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  • Author or Editor: Erik B.G. Feibert x
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Eight winter squash varieties (Table Ace Acorn, Sweet Dumpling, Waltham Butternut, Honey Boat, Sugar Loaf, Spaghetti, Gold Keeper, and Kabocha) were placed in storage 3 weeks after harvested and were stored for 6, 12, or 16 weeks at 5, 10, or 15°C and 50, 60, or 70 percent relative humidity. Before storage Spaghetti squash had low dry weight and low sugars while Kabocha, Sugar Loaf, and Honey Boat had high dry weight and high sugars. Squash of all varieties suffered high spoilage when stored at 5°C. Water losses increased with temperature or with storage at 50 percent relative humidity. Considering both spoilage and water loss, marketable fruit was highest when squash was stored at 10°C or 15°C and 60 or 70 percent relative humidity. Squash sugars were maintained with storage at 5°C and 10%. Squash can be stored for several months at 10°C and 60 to 70 percent relative humidity with little fruit loss or loss of sugar.

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Onion (Allium cepa L.) production in the Treasure Valley of eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho has been based on furrow irrigation with 318 kg·ha-1 N fertilizer and average yields of 70 Mg·ha-1, but these practices have been implicated in nitrate contamination of groundwater. Drip irrigation, introduced in the early 1990s, has several advantages, including reduced leaching losses. Since onion plant populations and N fertilizer rates can affect economic returns, studies were conducted in 1999, 2000, and 2001 to determine optimum plant populations and N fertilizer rates for subsurface drip-irrigated onion. Long-day onion (`Vision') was subjected to a combination of seven nitrogen fertilization rates (0 to 336 kg·ha-1 in 56-kg increments applied between late May and early July) and four plant populations (185, 250, 300, and 370 thousand plants/ha). Onion was grown on silt loam in two double rows spaced 0.56 m apart on 1.1 m beds with a drip tape buried 13 cm deep in the bed center. Soil water potential was maintained nearly constant at -20 kPa by automated irrigations based on soil water potential measurements at a 0.2-m depth. Onion bulbs were evaluated for yield and grade after 70 days of storage. Onion yield and grade were highly responsive to plant population. Onion marketable yield increased, and bulb diameter decreased with increasing plant population. Within the range of plant populations tested, gross returns were not always responsive to plant population. Returns were increased by the increase in marketable yield obtained with higher plant population, but higher plant population also reduced the production of the largest sized bulbs which had the highest value per weight. Onion yielded 95 Mg·ha-1 with no applied N fertilizer, averaged over plant populations and years. Onion yield and grade were not responsive to N fertilizer rate or interaction of N fertilizer rate with plant population. Preplant soil available N, N mineralization, and N in irrigation water all contributed N to the crop. Onion N uptake did not increase with increasing N fertilizer rate.

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Eleven treatments in 1999 and thirteen treatments in 2000 containing single or combined nonconventional additives from eight manufacturers were compared with an untreated check for their effect on onion (Alliumcepa L.) yield and quality, and for their economic efficiency. The nonconventional additives were tested at commercial rates using the methods of application provided by the manufacturers. The products were applied to soil, foliage, or both. The treatments, including the check, were incorporated into standard cultural practices for onions. All treatments (with exception of an organic fertilizer treatment), including the check, were fertilized based on soil tests. In both years, none of the products evaluated significantly increased onion yield or quality compared to the untreated check. The organic fertilizer treatment, tested in 1999 only, resulted in significantly lower onion yield and size compared to the check. At the application rates used in this study, most of the products supplied plant nutrients or humic acid in amounts insufficient to expect improvements in crop production.

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Sweet worm wood is a source of the anti-malarial plant secondary compound artemisinin. The effects of water stress, nitrogen rates, plant growth regulators, and harvest timing on vegetative growth and yield of artemisinin were tested in separate experiments. In the harvest timing trial, total biomass, leaf yield, leaf artemisinin content and total artemisinin yield increased during the season. The wettest treatment tested decreased the total plant dry to fresh weight ratio, but had no effect on height, total biomass, leaf yield, leaf artemisinin content and artemisinin yield. Nitrogen fertilization increased plant height, but had no effect on total biomass, leaf yield, leaf artemisinin content and artemisinin yield. The plant growth regulators decreased plant height, increased total biomass, but had no effect on leaf yield, leaf artemisinin content and artemisinin yield. The effects of chemical weed control and post-harvest leaf drying will also be discussed.

