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Togo Shinohara, Shinsuke Agehara, Kil Sun Yoo, and Daniel I. Leskovar

Globe artichoke [Cynara cardunculus L. var. scolymus (L.) Fiori] has been recently introduced as a specialty crop in southwest Texas. Marketable yield, yield components, quality, and phenolic compounds of artichoke heads were investigated in response to three irrigation [50%, 75%, and 100% crop evapotranspiration (ETc)] regimes and four nitrogen (0 to 10, 60, 120, and 180 kg·ha−1) rates under subsurface drip irrigation. Field experiments were conducted over three seasons (2005–2006, 2006–2007, and 2007–2008) at Uvalde, TX. Irrigation was more effective than nitrogen (N) rates to optimize crop yield and head quality. Marketable yields significantly increased at 100% ETc compared with 75% and 50% ETc, whereas a 20% to 35% yield reduction occurred at 50% ETc across seasons. This yield reduction was associated with a decrease in both number of marketable heads and head weight and with reductions in plant physiological responses as measured in the last season. The lack of yield responses to N rates was in part the result of high pre-plant soil NO3-N and NH4-N levels. Total phenolics and chlorogenic acid of artichoke heads increased as the harvesting season progressed and were highest at 50% ETc during mid- and late harvests in one season. Based on these results, we estimate that under these environmental conditions, ≈700 mm (for a bare soil system) of water inputs and 120 kg·ha−1 or less of N (rate depending on soil available N) appear sufficient to obtain high marketable yields, superior size, and nutritional head quality of artichokes.

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Daniel I. Leskovar*, Darrin J. Moore, Libbie Johnson, Julio Loaiza, and Giovanni Piccinni

Regulations restricting water use, competition for water with large urban sector, coupled with extreme high temperatures have placed a large strain on farming areas in south Texas. In addition, consumer demand for healthy vegetables has increased. The objective of this work was to determine yield and fruit quality to deficit irrigation rates and irrigation systems on poblano pepper cv. Tiburon. In 2002, an experiment was conducted at the TAES-Uvalde with a Center pivot using three irrigation rates, 100%, 80%, and 60% evapotranspiration rates (ETc). Transplants were established on beds 1.0 m apart with plants within rows 45 cm apart. In 2003, we compared production efficiency of four irrigation systems in a urban-rural environment near San Antonio. Beds were 0.9 m (single-row) or 1.8 m (double-row) between centers. Irrigation systems were: 1) furrow irrigation with one line/single beds, 2) subsurface drip (SDI)-no mulch, with one line/single bed, 3) SDI-no mulch, with two lines/double bed, and 4) SDI-white mulch with two lines/double bed. In 2002, summer ratooning of the spring-planted crop under deficit irrigation (<100% ETc) allowed a fall crop with a 2.0 fold yield increase, larger fruit size (greater than 10 cm length) and significantly lower defects caused by sunburn or blossom end rot compared to summer production. In 2003, SDI-white mulch had a 2.4-fold yield increase and 760 mm water savings compared to furrow. Fruit vitamin C content was not affected by irrigation, however, mature red fruits had a 3.6 fold increase compared to mature green fruits. Combining deficit irrigation with ratooning we were able to produce marketable poblano fruits. Additional water savings and increased yield were demonstrated by SDI technology.

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Haejeen Bang, Angela R. Davis, Sunggil Kim, Daniel I. Leskovar, and Stephen R. King

Two loci, C and i-C, were previously reported to determine flesh colors between canary yellow and red watermelon (Citrullus lanatus). Recently, lycopene β-cyclase (LCYB) was found as a color determinant gene for canary yellow (C) and a codominant cleaved amplified polymorphic sequence (CAPS) marker was developed to identify canary yellow and red alleles. The inhibitor of canary yellow (i-C), as reported in a previous work, was not detected in our original family derived from a cross between canary yellow and red parents. To identify additional genetic determinants such as i-C, we prepared a new family using ‘Yellow Doll’ (canary yellow) and ‘Sweet Princess’ (red), which was reported to carry the inhibitor gene i-C as parents. A new distinct class of flesh color, pale yellow, was identified in the progeny from the new canary yellow × red cross. The predominant carotenoid in canary yellow and pale yellow phenotypes was neoxanthin, followed by violaxanthin and neochrome; pale yellow contained less total carotenoids, but had more minor carotenoids compared with canary yellow. The chi-square goodness-of-fit test indicated that there are two genes involved in determining flesh color among canary yellow, pale yellow, and red, but the segregation pattern did not fit the pattern as reported for an i-C gene. When the genotype of the family ‘Yellow Doll’ × ‘Sweet Princess’ was analyzed with our LCYB CAPS marker, the flesh color of every individual perfectly cosegregated with the marker. The new pale yellow phenotype also cosegregated with the marker linked to the C allele, indicating that the recessive py phenotype (pale yellow) must carry at least one of the C alleles for expression. Therefore, we propose to designate py for a pale yellow determinant along with C as a canary yellow determinant. A homozygous recessive py gene resulted in pale yellow flesh color in the presence of a dominant C.

