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  • Author or Editor: Christine Coker x
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Ethnicity plays a strong role in niche market development, and the Asian market is currently underserved. As Asian populations continue to grow in Mississippi, especially along the Gulf Coast, it is important to recognize new market opportunities. The fruit and vegetables desired by the diverse Asian population are often unavailable or of poor quality as a result of extensive shipping distances. Mississippi growers can meet this need for fresh Oriental produce at a higher price than traditional vegetables. Yardlong bean or asparagus bean (Vigna unguiculata ssp. sesquipedalis) is the same species as cowpea. The cultural practices for yardlong bean are similar to that of traditional pole beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). However, there is still much to be learned about this crop in terms of pest management, disease susceptibility, and varietal superiority. The objectives of this research were to compare length and yield of eight yardlong bean varieties and collect observational data regarding production practices. Four replications of eight yardlong bean varieties were grown at Beaumont, MS, during Summer 2001 and 2002. Beans were grown on 4-ft-wide trellises 1 ft above the soil line. Beans were harvested twice per week. Highest marketable yields were attained with the varieties Red Seed and Black Seed, which are best suited for growing conditions in southern Mississippi. However, mosaic viruses may pose a potential production problem, and further research is warranted to determine best cultural practices and pest management.

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The greenhouse and nursery industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the region's agricultural economy; however, a major problem facing this industry is a shortage of workers, particularly skilled workers. A recent national survey of commercial nursery/landscape operations listed labor shortage as the number one limitation facing the industry at the end of 2001. The target population of this project is greenhouse and nursery workers in the Gulf South. The goal of this project is to develop and identify automated systems that can be adapted by the highly diverse greenhouse and nursery industry. Adoption of this technology will improve working conditions for greenhouse and nursery workers, increase worker retention, improve worker safety, increase worker productivity, improve skill levels, and create new jobs related to servicing the machinery and instrumentation. The Coastal Research and Extension Center, in cooperation with industry leaders representing the Gulf South, has identified several major areas of program focus. Together, we have developed a comprehensive set of production issues which will be addressed through the integration of applied mechanization technologies developed through this project.

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The National Guard State Partnership Program seeks to link the National Guards of the United States with Ministries of Defense of emerging democratic nations in cooperative activities of mutual benefit. The Program aims to enhance those connections by bringing “Hometown America” onto the international stage through personal, sustained relationships. These associations could build a “Bridge to America,” establishing and nurturing bonds of mutual understanding at the grass roots level. The focus of the program has shifted rapidly to the “citizen” aspects of the National Guard, with instruction, orientation, and personnel exchanges in areas such as economic development, small business administration, and entrepreneurship. Mississippi's program partner is Bolivia. Mississippi State University was called upon to participate in the program by providing Subject Matter Experts. Scientists spent seven days in Bolivia working with the Bolivian military (made up of conscripted soldiers as young as 14 years of age), the Catholic University, and local villages, advising on greenhouse vegetable production and instructing program participants on cultural practices that would benefit their communities.

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Lagerstroemia indica ×fauriei `Tonto' and `Sioux' were planted in Mar. 1995. All other cultivars were planted in Oct. 1985. Plants were planted into a Ruston sandy loam on a 12 × 12 ft (3.7 × 3.7 m) spacing. Trees were pruned to develop multiple trunks. Trees are pruned annually in winter to remove any limbs smaller than 0.6 cm in diameter. Pruning cuts are made 6–8 in (15.2–20.3 cm) above prior cuts. Severe pruning is performed every 5 years. Trees were evaluated at 2-week intervals during the flowering season to determine total length of flowering and duration of good to superior flowering. Growth indices (height + width + perpendicular width)/3 were recorded after plants were dormant. Total days of flowering and floral display (0–5 with 0 representing no flowers and 5 representing superior flowering) were rated. `Muskogee' had the greatest growth index after the 2004 growing season. `Seminole' had the least. However, `Seminole' had the greatest number of flowering days. `Biloxi' had the fewest flowering days. `Tonto' had the most good to superior flowering days, while `Tuskegee' and `Muskogee' had the fewest. In 2005, `Muskogee' again had the greatest growth index, while `Sioux' had the least. `Yuma' and `Seminole' had the greatest number of flowering days, and `Biloxi' again had the fewest. `Tonto' again had the most good to superior flowering days, while `Biloxi' and `Acoma' had the fewest.

