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Kent E. Cushman, Richard G. Snyder, David H. Nagel, and Patrick D. Gerard

Evaluations of 21 entries (commercial cultivars and breeders' experimental hybrids) of triploid watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) were conducted in northern and central Mississippi during 2000 and 2001. The purpose of this research was to identify high-yielding, medium-sized triploid cultivars with good horticultural characteristics and consumer qualities for commercial production in Mississippi. Most entries were similar to `Tri-X 313' and had red flesh, oval shape, and a mottle stripe rind pattern. SXW 5052, `Triple Crown,' `Crimson Trio,' `SeedWay 4502,' and `Millionaire' produced the highest total marketable yields; however, SXW 5052 is no longer available. `Crimson Trio' produced slightly smaller-sized melons compared to other entries and `SeedWay 4502' produced melons with relatively low soluble solids concentration. Based on total marketable yield, average size of melons, soluble solids concentration, and lack of undesirable characteristics such as hollowheart, black and colored seed, and rind necrosis, `Triple Crown,' `Millionaire,' `Cooperstown,' `Summer Sweet 5244,' and `Crimson Trio' can be recommended as mid- to late-maturing cultivars for commercial production in Mississippi. Based on early marketable yield, and using the same criteria listed above, `Tri-X 313' and `Tri-X Carousel' can be recommended as early-maturing cultivars for commercial production in Mississippi. `Tri-X 313' exhibited only one undesirable trait, producing a relatively high number of black and colored seeds. `Diamond' had high early and total yields, as well as high soluble solids concentration, but it should be recommended only on a trial basis to determine its potential susceptibility to hollowheart.

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Richard G. Snyder, A. Brent Rowell, Thomas J. Koske, and R. Allen Straw

The protocol for agent training has always been for extension specialists to train agents within the same state in each aspect of agriculture. However, with ubiquitous cutbacks among universities, and extension in particular, it is no longer feasible for every state to provide expertise in each field. Consequently, agents cannot receive training in some specialized fields. With a partnership agreement from the USDA Risk Management Agency, the Greenhouse Tomato Short Course in Jackson, Miss., provided training for five to seven agents from each state in the region: Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi. Funding was made available to cover travel expenses, registration, and a resource notebook for 25 agents. As a result, these agents took part in 3 days of intensive training seminars, as well as a 1-day tour of greenhouses. Invited speakers from around the United States spoke to these agents, as well as current and prospective commercial growers from all over the United States. Topics included basics of producing a commercial crop of hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes, budget for establishing and operating a greenhouse business, marketing and promotion, principles of risk management, pest and disease identification and management, grower's point of view, heating, cooling, and ventilation of greenhouses, new technologies, diagnostics, recent research in greenhouse production, and alternative crops (lettuce, peppers, mini-cucumbers, galia melons, baby squash) for the greenhouse. With this training, agents from throughout the south-central region returned to their offices with the skills to assist growers in their counties to succeed in the hydroponic greenhouse tomato business. Complete information on the short course can be found at www.greenhousetomatosc.com.

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Neil V. O'Connell, Craig E. Kallsen, Richard L. Snyder, Blake L. Sanden, Paul W. Giboney, and Mark W. Freeman

Many citrus growers are hesitant to plant cover crops, particularly perennial types, because of possible increased frost hazard. To quantify the increased risk, temperature relations over a 3-year period were compared between areas in a `Valencia' orange orchard with and without a partial perennial cover crop. The partial perennial cover crop consisted of a mowed perennial planting along the double drip line hoses, and an annually fall-replanted unirrigated strip of groundcover in the middle between the tree rows. This partial perennial cover crop increased the frost hazard compared to uncultivated bare ground even when wind machines were operating.

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Richard Snyder*, David Ingram, Blake Layton, Ken Hood, Mary Peet, Mary Donnell, Gene Giacomelli, Joe Kemble, Pat Harris, and Frank Killebrew

The Mississippi (MS) Greenhouse Tomato Short Course has been held every March since 1989. The purpose of this 2-day, intensive training is to educate growers so they will be able to successfully grow greenhouse tomatoes as a viable horticultural business. With a mixture of experienced, novice, and prospective growers, it is just as important to provide current growers with research based, practical information, as to expose potential growers to the realities of the business, helping them make an informed decision before investing time and money. Beginning as a small program for a handful growers in the conference room at the Truck Crops Experiment Station, it has gradually grown in number and diversity of participants and invited speakers, depth of subject matter, and geographic origin of growers and speakers. The 2003 program had 142 participants from over 20 states and 4 countries, making it the largest such program in the United States. This is in keeping with the recent trend. The typical lineup of topics includes the basics of producing a commercial crop of hydroponic greenhouse tomatoes, the budget for establishing and operating a greenhouse business, marketing and promotion, pest and disease identification and management, and the grower's point of view. Other topics, varying year to year, include heating, cooling, and ventilation of greenhouses, record keeping, new technologies, biological control, diagnostics, and alternative crops. For 2004, the subject of organic production will be introduced. With targeted extension programming such as this Short Course, the greenhouse tomato industry in MS has grown from 15 growers in 1989 to 135 growers today, producing $6.5 million in annual gross sales. Complete information can be found at www.msstate.edu/dept/cmrec/ghsc.htm.