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Kevin M. Crosby, John L. Jifon, Benigno Villalon, and Daniel I. Leskovar

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Haejeen Bang, Sunggil Kim, Daniel I. Leskovar, Angela Davis, and Stephen R. King

Gene identification and characterization can be utilized for the identification of respective functions and their relationship to flesh color inheritance. Phytoene synthase (PSY), which converts two molecules of GGPP into phytoene, is the first committed step of the pathway. Previous phylogenetic analysis of PSY has indicated that PSY duplication is common in Poaceae, but rare in dicots. Degenerate PCR and RACE were used for PSY cloning. Three members of PSY gene family (PSY-A, PSY-B and PSY-C) were identified. PSY-A shared higher identity with PSY-C than PSY-B. PSYC shared 96% identity with melon PSY. PSY-C also showed a high homology with tomato PSY1, even higher than PSY-A and PSY-B. It showed a similar gene expression pattern, so we propose that PSY-C is a homologue to PSY1. RT-PCR analysis indicated that PSY-B has a different transcriptional behavior from PSY-A, similar to tomato PSY2. Therefore, PSY genes appear to be under different regulatory mechanisms. Deduced protein sequence of PSY1 or PSY2 between species has higher homology than between PSY1 and PSY2 within species. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that watermelon PSY gene family is very distantly related. Watermelon and carrot PSY gene families did not appear to cluster as closely as in Poaceae or tomato. This indicates that watermelon and carrot PSY genes are not conserved as much as PSY in tomato or Poaceae. There was no particular pattern in phylogenetic relationship of dicots. Poaceae PSY genes showed a clustering into a PSY1 group and PSY2 group. PSY duplication in watermelon provides additional evidence that PSY duplication may be a common phenomenon in dicots. They are likely to be duplicated evolutionarily a long time ago, possibly even prior to the evolution of monocot and dicot divergence.

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Kevin M. Crosby, Justin Butcher, Kil Sun Yoo, and Daniel I. Leskovar

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Kevin M. Crosby, Richard L. Fery, Daniel I. Leskovar, and Justin Butcher

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Brian A. Kahn, Peter J. Stoffella, Daniel I. Leskovar, and James R. Cooksey

Cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] planters can produce variable within-row seed spacing. We determined whether precision planting of cowpea would produce a yield advantage over more random planting at the same rate. Studies were conducted from May 1992 to Feb. 1993 at three locations: Uvalde, Texas; Bixby, Okla.; and Fort Pierce, Fla. Seeds of the indeterminate, small-vine cowpea cultivars Mississippi Silver and Pinkeye Purplehull BVR were hand-planted at 42 per 3.15 m of row. Seeds within rows were either spaced uniformly at 7.5 cm [control, with sd = 0] or in one of two random sequences (sd = 4.8). At harvest, in Oklahoma and Florida, mean within-row spacings were similar, but sd values of random-sequence plots remained greater than those of control plots. Control plots averaged four more plants at harvest than random-sequence plots in Texas. However, seed yield (seed dry weight per hectare) and harvest index were unaffected by uniformity of within-row spacing at all three locations. Thus, precision seeding of indeterminate, small-vine cowpea cultivars seems unlikely to produce a yield advantage over more random planting at the same rate.

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Daniel I. Leskovar, J. Clark Ward, Russell W. Sprague, and Avraham Meiri

Restrictions on pumping water from underground aquifers are limiting vegetable production in Southwest Texas. To determine yield, quality, and water use efficiency (WUE) of muskmelon (Cucumis melo L. group Cantalupensis, `Caravelle'), six irrigation systems with varying input levels and their interactions with stand establishment (containerized transplants vs. direct seeding) were examined. Irrigation systems were: 1) pre-irrigated followed by dryland conditions; 2) furrow/no mulch; 3) furrow/mulch (40-μm-thick black polyethylene); 4) surface drip (0 cm depth)/mulch; 5) subsurface drip (10-cm depth)/mulch; and 6) subsurface drip (30-cm depth)/mulch. Field experiments were conducted on a silty clay loam soil during four seasons (1995-98). In 1995, marketable fruit yields were greater for subsurface drip systems at 30-cm depth than for furrow systems, with or without plastic mulch. Transplants grown with surface drip irrigation produced 75% greater yield in the 9-count fruit class size during early harvest than did those grown with subsurface drip (10- or 30-cm depth), but total yield was unaffected by drip tape depth placement. In 1996, the driest season of these studies, direct-seeded plants had higher total yields than did transplants; yield was greatest for direct-seeded plants on subsurface drip placed at 10- or 30-cm soil depth, and for transplants on subsurface drip at 10-cm depth. Soluble solids content was minimally affected by irrigation method, but was higher in fruit from transplants than in those from direct-seeded plants in 3 years. Across all seasons, the average water applied for drip systems was 53% lower than that for conventional furrow systems, and WUE was 2.3-fold as great.

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David W. Wolff, Daniel I. Leskovar, Mark C. Black, and Marvin E. Miller

The effect of zero, one, and two fruits per vine on plant growth and reaction to Monosporascus root rot/vine decline were investigated. In the first study, four cultivars with differing levels of tolerance were evaluated (`Primo', `Deltex', `Caravelle', `Magnum 45'). Vine decline ratings were taken weekly during the harvest period for 4 weeks. Treatments with no fruit showed delayed and less-severe vine decline symptoms. Temperature also effected vine decline symptom expression. In a Fall test, with lower temperatures during fruit maturity, symptoms were delayed in all treatments and often absent in treatments with no fruit load. Vine decline symptom expression is greatly effected by physiological (fruit load) and temperature stress. A subsequent study was conducted to more precisely quantify the effect of various fruit loads on shoot/root partitioning and vine decline symptoms. In addition to growth parameters root disease ratings were taken. `Caravelle', the most-susceptible genotype, was grown under differing fruit loads as mentioned above in Weslaco and Uvalde, Texas. As fruit load increased, root size decreased. Increased vine decline symptoms were observed under higher fruit loads. The implications on germplasm screening and breeding for resistance will be discussed.