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Lagerstroemia indica x fauriei `Tonto' and `Sioux' were planted in March, 1995. All other cultivars were planted in October, 1985. Plants were planted into a Ruston sandy loam on a 12 × 12 ft (3.7 × 3.7 m) spacing. Trees were pruned to develop multiple trunks. Trees are pruned annually in winter to remove any limbs smaller than ¼ in (0.6 cm) in diameter. Pruning cuts are made 6–8 in (15.2–20.3 cm) above prior cuts. Severe pruning is performed every five years. Trees were evaluated at 2-week intervals during the flowering season to determine total length of flowering and duration of good to superior flowering. Growth indices (height + width + perpendicular width)/3 were recorded after plants were dormant. Total days of flowering and floral display (0–5 with 0 representing no flowers and 5 representing superior flowering) were rated. `Muskogee' had the greatest growth index after the 2004 growing season. `Seminole' had the least. However, `Seminole' did have the greatest number of flowering days. `Biloxi' had the fewest flowering days. `Tonto' had the most good to superior flowering days while `Tuskegee' and `Muskogee' had the fewest.

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Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) production historically has been limited in the southeastern United States because of the risk of early bolting and unacceptable bitterness. Small-scale vegetable growers may be able to include lettuce in their production through selection of bolt tolerant and nonbitter varieties. The objectives of this research were to evaluate earliness, bitterness, vitamin E, ascorbic acid, folate, β-carotene, and lutein content in 17 lettuce varieties. Significant difference were found among varieties for days to harvest (DTH) (47 DTH for `Epic' to 37 DTH for `Big Curly'). Observed DTH in this study was consistently 7 to 10 days less than commercial descriptions of the lettuce varieties, due to the use of transplants. Only `Slobolt' and `Greengo' bolted before reaching marketable size. Panelists found that the bitterness was acceptable for most varieties, but not for `Nancy,' `Big Curly,' and `Slobolt'. Significant differences among varieties were also found in vitamin E, ascorbic acid, folate, β-carotene, and lutein. `Redprize' and `Nevada' were the best varieties overall, while `Salinas 88 Supreme,' `Epic,' `Legacy,' `Big Curly,' `Slobolt,' and `Greengo' were unacceptable.

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Sun coleus (Solenostenum scutellarioides) are commonly used in the southern landscape. However, with the introduction of new cultivars, producers and consumers may be unaware of the selection and landscape performance of sun coleus. Sun coleus cultivars were trialed under landscape conditions at the South Mississippi Branch Station in Poplarville, Miss., in 2000 and 2001. The objective of this study was to evaluate sun coleus cultivars based on landscape performance criteria including flowering, durability, vigor, uniqueness, and insect and disease resistance. Cultivars performing well over both years included `Ducksfoot Red,' `Ducksfoot Tricolor', `Ducksfoot Yellow', `Sunflower Red', `Pineapple', Mardi Gras', and `Saturn'.

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Three years of trials in Mississippi have led to the naming of a Mississippi Medallion vegetable award winner for 2007, the fourth vegetable winner in the program's history. The Medallion program looks for garden crops that will perform throughout the state of Mississippi and help improve sales of plant materials to gardeners at retail. The Medallion selection process illustrates how growers and marketers, not just gardeners, can select specialty vegetables and cultivars for production and sale. Between 2003 and 2005, the Mississippi Medallion trials evaluated 11 sweet peppers with no green fruit stage for ornamental and yield value. Each site had three or four replications of all cultivars under evaluation annually with four plants per plot set out on raised beds with drip irrigation. Objective evaluation included total yield, marketable yield, fruit size, and days to harvest. Subjective evaluation included crop uniformity, pest tolerance, and appearance of the fruit based on color, uniformity, and shape. After nine trials, four cultivars were among the highest-yielding group in most trials: Mavras, Tequilla, Blushing Beauty, and Gypsy. The Medallion winner, to be announced in Fall 2006, was selected in part because it was within or near the top-yielding group, by least significant difference, in most trials. The perceived attractiveness of the mature fruit to the evaluating team and the perceived potential marketability of the cultivar moved it above the others under consideration. The reasons for not selecting other cultivars as the winner are as important as the reasons for selecting the winning cultivar. In the Medallion pepper case, these were mostly marketability concerns with the other cultivars, not yield issues, relative to that of the winner.

