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Christopher S. Cramer and Mark P. Bridgen

Mussaenda, a tropical ornamental shrub developed in the Philippines is being examined as a potential greenhouse potted crop in the United States. Showy sepals of white, picotee, pink or red and fragrant, yellow flowers make Mussaenda an attractive patted plans however, the profuse upright growth habit of some Mussaenda cultivars is undesirable for pot plant culture. With this in mind experiments were conducted to determine the effects of three growth regulators at two concentrations each, as well as the application method and the number of applications on Mussaenda plant height.

Three growth regulators, daminozide (B-Nine), ancymidol (A-Rest), and paclobutrazol (Bonzi) were applied at two commercially recommended rates and two application methods (spray or drench). The treatment were daminozide at 2500 ppm and 5000 ppm (spray), ancymidol at 33 and 66 ppm (spray) and at 0.25 and 0.50 mg/pot (drench), and paclobutrazol at 25 and 50 ppm (spray) and at 0.125 and 0.25 mg/pot (drench). In subsequent experiments, the same growth regulators were applied with an increase in concentration and either two or three applications. The treatments were daminozide at 5000 ppm (spray), ancymidol at 66 and 132 ppm (spray) and at 0.50 and 1.0 mg/pot (drench), and paclobutrazol at 50 and 100 ppm (spray) and at 0.25 and 0.50 mg/pot (drench).

The most attractive potted plants were produced with two applications of daminozide at 5000 ppm or two applications of ancymidol at 0.5 mg/pot (drench). Higher concentrations or additional applications excessively reduced plant height. Three spray applications of 132 ppm ancymidol also produced an attractive potted plant. Paclobutrazol sprays or drenches at any concentration or application number were ineffective for reducing Mussaenda `Queen Sirikit' plant height.

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Christopher S. Cramer and Joe N. Corgan

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Constance L. Falk, Pauline Pao and Christopher S. Cramer*

In January 2002, an organic vegetable garden on the New Mexico State Univ. (NMSU) main campus was initiated to expose students to organic production practices and agricultural business management. The project named, OASIS (Organic Agriculture Students Inspiring Sustainability), is funded by a USDA Hispanic Serving Institution Grant and operated as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture. Students enroll in an organic vegetable production class during spring and fall semesters to help manage and work on the project. The CSA model of farming involves the sale of shares to members who receive weekly allotments of the farm's output. The objectives of the project are to provide students with a multi-disciplinary experiential educational opportunity, to investigate the feasibility of small scale organic drip irrigated farming in the Chihuahuan desert, to demonstrate the CSA model to the local community, to trial vegetable varieties, and to provide a site where faculty can conduct research or student laboratory exercises. This is the first organic vegetable garden on the NMSU main campus, the first organic vegetable production class, and the first CSA venture in southern New Mexico. The project has grown about 230 varieties of vegetables, herbs, and flowers in the first two years of production, and has grossed at total of $32,000 in revenues from both years on 2/3 of an acre of land. In the first year, 32 members purchased 18.5 full share equivalents, and in 2003, 69 members purchased 39.5 full share equivalents.

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Neel Kamal, Ashish Saxena, Robert L. Steiner and Christopher S. Cramer

Black mold, caused by the fungus Aspergillus niger, is one of the major postharvest onion (Allium cepa) diseases causing qualitative and quantitative losses. To screen autumn-sown onion cultivars for black mold resistance, 12 cultivars were sown in 2004 and 2005 in Las Cruces, NM. Percent sporulated area, disease severity, and disease incidence were recorded after 2 and 4 weeks of storage. ‘Texas Early White’ exhibited less disease symptoms than other cultivars tested. For all cultivars, disease symptoms in terms of severity and incidence increased as bulbs were stored for longer periods of time.

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Christopher S. Cramer, Narinder Singh, Neel Kamal and Hanu R. Pappu

Iris yellow spot is an economically important disease of onion that reduces bulb size and yield and is difficult to control. The disease is spread by Thrips tabaci (onion thrips) and disease symptoms are exacerbated by hot, dry climatic conditions that also favor rapid thrips multiplication and make control programs less effective. Currently, no onion cultivar is resistant to the disease and/or thrips. Certain onion foliar characteristics have shown nonpreferential feeding activity by thrips and may be the first step in developing Iris yellow spot (IYS)-tolerant onion cultivars. Seventy-five onion PI accessions from the U.S. germplasm collection were evaluated for leaf color, waxiness (bloom), and axil pattern; thrips number per plant; and IYS disease severity under conditions that favored thrips and disease buildup. Plants of PI 289689 were less attractive to thrips and had a lower number of thrips per plant than plants of most other accessions. These plants were rated as having light green to green-colored foliage and a relatively low amount of epicuticular leaf wax. Plants of PIs 239633 and 546192 generally exhibited less severe IYS disease symptoms than those of other accessions. Individual plants, that exhibited less leaf area exhibiting IYS disease symptoms, were selected at bulb maturity from 22 different accessions with PI 546140 producing the largest number of selected bulbs. Physiological plant development, environmental conditions, and tolerance to plant stress may influence the degree of disease symptom expression. Further work that examines the role of plant maturity and host plant tolerance to stress with respect to disease expression is needed.

