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Stephen M. Olson, George J. Hochmuth, and Robert C. Hochmuth

Studies were conducted at the NFREC, Quincy, and AREC, Live Oak, Fla., to compare watermelon {Citrullus lanatus [(Thumb.) Matsum & Nakai]} plant establishment by transplanting and direct-seeding. Cultivars used were `Charleston Gray' in 1984, 1985, 1986, and 1989; `Jubilee' in 1988 and 1989; and `Crimson Sweet' in 1987 to 1990. Early yields were greater with transplants for all three cultivars in all years. With `Charleston Gray', total yields with transplants were higher in 1985 and 1989, but not in 1984 or 1986. The average fruit weights with transplants were also greater in 1985 and 1989 than in 1984 or 1986. With `Jubilee', total yield with transplants was higher in 1989, but not in 1988. Average fruit weight with transplants was greater in 1989 than in 1988. With `Crimson Sweet', total yields were higher with transplants in 1989 and 1990, but not in 1987 or 1988, but fruits were larger with transplanting compared to direct-seeding only in 1990. In all experiments, yields with transplants were never less than those with direct-seeded plants.

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Charles L. Webber III and James W. Shrefler

Corn gluten meal (CGM) has been identified as a potential organic preemergence and preplant-incorporated herbicide. It is an environmentally friendly material that has demonstrated ability to decrease seedling development and plant survival by inhibiting root and shoot development. Unfortunately, CGM can also decrease the development and plant survival of direct-seeded vegetable crops. As a result, the use of CGM is not recommended in conjunction with direct-seeded vegetables. The development of equipment to apply CGM in banded configurations has created an opportunity to investigate whether banded CGM applications will provide significant crop safety for direct-seeded vegetables. The objective of this research was to determine the impact of banded CGM applications on squash plant survival and yields. A factorial field study was conducted during the summer of 2004 on 81-cm-wide raised beds at Lane, Okla., with two application configurations (banded and solid), two CGM formulations (powdered and granulated), two incorporation treatments (incorporated and non-incorporated), and three application rates (250, 500, and 750 g·m–2). The two CGM formulations at three application rates were uniformly applied in both banded and solid patterns on 18 Aug. The banded application created a 7.6-cm-wide CGM-free planting zone in the middle of the raised bed. The CGM applications were then either incorporated into the top 2.5 to 5.0 cm of the soil surface with a rolling cultivator or left undisturbed on the soil surface. `Lemondrop' summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) was then direct-seeded into the center of the raised beds. When averaged across the other factors, there was not a significant difference between powdered and granulated CGM formulations or incorporating and non-incorporating the CGM for either squash plant survival or yields. CGM application rates made a significant difference for both squash survival and yields, when averaged across all other factors. As the CGM application rate increased, the plant survival and yields decreased. When averaged across all other factors, the banded application resulted in significantly greater crop safety (59% plant survival) and yields (228 cartons/ha) than the solid applications (25% plant survival and 118 cartons/ha). The research demonstrated the potential usefulness of CGM in direct-seeded squash production, if used in a banded application configuration. Additional research should further investigate the interaction of CGM application rates and the width of the CGM-free zone on crop safety for various vegetables.

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Robert F. Bevacqua and Dawn M. VanLeeuwen

Chile pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) yields are highly variable and are strongly influenced by disease and weather. The goal of two field experiments was to evaluate crop management factors, especially planting date, that could contribute to improved and more consistent crop production. Current practice in New Mexico is to direct seed the crop from 13 to 27 Mar. In the first experiment, chile pepper was direct seeded on three planting dates, 13, 20, and 27 Mar. 2000, without or with a fungicide treatment of pentachloronitrobenzene and mefenoxam for the control of damping off. The results indicate planting date had no effect on stand establishment or yield. Fungicide treatment, significantly reduced stand, but had no effect on yield. In the second experiment, chile pepper was direct seeded on six planting dates, 13, 20, 27 Mar. and 3, 10, 17, Apr. 2001, with or without an application of phosphorus fertilizer, P at 29.4 kg·ha-1, banded beneath the seed row. During the growing season, this experimental planting suffered, as did commercial plantings in New Mexico, from high mortality and stunting due to beet curly top virus, a disease transmitted by the beet leafhopper. The results indicate planting date had a significant effect on crop performance. The best stand establishment and highest yield were associated with the earliest planting date, 13 Mar. This date also resulted in the least viral disease damage. Phosphorus fertilizer had no effect on stand establishment or yield. Chemical names used: pentachloronitrobenzene (PCNB); (R)-2-[(2,6-dimethylphenyl)-methoxyacetylamino]-propionic acid methyl ester (mefenoxam).

