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Neel Kamal and Christopher S. Cramer

Onions grown in New Mexico are currently harvested manually at 80% tops down (TD). Mechanical harvesting is a matter of urgency for growers in order to remain competitive and to reduce their cost and time. The objective of this study was to find the effect of different harvest stages on bulb quality. Twelve different onion cultivars were sown in Feb. 2004 in Las Cruces, N.M. The experiment was laid out in split-plot design with four harvest treatments based on physiological maturity—20% TD, 80% TD, 1 week after 80% TD, and 2 weeks after 80% TD as whole plots, with cultivars as sub-plots. After curing, data on harvest date, bulb diameter, height, firmness, number of growing points, average center diameter, fleshy scale number, and scale thickness were collected. Maximum number of scales was observed when bulbs were harvested 2 weeks after 80% TD, while average scale thickness was greatest when bulbs were harvested 1 week after 80% TD. Significant treatment by cultivar interaction was observed for bulb firmness. Cultivars Cimarron, Sierra Blanca and NMSU 04-52-2 produced firmer bulbs in all treatments, while NuMex Casper, NuMex Jose Fernandez and NuMex Centric produced firmer bulbs than others, only at 20% TD. Maximum bulb firmness was observed in NMSU 04-28 and NMSU 03-52-1 than others, when harvested 1 or 2 weeks after 80% TD. Overall, bulbs harvested 1 to 2 weeks after 80% TD exhibited firmer bulbs with more scales and greater scale thickness.

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Neel Kamal and Christopher S. Cramer

Onions grown in New Mexico currently are hand-harvested. In order to remain competitive and to lower production costs, growers will need to harvest onions mechanically. The current recommendation for harvest time is when 80% of onion tops have fallen. The objective of this study was to measure several bulb quality traits when bulbs were harvested at four different stages. Twelve short- and intermediate-day onion cultivars of different maturities were sown during Sept. 2004 in Las Cruces, N.M. Bulbs were harvested at four stages of physiological maturity: 20% tops down (TD), 80% TD, 1 week after 80% TD, and 2 weeks after 80% TD. After curing, data on harvest date, bulb diameter, height, firmness, number of growing points, average center diameter, fleshy scale number, and thickness were collected. For most traits, no differences existed among the different treatments. For the earliest-maturing cultivars, the maximum bulb firmness and number of scales were observed when bulbs were harvested 2 weeks after 80% TD. For later-maturing cultivars, the maximum number of scales was observed 1 week after 80% TD, while the maximum bulb firmness was observed at 2 weeks after 80% TD. For latest-maturing cultivars, bulbs harvested at 1 week after 80% TD were firmer than bulbs harvested at other times. For later-maturing cultivars, average scale thickness was greatest when bulbs were harvested 2 weeks after 80% TD. From this work, a delayed harvest of 1 to 2 weeks after 80% TD resulted in firmer bulbs with more scales.

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Jagtar Singh and Christopher S. Cramer

Onion growers in New Mexico often withhold irrigation for overwintered onion varieties during the months of December and January. This study was initiated to determine if this deficit irrigation program is detrimental to onion bulb quality. Twelve short- and intermediate-day onion cultivars, which differed in their maturity, were seeded in Sept. 2004 in Las Cruces, N.M. Once plants were established, 12 plots of each cultivar were not irrigated during the months of December and January (dry treatment), while the same number of plots was irrigated during these months (wet treatment). Once a plot had 80% of the plants with tops down, all bulbs were harvested, cured, and data on date of harvesting, bulb diameter, bulb height, firmness rating, number of centers, scale number, and scale thickness of first and third fleshy layers were collected. For most of the bulb traits measured, there was no difference between the two irrigation treatments for the cultivars tested. For the earliest-maturing cultivars, bulbs grown in the dry treatment had on average more fleshy scale layers than the bulbs grown in the wet treatment. For later-maturing cultivars, bulbs grown in the dry treatment had more growing points (centers) per bulb than the bulbs grown in the wet treatment. For the latest-maturing cultivars, average fleshy scale layer thickness was greater for bulbs grown in the dry treatment. From this work, a winter deficit irrigation program appears to be detrimental to the percentage of single-center bulbs for later-maturing, autumn-sown onion cultivars.

