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- Author or Editor: Robert J. Dufault x
For the earliest yields of spring melons, muskmelon [Cucumis melo L. (Reticulatus Group)] fields in the southeast United States may be transplanted in late winter before the last frost date. Seedlings may be exposed to cold temperatures cycling between almost freezing and optimal for weeks before warm weather predominates and such exposure may reduce later growth and yields. To test whether cold stress may reduce growth and yield, `Athena' muskmelon seedlings were subjected to cold stress at 2 ± 1 °C then transferred to a greenhouse at 29 ± 5 °C before field transplanting. In 1997, cold exposure durations were 3, 6, or 9 h and were repeated (frequency) for 1, 3, 6, or 9 d before transplanting. In 1998, duration levels were not changed but frequencies were 3, 6, or 9 d. In 1997, as cold stress increased, seedling shoot and root fresh and dry weights, height, leaf area, and leaf chlorophyll content decreased linearly, but shoot carbohydrates decreased curvilinearly and stabilized with ≈54 hours cold stress. In 1998, all seedling growth characteristics except leaf chlorophyll content decreased linearly as cold stress exposure increased. Leaf chlorophyll content decreased curvilinearly as cold stress increased to 36 h, but leveled off with more hours of cold stress. Even 1 week after transplanting, plants exposed to cold stress for up to 81 h continued to transpire more than control plants. In both years, vining (date first runner touched the ground) and male and female flowering were delayed significantly with increasing cold stress, but fruit set was affected only in 1998. Cold stress in 1998 delayed earliness with early fruit weight and number per plot decreasing as cold stress exposure increased. Total yields decreased linearly in both years as cold stress increased with 21 to 32 hours causing 10% yield reduction in 1997 and 1998, respectively. Results indicate a potential risk exists for yield reduction if `Athena' muskmelon is planted weeks before last frost dates.
Muskmelon (Cucumis melo) seedlings are transplanted in late winter or early spring before last frost date to ensure early yields; however, this makes them very vulnerable to temperatures cycling between almost freezing and optimal temperatures. To simulate temperature alternations that may occur after field transplanting, `Athena', `Sugar Bowl', `Eclipse' muskmelon, and `Tesorro Dulce' honeydew (C. melo) transplants were subjected to 2 ± 1 °C (35.6 ± 1.8 °F) in a walk-in cooler and then to 29 ± 5 °C (84.2 ± 9.0 °F) in a greenhouse before field planting. In 1998, transplants were exposed to 2 °C for 9 to 54 hours, and for 9 to 81 hours in 1999. `Athena' and `Sugar Bowl' yielded less early melons in both years, whereas `Eclipse' and `Tesoro Dulce' early yields were only reduced in 1999. Total yields of `Athena' decreased linearly in both years with 10% yield reduction occurring with 12 to 21 hours of cold stress. Total yields of `Sugar Bowl' decreased linearly in both years with 11 to 18 hours of cold stress causing 10% yield reduction in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Therefore, early planting before last frosts of all these muskmelon and honeydew cultivars should be done with caution since reductions in early yields are highly probable.
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. and Nakai) seedlings transplanted before the last frost date may be exposed to temperatures alternating between freezing and optimal until field temperatures finally stabilize. Cold stress may ultimately reduce growth and yield. To simulate such temperature alternations that occur naturally after field transplanting, diploid `Carnival' watermelon seedlings were exposed immediately before field planting to cyclic cold temperature stress at 2 ± 1 °C then transferred to a greenhouse at 29 ± 5 °C. In 1997, transplants were exposed to 2 °C from 3 to 81 hours and in 1998, exposure ranged from 9 to 81 hours. Cold-stressed seedlings were field planted after all potential risk of cold stress in the field had passed. In 1997, cold stress decreased seedling shoot and root fresh and dry weights, leaf area, chlorophyll and carbohydrate contents but not seedling height. In 1998, all seedling growth variables decreased in response to longer durations of cold stress. Plants cold stressed for up to 81 hours transpired more for 1 week after transplanting than those exposed to shorter periods of cold stress. In both years, vining (date first runner touched the ground), flowering, and fruit set were delayed significantly as cold stress hours increased. Although early yields were unaffected, total yields decreased linearly in both years with increasing hours of cold, with 38 to 40 hours of cold stress reducing yield 10% in both years. Data indicate that `Carnival' watermelon transplants exposed to cold stress soon after transplanting may suffer yield reductions.
