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James M. Spiers

The effects of varying rates of a complete fertilizer and irrigation on the growth and fruit yields of `Tifblue' rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei Reade) established 3 years before treatment initiation were determined in a field study. Increased rates of irrigation resulted in increased plant growth and fruit yields. Five- and 6-year-old plants were more responsive to increasing irrigation rates than older plants. Irrigation water efficacy was greatest at lower rates and progressively less at higher rates of irrigation. Five- and 6-year-old plants fertilized with the lowest rate (14N–4P–7K; 150 g/plant) grew and yielded less than those fertilized with higher rates. Older plants did not respond to fertilization rates higher than 150 g/plant. Yearly rates of fertilization above 300 g/plant did not influence plant growth or fruit yields. Fertilization and irrigation responses were independent.

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John M. Swiader and William H. Shoemaker

Field experiments were conducted over a 5-year period (1994-98) to determine the effect of various cropping systems (rotations) on fertilizer N requirements in processing pumpkins [Cucurbita moschata (Duchesne ex Lam.) Duchesne ex Poir.] on medium- to fine-textured soil. Treatments consisted of a factorial combination of five N fertilization rates (0, 56, 112, 168, 224 kg·ha-1 N) and four pumpkin cropping systems: 1) pumpkins following corn (Zea mays L.); 2) pumpkins following soybeans [Glycine max (L.) Merrill]; 3) pumpkins following 2-years corn; and 4) pumpkins following fallow ground. Cropping systems were chronologically and spatially arranged in two complete cycles, with pumpkin studies taking place in 1996 and 1998. Averaged over the two studies, the optimal N fertilization rate for highest total weight of ripe fruit following soybeans was estimated at 109 kg·ha-1 N, compared to 128 kg·ha-1 N following fallow ground, even though yields were similar, suggesting a soybean N-credit of 19 kg·ha-1 N. Concurrently, the N fertilizer rate for highest total ripe fruit weight following corn was estimated at 151 kg·ha-1 N, and 178 kg·ha-1 following 2-years corn, indicating a negative rotation effect on pumpkin N requirements of 23 and 50 kg·ha-1 N, respectively. Minimum N fertilizer requirements, the N fertilizer rate associated with a ripe fruit yield of 50 t·ha-1, were calculated at 45, 37, 69, and 47 kg·ha-1 N in the respective cropping systems. Negative effects from excessive N fertilization were greater in pumpkins following soybeans than in pumpkins following corn or 2-years corn, with reductions in total ripe fruit weight of 21%, 9%, and 3%, respectively, at the highest N rate. A critical level for preplant soil NO 3-N of 17.6 mg·kg-1 was identified above which there was little or no pumpkin yield response to N fertilization.

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Kimberly A. Klock-Moore and Timothy K. Broschat

Two experiments were conducted to compare the growth of `Ultra White' petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) plants in a subirrigation system versus in a hand-watered system. In Expt. 1, petunia plants were watered with 50, 100, or 150 ppm (mg·L-1) of N of Peter's 20-10-20 (20N-4.4P-16.6K) and in Expt. 2, Nutricote 13-13-13 (13N-5.8P-10.8K) type 100, a controlled release fertilizer, was incorporated into the growing substrate, prior to transplanting, at rates of 3, 6, or 9 lb/yard3 (1.8, 3.6, or 4.5 kg·m-3). In both experiments, there was no difference in petunia shoot dry mass or final flower number between the irrigation systems at the lowest fertilization rate but differences were evident at the higher fertilization rates. In Expt. 1, shoot dry mass and flower number of subirrigated petunia plants fertilized with 100 ppm of N was greater than for hand-watered plants fertilized at the same rate. However, subirrigated petunia plants fertilized with 150 ppm of N were smaller with fewer flowers than hand-watered petunia plants fertilized with 150 ppm of N. Substrate electrical conductivity (EC) concentrations for petunia plants subirrigated with 150 ppm of N were 4.9 times greater than concentrations in pots hand-watered with 150 ppm of N. In Expt. 2, subirrigated petunia plants fertilized with 6 and 9 lb/yard3 were larger with more flowers than hand-watered plants fertilized at the same rates. Although substrate EC concentrations were greater in subirrigated substrates than in hand-watered substrates, substrate EC concentrations of all hand-watered plants were about 0.35 dS·m-1. Subirrigation benches similar to those used in these experiments, appear to be a viable method for growing `Ultra White' petunia plants. However, the use of Peter's 20-10-20 at concentrations greater than 100 ppm of N with subirrigation appeared to be detrimental to petunia growth probably because of high EC concentrations in the substrate. On the other hand, the use of subirrigation with Nutricote 13-13-13 type 100 incorporated at all of the rates tested did not appear to be detrimental to petunia growth.