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Neel Kamal and Christopher S. Cramer

Onion thrips (Thrips tabaci Lindeman)–vectored Iris yellow spot virus (IYSV) causes the disease Iris yellow spot (IYS), which is a major threat to the sustainability of onion production worldwide. An increase in thrips resistance to various insecticides, high costs, and the limited efficacy of insecticides under hot and drier conditions found in various onion-growing regions restrict grower’s options for effective control of thrips and spread of IYSV. Because cultivars resistant to thrips and IYS are lacking, this study was undertaken to measure selection progress for IYS resistance after one selection cycle. In 2009, selections were performed on previously evaluated New Mexico State University (NMSU) breeding lines that showed some reduced IYS disease symptoms, and the selected plants self-pollinated the following year. In 2011 and 2012, plants from the original and selected populations along with a susceptible check, ‘Rumba’, were evaluated under field conditions when onion thrips and IYSV were present. Plants were rated for IYS disease severity and the number of thrips per plant was recorded three times during the study in each year. First-generation material, NMSU 10-776, NMSU 10-782, NMSU 10-785, NMSU 10-807, and NMSU 10-813, had fewer thrips number per plant, lower disease severity, and disease incidence than their original breeding lines on at least one or two rating times in both years. Some first-generation breeding lines performed better with a lower thrips number and disease severity than their original population in 1 year or the other. Most entries exhibited fewer thrips, lower IYS disease severity, and less incidence than the susceptible check ‘Rumba’ at most rating times. Overall, some progress was observed in this first-generation material for reduced IYS disease symptom expression when compared with their original populations.

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Troy A. Larsen* and Christopher S. Cramer

Current onion varieties that are grown in New Mexico were developed for hand harvesting and not for mechanical harvesting. In order for onion production in New Mexico to remain a viable commodity, firmer onion varieties need to be developed for mechanical harvesting. In this study, bulb firmness of onions was examined in short and intermediate-day onion entries comparing a qualitative `finger pressure' method with a digital FFF-series durometer. After harvesting and curing of the onion bulbs, dry outer scales were removed before durometer measurements were taken at two perpendicular points on the vertical center axis of the bulb. Following the durometer measurements, bulb firmness was rated by `finger pressure' applied to multiple points on the vertical center axis. For intermediate and late-maturing entries, durometer measurements and firmness rating were positively correlated in a strong fashion (r = 0.77 to 0.87). Early maturing entries, NMSU 02-25 and NMSU 02-03 both had high durometer averages and firmness ratings. `NuMex Crimson' and `NuMex Crispy' had the highest durometer averages and firmness ratings among intermediate maturing entries while `NuMex Solano' and NMSU 01-06 had the highest among late maturing entries. From our results, the durometer can be useful in providing a quantifiable measure of bulb firmness.

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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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Christopher S. Cramer and Joe N. Corgan

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Parminder Singh Multani and Christopher S. Cramer

