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Christine Coker, Mike Ely, and Thomas Freeman

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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Christine E. Coker, William Evans, Michael Collins, and Walter Blankenship

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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Christine E. Coker, Patricia R. Knight, and John M. Anderson

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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Benedict C. Posadas, Patricia R. Knight, Christine E.H. Coker, Randal Y. Coker, and Scott A. Langlois

This work describes workers’ socioeconomic characteristics and evaluates the determinants of workers hiring decisions among 215 randomly selected wholesale nurseries and greenhouses located in eight selected southern states in the United States. The participating nurseries and greenhouses employed on average 5.40 permanent workers per horticulture operation or 2.27 permanent workers per acre under cultivation. Participating nurseries and greenhouses hired an average 2.38 part-time workers per horticulture operation or 0.80 part-time workers per acre placed under production. Empirical models were estimated to determine the significant factors affecting hiring decisions by this industry. Hiring decision models covered age groups, racial backgrounds, formal education levels, and gender. Analysis of the decision-making process involving the employment of hired workers among the participating wholesale nurseries and greenhouses provided insights into the hiring decisions in the industry. The hiring decisions by demographic characteristics serve as benchmarks for assessing impacts of regulations affecting the industry in the near future. About 1.9% of all the establishments employed more than 50 permanent and part-time workers and 1.4% employed more than 50 permanent workers.

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William B. Evans, Christine E. Coker, Kent E. Cushman, Thomas E. Horgan, and Keri L. Paridon

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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Patricia R. Knight*, Christine E. Coker, Benedict Posadas, and John M. Anderson

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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Valtcho D. Zheljazkov, Charles L. Cantrell, M. Wayne Ebelhar, Dennis E. Rowe, and Christine Coker

Nitrogen (N) and sulfur (S) were believed to be important nutrient management tools for the production of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L. ‘German’) with desirable oil content and composition and acceptable herbage yields. A multilocation research study was initiated to evaluate the effect of N (0, 60, 120, and 180 kg·ha−1 N) and S (0, 20, 40, and 80 kg·ha−1 S) rates on biomass production, oil content, and oil composition for sweet basil. The three locations in Mississippi (Stoneville, Poplarville, and Verona) were selected based on soil type, geographic, and climatic variation. Location, N rate, and their interaction were significant on basil dry herbage yields. The herbage yield means were 4967 kg·ha−1, 2907 kg·ha−1, and 2122 kg·ha−1 for Poplarville, Verona, and Stoneville, respectively. Oil content was significantly affected by location with means of 0.69%, 0.80%, and 0.64% for Stoneville, Poplarville, and Verona, respectively. Location, N, and S had significant effects on oil yields with means of 14.7, 38.7, and 18.5 kg·ha−1 for Stoneville, Poplarville, and Verona, respectively. The significant quadratic response of essential oil yields to N fertilization rates showed oil yields were maximized for fertilization between 50 and 60 kg·ha−1 N. In contrast, the response to S fertilization appeared to continue to increase beyond the maximum fertilization rate evaluated of 80 kg·ha−1 S. Location and N application rates had a significant effect on the yields of the major basil oil constituents (–)-linalool, eugenol, (–)-bornyl acetate, and eucalyptol, whereas S had a significant effect on eucalyptol yield only. Eucalyptol concentration was positively correlated to the concentration of (–)-bornyl acetate. This is the first study to quantify (in real concentration) the response of the major sweet basil oil constituents (–)-linalool, eugenol, (–)-bornyl acetate, and eucalyptol as a function of N and S application rates. Also, it is the first study to demonstrate a strong response of basil oil yield to S. The results from this study demonstrated that N and S applications can be used as management tools with respect to sweet basil production, oil content, and oil composition.

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Christine E.H. Coker, Gary Bachman, Chris Boyd, Pamela B. Blanchard, Ed Bush, and Mengmeng Gu

The Coastal Roots School Seedling Nursery Program for Habitat Restoration was initiated by Louisiana State University in 2000 in cooperation with Louisiana Sea Grant. The program enhances learning areas such as plant growth, wetland issues, conservation, and hands-on habitat restoration, and includes the installation of a small container nursery for the production of coastal plants in schoolyards. The program was adopted by Mississippi State University's Coastal Research and Extension Center in 2008. The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the program as well as Mississippi's plans to adapt the Louisiana model to demonstrate teaching by example through hands-on demonstration that will supply students with real-world conservation and stewardship experience.

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Ronald C. Stephenson, Christine E.H. Coker, Benedict C. Posadas, Gary R. Bachman, Richard L. Harkess, John J. Adamczyk, and Patricia R. Knight

Due to difficulty in monitoring insect pests, applications of insecticides are frequently conducted on a calendar schedule. However, seasonal variability in pest populations leads to these calendar schedules sometimes being inaccurate. Threshold-based insect management strategies, including use of thresholds with conventional pesticides and with use of organic pesticides only, were compared with a conventional calendar approach for yield, management cost, and production value of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). Effect of cultivar was considered by inclusion of the long season cultivar Celebrity and the short season cultivar Early Girl Bush. These factors were compared for spring and fall seasons during two production years. Greatest total and marketable yields were obtained from use of conventional pesticides according to action thresholds. Use of organic insecticides according to thresholds did not affect yields in comparison with a calendar-based approach. Proportion of fruit rated unmarketable was greater with use of organic insecticides due to reduced efficacy and residual of control. Production costs for the organic threshold-based approach were greater due to increased number of insecticide applications required. Gross margin for both conventional and organic threshold-based insect pest management was greater than for the conventional calendar method. Increased economic return for conventional threshold-based management was due to increased yields. Increase in return for organic threshold management was based on premiums received for organically grown tomatoes. Adoption of conventional threshold-based insect pest management by small-scale producers has the potential to increase production efficiency and value, as well as increase environmental sustainability of production. Economic feasibility of organic production requires access to markets willing to pay significant premiums for organic produce. Further research to evaluate economic and yield impacts of production practices for small-scale farms is needed.