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- Author or Editor: Jeanine M. Davis x
Stable prices and increased competitive market pressures have caused many staked tomato producers to examine the costs and benefits of adopting intensive production practices such as drip irrigation and plastic mulch. Inclusion of these practices with traditional growing practices often results in a total production cost in excess of $10,000 per acre. In 1988 and 1989, field studies were conducted in western North Carolina to determine if changes in plant spacing and pruning could reduce production costs, increase yields of large fruit and improve grower net returns from staked tomatoes (c. Mountain Pride). Combined data indicated that the greatest early season yields were obtained using early pruning (when suckers were 2-4 inches long) and in-row spacings of 18 inches or less. Net returns per acre were greatest when: 1) plants were pruned early and spaced closely in-row, which increased high priced early season yields and 2) plants were spaced 30 inches apart and either pruned early or not pruned, which increased total season yields. Non-pruned plants had lower yields of Jumbo and Extra Large size fruit, but higher total yields than pruned plants.
Eight staked, determinate tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) cultivars were harvested when green (before breaker stage) or when pink (breaker stage and riper) in two replicated field studies. In general, total yield and average fruit size were reduced when fruit were harvested at the green stage. Harvest maturity had only a small effect on occurrence of most fruit defects, except fruit cracking, which was more severe for pink than for green fruit in the early season experiment. Although total yields for pink harvested fruit were higher than for green harvested fruit in the early season study, the high incidence of fruit crack in pink fruit resulted in similar yields of U.S. combination grade (U.S. no. 1 and U.S. no. 2) fruit for both treatments. Because the largest fruit often bring a premium price, harvesting fruit when pink probably will result in a higher price per kilogram than harvesting fruit when green. Fruit harvested green, however, are generally firmer, more crack resistant, and require fewer harvests than fruit harvested pink.
Seventeen North Carolina farmers received $5000 grants to grow medicinal herbs as part of a research study to determine the economic feasibility of producing herbs in different regions of the state, including producing the quality and quantity of medicinal herbs required by the industry at a price that is competitive in a global market. With the help of five buyers in the natural products industry, four medicinal herbs were selected to be grown: California poppy, dandelion, Echinacea purpurea, and valerian. The growers experimented with new crops, learned new production methods, and adapted existing methods and equipment to these crops. These growers were also introduced to new markets and made connections with buyers, statewide and nationally, in an industry that can be difficult to enter. Growers were responsible for keeping detailed records of production, harvest, and postharvest handling. To produce a marketable crop in 1 year, some of the growers started seedlings in their greenhouses, while others direct seeded into the field. With the natural products industry moving toward a nonchemically grown product, growers in this project had to produce their crop without pesticides. Weed pressures were the biggest challenge to most of the growers. Prior to harvest, bioactive constituents were tested on the dried raw material to see if levels met buyers' requirements. Other testing methods determined percentage of ash, moisture content, microbial limits, and heavy metal accumulation. For postharvest handling, tobacco farmers who had drying facilities experimented with different temperature regimes to produce a uniformed dried material. Buyers and growers were then introduced to each other to complete the sale of goods.
Weeds are a major concern in the production of many medicinal herbs. Weeds can interfere with the growth of the herb, reducing yields of foliage, flowers, and roots. The presence of weeds in the harvested herb can lessen the value of the herb or render it unmarketable. Weed control on medicinal herbs is difficult because there are few herbicides cleared for use and many herbs are organically grown. In this study, we examined the use of white and black plastic mulches to control weeds in the production of six medicinal herbs in the northern piedmont region of North Carolina. The herbs were grown for 2 years on raised beds with drip-irrigation. The beds were left bare or covered with black plastic mulch or white plastic mulch. The herbs grown were Arnica chamissonis, Echinacea angustifolia, Echinacea purpurea, Leonurus cardiaca, Scutellaria lateriflora, and Spilanthes oleracea. Transplants were field set in May and June. Depending on the particular herb, foliage, and flowers were harvested during both growing seasons and roots were harvested at the end of the second season. Both plastic mulches provided excellent weed control compared to the bare ground treatment. A. chamissonis flower yields were reduced when plants were grown with either plastic mulch. Growth and yield of E. angustifolia, L. cardiaca, and S. lateriflora were unaffected by any mulch treatment. In contrast, total season yields of E. purpurea tops (stems, leaves, and flowers) and roots were higher with both plastic mulches than with the bare ground treatment. Root yields of S. oleracea were higher with the bare ground treatment than with either mulch, but top yields were unaffected by treatment.
