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  • Author or Editor: Carl Sams x
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Plant spacing and production systems are important factors for maximizing production of greenhouse-grown tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum). Two studies were conducted simultaneously and independently, each in a 33 × 96-ft greenhouse in Fall 2008 and Spring 2009 using perlite soilless bag culture. The purpose of the first study was to evaluate yield and fruit weight of ‘Trust’ tomatoes spaced 12, 16, 20, 24, or 28 inches in-row. The second study was conducted to determine the effect of pruning production systems on yield and fruit weight. The first system is pruning two plants per bag each to a single leader and the second is pruning one plant per bag to double leader. A plant spacing of 28 inches resulted in significantly more fruit per plant than the 12-inch plant spacing. However, yield per area decreased with wider plant spacings. Plants spaced 12 inches apart in-row produced 2.8 and 3.8 lb/ft2 total yield in the fall and spring, respectively, compared with plants spaced 28 inches apart that produced 1.7 and 2.2 lb/ft2 in the fall and spring. Using a production system with one plant per bag pruned to a double leader increased yield by 6.4 lb/plant in the fall and 15.7 lb/plant in the spring. On a per bag basis, pruning two tomato plants to one leader increased total yield by 2.6 lb/bag and was more economical in the fall; whereas, in the spring, the double leader production system did not affect yield but was more economical.

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Using soybean oil to control insect pests, delay bloom, and thin fruit in peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] production could reduce yield losses and fruit thinning costs compared to the current practice of using petroleum oil spray to control insect pests alone. The higher annua cost of soybean oil spray compared to petroleum oil spray was more than offset by higher average annual revenue from increased peach yields and lower thinning costs. At one location, soybean oil to delay bloom and thin fruit unambiguously reduced production risk. At another location, both mean and variance of returns were higher, but a lower coefficient of variation suggested lower relative risk for the soybean oil spray alternative. Risk resulting from the unanticipated influence of weather and mismanagement on the effectiveness of soybean oil spray were not considered in this analysis. More research is needed to hone in on the optimum soybean oil spray rates under alternative environmental and management conditions.

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A pilot test was conducted over a 3-year period to determine the feasibility of using postharvest pressure infiltration of calcium into apples to maintain and/or improve the quality of fruit under commercial storage conditions. Fruits obtained from three different orchards were treated each year. `Golden Delicious' fruits were treated the first year, while `Delicious' fruits were treated the 2nd and 3rd years. In all treatments and years, there was a significant increase in calcium concentration of apples from all calcium chloride (CaCl2) treatments. In general, calcium concentration of treated fruit varied significantly among the three orchards. Firmness also varied among orchards, and was related to fruit calcium concentration. `Golden Delicious' apples were more susceptible to skin injury caused by CaCl2 treatment than were `Delicious' fruits. There was also an increase in infection as a result of some of the treatments, possibly due to injury caused to lenticels by the pressure applied or as a result of calcium injury.

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