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Z.L. He, D.V. Calvert, A.K. Alva, and Y.C. Li

Fertilization is among the most important factors influencing fruit quality of citrus. Effects of Individual element such as N, P, or K on fruit quality have been well-documented. Much less has been done on the interactions of N, P, and K in relation to citrus fruit quality. A field experiment was conducted from 1994 to 1999 in a commercial grove on a Riviera fine sand (Loamy, siliceous, hyperthermic Arenic Glossaqualf) to investigate the effects of fertilizer rates and sources on fruit quality of 26-year-old `White Marsh' grapefruit trees (Citrus paradisi Macfad.) on Sour Orange rootstock (Citrus aurantium Lush). Fertilizer was applied as water-soluble dry granular broadcast (three applications/year) at N rates of 0, 56, 112, 168, 224, and 336 kg/ha per year using a N;P:K blend (1.0:0.17:1.0). There was a quadratic relationship between fruit weight or peel thickness and fertilizer rates. Fruit weight per piece increased with fertilizer rates from 0 to 168 kg N/ha per year, but decreased from 168 to 336 kg N/ha per year. Fruit size was small at zero or low fertilizer rates due to nutrient deficiencies. Large fruit sizes of `White Marsh' grapefruit in the sandy soil were achieved at fertilizer rate around 168 kg N/ha per year. Increasing fertilizer application rates higher than 168 kg/ha per year greatly increased the number of fruit per tree, but decreased the size of fruit. Peel thickness, which is related to the fruit size, declines at higher fertilizer rates. Increase in fertilizer rate from 0 to 336 kg N/ha per year increased solids content and fruit acid concentration of the grapefruit. Fertilization rate effect on fruit Brix concentration was more complicated. Brix concentration was not affected by increasing fertilizer rates from 0 to 168 kg N/ha-per year, but was increased at higher fertilization rates (168 to 336 kg N/ha per year). As a result, the Brix/acid ratio was, in general, decreased by increasing fertilizer rates.

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Bielinski M. Santos

Two field studies were conducted to compare the effects of preplant nitrogen (N) rates and irrigation programs on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) growth and yields. Irrigation programs were seepage (subsurface) irrigation alone at a water volume of 28 acre-inches/acre per season and seepage plus drip irrigation at a volume of 28 and 14 acre-inches/acre per season, respectively. Preplant N fertilization rates were 200, 250, and 300 lb/acre, using ammonium nitrate as the N source. There were significant irrigation program by N rate interactions for nitrate (NO3 ) petiole concentrations at 8 weeks after transplanting (WAT), and yield of extra-large fruit and total marketable fruit, but not for plant height at 5 and 7 WAT. The highest NO3-N petiole concentrations were found in plots treated with 200, 250, and 300 lb/acre for N and seepage plus drip irrigation, and with 300 lb/acre N under seepage irrigation alone. For the total marketable fruit weight, there were no differences among N rates in those plots irrigated with the seepage plus drip combination, ranging between 23.8 and 25.9 tons/acre. However, there was a significant N effect in plots receiving only seepage irrigation with marketable fruit weight almost doubling from 12.0 to 22.7 tons/acre when applying 200 and 300 lb/acre N, respectively. Both irrigation programs had equivalent performance when 300 lb/acre N were applied.

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Bielinski M. Santos and James P. Gilreath

A 2-year field study was conducted in two locations in the Dominican Republic to determine the influence of various support systems and nitrogen fertilization programs on passion fruit (Passiflora edulis var. flavicarpa) yield and economic returns. Three trellis systems were used: 1) single line, where a single wire was placed along the planting rows at 2 m high; 2) double lines, where two wires were established along the planting rows at 2 and 1 m high, respectively; and 3) crossed lines, with wires at 2 m high, allowing the vines to grow both along and across the planting rows. Nitrogen (N) fertilization rates were 13, 26, and 52 g/plant of N every 20 days. Plants trained with the single- and double-line support systems combined with 52 g/plant of N had higher marketable yield and had the lowest proportion of non-marketable fruit/plant per year. Partial budget analysis indicated that the single-line support system had a marginal return rate of 36% compared to the double-line support system.

