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  • Author or Editor: Penelope Perkins-Veazie x
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The purpose of this experiment was to determine the response of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) cultivars with fruit of average and high lycopene to increased K fertilization. The field experiment was designed as a factorial, split-plot, randomized complete block with four replications. The main plot consisted of K rates ranging from 0 to 372 kg·ha−1 K as KCl, and the subplot was cultivar (‘Mountain Spring’ or the high-lycopene Florida hybrid, ‘Fla. 8153’). The soil type was a well-drained, central Iowa loam with a soil test level considered low. The soil K application effect on total marketable fruit yield was linear (P < 0.001, Y = 53 Mg·ha−1 + 0.084x, r2 = 0.51) with both cultivars responding similarly. Fruit K analysis indicated a linear response to fertilization across four harvest dates, from 1236 to 1991 mg·kg−1, fresh weight basis. Harvest date had no effect on fruit lycopene concentration, but there was a significant (P = 0.006) interaction of K fertilization rate and cultivar. Overall, ‘Fla. 8153’ contained 9.5 mg·kg−1 more lycopene in fruit tissue than ‘Mountain Spring’. ‘Mountain Spring’ lycopene concentration was not enhanced by higher K fertilization (44.2 mg·kg−1). ‘Fla. 8153’ lycopene concentration increased 21.7% at the highest K rate compared with lower rates (62.9 vs. 51.7 mg·kg−1, respectively). A controlled greenhouse study in the fall of 2005 with the same cultivars indicated similar results. Fruit K concentration for ‘Fla. 8153’ was significantly (P < 0.01) correlated to the fruit carotenoids, phytoene and phytofluene, indicating a possible role for K in one of the enzymes that synthesize phytoene. In the field and greenhouse studies, increasing fruit K concentration in the high-lycopene ‘Fla. 8153’ depressed fruit β-carotene by 53%. These results indicate that K fertilization can affect carotenoid biosynthesis, and the response of tomato to a high K rate is genotype dependent.

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Vegetable grafting began in the 1920s using resistant rootstock to control soilborne diseases. This process is now common in Asia, parts of Europe, and the Middle East. In Japan and Korea, most of the cucurbits and tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) grown are grafted. This practice is rare in the United States, and there have been few experiments to determine optimal grafting production practices for different geographical and climatic regions in America. This is beginning to change as a result of the phase out of methyl bromide. The U.S. cucurbit and tomato industries are evaluating grafting as a viable option for disease control. Because reports indicate that type of rootstock alters yield and quality attributes of the scion fruit, some seed companies are investigating grafting as a means to improve quality. It has been reported that pH, flavor, sugar, color, carotenoid content, and texture can be affected by grafting and the type of rootstock used. Reports vary on whether grafting effects are advantageous or deleterious, but it is usually agreed that the rootstock/scion combination must be carefully chosen for optimal fruit quality. Additionally, it is important to study rootstock/scion combinations under multiple climatic and geographic conditions because many rootstocks have optimal temperature and moisture ranges. This report gives an overview of the effect of grafting on vegetable quality.

