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  • Author or Editor: Leonard M. Pike x
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`BetaSweet' is a new “designer” carrot that was conceived as a research project with the objective to create a new high-quality vegetable with unique characteristics. The gene responsible for purple or maroon color in carrots is a natural one and has been around for many years. Carrot breeders have discarded carrots which occasionally segregated to this color because orange has been the preferred traditional color. In 1989, three carrots grown from Brazilian seed were observed to have a blotchy maroon color mixed with the normal orange. Within two generations of breeding effort I had obtained a few carrot roots with near complete maroon exterior color and orange interior. The contrast of orange and maroon was very attractive in carrots cut as coins or sticks. The maroon and orange color would serve as the perfect way to identify and promote this new variety. Several additional generations were required using extensive laboratory testing for low terpenoids (strong carrot flavors), high sugars, high carotene, and crispy texture. Thousands of carrot roots were analyzed and selected for those qualities and for the dark maroon exterior and orange interior colors. The few best for those characteristics were intercrossed, and reselected for their adaptation when grown under Texas climatic conditions.

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Many vegetable research scientists in public service need additional funds above those provided by normal budgeting within their agencies to maintain productive programs. In some instances, programs receive little more than the salary for the scientist. Fortunately, my vegetable breeding projects are well funded at Texas A&M compared to many other university programs. Yet the needs of the Texas vegetable industry are great since the state is experiencing rapid growth in vegetable production. As a result, our research programs must be broad in scope, efficient, and productive to meet these needs. Therefore, additional funding has been needed to develop and maintain these large research projects. Alternative methods for funding research were investigated and pursued and resulted in excellent success, as over $700 thousand dollars have been obtained from outside sources during the past 10 years.

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To appreciate the existing variation to horticulture in Texas, you need to realize the state has an area of more than 168,000,000 acres which are divided into 14 land resource areas based on soil types, topography, climate, and vegetation. The states annual rainfall varies from 58 to 8 inches East to West with forest free areas varying from 30 to 180 days South to North. The total horticultural economoc farm value in 1973 was about $326,571,000 of which 69% was attributed to vegetables, 18% to fruits and nuts, and 13% to ornamentals.

Open Access

An `intermediate leaf' hybrid pickling cucumber (TAMU 884304 X ARK H-19 `little leaf') was direct-seeded at four plant densities (94,570; 48,440; 32,290; 25,375 plants/ha) using four within-row spacings (15, 30, 45, 60cm) at two locations and two seasons. Optimum yield based on marketable fruit number, grade distribution and fruit quality occurred with 94,570 plants/ha. Optimum harvest time depended on location and season. Delayed harvest times were also evaluated. Harvests with fruit >5.1cm in diameter had severely reduced brining quality. Fruit did not enlarge or enlarged slowly to oversize. This resulted in a mixture of fruit ages within the largest marketable fruit grades. It is recommended that `little leaf' lines and their hybrids such as `intermediate leaf' be harvested when fruit 3.8 to 5.1cm in diameter appear and before oversize fruit are produced. Spacing did not significantly effect length/diameter ratio(LDR) but LDR was significantly greater for delayed harvests.

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A 50 g sample taken as a horizontal section from the mid-height of an onion bulb was blended with 100 g water for 1 min in a closed plastic mason jar. A 0.5 ml of a headspace sample was drawn and injected into a Perkin Elmer 8500 GC equipped with FPD for detection of sulfur compounds. The major volatiles tentatively identified in onion were thiopropanal S-oxide, methyl propyl disulfide, dipropyl disulfide, and propyl allyl disulfide.

We observed significant variation of peak pattern and height depending on position in a bulb, among bulbs within variety, and between varieties. These results seemed to comply well with taste test. There were no significant correlations between total peak height and bulb weight, soluble solids, or pyruvate concentration in juice extract. Our investigation suggested that this procedure provided better understanding and measurement of onion pungency than pyruvate analysis.

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Representative varieties and genotypes of different colored onions were compared to determine the extent of differences in the distribution of quercetin and quercetin glycosides. The dry skins, outer rings, and inner rings were separated and extracted with ethanol to obtain quercetin glycosides that were then hydrolyzed to free quercetin, or aglycone. Free quercetin was used as the standard for quantification by reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

Significant difference (P=0.05) in total quercetin content was observed between dry skin and inner rings (edible parts). A decrease in total quercetin content was observed from the dry skin to inner rings. The highest total quercetin content was observed in the dry skins of Red bone variety (30.74 g/kg dry weight) while Contessa variety contain the least amount (0.082 g/kg dry weight). Total quercetin content in outer scales (1-2 scales) in Kadavan variety is the highest (481 mg/kg fresh weight); however, trace amounts are observed in Contessa. Inner rings (5-6 and 7-10 scales) contain less amount of total quercetin in all the varieties.

Outer scales of all the varieties except 1015Y and Contessa contain moderate amount (2.5-16 mg/kg fresh weight) of free quercetin. Kadavan contain the highest amount of free quercetin (20.64 g/kg dry weight).

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The anti carcinogenic flavonol, aglycone, or free quercetin and quercetin glycoside content of seventeen onion varieties and 22 genotypes (Asgrow seed co.) and also 37 breeding lines (Texas A&M University) were analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Quercetin glycosides were hydrolyzed into aglycones.

Total quercetin content in yellow and red onions varied from 80.34 to 286.4 mg/kg fresh weight in different varieties. Marked variation in total quercetin content between Texas A&M breeding lines (56-202 mg/kg fresh weight) and Asgrow breeding lines (54-287 mg/kg fresh weight) was observed. White onions contain trace amount of total quercetin. Free quercetin in Texas A&M breeding line 20272-G was 12.4 mg/kg fresh weight; however, other varieties and breeding lines contain negligible amount of free quercetin. It was concluded that the `designer' onion varieties with high quercetin content for health consciousness can be produced.

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