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George J. Hochmuth, Jeffrey K. Brecht, and Mark J. Bassett

Nitrogen is required for successful carrot production on sandy soils of the southeastern United States, yet carrot growers often apply N in amounts exceeding university recommendations. Excessive fertilization is practiced to compensate for losses of N from leaching and because some growers believe that high rates of fertilization improve vegetable quality. Carrots (Daucus carota L.) were grown in three plantings during Winter 1994–95 in Gainesville, Fla., to test the effects of N fertilization on yield and quality. Yield increased with N fertilization but the effect of N rate depended on planting date; 150 kg·ha–1 N maximized yield for November and December plantings but 180 kg·ha–1 N was sufficient for the January planting. Concentration of total alcohol-soluble sugar was maximized at 45 mg·g–1 fresh root with 140 kg·ha–1 N for `Choctaw' carrots, whereas sugar concentration of `Scarlet Nantes' roots was not affected by N fertilization. Carrot root carotenoid concentration was maximized at 55 mg·kg–1 fresh root tissue with 160 kg·ha–1 N. Generally, those N fertilization rates that maximized carrot root yield also maximized carrot quality as determined by sugar and carotenoid concentrations.

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Richard Smith, Bob Mullen, and Tim Hartz

Pepper stip is a physiological disorder manifested as gray-brown to greenish spots occurring on fruit of bell, pimento, Anaheim, and other types of peppers, most noticeably on red fruit produced under fall conditions. The spots, ≈0.5 cm in diameter, occur singly or in groups; marketability for either fresh market or processing use is severely affected. The factors controlling the occurrence or severity of the disorder are not well understood; to date, control has been achieved primarily by the use of resistant cultivars. In 1995 replicated plots of susceptible (`Yolo Wonder L' and `Grande Rio') and resistant (`Galaxy' and `King Arthur') cultivars were grown in seven commercial fields in central California. `Galaxy' and `King Arthur' were essentially free of symptoms, while `Yolo Wonder L' and `Grande Rio' showed significant damage at all sites, with 23% to 88% of fruits affected at the mature-red stage. Petiole tissue analysis showed that resistant cultivars consistently had lower N and K, and higher Ca concentrations than susceptible cultivars; the same trend was apparent in fruit tissue. Stip was most severe at sites with low soil Ca and/or very high N and K fertilization rates. It is hypothesized that Ca nutrition significantly influences stip expression.

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William R. Argo and John A. Biernbaum

Rooted cuttings of `Gutbier V-l 4 Glory poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) were grown in 15-cm pots using two irrigation methods, two water-soluble fertilization schedules, and two preplant root-media fertilization rates. No difference in shoot growth occurred with either top watering with 33% leaching or subirrigation. The top 2.5 cm (top layer) contained nutrient concentrations up to 10 times higher than those measured in the remaining root medium (root zone) of the same pot with both irrigation methods. Constant applications of28 mol N/m3 water-soluble fertilizer (WSF) limited shoot and root growth as measured at 3 and 8 weeks compared to a weekly increase in the concentration of WSF from 0 to 28 mol N/m3 in 7 mol N/m3 increments over a S-week period. The additional incorporation of 0.27 kg·m-3 mineral N to Metro Mix 510 before planting had no effect on fresh- or dry-weight accumulation. When the root-medium surface was covered by an evaporation barrier, 46% less water and 41% less N fertilizer were applied to plants of similar size, and higher root-zone nutrient levels were maintained over the 8 weeks of the experiment. The evaporation barrier had the greatest effect on increasing root-zone nutrient concentrations and reducing the growth of subirrigated plants.

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Zhongchun Jiang

Information about micronutrient concentrations of plants in general can be found in botany and plant physiology textbooks, but micronutrient concentrations in field-grown lettuce is hard to find and so are concentrations of heavy metals. Lettuce consumers may be concerned with heavy metal concentrations and information about heavy metal concentrations may help consumers make a choice. This study examined the concentrations of eight micronutrients and five heavy metals in field-grown lettuce with different fertilization programs. Under the field conditions, different NPK fertilizers and fertilization rates did not differ in the leaf concentrations of micronutrients and heavy metals. The overall means of Fe, Na, Mo, and Ni concentrations in the lettuce were 663, 710, 0.9, and 1.9 μg·g–1 of dry leaves, respectively. These values were significantly higher (over 500% greater) than the values found in textbooks for plants in general. Mean Mn, Cu, B, and Zn concentrations were 55.5, 7.3, 23.7, and 28.4 μg·g–1 of dry leaves, respectively, which are in general agreement with textbook values. Mean concentrations of heavy metals Cd, Co, Cr, and Pb were 1.5, 1.0, 2.9, and 4.5 μg·g–1 of dry leaves, respectively, whereas mean Al concentration was 498.5 micrograms per gram of dry leaves. These results indicate that concentrations of some elements in lettuce leaves can be high under certain field conditions. It would be beneficial for lettuce growers and consumers to have this information.