Our objectives were to determine 1) if shrimp sludge has any value as a soil amendment in broccoli production and 2) an appropriate rate of sludge for head production. Four levels of N–P–K per 15-L pot (in grams; 2.0 N–0.07 P–1.4 K; 4.0 N–0.14 P–2.8 K; or 6.0 N–0.21 P–4.2 K; and 0.0 N–P–K) were factorially combined and replicated 10 times with four volumes of shrimp sludge (0%, 10%, 20%, and 40% v/w in 15-L pots blended with 100%, 90%, 80%, and 60% Metro Mix 300, respectively). Four-week-old `Emerald City' broccoli transplants were planted into sludge + media–fertilizer mixtures on 12–14–95 and were grown to harvest maturity in a greenhouse. As sludge volume increased, the days to harvest, plant height, and root fresh weight: head fresh weight ratio decreased, but leaf number, fresh weight and area, head fresh weight, stem diameter, and shoot: root fresh weight ratio increased. As N–P–K rate increased, leaf number, area, and fresh weight, stem diameter, head fresh weight, and shoot: root fresh weight ratio increased, but root: head fresh weight ratio and plant height decreased. Using head fresh weight as the determinant, heaviest heads were optimized with 20% sludge and 4.0g N–0.14g P–2.8g K per 15-L pot. Sludge alone or N–P–K alone did not produce the heaviest broccoli heads as using combinations of sludge and N–P–K in a fertility program.
Tomato (L.ycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seedlings were nutritionally conditioned with solutions containing factorial combinations of N at 25, 75, and 225 mg·liter -1, P at 5, 15, and 45 mg·liter-1, and K at 25, 75, and 225 mg·liter -1 to determine the effect of nutritional regimes on tomato transplant growth and quality. As N increased from 25 to 225 mg·liter-1, fresh shoot weight, plant height, stem diameter, leaf number, leaf area, shoot and root dry weights, and total chlorophyll increased. Nitrogen accounted for the major source of variation. Phosphorus effects were significant only in 1988; Pat 45 mg·liter-1 increased fresh shoot weight, plant height, stem diameter, leaf number, and leaf area in comparison to 5 and 15 mg·liter -1. Potassium did not significantly influence any of the growth variables measured in the study. For quality transplant production, nutrient solutions should contain at least N at 225 mg·liter-1, P at 45 mg·liter-1, and K at 25 mg·liter-1.
Tomato seedlings (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. `Sunny') were exposed to cyclic cold stress at 2 ± 1C, then to 29 ± 6C in a greenhouse before being transplanted to the field. Cold-stressed seedlings were transplanted when the risk of ambient cold stress was negligible. In the first year of a 2-year study, transplants were exposed to 2C for 3, 6, or 12 hours for 1, 3, or 6 days before field planting. In the second year, transplants were exposed to 2C for 6, 12, or 18 hours for 4, 7, or 10 days before field planting. In the first year, cold stress generally stimulated increases in seedling height, leaf area, and shoot and root dry weights but decreased chlorophyll content. In the second year, all seedling growth characteristics except leaf area and plant height were diminished in response to longer cold-stress treatment. In both years, earliness, total productivity, and quality were unaffected by any stress treatment. Therefore, cold stress occurring before transplanting has a negligible effect on earliness, yield, or quality.
`Sunny' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seedlings were pretransplant nutritionally conditioned (PNC) in 1988 and 1989 with factorial combinations of N from 100 to 300 mg·liter-1 and P from 10 to 70 mg·liter-1. In 1988, all conditioned seedlings were exposed to 12 hours of 2C for eight consecutive nights before transplanting. In 1989, half of the conditioned plants were exposed to a low-temperature treatment of 8 days with 12-hour nights at 2C and 12-hour days in a warm greenhouse (19C/26C, night/day). In both years, as N PNC increased to 200 mg·liter-1, seedling growth increased. Increasing P PNC from 10 to 40 mg·liter-1 increased seedling growth, but only in 1988. In both years, P PNC did not affect yields. Low-temperature exposure in 1989 decreased seedling growth in comparison to those held in a warm greenhouse (19C/26C, day/night). In 1988, first harvest yields were not affected by N PNC; however, in 1989, as N increased to 200 mg·liter-1, early yields increased. In 1988, total yields increased wit h N PNC from 100 to 200 mg·liter-1 and in 1989 with N at 50 to 100 mg·liter-1 with no further increases from 100 to 200 mg·liter-1. Low-temperature exposure had no effect on earliness, yield, or quality. A PNC regime combining at least 200 mg N/liter and up to 10 mg P/liter should be used to nutritionally condition `Sunny' tomato seedlings to enhance yield.
