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Samuel Y.C. Essah, Jorge A. Delgado, Merlin Dillon, and Richard Sparks

There is the need to develop potato (Solanum tuberosum) cropping systems with higher yields and crop quality. Field studies were conducted with cover crops grown under limited irrigation (<8 inches) to assess the effects of certain types of cover crops on potato tuber yield and quality. On a commercial farm operation before the 2006 and 2007 potato season, mustard (Brassica sp.), canola (Brassica napus), and two cultivars of sorghum-sudangrass (Sorghum bicolor × S. sudanense) were planted. A wet fallow ground treatment where no cover crop was planted was used as a control. Before the 2008 season, barley (Hordeum vulgare), barley plus applied compost, sunflower (Helianthus annus), pea (Pisum sativum), and annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) cover crops were added. The results of these 2006–08 studies showed that cover crops have the potential to increase potato tuber yield and quality, as measured by tuber size (larger tubers) and appearance (e.g., tubers with reduced defects such as cracks, knobs, and misshapes). In 2 of the 3 years, most of the cover crops, especially sorghum-sudangrass, increased yields and tuber quality. Positive results from sorghum-sudangrass suggest there is potential to harvest hay from cover crops and still obtain tuber benefits.

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Theodore J.K. Radovich and Matthew D. Kleinhenz

Volume measurements are useful in crop quality management because they offer three-dimensional estimates of commodity size, which is often closely related to commodity weight and density. The objective of this study was to compare volume estimates calculated with the sphere and spherical ellipsoid volume formulae with direct measures of volume via water displacement across a population of cabbage (Brassica oleracea Capitata Group) heads varying widely in shape. A total of 157 heads with polar (P): equatorial (E) diameter ratios ranging between 0.5 (flat) to 2.1 (tall) were harvested at horticultural maturity from plants grown in 2002 and 2003 at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) in Wooster, Ohio. The sphere formula underestimated volume in heads with P:E ratios <1 and overestimated volume in heads with P:E ratios >1. Use of the spherical ellipsoid formula reduced the shapedependency of volume estimates and was determined to be a valuable tool for the accurate, precise, and rapid measurement of head volume.

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William J. Lamont Jr

High tunnels have been used for many years worldwide, but in the United States, the utilization of high tunnel technology for the production of horticultural crops is a relatively recent phenomenon. Single and multibay high tunnels are used throughout the world to extend the production season. One big advantage of high tunnels in the temperate and tropical regions of the world is the exclusion of rain, thus reducing the amount of disease pressure and crop loss while improving crop quality and shelf life. In temperate regions of the world, high tunnels are used to increase temperatures for crop production in spring, fall, and sometimes winter seasons. The use of high tunnels in their many forms continues to increase worldwide, and many different kinds of vegetables, small fruit, tree fruit, and flowers are being cultivated. One impediment in determining high tunnel usage worldwide is the failure of many authors and agricultural census takers to distinguish between high tunnels and plastic-covered greenhouses. In many instances, they are presented together under the heading “protected cultivation.”

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Tasneem M. Vaid, Erik S. Runkle, and Jonathan M. Frantz

In protected environments, temperature is often regulated to produce ornamental crops for specific market dates. Temperature primarily controls plant developmental rate and thus production time, but it can also interact with light quantity to affect crop quality attributes such as flower number, branching, and biomass accumulation. We quantified how mean daily temperature (MDT) between 14 and 26 °C influenced quality characteristics of 15 common bedding plant crops. American marigold (Tagetes erecta), cup flower (Nierembergia caerulea), diascia (Diascia barberae), flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata), geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum), globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa), heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens), nemesia (Nemesia foetans), New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri), osteospermum (Osteospermum ecklonis), pot marigold (Calendula officinalis), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), stock (Matthiola incana), and torenia (Torenia fournieri) were grown under two mean daily light integrals (9.0 and 18.0 mol·m−2·d−1) in five environmentally controlled greenhouse compartments with a 16-h photoperiod. As MDT increased from 14 to 26 °C, flower or inflorescence number decreased for nearly all crops. In six crops, flower or inflorescence size decreased as MDT increased, whereas in five crops, there was an initial increase in flower size with an increase in MDT and then a subsequent decrease at MDT greater than 20 °C. In 10 of the crops, shoot weight at flowering decreased linearly or quadratically with an increase in MDT. Branch number was inversely related with MDT in eight crops and was positively correlated with an increase in flower number. We conclude that in a majority of the crops studied, plant quality decreased as the MDT increased, which can at least partially be attributed to earlier flowering at the higher MDTs. Therefore, there is often a tradeoff between faster crop timing and higher plant quality, especially for plants with a low estimated base temperature (Tmin) for development.

