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Robert Stubblefield and Robert Wiedenfeld

A field study was conducted in south Texas in the spring 1990 to determine the effects of ground cover, planting method and drip irrigation rates on cantaloupe growth, yield and quality. Transplanting vs. direct seeding enhanced early vine growth with earlier yields, although direct seeding later caught up resulting in comparable final cumulative yields. Black polyethylene mulch also improved earliness but at the loser irrigation rate total yields were reduced due to deflection of rainfall by the mulch. Irrigation at .1, .3, .5, .7 and .9 times pan evaporation had little effect on final cumulative yields with exception to the .1 and .3 rates. Melon sugar content was highest for transplants with direct seeded melons becoming comparable only at mid to final harvest. The combined practices of transplanting and black polyethylene mulch resulted in a 14 day earliness advantage over the treatments that were direct seeded on bare soil although final yields were unaffected. No appreciable increase in soil salinity were found as a result of drip irrigation usage.

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Theresa Bosma, John Dole, and Niels Maness

Marigold flower pigments can be extracted and used as a natural source of food colorants in the poultry and dairy industry. These pigments impart an orange color to egg yolks and a yellowish color to dairy products. We examined four African marigold cultivars for their ability to be commercially grown and harvested mechanically. `E-1236' yielded the highest quantity of lutein (22 kg/ha), a carotenoid pigment, using a spectrophotometer for quantification. `E-1236' and `A-975' were the earliest flowering cultivars, 11 June 1998 for transplants and 9 July 1998 for direct-seeded, at 8 weeks after sowing regardless of field establishment method. `E-1236' produced the greatest number of flowers in a production season, both as transplants (68 flowers/plant) and direct-seeded (57 flowers/plant) at 363,290 plants/ha. Transplants resulted in two more harvests in a single season than direct-seeded plants. Subsequently, more flowers and petal material were produced for pigment extraction than with direct-seeded plants. A one-time application of ammonium nitrate (28.02 kg/ha) at mid-season did not significantly effect flower number, flower weight, or pigment yield. Experiment was repeated in 1999 with four cultivars, two field establishment methods, seven harvest dates, and five nitrogen applications.

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Charles L. Webber III, Merritt J. Taylor, and James W. Shrefler

design with five treatments and four replications repeated across 2010 and 2011. ‘Enterprise’ yellow squash, a fast growing bush-type squash with a 41-d maturity, was direct-seeded into single rows on raised 36-inch-centered beds on 21 June 2010 and 2011

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Sylvie Jenni, Pierre Dutilleul, Stephen Yamasaki, and Nicolas Tremblay

In order to investigate their relationships with brown bead, a data set composed of 48 variables characterizing the developmental rate, climate, and nutrients in the soil and in the tissues of heads of broccoli (Brassica oleracea L., Italica group) was collected from 328 plots (41 experimental fields over 3 year× 4 N fertilization level× 2 blocks). The four N treatments were 85-0-0, 85-54-0, 85-54-54, and 85-54-108, the first number indicating the N level (kg·ha-1) applied before planting; the second, N level applied 5 weeks after planting; and the last, N level applied 7 weeks after planting. Broccoli plants were either direct-seeded (26 experimental fields) or transplanted (15 experimental fields). Whether direct-seeded or transplanted, fast-developing broccoli plants showed a lower incidence of brown bead. More particularly, heads of transplanted broccoli plants experiencing warmer temperatures had a lower brown bead incidence and severity. A regular supply of water decreased the incidence and severity of the physiological disorder in both direct-seeded and transplanted broccoli plants. Low levels of Ca and high levels of Mg and K in mature broccoli head tissues were associated with a higher incidence of brown bead. Multiple-regression models were developed to predict the percentage of broccoli heads with brown bead for direct-seeded plants (R 2 = 0.76; n = 104), and for transplanted plants (R 2 = 0.69; n = 44). For direct-seeded broccoli, solar radiation between the button stage (head diameter of 2.5 cm) and maturity (head diameter of 10 cm), as well as soil and tissue Mg content, were among the first variables to enter the regression models. In general, more solar radiation and less precipitation translated into more heads showing brown bead symptoms. For transplanted broccoli plants, the minimum temperature from the button stage to maturity was a key variable in the prediction of the percentage of heads with brown bead and the corresponding index of severity.

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S.B. Sterrett, C.W. Coale Jr., and C.P. Savage Jr.

A systems approach that included production and economic aspects was used to assess broccoli potential as an alternate enterprise for eastern Virginia. Broccoli yield and head quality were improved with 96,400 plants/ha compared to 64,500 plants/ ha. While target populations for the early harvest were achieved with either transplants or direct seeding, plant establishment was significantly reduced for direct-seeding in the main-season harvest (85% vs. 95% for transplants). Increased cost of production with transplants resulted in reduced enterprise profit (before taxes) in the early harvest, while improved plant establishment and increased yield with transplants resulted in increased enterprise profit in the main-season harvest. The systems approach assessed market price risk through estimated revenue and yield risk, providing the information needed by growers for risk management decisions associated with broccoli as an alternate enterprise.

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Marshall K. Elson, Ronald D. Morse, Dale D. Wolf, and David H. Vaughan

High summer temperatures may reduce plant stands of direct-seeded fall broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. italica Plenck). The influence of constant and diurnally alternating temperatures in the range of 5 to 42C on germination and emergence of `Packman' broccoli was evaluated. Germination was defined as protrusion of the radicle from the seedcoat, and emergence as 10 mm elongation of the radicle. The range of constant temperatures from 10 to 30C for 14 days was satisfactory for 90% germination and 75% emergence. However, alternating temperatures extended the acceptable emergence range to 5/17 through 20/32C. Since soil temperatures in warm climates often exceed 20/32C during the summer, high-temperature inhibition of seed germination and seedling emergence is a potentially important factor limiting direct-seeded broccoli stands.

