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  • Author or Editor: K.B. Perry x
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Floating rowcovers composed of extruded polypropylene, spunbonded polypropylene, and polyester were used in 1987-88 in eastern North Carolina for cold protection of strawberries (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) growing in annual hill culture on black plastic mulch. Treatments consisted of floating rowcovers in either winter, spring, or both with and without overhead irrigation for spring frost/freeze protection, in addition to irrigated and nonirrigated unprotected plots. Winter rowcovers increased air temperatures by 1 to 2C without advancing bloom or harvest date. Significant blossom temperature differences relative to rowcover materials (≈ 1.5C) and irrigation use (≈ 1.5 to 3.0C) were detected over the course of six spring frosts. Time of application of covers (winter or spring) and irrigation in spring interacted in their effects on early yields (25 Apr.-5 May). However, rowcover and irrigation treatments did not have a significant effect on total marketable yield, yield per plant, or berry mass. In the absence of higher prices for early than late-season fruit or of more severe environmental extremes than experienced in the current study, it would be difficult to justify the added expense of rowcovers.

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The ability of two cryoprotectants to protect tomato and pepper transplants during frost and freeze conditions was evaluated in Clayton, NC. A commercially available cryoprotectant (50% propylene block copolymer of polyoxyethylene, 50% propylene glycol, tradename FrostFree) was evaluated during 4 spring and 3 fall seasons. An antitranspirant (96% di-1-p-Menthene, i.e. Pinolene, a terpenic polymer, 4% inert, tradename VaporGard) was evaluated for 2 spring and 1 fall season. Protection from these products was not observed under the field conditions experience? Yield differences were not observed between the treated and untreated plants. With several days of cool weather preconditioning, transplants survived air temperatures of -2.0 to -1.0 C with no damage. However, with no preconditioning, damage occurred at -1.0 C without the formation of frost. At -3.5 C all plants, both treated and untreated, died. Both crops were stunted and delayed by periods of cold temperatures even when no freezing temperatures were experienced.

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A volunteer weather observing network sponsored by the North Carolina Agricultural Extension Service has been a valuable asset to horticulturists, agricultural meteorologists, and weather forecasters. Real-time temperature and precipitation data are used to assess microclimates and to compute derived parameters such as chilling hours and growing degree days. The procedures used to establish the network plus an example of its usefulness during a critical frost night are described.

Open Access

Four bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) cultivars were evaluated for yield (total weight of marketable fruit) performance over 41 environments as combinations of 3 years, three planting dates, and seven locations across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Cultural practices, including trickle irrigation and double rows planted on black-plastic-covered beds, were uniform across all environments, except for fertilization, which was adjusted at each location based on soil tests. Comparing production over 3 years between the mountain location and the Coastal Plain location in North Carolina, yields were lower on the Coastal Plain. Spring plantings provided higher yields than summer plantings at both locations. Yield increases were obtained from hybrid cultivars over that of the open-pollinated (OP) standard [`Keystone Resistant Giant #3' (KRG#3)] in the summer planting in the mountains compared to the Tidewater Coastal Plain. Across the three-state region, hybrid cultivar yields were higher than those of the OP cultivar for the second spring planting date in 1986 and 1987. Although the hybrid yields were higher than that of the OP standard, the hybrid `Skipper' yielded less than the other hybrids (`Gator Belle' and `Hybelle'). `Gator Belle' generally out-yielded `Hybelle' at all locations, except in Fletcher, N.C. This difference may be related to the relative sensitivity of these two cultivars to temperature extremes, rather than soil or geographic factors, because there was a tendency for `Hybelle' yields to exceed `Gator Belle' in the earliest planting date. Based on the reliability index, the chance of outperforming KRG#3 (the standard) was 85% for `Hybelle', 80% for `Gator Belle', but only 67% for `Skipper'.

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