Fruit in the 2010 season were more susceptible to bruising than those from the 2009 season; however, soluble solids content (SSC), total titratable acidity (TTA), and ascorbic acid concentration remained constant during storage and between seasons. ‘Meadowlark’ had the highest sugar to acid ratio (25.0). Successful implementation of MH of southern highbush blueberries for fresh market will only be commercially feasible if harvest impacts are further reduced.

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Marcos D. Ferreira, Steven A. Sargent, Jeffrey K. Brecht, and Craig K. Chandler

Strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) fruit are very susceptible to mechanical injury and for this reason are normally field-packed. Fruit of three cultivars (Chandler, Oso Grande, Sweet Charlie) were subjected to forced-air or hydrocooling to reach pulp temperatures between 1 and 30 °C and then individually subjected to compression and impact forces representative of commercial handling operations. Strawberries with a pulp temperature of 24 °C exhibited sensitivity to compression but greater resistance to impacts. As pulp temperature decreased, fruit were less susceptible to compression as shown by up to 60% reduction in bruise volume. In contrast, strawberries at 1 °C pulp temperature had more severe impact bruising with up to 93% larger bruise volume than at 24 °C depending on the cultivar. Strawberries also showed different impact bruise susceptibility depending on the cooling method. Impacted fruit that were forced-air cooled had larger bruise volumes than those that were hydrocooled. The impact bruise volume for strawberries forced-air cooled to 1 °C was 29% larger than for fruit hydrocooled to 20 °C, 84% higher than those forced-air cooled to 20 °C, and 164% higher than those hydrocooled to 1 °C. Because incidence and severity of impact and compression bruises are temperature-dependent, strawberry growers should consider pulp temperature for harvest scheduling and for potential grading on a packing line. Hydrocooling shows promise to rapidly cool strawberry fruit while reducing weight loss and bruising sensitivity.

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Raina L. Allen, Benjamin R. Warren, Douglas L. Archer, Keith R. Schneider, and Steven A. Sargent

Multi-state outbreaks of salmonellosis due to the consumption of contaminated fresh tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) have recently occurred in the United States. This study investigated the survival of a five-serovar (serotype) Salmonella cocktail artificially inoculated onto tomato and packing line surfaces when held at various temperature and relative humidity (RH) combinations over 28 days. Packinghouse surfaces included stainless steel, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), sponge rollers, conveyor belts, and unfinished oak wood surfaces. Packinghouse climates were generated to simulate conditions in Florida during late spring (30 °C/80% RH) and fall/winter (20 °C/60% RH) months. Additionally, survival of Salmonella on tomatoes in standard ripening room conditions (20 °C/90% RH) was evaluated. Recovery of inocula was by a vigorous shake/hand rub method. After 28 days, Salmonella populations remained detectable on tomato surfaces regardless of environmental conditions. Inoculated Salmonella populations tested at spring conditions declined to undetectable levels on all packing line materials by day 11, with the exception of the unfinished oak, which reached undetectable levels by day 21. In contrast, inoculated Salmonella populations tested at fall/winter conditions declined to undetectable levels on sponge rollers and conveyor belts by day 7 and day 21, respectively. Stainless steel, PVC, and wood surfaces supported the survival of detectable populations of Salmonella over the 28-day sampling period. Results of this study demonstrate the potential for Salmonella to persist on tomato and packing line surfaces under common environmental conditions.

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Abbie J. Fox, David Del Pozo-Insfran, Joon Hee Lee, Steven A. Sargent, and Stephen T. Talcott

Greenhouse-grown bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L. `Robusta') were harvested at five stages of maturation (10% red to full red) in early winter 2002 (Expt. 1) and at two stages (10% red and full red) in early Spring 2002 (Expt. 2). The fruit were subsequently stored at 20 °C in a continuous-flow chamber consisting of either 100 μL·L–1 ethylene (balance air) or air-only (control) at 90% relative humidity (RH). Individual fruit were removed from the chambers upon reaching full red color, and stored at –30 °C until physicochemical analyses were conducted. Harvest maturity, and ethylene exposure had no appreciable effect on pulp soluble solids content, total titratable acidity or pH. Exposure to ethylene hastened ripening time compared to the air control but was independent of fruit maturity at harvest. Fruit exposed to ethylene reached full-red color 6.4 days (Expt. 1) and 4 days (Expt. 2) earlier than air-only fruit, respectively. There were no significant phytochemical and antioxidant differences noted for total carotenoids, total ascorbic acid, and soluble phenolics at various maturity stages due to ethylene exposure. Appreciable differences were observed between the two experiments for phytochemicals and antioxidants, as bell peppers from the latter experiment contained at least twice the concentrations of phytochemicals and antioxidant capacity as those from the first experiment. Differences in these parameters between experiments were attributed to environmental factors such as average temperature, day length, and light intensity. Ethylene was demonstrated to be an effective postharvest treatment for accelerating color change in this bell pepper cultivar, permitting earlier harvest without altering phytochemical synthesis rates.

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Renar J. Bender, Jeffrey K. Brecht, Steven A. Sargent, and Donald J. Huber

`Haden' and `Tommy Atkins' mangoes (Mangifera indica L.) were stored in air, 2, 3, 4 or 5 kPa O2 plus N2, or 25 kPa CO2 plus air for 14 days at 15 °C or 21 days at 12 °C, respectively, then in air for 5 days at 20 °C to determine their tolerance to reduced O2 levels for storage times encountered in typical marine shipments. All low O2 treatments reduced mature green mango respiration (CO2 production), however, elevated ethanol production occurred in 2 and 3 kPa O2 storage, with the levels two to three times higher in `Tommy Atkins' than `Haden'. In contrast, `Haden' fruit at the onset of the climacteric also accumulated ethanol in 4 kPa O2 and produced 10 to 20-fold more ethanol in 2 and 3 kPa O2 than preclimacteric fruit. While there were no visible injury symptoms, off flavor developed in mature green fruit at 2 kPa O2 and in ripening initiated fruit at 2 and 3 kPa O2. Ethanol production was not affected by storage in 25 kPa CO2. Ethylene production was reduced slightly by low O2, however, `Haden' fruit also showed a residual inhibitory effect on ethylene production after 2 or 3 kPa O2 storage, while `Tommy Atkins' fruit stored in 2 kPa O2 produced a burst of ethylene upon transfer to air at 20 °C. Fruit firmness, total sugars, and starch levels did not differ among the treatments, but 2, 3 or 4 kPa O2 and 25 kPa CO2 maintained significantly higher acidity than 5 kPa O2 or air. The epidermal ground color responded differently to low O2 and high CO2 in the two mango cultivars. Only 2 kPa O2 maintained `Haden' color better than air, while all low O2 levels maintained `Tommy Atkins' color equally well and better than air. High CO2 was more effective than low O2 in maintaining `Haden' color, but had about the same effect as low O2 on `Tommy Atkins'. Results indicate that preclimacteric `Haden' and `Tommy Atkins' mango fruit are able to tolerate 3 kPa O2 for 2 or 3 weeks at 12 to 15 °C and that tolerance to low O2 decreases as mangoes ripen. Results also show that low O2 and high CO2 affect mango ripening differentially.