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High-quality, high-phytonutrient watermelons [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.), Matsum & Nakai] have strong market opportunities. To produce highly nutritious fruit in a seedless triploid market, the nature of phytonutrient accumulation as affected by ploidy must be understood. The present study performed on six field-grown watermelon diploid (2n) inbred lines, their induced autotetraploids (4n), and autotriploids (3n) determined the importance of ploidy on quality and nutritional content. Lycopene, total soluble solids (TSS), L-citrulline (hereafter referred to as citrulline), glutathione (GSH), weight, width, and length were measured in ripe fruit from one location. Our findings contradict some previous manuscripts, which did not use diploid inbred lines and their induced autoploidy relatives. Of the traits we analyzed that did not have a family-by-ploidy interaction (citrulline, GSH, weight, and width), we determined citrulline levels were not significantly affected by ploidy in five of six families nor was there a significant correlation when all family’s citrulline values were averaged. Previous studies on field-grown fruit that did not use autoploidy lines suggested triploid fruit had more citrulline than diploid fruit. GSH was higher in autotriploid than in diploid or autotetraploid (95.0 vs. 66.9 or 66.7 μg·g−1 GSH, respectively). Additionally, we found an association with higher GSH in larger fruit. Autotriploid fruit were, in general, heavier and wider than diploid and autotetraploid fruit, and autotetraploid fruit were generally smaller than diploid fruit. Of the traits we analyzed that had a family by ploidy interaction (lycopene, TSS, and length), we determined within four families, ploidy affected lycopene concentration, but whether this interaction is positive or negative was family-dependent. These data suggest the triploid state alone does not give fruit higher lycopene concentrations. The mean TSS was higher in autotetraploid than in autotriploid, which was again higher than in diploid fruit averaged across families (10.5%, 10.2%, and 9.5% TSS, respectively); there was a family × ploidy interaction so the significance of this increase is affected by the triploid’s parents. Lycopene and TSS had a slight positive correlation. Four of six families showed no statistical correlation between ploidy and length, and although mean length across family demonstrated smaller tetraploid fruit, the family-by-ploidy interaction demonstrates that this observation is family-dependent. Length and width correlate well with weight when combining data for all ploidy levels and when analyzing each ploidy separately. Length correlates more closely with width in autotriploid fruit than in diploid or autotetraploid fruit.

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Lycopene from ground watermelon flesh can be segregated between filtrate and filter cake by coarse filtration. Low speed centrifugation of the filtrate can further segregate filtrate lycopene between an easily recoverable precipitated high lycopene pellet and a serum. Lycopene in watermelon flesh increases steadily during maturation and remains constant, or slightly decreases in overripe melons. This study was conducted to document the effect of melon maturity on lycopene segregation during filtration/centrifugal processing. Flesh of three seedless watermelon cultivars was ground and filtered through two layers of Miracloth. Filter cakes were rinsed with water and filtrates were centrifuged at 3500 g to precipitate lycopene. Centrifugal recovery of lycopene from filtrates was about the same for undermature and mature melons (50% to 70%), but was much lower for overripe melons (35% to 45%). This decline in recoverable lycopene from overripe melons could be negated if ground flesh was heated to 60 or 85 °C prior to filtration. Lycopene from preheated flesh segregated predominately into the filter cake for all three maturity groupings. The interaction between melon maturity and pre-filtration heating will be evaluated and integrated into a potential watermelon lycopene production system.

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High tunnels have been widely adopted for red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) production in the United States to extend the harvest season and increase yields. In this study, effects of high tunnel production on contents of plant secondary metabolites (anthocyanins, carotenoids, tocopherols, and ellagitannins) in red raspberry fruit were determined for three fall-fruiting cultivars (Autumn Britten, Caroline, and Nantahala) grown at three locations in North Carolina under field and high tunnel cultivation systems. Cultivar was the primary contributing factor to variation in phytochemicals, with minor effects of location and production system. The anthocyanin cyanidin-3-glucoside and the carotenoids α-carotene, β-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin were higher in fruit produced in field compared with tunnel cultivation (P < 0.01). Accumulation of total anthocyanins and tocopherols in fruit were unaffected by high tunnel cultivation in comparison with traditional field cultivation. Carotenoid content varied by genotype and production system. ‘Autumn Britten’ and ‘Caroline’ showed no difference, but were higher than ‘Nantahala’ for α-carotene, β-carotene, 9-cis-β-carotene, and lutein + zeaxanthin (P < 0.0001). Phytochemical differences among field and tunnel produced fruit have important implications for breeding with increased nutritional value in mind, and also the understanding of the relationships of plant pigments to light and temperature.