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Seven potato cultivars were grown in an adequately irrigated check (100% of crop evapotranspiration replaced at -60 kPa) and three deficit irrigation regimes in order to evaluate varietal response to water stress and to evaluate nitrate leaching below the crop root zone in relation to the irrigation management. Potatoes were grown with sprinkler irrigation on silt loam in 1882 and 1993. Water stress treatments were achieved by partial or complete crop evapotranspiration replacement when soil water potential reached -60 or -80 kPa. In 1992, over all varieties, tuber yield and grade were significantly reduced by the two higher levels of water stress. In 1993, a relatively cool year, yield was reduced by water stress, but grade was not. Tuber internal quality was affected more by variety than by deficit irrigation both years. A comparison of pre-plant and post-harvest soil nitrate and ammonium shows that a small amount of nitrate moved from the top two feet of soil to the third and fourth foot in the check plots. Soil nitrogen accounting for the season showed large surpluses, indicating the importance of natural sources of available nitrogen.

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Onions were grown with different soil water potentials as irrigation criteria to determine the soil water potential at which optimum onion yield and quality occurs. Furrow irrigation treatments in 1992 and 1993 consisted of six soil water potential thresholds (-12.5 to -100 kPa). Soil water potential in the first foot of soil was measured by granular matrix sensors (Watermark Model 200SS, Irrometer Co., Riverside, CA) that had been previously calibrated to tensiometers on the same silt loam series. Both years, yield and market grade based on bulb size (more jumbo and colossal onions) increased with wetter treatments. In 1993, a relatively cool year, onion grade peaked at -37.5 kPa due to a significant increase in rot during storage following the wetter treatments. These results suggest the importance of using moisture criteria to schedule irrigations for onions.

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Long-day onion (Allium cepa L. `Vision') was subjected to five soil water potential (SWP) treatments (–10, –20, –30, –50, and –70 kPa) using subsurface drip irrigation in 1997 and 1998. Onions were grown on 1.1-m beds with two double rows spaced 0.56 m apart and a drip tape buried 13 cm deep in the bed center. Soil water potential was maintained at the five levels by automated, high-frequency irrigations based on SWP measurements at 0.2-m depth. Onions were evaluated for yield and grade after 70 days of storage. In 1997, total and colossal (bulb diameter ≥102 mm) yield increased with increasing SWP, but marketable yield was highest at a calculated –21 kPa because of greater decomposition in storage in wetter treatments. In 1998 total, marketable, and colossal-grade onion yield increased with increasing SWP. Onion profits were highest with a calculated SWP of –17 kPa in 1997, and at the wettest level tested in 1998. Storage decomposition was not affected by SWP in 1998. Maintenance of SWP at –10 and –20 kPa required, respectively, 912 and 691 mm of water in 1997 and 935 and 589 mm of water in 1998. Onion crop evapotranspiration from emergence to the last irrigation totaled 681 mm in 1997 and 716 mm in 1998.

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Single centeredness has become an important onion attribute for marketing because of the use of onions in food products such as onion rings. Although onion single centeredness is largely cultivar dependent, it may also be influenced by growing conditions. These trials tested the effects of early-season, short-duration water stress on onion single centeredness. The effects of the short-duration water stress were also evaluated on onion yield, grade, and translucent scale. Translucent scale is a physiological disorder thought to be influenced by water stress. Onions were drip irrigated automatically at a soil water tension (SWT) of 20 kPa and were submitted to short-duration water stress in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Onions in each treatment were stressed once at either the two-leaf, four-leaf, early six-leaf, late six-leaf, or eight-leaf stage and were compared with a minimally stressed control. Onions were stressed by interrupting irrigations until the SWT at a 0.2-m depth reached 60 kPa, at which time the irrigations were resumed. Onion single centeredness was reduced by short-duration water stress in 2003 and 2005. Onions were sensitive to the formation of multiple centers with water stress at the four-leaf to late six-leaf stages. The 2004 growing season was characterized by cool, moist conditions, and water stress did not affect single centeredness. Among all treatments and years, marketable yield was only reduced in 2005, with stress at the four-leaf and eight-leaf stages. The incidence of translucent scale was very low each year and was not related to early-season water stress.