To reduce transplant shock of bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.), we tested the effectiveness of pretransplant nutritional conditioning (PNC) as a promoter of earliness and yield. In Expt. 1, `Gatorbelle' bell pepper seedlings were fertilized with N from Ca(NO3)2 at 25, 75, or 225 mg·liter-1 and P from Ca(H2PO4)2 at 5, 15, or 45 mg·liter-1. Nitrogen interacted with P, affecting shoot fresh and dry weight, leaf area, root dry weight, seedling height, and leaf count. In Expt. 2, transplants conditioned with N from 50, 100, and 200 mg·liter-1 and P at 15, 30, and 60 mg·liter-1 were field-planted in Charleston, S.C., and Clinton, N.C. Nitrogen- and P-PNC did not greatly affect recovery from transplant shock. Although N- and P-PNC affected seedling growth in the greenhouse, earliness, total yield, and quality were similar in field studies among all PNC treatments at both locations. PNC with 50 mg N and 15 mg P/liter can be used with this variety and not have any long-term detrimental effects on yield and quality.
Pretransplant nutritional conditioning (PNC) of transplants during greenhouse production may improve recovery from transplanting stress and enhance earliness and yield of watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.) Matsum. & Nakai]. Two greenhouse experiments (Expts. 1 and 2) and field experiments in South Carolina and North Carolina (Expt. 3) were conducted to evaluate N and P PNC effects on watermelon seedling growth and their effects on fruit yield and quality. `Queen of Hearts' triploid and `Crimson Sweet' diploid watermelon seedlings were fertilized with N from calcium nitrate at 25, 75, or 225 mg·liter–1 and P from calcium phosphate at 5, 15, or 45 mg·liter–1. In the greenhouse, most variation in the shoot fresh and dry weights, leaf count, leaf area, transplant height, and root dry weight in `Queen of Hearts' and `Crimson Sweet' was attributed to N. Cultivar interacted with N, affecting all seedling growth variables, but not leaf area in Expt. 2. To a lesser extent, in Expt. 1, but not in Expt. 2, P interacted with cultivar, N, or cultivar × N and affected shoot fresh and dry weights, leaf count and leaf area. In the field, transplant shock increased linearly with N, regardless of cultivar or field location. The effect of PNC on plant growth diminished as the growing season progressed. For both cultivars at both locations, N and P PNC did not affect time to first staminate flower, fruit set, fruit width or length, soluble solids concentration, or yield. Vining at Charleston for both cultivars was 2 days earlier when N was at 75 rather than 25 mg·liter–1, without further change with the high N rate. At Clinton, the first pistillate flower was delayed linearly the higher the N rate for `Crimson Sweet'. At Charleston, hollow heart in the `Queen of Hearts' increased nearly 3 times when N PNC rate was tripled (from 75 or 225 mg·liter–1), while N had no effect on hollow heart in `Crimson Sweet'. In contrast, at Clinton, hollow heart in either cultivar was affected by P PNC, not N. PNC with 25N–5P (in mg·liter–1) can be used to reduce seedling growth and produce a more compact plant for easier handling, yet not reduce fruit quality or yield.
Sweet peppers (Capsicum annuum L. cv. Midway) were grown in field plots with diffuse solar reflectors and/or white polyethylene mulches. Solar reflectors significantly increased photosynthetically-active radiation (PAR) levels over the season. The reflective flux in PAR of mulched ground surfaces was 3 times as large as the bare soil plots. Plants grown with a white mulch were shorter, fruited earlier, and produced higher overall yields than unmulched plants. Solar reflectors did not affect earliness to fruit and increased the overall yield of fruit to a lesser extent than mulched plants. Stem diameter and fresh and dry weights were unaffected by any treatment. Solar reflectors minimally affected plant growth and yield. The beneficial effect of reflective mulches could not be ascribed to solar enhancement, to soil moisture conservation, or to other microclimatic factors.