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Jessica A. Gutierrez, Ramon Molina-Bravo and Christopher S. Cramer

Fusarium basal rot (FBR), caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cepae, is a soilborne fungal disease that affects bulb onions (Allium cepa) worldwide. Winter-sown onion cultivars that are resistant to FBR are lacking. The goal of this project was to screen winter-sown onion germplasm for FBR resistance using a mature-bulb field screening at harvest and after 4 weeks in storage. The project was conducted for 2 years, and in each year, 22 winter-sown onion lines were grown in a field known to produce a high incidence of FBR-infected bulbs. At maturity, the basal plates of 20 randomly selected bulbs were cut transversely and each plate was scored for disease severity on a scale of 1 (no diseased tissue) to 9 (70% or more diseased tissue). Bulbs were stored and scored again at 4 weeks after harvest. Severity and incidence increased in storage for both years. NMSU 99-30, `NuMex Arthur', and `NuMex Jose Fernandez' showed the lowest disease severities and incidences in both years. For fields that produce a high incidence of FBR-infected bulbs, these cultivars could be grown with less loss to FBR at harvest and after storage than more FBR-susceptible cultivars. When developing FBR-resistant cultivars, breeding lines should be evaluated over multiple years and bulbs should be stored for 4 weeks before being screened.

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Christopher S. Cramer, Jose L. Mendoza and Joe N. Corgan

Current emphasis of onion breeding programs has been to develop male-sterile, maintainer, and pollinator inbred lines for the production of hybrid cultivars. Five short-day, male-sterile inbred lines from the New Mexico State Univ. Onion Breeding Program were crossed to four short-day, pollinator inbred lines in all possible combinations. In addition, six intermediate-day male-sterile inbred lines were crossed with seven intermediate-day, pollinator inbred lines in all possible combinations. The resulting hybrid lines from all crosses were evaluated for maturity, bolting resistance, pink root resistance, Fusarium basal rot resistance, percentage of marketable bulbs, marketable yield, average bulb weight, and percentage of bulbs with single centers. The average performance among male-sterile and among pollinator lines within each group was determined by averaging over hybrid lines that pertained to the respective male-sterile or pollinator line. Among the short-day inbred lines, NMSU 97-28-2 and NMSU 97-109-2 as female parents produced the best hybrid lines, while NMSU 96-17-1 and NMSU 96-51-1 as male parents produced the best hybrid lines. The best hybrid combinations among the short-day parents were NMSU 97-28-2 × 96-17-1 and 97-46-2 × 96-51-1. Among the intermediate-day inbred lines, NMSU 96-196-2 and 96-300-2 as female parents produced the best hybrid lines, while NMSU 96-280-1, NMSU 96-274-1 and 96-395-1 as male parents produced the best hybrid lines. Some of the best intermediate-day hybrid combinations included NMSU 96-300-2 × 96-335-1 and NMSU 96-300-2 × 96-274-1.

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Parminder S. Multani, Christopher S. Cramer, Robert L. Steiner and Rebecca Creamer

Identification of resistant or tolerant onion (Allium cepa L.) cultivars is crucial for the development of integrated management strategies for Iris yellow spot virus (IYSV). Exclusively vectored by onion thrips (Thrips tabaci), IYSV is a potentially devastating tospovirus of onion that has been confirmed to be present in 15 countries all over the world. In this study, 18 winter-sown onion entries were screened for IYSV symptom expression over two seasons. Over the growing season, straw-colored, necrotic lesions typical of IYSV infection were observed and rated for disease severity. Entries, NMSU 03-52-1, NMSU 04-41, NMSU 04-44-1, and ‘NuMex Jose Fernandez’, exhibited fewer symptoms than many other entries tested. ‘Caballero’, NMSU 04-57-1, NMSU 04-78-1, and ‘Cimarron’ exhibited more symptoms. Disease progression over time was rapid for entries exhibiting more symptoms and slow for entries exhibiting fewer symptoms. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) optical densities correlated poorly with the severity of disease symptoms. Trends in the disease progression over time emphasize the importance of rating IYSV symptoms late in the crop's development and to search for delayed disease progression rather than early symptom expression to determine IYSV susceptibility.

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Mohsen Mohseni-Moghadam, Christopher S. Cramer, Robert L. Steiner and Rebecca Creamer

Iris yellow spot virus (IYSV) causes a foliar disease in onion (Allium cepa L.) that results in a reduction in bulb size. Currently, no IYSV-tolerant or -resistant cultivar exists and a genetic source for tolerance or resistance has not been identified. Because other disease control methods are limited, host plant resistance offers the best hope to combat this disease. In this study, 13 winter-sown onion entries were screened for iris yellow spot (IYS) symptoms during the 2007 and 2008 cropping seasons. Twenty plants from each plot were observed and rated weekly during the growing seasons for straw-colored, necrotic lesions, typical of IYSV infection. Collected plant samples were assayed for IYSV by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Visual rating was done using a scale of 1 to 9 with 1 representing no symptomatic tissue and 9 representing more than 50% tissue damage. Two different plant sampling methods were used in disease rating to determine their effect on mean severity and to correlate disease severity with absorbance values. Of the entries tested, plants of NMSU 05-33-1 exhibited a delay in symptom expression and lower IYSV levels relative to plants of other entries. Plants of ‘Denali’ and ‘Gelma’ appeared to be more susceptible to IYSV than plants of other entries. Plant selection within the plot over time did not influence disease rating values. When the same plants were rated and sampled for IYSV using ELISA, there was a strong, positive correlation between rating and absorbance values.