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Pierre C. Robert

The new agricultural system called soil/site specific crop management (SSCM), now more generally named precision agriculture (precision farming) is the start of a revolution in natural resource management based on INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND CONTROL: it is bringing agriculture in the digital and information age. New technologies in the early 80s, particularly the microprocessor, made possible the development in the United States of farm machinery computers and controllers, the electronic acquisition and process of spatial field data to build farm geographic record keeping systems, the production of soil/site specific condition and management maps using GIS, the positioning of machines using GPS, and the development of real-time soil and crop sensors, particularly yield sensors. The concept of precision agriculture originated from a better awareness of soil and crop conditions variability within fields. The variability of soil conditions within parcels in the U.S. has been demonstrated in many ways (soil survey, soil sampling, and remote sensing) for both soil nutrients and soil physical properties (e.g., available water and compaction). It is progressively found that the concept of precision agriculture can be applied to a variety of crops and practices; management technological levels; and farm types and sizes. For example, in addition to grain crops (corn, soybeans, and wheat), applications are now developed for sugar beet and sugar cane, potato, cotton, peanut, vegetables, turf, or- chard, livestock, tree plantation, etc. Precision agriculture is still in infancy but it is the agricultural system of the future because it offers a unique variety of potential benefits in profitability, productivity, sustainability, crop quality, food safety, environmental protection, on-farm quality of life, and rural economic development.

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Dave Llewellyn, Katherine Schiestel, and Youbin Zheng

A greenhouse study was undertaken to investigate whether light-emitting diode (LED) technology can be used to replace high-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting for cut gerbera production during Canada’s traditional supplemental lighting (SL) season (November to March). The study was carried out at the University of Guelph’s research greenhouse, using concurrent replications of SL treatments within the same growing environment. LED (85% red, 15% blue) and HPS treatment plots were set up to provide equal amounts of supplemental photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) at bench level. This setup was used to assess the production of three cultivars of cut gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii H. Bolus ex Hook.f): Acapulco, Heatwave, and Terra Saffier. There were no treatment differences in SL intensity, with average SL photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) and daily light integral (DLI) of 55.9 µmol·m−2·s−1 and 2.3 mol·m−2·d−1, respectively. Flowers harvested from the LED treatment had a 1.9% larger flower diameter in ‘Acapulco’; 4.2% shorter and 3.8% longer stems in ‘Heatwave’ and ‘Terra Saffier’, respectively; and 7.7% and 8.6% higher fresh weights for ‘Acapulco’ and ‘Terra Saffier’, respectively, compared with flowers harvested from the HPS treatment. There were no differences in accumulated total or marketable flower harvests for any of the cultivars. The vase life of ‘Acapulco’ flowers grown under the LED treatment was 2.7 d longer than those grown under the HPS treatment, but there were no SL treatment effects on water uptake for any of the cultivars during the vase life trials. There were no SL treatment effects on specific leaf area for any of the cultivars. There were only minimal treatment differences in leaf, soil, and air temperatures. Cut gerbera crops grown with under LED SL had equivalent or better production and crop quality metrics compared with crops grown under HPS SL.

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Aparna Gazula*, Matthew D. Kleinhenz, Joseph C. Scheerens, Peter P. Ling, and John G. Streeter

In addition to their physiological and metabolic roles, anthocyanin (Antho) levels in lettuce contribute to visual and nutritional value-based assessments of crop quality. Although 7 genes are now thought to help regulate Antho synthesis, deposition and/or degradation in lettuce, the genetic and abiotic controls of Antho levels remain less well characterized in lettuce than other plants. Previous greenhouse studies demonstrated that Antho levels in diverse lettuce varieties are a function of temperature and lighting regimen. Here, three strongly related Lolla Rossa-type varieties (`Lotto', `Valeria', and `Impuls') varying in the number of genes controlling intensity of anthocyanins were subjected to differential temperature conditions in growth chambers to better discern the independent and interactive effects of temperature (T) and variety (V) on Antho levels. Fifteen day-old seedlings were placed into one of three chambers maintained at 20 °C day/night (D/N), 30 °C/20 °C D/N or 30 °C D/N. Antho levels were measured in leaf tissue collected 30 d after transplanting. The entire experiment was replicated twice. Although significant, the T x V interaction resulted from differences in the magnitude, not direction, of the change in Antho concentrations among varieties with changes in T. This suggests that T was a main driver of Antho levels in this study. Regardless of V, Antho concentrations were highest, moderate and lowest after growth at 20 °C D/N, 30 °C/20 °C D/N and 30 °C D/N, respectively. Likewise, regardless of T, Antho levels followed the pattern `Impuls' (three genes) > `Valeria' (two genes) > `Lotto' (one gene). Correlations among instrumented and human eye-based evaluations of color are also being tested in samples from both studies.