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In the United States, sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas L. (Lam)] is predominately grown in the southeastern states and in California, but production farther north is limited. To determine if sweetpotato could be successfully produced in semiarid Pacific North West, four sweetpotato cultivars (Covington, Beauregard, Diane, and Evangeline) were subjected to four soil water tension (SWT) irrigation criteria treatments (40, 60, 80, 100 kPa in 2011 and 25, 40, 60, and 80 kPa in 2012) using drip irrigation at Ontario, OR. The four SWT criteria were maintained by an automated irrigation system. Sweetpotato cultivars were evaluated for the percentage of early groundcover, number of vines per hill, vine length, and yield. The total applied water decreased with the increase in the targeted SWT. The highest amount of water was applied at the 25 kPa criterion (1184 mm) and the least amount at the 100 kPa SWT criterion (146 mm). Cultivars varied in the average number of vines per hill, with ‘Covington’ having the fewest at 6 vines per hill compared with ‘Beauregard’ and ‘Evangeline’ that averaged 10 vines and ‘Diane’ averaging 11. The average vine length increased with the decrease in SWT criteria during both years. The total, marketable, and U.S. No. 1 sweetpotato yield was influenced by cultivars and varied among irrigation criteria and years. In general, the sweetpotato yield decreased with the increase in SWT, with the highest yield attained at the lowest SWT tested, 40 kPa in 2011 and 25 kPa in 2012. For ‘Beauregard’ grown with irrigation onset criteria of 40 and 25 kPa, the marketable yields were 49 and 87 Mg·ha−1 and U.S. No. 1 yields were 35 and 27 Mg·ha−1 in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The results suggested that sweetpotato could be grown in eastern Oregon and would be capable of producing yields comparable to those obtained in California. However, yearly weather variations could delay transplanting and early harvest could be necessary to avoid frost damage.

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Onion (Allium cepa) plant population is an important factor in total yield and bulb size, both of which can influence economic return to growers. Different onion bulb marketing opportunities influence the plant populations that growers should target. With the transition from furrow irrigation to a drip irrigation system, growers have doubts as to the onion population that should be planted to assure favorable economic outcomes. Onions were grown on silt loam at the Oregon State University Malheur Experiment Station, Ontario, OR in 2011 and 2012 following bread wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) each year. Long-day onion cultivars Vaquero, Esteem, Barbaro, and Sedona were planted heavily and thinned to nominal plant populations between 222,000 and 593,000 plants/ha under furrow irrigation, subsurface drip irrigation, and “intense bed” subsurface drip irrigation. The intense bed configuration had 50% more rows of onions with three drip tapes per 1.94-m bed instead of two tapes. The experiment had a randomized complete block split-split-plot design with six replicates. Irrigation systems were the main plots, cultivars the split plots, and plant populations the split-split plots. Onion yield and grade responses to plant population for each cultivar and each planting system were determined by regression of yield and grade on the actual onion plant stands. In general, there were few differences among irrigation systems or interactions among irrigations systems, cultivars, and plant populations. Averaging over cultivars, total and marketable bulb yield out of storage increased with plant population, whereas the bulb diameters decreased with plant population. Average marketable yield was 119 Mg⋅ha−1 over the 2 years. Average yield of colossal bulbs >102 mm in diameter decreased with increasing plant population. In 2011, estimated gross economic return increased linearly with plant population, offset in part by increasing seed cost. In 2012, estimated economic return responded quadratically to plant population with maximum return of $45,357/ha at 419,000 plants/ha.

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