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Jacqueline A. Ricotta and John B. Masiunas

Black polyethylene mulch and weed control strategies were evaluated for potential use by small acreage herb producers. In both 1988 and 1989, the mulch greatly increased fresh and dry weight yields of basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.). Parsley (Petroselinum crispum Nym.) yield did not respond to the mulch. Preplant application of napropamide provided weed control for 2 weeks, but was subsequently not effective on a heavy infestation of purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.). Hand-hoed and glyphosate-treated plots (both with and without plastic) produced equivalent yields. Chemical names used: N, N -diethyl-2(1-napthalenoxy)-propanamide (napropamide); N- (phosphonomethyl) glycine (glyphosate).

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Jeanine M. Davis

Using various mulches for small-scale, commercial basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) production was examined. Sweet basil and bush basil, on raised beds with drip irrigation, were grown on bare ground or mulched with black polyethylene, wheat straw, hardwood bark, or mixed wood chips. Bacterial soft rot (Erwinia spp.) was highest for both basils grown with wheat straw and for sweet basil grown on bare ground or with back polyethylene mulch. Both basils grown with hardwood and pine bark mulches had few soft ret symptoms. All mulches provided acceptable weed control. Yields throughout the growing season were highest with black polyethylene mulch and lowest with hardwood and pine bark mulches.

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Mohammed Sarwar and Saleh A. Al-Namlah

Saudi Arabia is known for arid character and its total unsuitability for any agricultural exploitation. However; it is- now proving otherwise with the application of modern agrotechnology resulting in large scale production of many crops successfully. Considering the international growing demand of essential oils, need of agrocommunities for new crops, advantages of local warm climate and availability of generous government funding system, essential oil production offers immense potential in Saudi Arabia. This paper intends to describe the prospects of raising Pelargonium graveolens, Mentha arvensis, Artemesia pallens, Cymbopogon winterianus, Cymbopogon flexuosus, Ocimum basilicum, Eucalyptus citriodora, Rosemarinus officinalis, Coriandrum sativum, Anethum graveolens, Jasminum grandiflorum and Pogostemon patchouli successfully at various ecosystems and to establish new agroindustries based on essential oils around the Kingdom.

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Winthrop B. Phippen and James E. Simon

The importance of anthocyanins as a food coloring, UV protectant, inhibitor of pathogens, and medicinal compound has been well-documented, with more than 300 anthocyanin compounds being reported in plants. The Lamiaceae family, including sage, thyme, and basil, has long been recognized as a rich source of diverse and unique anthocyanins. Because purple basil varieties have become more popular in the ornamental and herb trade, we conducted a study to identify and characterize the anthocyanins present in eight varieties of purple basils (Ocimum basilicum) utilizing high-pressure liquid chromatography, spectral data and plasma-desorption mass spectronomy. Nine different anthocyanins were identified. Seven of the pigments were cyanidin-based, with cyanidin-3-(6”-p-coumarylglucoside)-5-(6”'-malonylglucoside) as the major pigment. Two minor pigments based on peonidin were also identified. Total anthocyanin content was also determined and comparisons made to other anthocyanin sources.

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John Masiunas, Elizabeth Wahle, Laurel Barmore, and Albert Morgan

A foam mulch system was developed that can be applied as an aqueous mixture of cotton and cellulose fibers, gums, starches, surfactants and saponins and dries to an one inch thick mat. This mulch may overcome the difficulty in applying and lack of persistence with natural mulches. Foam mulch also has the advantage of being able to be incorporated into the soil without requiring disposal like some plastic mulches. The objective of our study was to determine the effect of foam mulch and its color on weed control within the crop row and on yields of basil (Ocimum basilicum) and tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum). The foam mulch maintained its integrity for the entire growing season and provided weed control within the crop row comparable to black plastic mulch. The only weeds that emerged in the crop row were through holes in either the black or foam mulch. Foam mulch color did not affect weed control because regardless of color it did not allow light penetration andserved as a physical barrier impeding weed emergence. Basil shoot biomass was not affected by mulch treatment. Mulch color affected early, ripe fruit, and total yield of tomato. Tomato yields in the blue foam were greater than other treatments. Yields in the black foam mulch were similar to those in black plastic mulch. Further research is needed to characterize the effects of foam mulch on crop microenvironment. Currently foam mulch is being commercialized for use in the home landscape and other highvalue situations.