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The IR-4 program works to identify potential minor-use horticultural chemicals and evaluate them for phytotoxicity and efficacy. The objective of this experiment was to evaluate phytotoxicity and weed control of three unlabeled herbicides on field production of Hemerocallis spp. `Ming Toy'. Ten-cm pots of `Ming Toy' were planted into the field 16 July 2001. Each plot consisted of 3 plants per treatment with 6 replications in a completely random design. Each herbicide was analyzed as a separate experiment. Herbicide treatments consisted of clopyralid (0.14, 0.28, 0.56, or 1.1 kg·ha-1 a.i.), clethodim (125, 250, or 500 mL·L-1 a.i.), or bentazon (1.1, 2.2, or 4.4 kg·ha-1 a.i.). Data collected included weed number, percentage of weed coverage (% weed coverage), and phytotoxicity and foliar color ratings for `Ming Toy'. Clopyralid reduced total weed number 90 DAT although % weed coverage was similar or worse compared to the control treatment. Phytotoxicity 90 DAT was not significant for plants treated with clopyralid, but foliar color ratings were reduced. Application of clethodim to `Ming Toy' plots, regardless of rate, resulted in similar weed numbers compared to the control 49 DAT. Clethodim application, regardless of rate, reduced % weed coverage compared to the control treatment. Phytotoxicity 90 DAT was not significant, regardless of herbicide treatment, but foliar color ratings were lower for herbicide treated plants compared to the control. Bentazon, regardless of rate, reduced weed number and % weed coverage 49 DAT compared to the control. Phytotoxicity was similar to the control for plants treated with 1.1 kg·ha-1 a.i.

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Baikal skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) is an important medicinal plant with proven bioactivity. Commercially available products in the United States containing extracts or derivatives from this plant species have been shown to lack consistency of chemical composition and bioactivity. In the United States, these issues could be solved through domestic production of skullcap. The hypothesis of this study was that Baikal skullcap grown in the Mississippi climate would accumulate sufficient bioactive flavonoids, baicalin, and baicalein in the roots to justify domestic production, and that shoots of these plants might also contain the flavonoids of interest. A replicated field experiment was conducted at four locations in Mississippi (Beaumont, Crystal Springs, Stoneville, and Verona) to test the hypothesis. The concentration of the main flavonoid, baicalin, in the roots ranged from 8.1% to 15.6%, whereas the concentration of baicalein varied from 0.2% to 1.2%. The flavonoid concentrations in the roots were similar to that of commercially available skullcap roots, and to concentrations reported in the literature. Chrysin was detected in the roots from one location. Furthermore, the flavonoids apigenin, baicalein, baicalin, chrysin, and scutellarein were detected and quantified in the skullcap shoots. Overall, yields of dry roots tended to increase from southern to northern locations. This is the first report on flavonoid accumulation in Baikal skullcap roots and shoots grown in the United States. The results from this study are promising and suggest that 1) Baikal skullcap grown in Mississippi accumulates similar amounts of baicalein and baicalin to skullcap grown in other regions and can provide up to 128 kg·ha 1 of baicalin and up to 2.32 kg·ha 1 of baicalein; 2) flavonoid concentration in Baikal skullcap roots and shoots, yields, and mineral concentration of roots might depend on climatic and growing conditions; and 3) Baikal skullcap could be developed as a high-value crop for Mississippi and possibly other regions of the United States. Further research is needed on skullcap production methods and economic feasibility.

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