High-value vegetable crops such as bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) are heavily fertilized by growers who seek to maximize yields. Field experiments were conducted in Spring 2016 and 2017 evaluating two liquid fertilizers with and without calcium (Ca), applied at three nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) levels in two varieties of bell pepper to determine whether current fertilizer recommendations were adequate and whether fertilizer source impacted fruit yield and quality. Plants were grown using plastic mulch and drip irrigation following standard production practices for the region. Two liquid fertilizer programs [7N–0P–5.8 (7–0–7) and 4N–0P–6.6K/9N–0P–0K–11Ca (4–0–8/CN9)] were applied twice weekly at three N rates (175, 200, and 225 lb/acre N). Yield, cull rate, and foliar nutrient concentrations were measured. In 2016, total marketable yields were greatest [910 boxes/acre (28 lb/box)] and blossom end rot (BER) incidence (14.4%) lowest in plants grown with the supplemental Ca (4–0–8/C9 fertilizer) at 175 lb/acre N. Cull rates increased in plants grown without supplemental Ca during the season (7–0–7 fertilizer), with BER incidence ranging from 22.9% to 27.2%. Yields ranged from 590 to 740 boxes/acre in plants grown without supplemental Ca in 2016. In 2017, yields ranged from 530 to 790 boxes/acre in plants grown with supplemental Ca at 200 and 175 lb/acre N, respectively. Culls due to BER were lower in 2017 than in 2016. In 2016, BER incidence was greater in ‘PSO9979325’ compared with ‘Antebellum’, despite no differences in total yield. Foliar nutrient levels were largely unaffected by fertilizer program; however, foliar N and K concentrations increased with the rate of N and K fertilization. The results of this study suggest that using liquid fertilizer program containing some Ca may benefit bell pepper growers in some, but not all, growing seasons.
Timothy Coolong, Andre Luiz Biscaia Ribeiro da Silva and Justin Shealey
Andre Luiz Biscaia Ribeiro da Silva, Joara Secchi Candian, Elizanilda Ramalho do Rego, Timothy Coolong and Bhabesh Dutta
The use of resistant cultivars against Xanthomonas campestris pv. campestris (Xcc) is considered a critical management practice for black rot (BR) management in cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata). Although most studies that have evaluated resistance to BR were conducted in greenhouses without accounting for yield, there is a clear need to investigate cultivar performance under field conditions. The objectives of this study were to evaluate commercial cabbage cultivars for resistance to BR and determine yield and head quality under field conditions. Field experiments with eight cultivars (Acclaim, Bravo, Capture, Celebrate, Cheers, Melissa, Monterey, and TCA-549) were conducted in two cabbage growing seasons, Fall 2018 and Spring 2019. Fields were spray-inoculated with Xcc (3 × 105 cfu/mL) at 35 and 49 days after transplanting in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019, respectively. Cabbage BR severity was evaluated at weekly intervals starting from 7 days postinoculation (DPI) until harvest. Marketable and unmarketable yields and cabbage head quality were measured at harvest. Cabbage BR symptoms were detected in all tested cultivars for both growing seasons with initial symptoms observed as early as 28 and 21 DPI in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019, respectively. Severity of cabbage BR at harvest was significantly greater in Fall 2018 compared with Spring 2019, whereas marketable yield was significantly higher in Spring 2019 (45,169 lb/acre) compared with Fall 2018 (26,370 lb/acre). In both growing seasons, ‘TCA-549’ had the lowest severity of BR and ‘Melissa’ had the highest severity of BR. Area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC) was 175 and 13 for ‘TCA-549’ in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019, respectively. The AUDPC for ‘Melissa’ in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 were 2376 and 905, respectively. Regardless of growing season, cabbage marketable yield was higher for ‘Acclaim’ (51,760 lb/acre) compared with all other cultivars; however, there was no significant difference between Acclaim and TCA-549 (42,934 lb/acre) for cabbage marketable yield. Cabbage marketable yield was the lowest for cultivars Melissa (18,275 lb/acre) and Capture (24,236 lb/acre). Overall, there was a significant correlation between BR disease severity and cabbage marketable and unmarketable yields. Increasing the BR severity decreased cabbage marketability due to an increase in unmarketable yields. Continued development of cultivar resistance to BR is important for cabbage production in the southeastern United States, given the favorable conditions for disease development. The use of cultivars with low susceptibility, pathogen-free seeds, crop rotation, and proper spraying programs should be considered the best management practice for BR disease.