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  • Author or Editor: C. Elizabeth Succop x
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Fresh-market sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is in high demand from specialty produce markets and commercial restauranteurs. Many consumers are also demanding produce that has been organically grown. Three hydroponic media systems were evaluated twice over two years, rockwool slabs, perlite frames, and commercial sphagnum peat/perlite/compost medium, where the bag was laid flat on the bench. Plants grown in these systems were fertilized with nutrient solutions derived from either organic or conventional, saltbased fertilizer sources. Few differences in yield were detected between basil plants grown in the commercial medium with either fertilizer source. Total yield from plants grown in perlite with the organic fertilizer was 22% greater in the first study and 100% greater in the second study than those for plants grown with the conventional fertilizer. Plants grown in rockwool with the conventional fertilizer were 17% more productive in the first study and 46% more productive in the second study than those grown with the organic fertilizer. Taste test panelists (69%) could discern differences between samples from organically and conventionally grown basil plants, yet no preferences were shown.

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Fresh-market basil is becoming a viable greenhouse commodity in Colorado. Marketing pressures and profit advantages also encourage the production of certified organic produce. The research objectives were to determine the length of time basil plants were productive in the greenhouse and to compare the production of fresh-market basil grown with three root zone systems and two fertilizer treatments. The three systems were hydroponic rockwool slab culture, hydroponic perlite raised bed culture, and hydroponic peat/perlite/compost bag culture. The two types of hydroponic fertilizer treatments were an inorganically formulated nutrient solution and an organic solution consisting of fermented poultry compost, hydrolized fish emulsion, and soluble kelp. The plants were harvested once per week and fresh weight was determined. During the 2nd and 3rd months of harvest, productivity from the plants treated with the organic fertilizer was greatest in the perlite system. However, productivity from the plants treated with the traditional fertilizer was greatest in the bag mix and rockwool systems.

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During 1995, 33 poinsettia cultivars were evaluated for Colorado greenhouse production conditions. Plants were supplied by the Paul Ecke Poinsettia Ranch, Fischer Geraniums USA, Oglevee, and Mikkelsens. At the end of the production period, Colorado greenhouse growers were invited to an open house and asked to judge the cultivars for plant, bract, and cyathia quality. As rated by the 24 growers, the best red cultivars in overall performance were `Freedom Red', `Nutcracker Red', `Cortez', and `Bonita', respectively. The best pink cultivars in overall performance were `Nutcracker Pink', `Maren', and `Flirt', respectively. The best white cultivars in overall performance were `Nutcracker White' and `V-17 Angelika White', respectively. The best novelty cultivars in overall performance were `Puebla' and `Monet', respectively.

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