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Troy A. Larsen* and Christopher S. Cramer

New Mexico onion production will begin using mechanical harvesters in the near future in order to stay competitive in today's market. Past onion breeding objectives have focused on improving onions for hand harvesting instead of mechanical harvesting. Our breeding program is starting to evaluate germplasm for bulb firmness. The objectives of this study were to evaluate hybrid lines for their bulb firmness, to compare two methods of measuring bulb firmness, and to compare bulb firmness using two different production schemes. Bulb firmness of spring-transplanted and spring-seeded intermediate-day hybrid breeding lines was measured using a digital FFF-series durometer and a subjective rating of firmness achieved by squeezing bulbs. Bulbs were rated on a scale of 1 (soft) to 9 (hard). In general, these hybrid lines produced very firm to hard onions whether the lines were transplanted or direct-seeded. Bulb firmness of these lines measured with the durometer was greater when the lines were direct-seeded (74.9) than when transplanted (73.5). Conversely, when firmness was measured with our subjective rating, transplanted onions exhibited slightly greater firmness (8.9) than direct-seeded onions (8.8). For both transplanted and direct-seeded onions, durometer readings were weakly correlated in a positive fashion with our subjective rating. In general, durometer readings gave a greater spread in firmness measurements with a range of 69.6 to 77.8 in firmness values. Subjective ratings of bulb firmness ranged from 8.5 to 9.0. Depending on the firmness of evaluated breeding lines, our subjective rating system should be adjusted to better distinguish firmness differences between bulbs.

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John Caldwell and Maurice Ogutu

Greater plant diversity is associated with reduced insect pest pressure, but field-scale vegetable production systems incorporating plant diversity have been lacking. Cucumber was grown in 1998 and 1999 at the Virginia Tech Kentland experimental farm, by direct seeding or transplanting into rye/vetch mixture rolled to make a no-till mulch alternating with strips of vetch left to flower as a habitat for beneficial insects between cucumber rows, or direct-seeded into black plastic mulch between habitat strips or with bare soil between rows. Rye and hairy vetch were seeded at 56 kg·ha–1 each the preceding fall; only rye was planted in plots without habitats. A rippled coulter, cutting shank, and daisy wheels mounted on a tractor-drawn toolbar enabled a belt-driven seeder to seed cucumbers without pulling the no-till mulch. One hand weeding in cucumber rows at 3 weeks after planting (WAP) provided weed control equivalent to pre-emergence herbicide. At 3 WAP, no-till transplanted cucumbers had higher above-ground plant dry weights than no-till direct seeded cucumbers in both years, but, at 6 WAP, cucumber above-ground plant dry weights were equal (1999) or higher (1998) in direct seeded no-till than in transplanted no-till or black plastic mulch on bare soil. In 1999, Pennsylvania leatherwings, Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus DeG. (Coleoptera: Cantharidae), a cucumber beetle predator, had higher densities and cucumber beetles lower densities in no-till plots than in black plastic mulch plots, and bacterial wilt incidence was reduced in plots with habitat strips and no insecticide application compared to plots without habitat strips and four insecticide applications. Cumulative marketable yields in no-till were 59% higher in 1998 and 23% higher in 1999 compared to yields on black plastic mulch.

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K.L. Hensler, B.S. Baldwin, and J.M. Goatley Jr.

A bioorganic fiber seeding mat was compared to traditional seeding into a prepared soil to ascertain any advantages or disadvantages in turfgrass establishment between the planting methods. Bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum), bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon), carpetgrass (Axonopus affinis), centipedegrass (Eremochloa ophiuroides), st. augustinegrass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), and zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica) were seeded at recommended levels in May 1995 and July 1996. The seeding methods were evaluated under both irrigated and nonirrigated conditions. Plots were periodically rated for percent turf coverage; weed counts were taken about 4 weeks after study initiation. Percent coverage ratings for all grasses tended to be higher for direct-seeded plots under irrigated conditions in both years. Bermudagrass and bahiagrass established rapidly for both planting methods under either irrigated or nonirrigated conditions. Only carpetgrass and zoysiagrass tended to have greater coverage ratings in nonirrigated, mat-seeded plots in both years, although the percent plot coverage ratings never reached the minimum desired level of 80%. In both years, weed counts in mat-seeded plots were lower than in direct-seeded plots. A bioorganic fiber seeding mat is a viable method of establishing warm-season turfgrasses, with its biggest advantage being a reduction in weed population as compared to direct seeding into a prepared soil.

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Robert Wiedenfeld, Eden Hinojosa, and Robert Stubblefield

A study was conducted in subtropical south Texas in 1989 to determine the effects of planting method, polyethylene mulch, and rate of drip irrigation on cantaloupe growth, yield and quality. Irrigation at .25, .50, .75, 1.0, or 1.25 times pan evaporation had little effect on soil moisture or yield, with all water application levels keeping the soil close to field capacity. Transplanting vs. direct seeding enhanced early vine growth and caused earlier yield, although direct seeded plants later caught up and had final cumulative yields slightly higher than the transplants. Black polyethylene mulch also improved earliness and reduced the number of culls compared to bare soil, but at the lowest watering level total yields were reduced by the mulch due to deflection of the rainfall received. The combined practices of transplanting and polyethylene mulch caused approximately a 9 day earliness advantage over the treatment that was direct seeded on bare soil although final yield was unaffected. Soil salinity buildup may cause problems which would affect the position of the drip line and the frequency and amount of water applied.