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T.J.K. Radovich*, M.D. Kleinhenz, J.G. Streeter, and M.A. Bennett

Cabbage (cv. Bravo) was grown in 2002 and 2003 at The Ohio State Univ., Ohio Agricultural Research and development Center in Wooster, Ohio. The four irrigation treatments, arranged in a RCB design, were: 1) irrigation throughout development [no stress (NS)], 2) irrigation only during head development [frame stress (FS)], 3) irrigation only during frame development [head stress (HS)], and 4) no irrigation [frame and head stress (FHS)]. Irrigation timing relative to crop stage significantly affected all head characteristics except density, with the greatest differences between cabbage receiving irrigation during head development (NS, FS) and cabbage not irrigated during head development (FHS, HS). On average, heads from NS and FS plots were heavier (38%), larger (15%), less pointed and had less volume occupied by the core than heads from HS and FHS plots. Combined head fructose and glucose concentrations were significantly greater in cabbage receiving irrigation during head development than in cabbage not irrigated during head development (47% vs. 41% dwt, respectively). Sucrose concentrations were significantly greater in cabbage not irrigated during head development than cabbage receiving irrigation during head development (8% vs. 6% dwt, respectively). The higher ratio of sucrose: fructose+glucose observed in HS and FHS relative to NS and FS treatments was interpreted as an osmo-regulatory response with potential implications for cabbage flavor. Overall, it was concluded that physiological responses elicited in cabbage by differential irrigation can affect important head traits, and that targeted applications of water during specific stages of crop development may be utilized to maximize water use efficiency and crop quality.

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Matthew D. Kleinhenz, Aparna Gazula, Joseph C. Scheerens, and Darla G. French

Shading effects on chlorophyll a (ChlA), chlorophyll b (ChlB) and anthocyanin (Antho) concentrations were examined at three developmental stages in four varieties of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) grown under contrasting temperature regimens in the greenhouse. Seedlings were transplanted to pots and grown at 30 °C (86.0 °F) day/night (D/N) (Study 1) or 30/18 °C (86.0/64.4 °F) D/N (Study 2). One-half of all plants in each study were positioned under bottomless shade boxes which reduced incoming light intensity by 50%. Pigment concentrations were measured in leaf tissue 9, 16, and 23 days after transplanting. Each study was repeated twice. Regardless of temperature regimen, variety influenced all pigment concentrations, while shading affected, primarily, Antho concentrations. ChlA and ChlB concentrations were influenced by growth stage. In Study 1, chlorophyll concentrations were significantly greater in `Green Vision' than `New Red Fire' or `Rolina', but not `Galactic'. Also, Antho concentrations were significantly greater in `Galactic' than the other varieties. In Study 2, chlorophyll concentrations were greatest in `Green Vision', with similar concentrations among the remaining varieties. Antho concentrations were greatest in `Galactic', intermediate in `New Red Fire' and `Rolina', and lowest in `Green Vision'. Shading significantly reduced Antho concentrations in `Galactic' and `Rolina' under both temperature regimens and `New Red Fire' at 30/18 °C D/N, but increased Antho concentrations in `Green Vision'. Chlorophyll concentrations tended to decrease with plant age. Pigment concentration data clarified what was apparent to the unaided eye—namely, that the amount and intensity of green and red color varied among plants subjected to different shading and temperature treatments. Therefore, these data may aid in developing strategies to achieve targeted levels of pigmentation (especially red) in lettuce, an important criterion of crop quality and potential market value.

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T.J.K. Radovich*, J.G. Streeter, P.P. Ling, and M.D. Kleinhenz

Clarifying the influence of abiotic environmental factors on the glucosinolate-myrosinase complex in vegetables of the Brassicaceae is an important step in understanding physiological processes that affect crop quality. Previous related work in this lab has shown that irrigation timing in the field may influence physical-, chemical- and sensory-based indicators of cabbage quality. The objective of this study was to record glucosinolate concentrations and myrosinase activity in crop tissues from plants subjected to varying soil moisture levels, employing radish as a model. Plants of cv. Belle Glade were grown in a controlled environment system designed at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, Ohio for maintenance of target soil moisture levels. Pots were maintained at three soil moisture ranges, 40% to 60% (A), 20% to 30% (B) and 10% to 20% (C) volumetric soil moisture content at 30 °C. Preliminary observations revealed that treatments A, B and C corresponded to soil tensions which were not stressful, moderately stressful, and severely stressful to plants, respectively. Pot evapotranspiration, leaf stomatal conductance and plant size followed the order A>B>C, while canopy temperatures followed the order C>B>A. In leaves, glucosinolate concentrations and myrosinase activity were about 15% greater in treatments B and C than in A, while glucosinolate levels and myrosinase activity were 28 and 50% lower in hypocotyls and roots, respectively, in C than in A. It is hypothesized that changes in enzyme and substrate synthesis and translocation within the plant in response to sub-optimal soil moisture levels may explain the differential response of tissue glucosinolate concentrations and myrosinase activity to soil moisture treatments.