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  • Author or Editor: D.W. Monks x
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Experiments were conducted to evaluate the effect of tillage systems and weed management on weed suppression and potato yield. Strip-tillage (ST) and conventional-tillage (CT) systems produced equal yields of Irish potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) or sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] when herbicide treatments were applied. Weeds in the nontreated control reduced yield of Irish potato and prevented storage root growth in sweetpotato. Excellent control of broadleaf signalgrass [Brachiaria platyphylla (Griseb.) Nash], henbit (Lamium amplexicaule L.), prickly sida (Sida spinosa L.), and common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia L.) was obtained with metribuzin + metolachlor applied preemergence at Irish potato planting, followed by sethoxydim + crop oil applied postemergence in ST and CT systems. Redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus L.) control was >98% at 4 weeks after treatment but was 73% to 84% at harvest across all herbicide treatments in both tillage systems. In sweetpotato, control of black mustard [Brassica nigra (L.) W.J.D. Koch], goosegrass [Eleusine indica (L.) Gaertn.], and fall panicum [Panicum dichotomiflorum Michx.] was >95% throughout the growing season for all herbicide treatments in both ST and CT.

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Conservation tillage is an effective sustainable production system for vegetables. No-till planters and transplanters and strip-till cultivation equipment are presently available for most vegetables. Lack of weed management tools (herbicides, cultivators, etc.) continues to be the cultural practice that limits adaptability of some vegetables to conservation tillage systems. Nitrogen management can be critical when grass winter cover crops are used as a surface residue. Advantages of using conservation tillage include soil and water conservation, improved soil chemical properties, reduction in irrigation requirements, reduced labor requirements, and greater nutrient recycling. However, disadvantages may include lower soil temperatures, which can affect maturity date; higher chemical input (desiccants and post-emergence herbicides); potential pest carryover in residues; and enhancement of some diseases.

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Internal necrosis (IN) is a physiological disorder that affects Covington, the most commonly grown sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) cultivar in North Carolina. Because IN affects the quality of sweetpotato storage roots, studies have been conducted since the first report of IN in 2006. Field studies (three in 2016 and two in 2017) were conducted to evaluate preharvest and postharvest treatments on the occurrence of IN in ‘Covington’ storage roots. Four preharvest treatments consisted of combinations of high chlorine or minimal chlorine potash fertilizer and mowing vs. not mowing before harvest. For postharvest treatments, 30 storage roots were obtained at harvest from each preharvest treatment plot and immediately cured in 75 and 85 °F rooms for a duration of 0.5, 1, 2, 3, and 5 weeks in 2016, and 0.5, 1, and 2 weeks in 2017. Shorter curing durations (0.5 and 1 week) coincided with industry recommendations while longer durations mimicked the challenges that some commercial facilities face when cooling down temperatures of rooms after curing is supposed to be concluded. Once curing temperature and curing duration treatments were completed, roots were placed in a 58 °F storage room at 85% relative humidity until cut. A control comparison was included in which harvested roots were placed in a 58 °F storage room (no curing) immediately after harvest. The storage roots from all temperature treatments were then cut 49 to 80 days after harvest, and incidence and severity of IN visually rated. Preharvest potash fertilizer treatments had minimal or no effect on occurrence of IN. However, mowing vines before harvest in several studies reduced IN incidence when roots were cured for more than 0.5 week at temperatures of at least 75 °F. Lower temperature (75 vs. 85 °F) and shorter curing duration (0.5 vs. 1, 2, 3, or 5 weeks) resulted in reduced IN occurrence in ‘Covington’ sweetpotato.

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Studies were conducted in 2012 and 2013 to compare Evangeline to various sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) varieties (Bayou Belle, Beauregard, Bonita, Covington, NC05-198, and Orleans) for commercial production in North Carolina. In another study, microwaved and oven-baked ‘Evangeline’ and ‘Covington’ sweetpotato roots were subjected to analysis of chemical and physical properties [color, dry matter (DM), texture, and sugar] and to sensory evaluation for determining consumer acceptance. ‘NC05-198’ produced the highest no. 1 grade sweetpotato 600 bushels [bu (50 lb)] per acre and total marketable storage root yield was similar to ‘Bayou Belle’ and ‘Beauregard’ (841, 775, and 759 bu/acre, respectively). No. 1 and marketable root yields were similar between ‘Orleans’ and ‘Beauregard’. However, ‘Orleans’ produced more uniform roots than ‘Beauregard’, in which the latter had higher cull production. ‘Evangeline’ was comparable to no. 1 yield of ‘Bayou Belle’, ‘Orleans’, and ‘Covington’, which indicates the ability of this variety to produce acceptable yields in North Carolina conditions. ‘Covington’ had slightly higher DM than ‘Evangeline’, but instrumental texture analysis showed that these varieties did not differ significantly in firmness after cooking. However, microwaved roots were measurably firmer than oven-baked roots for both varieties. In this study, ‘Evangeline’ had higher levels of fructose and glucose, with similar levels of sucrose and maltose to ‘Covington’. Consumers (n = 100) indicated no difference between varieties in their “just about right” moisture level, texture, and flavor ratings, but showed a preference for Evangeline flesh color over Covington. Consumers in this study preferred oven-baked over microwaved sweetpotato (regardless of variety) and indicated that Evangeline is as acceptable as the standard variety Covington when grown in the North Carolina environment.

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Partial budget analysis was used to evaluate soil treatment alternatives to methyl bromide (MeBr) based on their efficacy and cost-effectiveness in the production of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). The analysis was conducted for the mountain tomato production region based on 6 years of field test data collected in Fletcher, NC. Fumigation alternatives evaluated included 61.1% 1,3-dichloropropene + 34.7% chloropicrin (Telone-C35™), 60.8% 1,3-dichloropropene + 33.3% chloropicrin (InLine), 99% chloropicrin (Chlor-o-pic), 94% chloropicrin (TriClor EC), 42% metam sodium (4.26 lb/gal a.i., Vapam), and 50% iodomethane + 50% chloropicrin (Midas). The MeBr formulation was 67% methyl bromide and 33% chloropicrin (Terr-O-Gas). Chloropicrin applied at 15 gal/acre provided the greatest returns with an additional return of $907/acre relative to MeBr. Telone-C35 provided an additional return of $848/acre and drip-applied metam sodium provided an additional return of $137/acre. The return associated with broadcast applied metam sodium was about equal to the estimated return a grower would receive when applying MeBr. Fumigating with a combination of chloropicrin and metam sodium; shank-applied chloropicrin at 8 gal/acre; drip-applied chloropicrin, Midas, or InLine; and the nonfumigated soil treatment all resulted in projected losses of $156/acre, $233/acre, $422/acre, $425/acre, $604/acre, and $2133/acre, respectively, relative to MeBr. Although technical issues currently associated with some of the MeBr alternatives may exist, results indicate that there are economically feasible fumigation alternatives to MeBr for production of tomatoes in North Carolina.

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