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C. Elizabeth Succop and Steven E. Newman

Fresh-market sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is in high demand from specialty produce markets and commercial restauranteurs. Many consumers are also demanding produce that has been organically grown. Three hydroponic media systems were evaluated twice over two years, rockwool slabs, perlite frames, and commercial sphagnum peat/perlite/compost medium, where the bag was laid flat on the bench. Plants grown in these systems were fertilized with nutrient solutions derived from either organic or conventional, saltbased fertilizer sources. Few differences in yield were detected between basil plants grown in the commercial medium with either fertilizer source. Total yield from plants grown in perlite with the organic fertilizer was 22% greater in the first study and 100% greater in the second study than those for plants grown with the conventional fertilizer. Plants grown in rockwool with the conventional fertilizer were 17% more productive in the first study and 46% more productive in the second study than those grown with the organic fertilizer. Taste test panelists (69%) could discern differences between samples from organically and conventionally grown basil plants, yet no preferences were shown.

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Diana L. Dostal and Arthur C. Cameron

Postharvest shelf life of fresh sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) at 5°C is only 3 to 4 d due to development of chilling injury symptoms. Plants chill-hardened at 10°C for 4 h daily (2 h at end of the light period and 2 h at the beginning of the dark period) for 2 d prior to harvest had 3 d extended shelf life at 5°C. Increasing the duration of preharvest chill-hardening did not further improve the shelf life. Plants were chill-hardened at 10°C for 4 h daily for one week at different periods during the day. Four-, 5- and 6-week-old basil were used in each of three consecutive runs. With the 4- and 5-week-old basil, chill-hardening at the beginning of the day extended average shelf life by 1 and 1.5 d at 5°C, respectively. Shelf life was either decreased or not affected by the other periods of preharvest chilling. Postharvest chill-hardening of packaged sweet basil for 1 d at 10°C before transfer to 5°C increased shelf life by 5 d. Postharvest chill-hardening has potential for reducing chilling injury of packaged sweet basil.

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M.C. Palada, S.M.A. Crossman, and C.D. Collingwood

Small-scale herb growers in the U.S. Virgin Islands traditionally water their crops with sprinkler cans and garden hoses. This method is inefficient and consumes large amounts of water, a scarce resource in the islands. Introduction of drip irrigation has reduced water use in vegetable production. Integrating this system with mulches may further cut water use, making herb production more profitable. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) was grown in plots with organic (compost or straw) and synthetic (black plastic or weed barrier) mulches. A no mulch control plot was also included. All plots were drip irrigated to maintain soil moisture at -30 kPa. Total plant fresh weight and leaf fresh and dry weights were highest in the compost mulch treatment. Fresh and dry basil yields in black plastic mulched plots were almost identical with those in compost mulch, but did not differ from other treatments. Black plastic mulch reduced water use 46% compared with 27% for compost or straw mulch. All mulch treatments resulted in increased water use efficiency. Organic mulches reduced surface soil temperature, while synthetic mulches increased soil temperature 2-5°C.

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Pamela D. Adams, Nancy Kokalis-Burelle, and William H. Basinger

Plantpro 45, an iodine-based compound, was evaluated as a seed treatment for management of fusarium wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. basilici on basil (Ocimum basilicum) in greenhouse assays and for effects on growth of the pathogen in vitro. Plantpro 45 at a concentration of 300 mg·L-1 (ppm) prevented fusarium hyphal growth in vitro. Seed treatments of 800 to 1000 mg·L-1 eliminated fungal contamination of seed and increased germination by 27% compared to the nontreated control. Basil transplants grown from seed treated with 400, 800, and 1000 mg·L-1 were significantly taller, weighed more, exhibited larger leaf area, and had reduced wilt severity in the greenhouse compared to the nontreated control. Transplants grown in soil treated with increasing concentrations of Plantro 45 had correspondingly decreased wilt severity, regardless of whether or not the seeds had been previously treated with Plantpro 45. Further research and optimization of soil and foliar applications in combination with seed treatments are needed to provide a complete program for management of fusarium wilt of basil.

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Manuel C. Palada and Stafford M.A. Crossm

The Caribbean region is one major source of most herbs and spices consumed in the U.S. Although the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) is part of the Caribbean, local production of herbs and spices does not contribute significantly to exports into the U.S. market. Nevertheless, culinary herbs area” important horticultural crop in the USVI and their sale provides income for many small-scale growers. Little research has been done to improve field production in the USVI. Inefficient cultural practices used by growers result in low yields. Lack of information on fertilizer rates, irrigation and pest control methods is a major constraint to high yields. In 1988, the Agricultural Experiment Station initiated a project to improve field production of herbs and spices in the USVI. Use of drip irrigation, mulching and fertilizers has improved yields of basil (Ocimum basilicum) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris). This paper will discuss crop management studies to improve culinary herb production in the USVI. Increasing production may help reduce U.S. imports of these specialty crops from other Caribbean island nations.