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  • Author or Editor: Mary M. Peet x
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Sustainable Practices for Vegetable Production in the South, 174 pages long and with 250 references, was written as a traditional college textbook, but is also available as a World Wide Web (Web) site (http://www2.ncsu.edu/sustainable/). This article chronicles the conversion of the entire text to a Web document and the simultaneous release of Web and print versions. I will also discuss some of the issues that we will confront if we depend on the Web for delivering and receiving content-rich information. These issues are as follows. 1) Although there are no standards for Web sites as there are for print documents, there are certain similarities in the way most Web sites function. Relative to our familiarity with book and journal conventions, those of us educated in the age of print are unaware of Web standards. 2) The optimal size and structure of the information chunk is unclear. Should it be a whole chapter or article, a single paragraph, or a functional unit of facts that doesn't have a name or correspond to anything in print media? 3) Organization and consistency are critical. Table and chapter numbers are meaningless. The most important question is “How does a person accessing part of your Web site know about all the other parts and how they fit together?” You can flip through a book to view it, but a person following a link to a particular page on your site is like the blind man touching the elephant's trunk—the whole is hard to visualize. 4) There is no good place to put references and footnotes because of the subdivision of information into chunks of functional facts. 5) There is no obvious starting or stopping point in making revisions. 6) People accessing the site will send messages and ask questions.

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The grafting of herbaceous vegetables is an emerging development in the United States. This report provides an estimate of the variable costs of grafting within U.S. tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) transplant production systems. Grafted and nongrafted plants were propagated at two commercial farming operations in Ivanhoe, NC (NC) and Strasburg, PA (PA) and the farm in NC produced certified organic transplants. Detailed economic production sequences were generated for each site, and grafted and nongrafted transplant production costs were $0.59 and $0.13 in NC, and $1.25 and $0.51 in PA, respectively. Direct costs associated with grafting (e.g., grafting labor, clips, chamber, etc.) accounted for 37% to 38% of the added cost of grafting, and grafting labor was 11.1% to 14.4% of the cost of grafted transplant production. Seed costs represented 52% and 33% of the added cost of grafting at the two sites, and indirect costs (e.g., soil, trays, and heating) accounted for 10% and 30% of the added cost of grafting. Our findings suggest that under current seed prices and with similar production practices, the feasibility of grafting in the United States is not disproportionately affected by domestic labor costs. Additionally, the economic models presented in this report identify the cost of production at various transplant stages, and provide a valuable tool for growers interested in grafted tomato transplant production and utilization.

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In this study, we conducted an economic analysis of high tunnel and open-field production systems of heirloom tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) based on a two-year study at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) located in Goldsboro, eastern North Carolina. The research site was transitional organic using organically certified inputs and practices on land not yet certified. Production costs and returns were documented in each system and provide a useful decision tool for growers. Climatic conditions varied dramatically in 2007 compared with 2008 and differentially affected total and marketable yields in each system. Profits were higher in the open-field system and the high tunnels in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Sensitivity analysis was conducted using a range of market prices from $1.60/lb to $3.60/lb and a range of fruit marketability levels from 35% to 80%. Both systems were profitable except at the lowest price point and the lowest percent marketability level in high tunnel in 2007. At $2.60/lb, seasonal average sale price reported by growers for this region, and depending on percent marketability levels, the payback period for high tunnels ranged from two to five years. Presented sensitivity tables will enable decision makers to knowledgably estimate economic potential of open-field and high tunnel systems based on expected local prices and fruit quality parameters.

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