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M. Ali Harivandi, William L. Hagan, M. Zak Mousli, and Lin Wu

Stand establishment of direct-seeded hard fescue (Festuca longifolia) is slow. Sodding could speed establishment in landscape plantings. This study looked at the effects of two sod thicknesses and different rates of nitrogen fertilization before and after sodding, on stand establishment and overall turf quality. Evaluations 2, 4 and 8 weeks after sodding assessed rooting and overall turf quality. Thicker sod showed better rooting 4 weeks after planting; after 8 weeks, rooting of both thicknesses was similar. Nitrogen fertilization before or after sodding did not affect rooting. More nitrogen led to better overall turf quality up to 4 weeks after planting; however, this quality difference disappeared 8 weeks after sodding.

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Carl E. Motsenbocker, J. Blair Buckley, William A. Mulkey, and James E. Boudreaux

Field studies were conducted in 1991 with `Jalapeno-M' and `TAM' Jalapeno pepper. Plants were established by direct seeding at 10, 20, 30, and 40 cm in-row plant spacing. Lodged plants, fruit quality and yield were monitored. A commercial snap-bean harvester was evaluated for harvest. Closer plant spacings resulted in greater yields and reduced plant lodging. No interaction of variety with plant spacing was observed. There were, however, differences in several yield parameters due to variety. Fruit quality characteristics of mechanically and hand harvested pepper stored at 6 C were similar. The use of the mechanical snap-bean harvester appears to be a feasible technique to harvest Jalapeno pepper.

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Mary Hockenberry Meyer and Diane M. Narem

We tested prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) using six different germination treatments and found the best results with cold (40 °F), dry storage followed by direct seeding into a commercial germination mix placed in a 75 °F glass-glazed greenhouse with intermittent mist (5 seconds of mist every 8 minutes), and 600-W high-pressure sodium lighting with a 16-hour daylength. We found commercial laboratory viability analysis from tetrazolium staining did not correspond to germination results. Cold (34 °F), moist (2.3 g seed moistened with 2.5 mL deionized water) treatment, also known as cold conditioning, produced significantly less germination and fewer transplantable seedlings, and is not recommended for prairie dropseed.

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David W. Wolfe

Field studies conducted in 1993 on an Eel loam soil compared the growth and yield response of direct-seeded cabbage, cucumber, snap bean, and sweet corn, and transplanted cabbage, to a compacted soil layer (>2.5 MPa penetrometer resistance) at the 15 - 30 cm depth. Direct-seeded cabbage and snap bean were most severely affected by compaction, with 50% yield losses, and much smaller cabbage head size in compacted plots. Transplanted cabbage had a 30% lower yield in compacted compared to uncompactcd plots. Early vegetative growth of cucumber was less stunted by compaction compared to snap bean and cabbage, but compaction nevertheless resulted in a 50% reduction in total cucumber yield. Compaction delayed maturity and reduced early yield of cabbage, snap bean, and cucumber. Sweet corn yield was reduced by only 10% when grown on compacted soil, and there was no delay in maturity. Sweet corn responded more negatively to compaction in a 1992 field experiment,

Greenhouse studies found a reduction in total plant biomass at 21 days after planting of 30%, 14%, 1%. and 3% for snap bean, cabbage, cucumber, and sweet corn, respectively, in pots compacted at the 10 cm depth. Sweet corn had a significantly higher proportion of root biomass in the compacted zone compared to the other crops. For all species, the growth reductions could not be attributed to reductions in leaf turgor, photosynthetic rate per unit leaf area or leaf nutrient status.

