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  • Author or Editor: C. A. Sanchez x
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Experiments were conducted from 1985 to 1989 to evaluate the response of radishes (Raphanus sativus L.) to N fertilization on Histosols. Three of these experiments used 15N-labeled fertilizer to evaluate the recovery of N by radishes. There was no response to N fertilization in seven of the eight experiments, even though some of them were conducted under conditions of high rainfall. The one experiment in which radish yields increased with N was conducted in a poorly drained, waterlogged field that was atypical of normal radish production fields. Recoveries of fertilizer N in the marketable radish roots averaged 19%. The results of N and 15N analysis showed that although fertilizer N was available for uptake, so was an ample amount of soil mineralized N. These results indicate that under typical growing conditions, radishes produced on Florida Histosols do not respond to N fertilization.

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Six field studies were conducted from 1980-88 to evaluate the response of cabbage (Brassica oleracea L., Capitata group) to sprinkler irrigation and sprinkler-applied N fertilizer on a coarse-textured soil. The plots were irrigated using a modified self-moving lateral sprinkler irrigation system that applied five levels of water and five levels of N (liquid NH4NO3) in specified combinations of central composite rotatable design. Cabbage yields were significantly increased by water and N applications in all experiments. The N rates predicted for maximum yield exceeded typical cabbage N fertilizer recommendations. However, the above-average plant populations used in these studies resulted in above-average yields and plant N accumulation. Deficit and excess irrigation produced negative results. Generally, cabbage production was optimized and N losses to the environment were minimized when crops were irrigated for evapotranspiration (ET) replacement. However, even when irrigated for ET replacement, these data demonstrate the potential for N leaching at high N rates, presumably as a result of rainfall.

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Four field experiments were conducted during 1988 to 1990 to evaluate the response to fertilizer P of six crisphead lettuce (Latuca sativa L.) cultivars grown on Histosols. There were season × cultivar interactions for total mass produced, marketable yield, and P uptake by lettuce. A significant yield response to fertilizer P was demonstrated during all four seasons. The performance of individual cultivars within a given season led to cultivar × P rate interactions for marketable yield. However, there were no significant P rate × cultivar interactions for total mass produced, P uptake, and marketable yield during the one season when growing conditions were near ideal. Calculated critical soil-test P values for both eastern and western lettuce types produced in Florida were all within error currently associated with P fertilizer recommendations for lettuce produced in Florida. Therefore, we conclude that no immediate change in P fertilizer recommendations is required for the new western-type lettuce cultivars produced on Histosols in Florida.

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Five field experiments were conducted from 1986 to 1989 to compare broadcast and band P fertilization of crisphead lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) on Histosols. Rates of P were 0, 50, 100, 200, and 300 kg P/ha applied broadcast or banded. Broadcast P was surface-applied and disked into the soil 1 day before bedding and planting. Banded P was placed in strips 8 cm wide, 5 cm below the lettuce seeds at planting. Lettuce yields were significantly(P < 0.01) increased by P rate in all experiments. However, significant rate-by -placement interactions indicated that response of lettuce to P varied by placement. Lettuce yields were generally optimized with a band P rate one-third of that required with broadcast placement. Analysis of soil samples collected in the lettuce bed after fertilization indicated that banded P increased available P in the lettuce root zone compared to broadcast fertilization. Lettuce leaf P concentration increased with P rate and generally was greater when P was banded. The critical concentration of P in lettuce leaf tissue at the six- to eight-leaf stage was 0.37%. Banding P fertilizer did not reduce the availability of other essential nutrients, as indicated by tissue analysis.

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The effects of applied N and shading duration on net gas exchange and growth of two southern Florida cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz.) cultivars grown in containers were determined. Both cultivars responded similarly to shading and N with respect to the measured variables. There were no interactions between shading duration and N application rate for any of the variables measured. Tissue dry weights, total leaf N and chlorophyll concentrations, net CO2 assimilation (A), transpiration (E), water-use efficiency (WUE), and stomatal conductance (gs) were quadratically related to the concentration of N applied to the soil. The optimum N application rate for maximum growth of both cultivars was 60 mg/plant per day. Increased shading duration reduced A, E, gs, WUE, storage root number, and weight and increased the shoot : root ratio.

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Experiments were conducted during 1998–99 seasons to evaluate the potential for organic vegetable production in the low desert of the southwestern United States. The experimental design included three summer management options [fallow, cowpea (Vigna sinensis), and sudangrass (Sorghum vulgare)] in factorial combination with alternative production systems, which included organic and conventional systems. The crops cultivated were iceberg lettuce (Lactuca sativa L) during the fall–winter period and melons (Cucumis melo Reticulatus Group) during the spring. The organic plots were managed with strict adherence to California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) guidelines. Summer cover crop management seemed to influence the early growth and N uptake of lettuce, but had no final effect on yield and quality. The organic production system resulted in lower yields and inferior product quality compared to the conventional system. Generally, disease and weeds were not limiting factors, although labor costs for weed control would be slightly higher in organic plots. Insects, primarily aphids (various types) and thrips (Frankliniella Occidentalis Perancle), and fertility, primarily N, were factors limiting yield and quality in organic systems. Control of whiteflies (Bemisia argentifoli) was the limiting factor for melons. Studies during 1999–2000 are focused on overcoming the challenges of the insect and fertility management in organic systems.

