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  • Author or Editor: Robert Steiner x
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Water saving, productivity, and quality of the chile pepper were evaluated under three irrigation treatments. Three drip irrigation treatments used were 1) control, where water was applied at the surface using two drip emitters; 2) partial root-zone drying vertically (PRDv), where subsurface irrigation was applied at 20 cm depth from soil surface; and 3) partial root-zone drying compartment (PRDc), where roots were divided into two compartments and irrigation was applied to one of the compartments on every alternate-day cycle for 15 days. Continuous measurements of soil water content were carried out during the growing seasons of 2013 and 2014, respectively. During both growing seasons, the stomatal conductance (g S) and net photosynthetic rates (Pn) were similar among all treatments including the control. In both PRD treatments, a higher rooting depth and root length density (RLD) than the control likely compensated for the water stress in dry soil zones by taking up more water from the water available parts of the root-soil system. In PRDc and PRDv treatments, 30% less water was applied than control without significant changes to plant stress expressed by stem water potential, plant height, capsaicinoid concentration, and yield. The increased irrigation water use efficiency (IWUE) demonstrated water saving potential of both PRD techniques for chile pepper production in water-limited arid environments.

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Biofumigation is a sustainable method of soil management in cash crop rotations that can increase soil organic matter (SOM), moderate soil pH, suppress weeds and soilborne pathogens through glucosinolates (GSL), and increase water infiltration. This 2-year (2011–13) field study evaluated four different Brassica crops for their biofumigant potential in a chile pepper rotation system in southern New Mexico. The four cultivars included: three mustards (Brassica juncea ‘Caliente 61’, ‘Caliente 199’, and ‘Pacific Gold’) and one broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis ‘Arcadia’). As a result of concerns that these mustards could be hosts for nematodes, a greenhouse study was conducted in the second year to evaluate the biofumigant crops for their southern root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita, RKN) host suitability and their seedling establishment in the presence of RKN. In Year 1 (2011), conditions were ideal, which resulted in high mustard biomass production and, consequently, significantly higher SOM and lower pH than the bare soil control plots. However, there were no chile pepper yield differences among treatments. Conditions were much less favorable in Year 2 and the resultant poor biomass production did not cause an increase in SOM as seen in Year 1. In the RKN greenhouse study, broccoli was the least susceptible biofumigant crop. After one nematode generation (683 cumulative heat units), RKN populations were less than half of the original inoculum level on the broccoli. However, RKN populations increased in the presence of ‘Caliente 61’, ‘Caliente 199’, and ‘Pacific Gold’. Overall, broccoli produced lower biomass and lower GSL concentrations than the mustard treatments but may be a valuable crop for growers with nematode issues because RKN populations decreased in its presence. Based on high biomass production and high GSL concentration, ‘Caliente 199’ showed the most potential as a biofumigant crop for southern New Mexico.

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Bulb onion (Allium cepa L.) is an economically valuable vegetable crop in the United States. Onion production is threatened by onion thrips, which are the vector for Iris yellow spot virus, which is the causal agent of Iris yellow spot (IYS). New Mexico State University (NMSU) breeding lines 12-236, 12-238, 12-243, and 12-337 have exhibited fewer IYS disease symptoms in the field; however, little is known about the effects of the disease on the photosynthesis rate (Pn). We hypothesized that these NMSU breeding lines would have a higher Pn than IYS-susceptible cultivars Rumba and Stockton Early Yellow. To test this hypothesis, a field study was conducted for 3 years at NMSU, and Pn was measured five times throughout each season at 2-week intervals. During bulb development and maturation, which occurred at 10 and 12 weeks after transplanting, all NMSU breeding lines exhibited a higher Pn when compared with that of an IYS-susceptible cultivar. Pn was highest at the end of the vegetative growth stage and decreased as bulbs approached maturation for all cultivars. Additionally, a high Pn at 10 and 12 weeks after transplanting coincided with high bulb weight at harvest. NMSU breeding lines have increased Pn compared with that of IYS-susceptible cultivars and resulted in larger and more marketable bulbs. These results indicate that maintaining Pn may be related to reduced IYS symptom expression of onion.

Open Access

Overwinter mustard cover crops incorporated into soil may suppress early-season weeds in chile pepper (Capsicum annuum). However, the potential for mustard cover crops to harbor beet leafhoppers (Circulifer tenellus) is a concern because beet leafhoppers transmit beet curly top virus to chile pepper. The objectives of this study were to determine the amounts of a biopesticidal compound (sinigrin) added to soil from ‘Caliente Rojo’ brown mustard (Brassica juncea) cover crops ended on three different days before beet leafhopper flights during spring and to determine the effects of the cover crop termination date on weed densities and hand-hoeing times for chile pepper. To address these objectives, a field study was conducted in southern New Mexico. In 2019–20, the cover crop was ended and incorporated into soil 45, 31, and 17 days before beet leafhopper flights. In 2020–21, cover crop termination occurred 36, 22, and 8 days before beet leafhopper flights. Treatments also included a no cover crop control. Cover crop biomass and sinigrin concentrations were determined at each termination. Chile pepper was seeded 28 days after the third termination date. Weed densities and hand-hoeing times were determined 28 and 56 days after chile pepper seeding. In 2019–20, the third termination (17 days before beet leafhopper flights) yielded the maximum cover crop biomass (820 g⋅m−2) and greatest sinigrin addition to soil (274 mmol⋅m−2). However, only the second termination (31 days before beet leafhopper flights) suppressed weeds in chile pepper. In 2020–21, the third termination (8 days before beet leafhopper flights) yielded the maximum cover crop biomass (591 g⋅m−2) and greatest sinigrin addition to soil (213 mmol⋅m−2), and it was the only treatment that suppressed weeds. No cover crop treatment reduced hand-hoeing times. These results indicate that overwinter mustard cover crops can be ended to evade beet leafhopper flights and suppress weeds in chile pepper.

Open Access

Phytophthora capsici is responsible for multiple disease syndromes of Capsicum annuum but the resistance mechanism is still unknown. Evaluating gene expression during foliar blight can be used to identify expression patterns associated with resistance in Capsicum species. This study reports a direct comparison of gene expression changes during the foliar blight syndrome using two different races of P. capsici on C. annuum host plants with resistant and susceptible phenotypes to those races. Four genes were evaluated for differential expression following leaf inoculation with P. capsici. RNA isolated from leaves at three time points was used to quantify gene expression by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Of four genes tested, two had differential expression in response to P. capsici at 72 hours postinoculation, a xyloglucan-specific endo-β-1,4-glucanase inhibitor protein (XEGIP2) in susceptible cultivar New Mexico Heritage 6-4 (NMH6-4), and a C. annuum cell wall protein (CWP) in resistant Criollo de Morelos 334 (CM334). Both genes had a 5-fold increase in transcription in leaves over the control. These results suggest that both genes are playing a role in disease resistance to foliar blight.

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During the past several years, watermelon trials have been performed in the state, but not as a coordinated effort. Extensive planning in 1997 led to the establishment of a statewide watermelon trial during the 1998 growing season. The trial was performed in five major production areas of the state including: The Winter Garden (Carrizo Springs); South Plains (Lubbock); East Texas (Overton); Cross Timbers (Stephenville); and the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Weslaco). Twenty seedless and 25 seeded hybrids were evaluated at each location. Drip irrigation with black plastic mulch on free-standing soil beds was used to grow entries in each area trial and yield data was recorded in a similar manner for each site. Results were reported in a statewide extension newsletter. Future plans include a continuation of the trial in the hope that multiple-year data will provide a basis for valid variety recommendations for watermelon producers in all areas of the state.

Free access