Unstable prices and increased competitive market pressures have caused many staked-tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) producers to reexamine the costs and benefits of various production practices. In 1988 and 1989, field studies were conducted to determine if changes in plant in-row spacing and pruning could reduce production costs, increase yields, and improve grower net returns of staked `Mountain Pride' tomatoes. In both years, early-season yields were highest using early pruning (when lateral shoots were 5 to 10 cm long) or delayed pruning (when lateral shoots were 30 to 36 cm long) and in-row spacings ≤46 cm. In 1988, total-season yields per hectare of pruned plants increased as in-row spacing decreased. For nonpruned plants, however, total-season yields were high at all spacings. In 1989, total-season yields were lower from delayed-pruned plants than from nonpruned plants and there was little yield difference due to in-row spacing. In both years, nonpruned plants produced low yields of fruit >72 mm in diameter but their total yields were greater than those of pruned plants. Net returns per hectare, calculated from combined data of both years, were highest when 1) plants spaced closely in-row were pruned early and 2) plants were spaced 46 to 76 cm apart and either pruned early or not pruned.
Diurnal fluctuations in soluble carbohydrates and starch were monitored in young (expanding), mature (first fully expanded), and old (nearing senescence) celery (Apium graveolens L.) leaves. In all tissues, mannitol and sucrose were the carbohydrates present in the highest concentrations. In old and young leaflets and their petioles, there was little change in levels of mannitol and sucrose in 26 hours. In mature leaflets, sucrose accumulated in the light and decreased in the dark; mannitol increased slightly in late afternoon. Starch concentration, although quite low, showed definite diurnal fluctuations in mature leaflets, but only small changes in young and old leaflets. Both sucrose and mannitol were present in mature petiole phloem tissues. Mannitol concentrations were high in the adjacent storage parenchyma tissue, but sucrose was almost undetectable. These data support earlier findings that sucrose is produced, translocated, and metabolized throughout the celery plant. Mannitol is also translocated, but also serves as a major storage carbohydrate in leaf tissues, especially petiole parenchyma. Starch serves as a minor short-term storage compound in leaflets.
All available luffa (Luffa aegyptiaca Mill.) cultivars, breeding lines, and plant introduction accessions (collectively referred to as cultigens hereafter) were evaluated at Clinton, N.C., over 3 years. Plants were grown in plots 1.5-m-long on a 1.8-m-high trellis. Border rows and tiers on the sides and ends of the trial were used to reduce the edge effect. Plots were planted in May and evaluated for vine height and sex expression. Fruit were harvested in October to determine fruit number and length after frost killed the vines. Sponges were processed from the fruit and evaluated for seed cell number, wall thickness, sponge strength, fiber denseness, and other quality traits. The tallest vined cultigens were PI 286425 and Fletcher, and the shortest vined were PI 381869 and PI 540921. The highest yielding (sponge number per hectare) cultigens were PI 540921 and PI 391603, and the lowest yielding cultigens were Luffa 30310 and Luffa 97321. Of the cultigens tested, PI 391603 had the longest fruit overall, whereas PI 540921 had the shortest.
Two crack-resistant and two crack-susceptible fresh-market tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) cultivars were evaluated at varied soil moisture levels for physiological fruit defects and yield. Cultural practices recommended for staked-tomato production in North Carolina with raised beds, black polyethylene mulch, and drip irrigation were used. Soil moisture levels of less than −15.0, −30 to −40, and greater than −70 kPa were maintained and monitored using daily tensiometer readings. Soil moisture level had no effect on fruit cracking, blossom-end rot, zippers, or yield. However, there-were large differences among cultivars for fruit defects and total and marketable yields.
Small-scale research plots and demonstrations of fertilizer application through a drip-irrigation system have inherent characteristics that make using commercial fertilizer injection systems difficult. Uniform fertilizer application, without excessive water, is essential for meaningful results in these small-scale, rate-specific studies. An inexpensive, easy to build, continuously diluting fertilizer injector is described. This injection system was reliable and provided uniform application under the confines of a low flow rate.
Compact-growth-habit (CGH) tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) do not require the pruning, staking, and tying required for many fresh-market tomato cultivars. In 1990, 5-week-old transplants of the CGH tomato breeding line NC 13G-1 were grown in single rows with in-row spacings of 31, 46, 61, and 76 cm and in double rows with in-row spacings of 31 and 46 cm. NC 13G-1 produced high early and total season marketable yields when grown in either double-row treatment compared to any single-row treatment. In 1991 and 1992, 4- and 5-week-old NC 13G-1 transplants were produced in five root cell volumes (8.6, 13.6, 27.0, 37.1, and 80.0 cm3), transplanted into double rows with an in-row spacing of 46 cm, and evaluated for yield. Five-week-old transplants produced in 37.1- and 80-cm3 cells flowered sooner after transplanting and produced higher early season yields than 4-week-old transplants produced in the three smaller cells. Midseason yields increased quadratically and late-season yields decreased quadratically as root cell volume increased. Total season marketable yields did not differ among treatments. In 1991, production costs were influenced by root cell volume, but not in 1992. In 1992, net returns for the four smallest cell volumes were similar, and lower than for transplants grown in the largest cell volume. In both years, highest net returns were achieved with transplants produced in 37.1-cm3 cells. Considering the estimated 1992 net returns of $17,000/ha, production of CGH tomatoes may provide an alternative for staked-tomato growers concerned with labor availability and production costs, even though marketable yield from NC 13G-1 was lower than with a conventional cultivar under the standard system.