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The increasing perception by consumers that organic food tastes better and is healthier continues to expand the demand for organically produced crops. The objective of these experiments was to investigate the impact of different weed control systems on yields of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus) varieties grown organically. Six watermelon varieties were transplanted at two locations (Lane and Center Point, Okla.). The six varieties included three seeded varieties (`Early Moonbeam', `Sugar Baby', and `Allsweet') and three seedless varieties (`Triple Crown', `Triple Prize', and `Triple Star'). The weed control system at Lane utilized black plastic mulch on the crop row, while the area between rows was cultivated to control weeds. The no-till organic system at Center Point used a mowed rye and vetch cover crop, hand weeding, and vinegar (5% acetic acid) for weed control. When averaged across watermelon varieties, Lane produced significantly more fruit per plant (4.2 vs. 2.3 fruit/plant), greater marketable yields (16.0 vs. 8.4 kg/plants), and higher average marketable weight per fruit (6.1 vs. 4.0 kg) than at Center Point. When comparing locations, four of six varieties had significantly greater number of fruit per plant and higher marketable yields at Lane than at Center Point. Except for `Early Moonbeam', all other varieties produced significantly heavier fruit at Lane than at Center Point. In contrast, the Center Point location produced a greater percentage of marketable fruit for all varieties except `Allsweet'. Fruit quality (lycopene and °Brix) was as good or greater when harvested from the weedier Center Point location.

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Mini watermelons are the size of cantaloupes and weigh 1.5 to 3 kg (4 to 8 lbs). Melons of 18 selections were grown in replicated trials in North Carolina, South Carolina, and north and south Florida. Melons were harvested when ripe, and samples of heart and locule tissue were frozen and sent to Lane, Okla. A total of 960 samples, representing 6-12 melons per selection per location, were analyzed for total lycopene content using colorimeter and spectrophotometer methods. Subsamples of `Mohican', `Hazera 6007', `Vanessa', `Petite Treat', and `Precious Petite' were analyzed by HPLC for carotenoid profiles. Total lycopene content ranged from 52 to 108 μg·g-1, depending on variety. Selections were grouped into two levels of lycopene content. The varieties Precious Petite, Petite Perfection, Betsy, Bonny, Petite Treat, Valdoria, Vanessa, Hazera 5133 and 5138, RWT 8149, 8155, 8162 had 60 to 79 μg·g-1 lycopene and the varieties Hazera 6007, 5123, 5109, 5177, Mohican, and Extazy had 80 to 100 μg·g-1. Melons harvested from the Florida locations had more total lycopene than those from North and South Carolina. `Precious Petite' had more β-carotene as a percentage of total carotenoids than other varieties tested. These results indicate that lycopene content is affected primarily by germplasm and also by environment.

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Producers of fresh fruits and vegetables face increasing production costs and international market competition. Growers who can offer high-quality watermelons [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.) Matsum. & Nakai] that are also highly nutritious will have better market opportunities. To accomplish that, germplasm must be identified that has enhanced phytonutrient levels. Surprisingly, there is little information on the genetics of nutritional quality in watermelon. The present study was performed on 56 watermelon cultivars, breeding lines, and PI accessions (hereafter collectively referred to as cultigens) to determine the importance of genotype and environmental effects on L-citrulline concentration in fruit, an amino acid that helps regulate blood pressure. Our results demonstrated that L-citrulline concentration was affected by environment and the amount of environmental effect varies among cultigens. The mean of fruit tested in Lane, OK, was 3.10 mg·g−1 fresh weight and in College Station, TX, it was 1.67 mg·g−1 fresh weight. All cultigens had a higher mean L-citrulline concentration when grown in Lane, OK, instead of College Station, TX. Additionally, the L-citrulline concentration varied considerably within cultigens; i.e., ‘Congo’ had a 1.26 to 7.21 mg·g−1 fresh sample deviation. The cultigen ‘AU-Jubilant’ had the most stable L-citrulline concentration (2.23 to 4.03 mg·g−1 fresh deviation) when tested from one location. Environment did not significantly increase within-genotype variation (average se of 10 cultigens tested at each location was ± 35.3% for College Station, TX, and ± 32.9% for Lane, OK). L-citrulline concentration did not correlate with watermelon type (open-pollinated or F1 hybrid) or flesh color (red, orange, salmon yellow, or white). Differences among cultigens for L-citrulline were large (1.09 to 4.52 mg·g−1 fresh sample). The cultigens with the highest L-citrulline concentration were ‘Tom Watson’, PI 306364, and ‘Jubilee’. These could be used to develop cultivars having a high concentration of L-citrulline.

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