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  • Author or Editor: Charles S. Vavrina x
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The germination of five commercial cultivars of jalapeño and cayenne pepper were tested to determine cultivar response of Capsicum annuum L. to supra-optimal temperatures. Two seedlots of `Cayenne, Large Red Thick', `Ole', `Jalapeño M', `Mitla', and `Tam Veracruz' were evaluated on a thermogradient table at temperatures of 20, 25, 30, 35, and 40 °C. Percent germination and time to 50% of final germination (T50) were calculated. All cultivars exhibited thermodormancy, but the degree of inhibition varied within temperature and cultivar. No cultivar had >1.0% germination at 40 °C. Generally, the T50 varied among cultivars, but not among temperatures within a cultivar (T50 at 40 °C was not measured). Cultivar selection should be considered when growing fall transplants in Florida.

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The effect of cell volume and age of `Texas Grano 1015Y' onion transplants on survival, growth, and yield were evaluated. Transplant ages and cell volume were 5, 7, 9, and 11 weeks (W) and 6.5 cm3 and 20.0 cm3 in Florida; and 6, 8, 10, and 12W, and 4.0 and 7.1 cm3 in Texas. In Florida, total yields were unaffected by transplant age and cell volume, but jumbo size bulbs increased with increasing age from 5 to 9W in 6.5 cm3 cells. Bulb size increased significantly for 11W transplants only in 20.0 cm3 cells. In Texas, survival was reduced for 6W compared to ≥8W transplants. At planting, root count increased linearly with age. Cell volume did not affect root count, plant height, or leaf number, but shoot dry weight was greater in 7.1 cm3 compared to 4.0 cm3. Total jumbo and large size yields were highest for ≥10W in 7. 1 cm3 and ≥8W in 4.0 cm3 cells. Total yields were unaffected by cell size but seedlings in 4.0 cm3 had a 16% decrease of jumbo size compared to 7.1 cm3. The use of 10 and 12W transplants produced in small cell sizes may be viable for onion establishment.

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Six onion (Allium cepa L.) cultivars were grown during 2 years to evaluate the effects of environment on bulb quality as measured by sugar and pyruvate (pungency) concentrations. Within each year, bulb fresh weight was not affected by cultivar; however, bulb fresh weights were 36% higher in a year when most of the rain fell during maximum bulb expansion. Total bulb sugar concentration and pungency varied among cultivars and years. Pungency was higher and the sugar: pungency ratio was lower in `Texas 1015Y' and `Sweet Georgia' than in `Dessex', `Rio Bravo', 'Hybrid Yellow Granex', and `Granex 33'. Under low S nutrition, market acceptance of “sweet” onion cultivars that vary slightly in nonstructural water-soluble carbohydrates may be assessed more precisely by the sugar: pungency ratio than by sugar or pungency assessments.

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`Allstar” tomatoes raised from seed in Todd™ containerized transplant trays were treated with 1/4 strength Hoagland's solution modified to supply 0, 15, 30, 45, 60, or 75 mg·l-1 N daily. Nutrient application was achieved via ebb and flow irrigation. N was supplied as ammonium nitrate. Tissue sample values for elements tested, excluding N, were essentially adequate for all treatments at transplanting (6 weeks after seeding). Visible transplant differences in the plant house did not translate to significant yield differences in the field when rates of 30 mg·l-1 or greater were used in either spring or fall plantings in FL. A similar trial shipped to PA showed that 75 mg·l-1 in the plant house resulted in the greatest early field yields, but 45 mg·l-1 produced the greatest overall yield.

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The effects of transplant depth on lodging and yield were evaluated in five experiments in Florida and Massachusetts. `Cherry Bomb', `Jupiter', and `Mitla' pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) transplants were set at three depths so that the soil surface was even with the top of the rootball, the cotyledon leaf, or the first true leaf. Seedlings set to the depth of cotyledon leaves or to the first true leaf lodged less than did those set to the top of the rootball. No yield differences were recorded among treatments in Massachusetts; however, total weight of red fruit was greater in treatments that lodged less in 1 of the 2 years, suggesting that lodging delayed maturity. Soil temperature in Massachusetts declined at the level of the rootball as planting depth increased.

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Bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) seedlings treated with various biological preparations exhibited increased root and shoot growth both in the greenhouse and during subsequent field establishment. Early fruit set and pod development showed signs of possible yield improvement by the treatments, but treatment differences were not apparent at first harvest. Data from subsequent harvests did show yield increases with some preparations. Treatment organisms appeared to activate or induce systemic resistance to bacterial spot (Xanthomonas campestris) infestation though not to the level shown by Actigard (Novartis). Crop/treatment response under soil solarization, fumigation, and compost amended conditions will be discussed.

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Eight different tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) transplant production methods were tested during two growing seasons (1993-94) to determine their effectiveness in increasing both establishment rate and yield. Seven-week-old greenhouse grown transplants of `Hypeel 696' were shipped from Florida to Pennsylvania and planted at the Pennsylvania State Univ. Horticulture Research Farm. Transplants were also grown at the Pennsylvania State University to compare their growth with that of southern-grown plants. In 1993, increased nutrient levels during the last 10 days of transplant production significantly increased transplant size, establishment rate, and early yields, while the addition of Hydretain®, an aid to water retention and uptake, significantly increased total yield. In 1994, plants from Florida that were chilled for 7 days before transplanting and the Pennsylvania-grown plants had faster establishment rates than did nonchilled plants from Florida, but differences in yield were nonsignificant. Chilled and Pennsylvania-grown plants had significantly higher soluble carbohydrate levels in leaves, stems, and roots than did nonchilled and Florida-grown plants, while nutrient-conditioned plants had higher levels in leaves and stems. Establishment rate was not correlated with carbohydrate level. Chemical name used: (2-chloroethyl) phosphonic acid (ethephon).

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Total fruit yield of watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. and Nakai] in Florida field tests was unaffected by transplant age (3, 4, or 5 weeks from seeding) or modular cell size (18.8, 30.7, or 60.5 cm3), but was affected by trial year. A further study revealed that early and total fruit yields at two field sites were unaffected by transplant age, ranging from 3 to 13 weeks, when grown in the same modular cell size (34 cm3), but were affected by field trial site. We conclude that transplant age or modular cell size is of little importance relative to post-transplanting conditions (site or year) in influencing watermelon fruit yield.

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`Jupiter' and `Verdel' bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) transplants set to the depth of cotyledon leaves or to the first true leaf yielded more fruit than transplants set to the top of the rootball. Increased yields and early stand establishment criteria (number of leaves, leaf area, plant weight, and plant height) suggest that planting pepper transplants deeper than is now common is commercially beneficial in Florida. Deeper plantings may place pepper roots in a cooler environment and reduce fluctuations in soil temperature. Moderated soil temperature, in conjunction with earlier fertilizer and water acquisition, may give deeper-planted pepper plants a competitive edge in growth.

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