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Field studies were conducted to develop water and N response surface models for broccoli and cauliflower (Brassica oleracea L., Botrytis Group) produced in the low desert of the southwestern United States and to estimate profit maximizing combinations of water and N over a range of realistic price situations. Marketable broccoli and cauliflower yields were increased by water and N inputs in all experiments. Generalized response equations indicate maximum broccoli yields with 43 cm of water and N at 267 kg·ha–1 and maximum cauliflower yields with 65 cm of water and N at 338 kg·ha–1. Least-cost combinations of water and N changed with the costs of these inputs for yield levels below the economic maximum. However, profit maximizing N and water rates changed little regardless of input or crop prices investigated.

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Lettuce (Lactuca Sativa L.) produced in the low desert typically shows large yield responses to N fertilization. Concern about the potential threat of nitrate-N to ground water prompted the state of Arizona to pass legislation aimed at implementing improved N management practices. Nitrogen management guidelines recommended by the University of Arizona for lettuce suggest a preplant application based on a soil nitrate-N test and subsequent sidedress applications based on plant tissue monitoring. However, growers have some anxiety that close adherence to recommendations resulting from an average plant sample may compromise crop uniformity. Aerial photographs have the potential to detect differences in N status in any portion of the field. This study evaluated digital computer analysis of aerial photographs as a tool for evaluating the N status of lettuce. The digitized photographs appeared to detect deficiencies not apparent to the human eye. There were good correlations (R2 0.83 to 0.99) between Gray-scale ratio and N status, suggesting digital analysis of aerial photographs has potential for diagnosing N deficiencies in lettuce.

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Twenty field experiments were conducted to evaluate the response of iceberg lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) to N and evaluate various diagnostic technologies as tools for assessing the N nutritional status of lettuce. Lettuce yields showed a curvilinear response to N in most experiments. Generally, the dry midrib nitrate-N test and the sap nitrate-N test appear to be sensitive indicators of the N nutritional status of lettuce after the folding stage of growth. The chlorophyll meter was not a sensitive indicator of the N nutritional status of lettuce. Preliminary data also show that canopy reflectance, including digital analysis of aerial photographs, is correlated to N nutritional status of lettuce. However, reflectance technologies do not readily distinguish between N deficiencies and other factors (insects, diseases, water stress, etc.) that affect plant biomass and color. Because plant tests do not appear to be sensitive indicators of N nutrition during early growth stages (before folding), a post-thinning (and pre-sidedress) soil nitrate-N test is currently being evaluated.

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The goal of this study was to develop a systems-based strategy for organic muskmelon (Cucumis melo var. reticulatus) in Pennsylvania (PA), Iowa (IA), and Kentucky (KY) to manage bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila) and nutrients while safeguarding yield and enhancing early harvest. Spunbond polypropylene rowcovers deployed for different timings during the growing season were evaluated for suppressing bacterial wilt and locally available compost was applied based on two different estimated rates of mineralization of organic nitrogen (N) to manage nutrients. In KY only, the use of rowcovers suppressed bacterial wilt incidence compared with not using rowcovers. However, the timing of rowcover removal did not impact wilt incidence. Under lower cucumber beetle [striped cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittatum) and spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi)] pressure in PA and IA, rowcovers did not consistently suppress season-long incidence of bacterial wilt. In four of five site-years in PA and IA, more marketable fruit were produced when rowcovers were removed 10 days after an action threshold (the date the first flower opened in PA; the date when ≥50% of plants in a subplot had developed perfect flowers in IA and KY) than when no 10-day delay was made or when no rowcovers were used. In addition, the no-rowcover treatment consistently had lower weight per marketable fruit. In KY, the same action threshold without the 10-day delay, followed by insecticide applications, resulted in the largest number of marketable fruit, but did not affect marketable fruit weight. In PA, marketable yield was higher using compost compared with the organic fertilizer in 1 year. No yield differences were observed by nutrient treatments in 2 years. In IA, marketable yield was lower with the low amount of compost compared with the organic fertilizer and yields with the high amount of compost were not different from the low amount or the organic fertilizer in the year it was evaluated. In KY, marketable yield was unaffected by the nutrient treatments in the year it was evaluated. Given these results, muskmelon growers in PA, IA, and KY who use compost may choose the lower compost rate to minimize production costs. Overall, these findings suggest that rowcover-based strategies for organic management of bacterial wilt need to be optimized on a regional basis, and that fertilization with compost is compatible with these strategies.

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