Identification of resistant cultivars offers the best control for Iris yellow spot virus (IYSV), a new onion disease vectored by Thrips tabaci. In this study, 18 spring-seeded onion cultivars were screened for IYSV. Each alternate plot in the field was planted with infected bulbs from the previous year to serve as a source of virus inoculum and thrips. With increased thrips population and temperature over time, straw-colored, necrotic lesions typical to IYSV infection were observed on plant leaves. Plants were analyzed by enzyme linked immunosorbant assay to confirm the IYSV infection and determine the virus titer. Ten randomly selected plants from each plot were rated for IYSV symptoms on a scale of 1 to 9, with 1 representing no symptomatic tissue and 9 representing more than 50% tissue damage. Starting 1 June, disease ratings were collected each week until 13 July. Nearly all cultivars showed similar disease symptoms when rated on 1 June. By 29 June, NMSU 03-52-1 exhibited some tolerance to IYSV as fewer symptoms were observed. By 13 July, NMSU 03-52-1 exhibited fewer disease symptoms than most of the other cultivars tested, while `Caballero' showed the highest IYSV symptoms. All other cultivars showed low to high susceptibility for IYSV. The increase in disease severity was accompanied by a relative increase in the virus titer of plants over time. However, virus titer poorly correlated with the amount of disease symptoms in different cultivars. The most tolerant cultivar, NMSU 03-52-1, had higher virus titer than many susceptible cultivars but still performed well. Conversely, some cultivars with low virus titer were susceptible and developed more symptoms. This indicates a difference in the capabilities of different cultivars to resist IYSV.

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Christopher S. Cramer and Mark P. Bridgen

Mussaenda, a tropical, hybrid ornamental plant from India and the Philippines, is being evaluated as a potential greenhouse ported crop in the united States. Showy sepals of white, picotee (White with rosy edges), light pink, dark pink, or red complemented by fragrant, yellow flowers and dark green, pubescent foliage make Mussaenda a very attractive potted plant. However, sometimes the height of Mussaenda is unsuitable for pot plant culture. With the use of chemical growth regulators. plant height is reduced thus making Mussaenda a more feasible potted crop.

In the summer of 1992, a growth regulator study was conducted to evaluate three growth regulators and concentrations capable of reducing plant height in Mussaenda. Daminozide (B-Nine SP), ancymidol (A-Rest), or paclobutrazol (Bonzi) was applied at two concentrations each. Daminozide was tested as a spray at 2500 ppm and 5000 ppm. Ancymidol was applied as a spray at 33 ppm and 66 ppm or as a drench at 0.25 mg/pot and 0.50 mg/pot. Paclobutrazol was tested as a spray at 25 ppm and 50 ppm or as a drench at 0.125 mg/pot and 0.25 mg/pot. Growth regulators were applied as a single application or a double application with two weeks separating applications.

Daminozide at 2500 ppm and 5000 ppm was most effective in controlling plant height. Ancymidol as a drench at 0.25 mg/pot and 0.50 mg/pot was also effective in plant height control. Two applications of these growth regulators were more effective in controlling plant height than a single application.

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Christopher S. Cramer and Todd C. Wehner

Progress was measured in four populations of cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) improved by recurrent selection. The populations were the North Carolina wide base pickle (NCWBP), medium base pickle (NCMBP), elite pickle 1 (NCEP1), and hardwickii 1 (NCH1). Families from each of three cycles (early, intermediate, and late) from each population were randomly chosen and crossed with Gy 14 to produce gynoecious hybrids. Gy 14 is a gynoecious inbred used commonly as a female parent in the production of pickling cucumber hybrids. Once the plants had 10% oversized (>51 mm in diameter) fruit, plots were sprayed with paraquat to simulate once-over harvest. Selection cycles were evaluated for total, early, and marketable yield, and fruit shape. Testcross performance for fruit shape rating increased over cycles for the NCWBP and NCMBP populations when tested in either season. Testcross performance for total and early yield of the NCEP1 population tested in the spring decreased with selection, but remained constant over cycles in the summer season. The majority of yield traits in each population remained unchanged across selection cycles. Of the four populations studied, the NCMBP population had the greatest gain (7%) in testcross performance over cycles and averaged over all traits. In addition, testcross performance for fruit shape rating had the greatest gain (11%) with selection and averaged over populations. Years and seasons greatly influenced testcross performance for fruit yield and shape rating. In most instances, the fruit yield and shape of Gy 14 was higher than the testcross performance of population-cycle combinations. The performance of several families exceeded that of Gy 14 when testcross combinations were made. Those families could be selected for use in the development of elite cultivars. Chemical name used: 1,1'-dimethyl-4,4'-bipyridinium ion (paraquat).