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Erin Silva, Mark Renz, and Stephanie Walker

Chile pepper (Capsicum annum) production in the southwest can be impacted by many factors. In particular, factors that alter root growth and development can be critical to pepper productivity. Several factors can cause less-than-optimal taproot formation, including irrigation practices, planting method (seeds vs. transplants), climactic conditions, and competition from weed species for limiting resources. The goals of this research were to quantify the root development of chile peppers established from either seeds or transplants under furrow and drip irrigation. Research was conducted in 2005 at Artesia Plant Science Research Center in Artesia, N.M., using a state-of-the-art drip irrigation system. Differences in root development between both irrigation types and planting methods were measured using of the mini-rhizotron image capturing system. Measurements occurred at a weekly basis to document location, root length density, and pattern of root formation. At the time of harvest, yield and fruit quality were evaluated. Direct-seeded chile plants yielded more fruits than transplanted chile under both irrigation regimes. Patterns of root development differed over time for direct-seeded vs. transplanted and furrow vs. drip-irrigated chile peppers. Planting and irrigation method affected root growth differently at various points in the season. These data can aid in the optimization of management strategies for specific production practices.

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Elsa Sánchez, Kathleen Kelley, and Lynn Butler

Eight edamame [Glycine max (L.) Merrill] cultivars were evaluated in the field in 2002, 2003, and 2004 to determine their suitability for growing in central Pennsylvania. Each cultivar was direct seeded and data collected included plant populations (percentage of stand) and marketable yields. Plant populations ranged from less than 1% to 81% and, with one exception in 2002, were below 80%. Eighty percent plant populations or higher are considered optimal. Based on sub-optimal plant populations, none of the edamame cultivars evaluated in the field were determined to be suitable for direct seeding in central Pennsylvania. The effect of temperature on seedling emergence, and therefore, plant populations was then studied. Four of the edamame cultivars used in the field trial were evaluated in growth chambers programmed with varying day/night temperature regimes. Seedling emergence varied by cultivar and was generally below 80% with two exceptions. When grown in a 21.1 °C day/15.6 °C night temperature regime, `Butterbeans' and `Early Hakucho' exceeded 80% seedling emergence. These methods could be used to produce transplants; however, the economic feasibility of doing so should first be evaluated. In the field trial, conclusions on marketable yields were unattainable because soybean plants are known to compensate in yield for plants missing in sub-optimal plant populations. Plant compensation and sub-optimal plant populations rendered yield comparisons between cultivars questionable. The issue of sub-optimal seedling emergence and plant population needs to be studied further before suitability of growing these edamame cultivars in central Pennsylvania can be determined.

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Michael E. Bartolo and Frank C. Schweissing

Colorado-grown watermelons command a premium price on the market based on their sweetness and overall flavor. Unfortunately, melon production is limited to mid-August through early September. This study was conducted to determine whether intensive production methods could enhance the traditional marketing period. The effects of different combinations of establishment methods, mulches, and rowcovers on `Arriba' (Hollar Seeds) watermelon growth and productivity were investigated in a field trial at the Arkansas Valley Research Center in Rocky Ford, Colo. In 1997, the combinations of transplanting, clear plastic mulch, and perforated or slitted rowcovers produced the earliest harvest and highest yield and fruit weight. The first harvest of the earliest treatments occurred on 4 July. Direct-seeding through clear plastic mulch, both with and without rowcovers, also enhanced earliness relative to the traditional marketing period. However, compared to transplanting, yield and fruit weight were less if the crop was direct-seeded. Intensive plasticulture techniques could substantially increase the earliness of Colorado-grown watermelons. The increased cost of production would be easily off-set by higher productivity and early season prices