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Manish K. Bansal, George E. Boyhan and Daniel D. MacLean

Vidalia onions (Allium cepa) are very susceptible to infection from pathogens and diseases compared with other types of onions. Botrytis neck rot (BNR) (Botrytis allii) is the most common and destructive storage disease, whereas sour skin (Pseudomonas cepacia) can cause significant bacterial losses, particularly, for late season cultivars. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of different fungicide and bactericide drenches on marketability of Vidalia onions using the cultivar Savannah Sweet grown, harvested, and graded for high-quality onions. Six different fungicide treatments were evaluated, including fludioxonil at two different rates, fluopyram and pyrimethanil in combination, and pyraclostrobin and boscalid in combination with a water-only and an untreated entry. In addition, four different bactericide treatments were evaluated, including copper hydroxide and copper sulfate pentahydrate with a water-only and untreated control. Treatments were applied by drenching the onion bags with 1 gal of solution at the desired concentration. Onions treated with fungicide were inoculated with the pathogen that causes BNR, whereas the bactericide treatments were inoculated with the pathogen that causes sour skin by placing a single inoculated bulb into each bag. Half of the bags were heat-cured for 48 hours and all of the onions were stored immediately under refrigerated conditions at 34 to 36 °F for 2 or 4 months. Bactericide treatments were not heat-cured the second year of the study. Onions were evaluated after 1 and 14 days of shelf life. For both years, all the fungicide applications were effective with more marketable onions compared with the controls. Fludioxonil, fluopyram/pyrimethanil, and boscalid/pyraclostrobin had the highest percentage of marketable onions compared with the water or untreated controls. Fluopyram/pyrimethanil and boscalid/pyraclostrobin fungicides had significantly higher percentage of marketable onions than the controls but were similar to the low rate of fludioxonil. Bactericide applications were not effective in reducing losses when compared with the controls.

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Manish K. Bansal, George E. Boyhan and Daniel D. MacLean

Vidalia onions (Allium cepa) are a branded product of southeastern Georgia marketed under a federal marketing order. They are short-day, yellow onions with a Granex shape that are susceptible to a number of diseases postharvest, limiting the amount of time they can be marketed. Postharvest treatments and storage methods can help extend their marketability. Thus, the objective of this study was to evaluate these postharvest treatments and storage conditions on quality of three Vidalia onion varieties: ‘WI-129’, ‘Sapelo Sweet’, and ‘Caramelo’. All varieties were undercut, then either harvested immediately (zero cure), field cured (2 days), or forced-air heat cured (3 days at ≈37 °C) when judged mature. ‘WI-129’, ‘Sapelo Sweet’, and ‘Caramelo’ represent early, midseason, and late varieties, respectively. Bulbs were then sorted and stored in refrigerated storage [0–1 °C, 70% relative humidity (RH)], sulfur dioxide (SO2) (1000 mg·L−1 in 2010 and 5000 mg·L−1 in 2011, one time fumigation) followed by refrigeration, ozone (O3 (0.1–10 mg·L−1; continuous exposure, 0–1 °C, 70% RH), or controlled-atmosphere storage [3% oxygen (O2), 5% carbon dioxide (CO2), 0–1 °C, 70% RH]. After 2 and 4 months, bulbs were removed from storage, and evaluated after 1 and 14 days for quality and incidence of disorders. ‘Caramelo’ had the lowest percent marketable onions after curing in 2010, while ‘WI-128’ had the lowest percent marketable onions in 2011. There was a rain event immediately before harvesting ‘Caramelo’ that may have contributed to low marketability in 2010. Heat curing improved marketability for ‘Sapelo Sweet’ and ‘WI-129’ in 2010 compared with no curing. In 2011, heat curing resulted in more marketable onions for ‘Sapelo Sweet’ compared with no curing. Curing had no effect on ‘Caramelo’ in 2011 and field curing had the greatest percent marketable onions for ‘WI-129’ in 2011. In 2010, controlled-atmosphere storage had more marketable onions compared with SO2 for ‘Caramelo’ and was better than simple refrigeration or O3 with ‘WI-129’. In 2011 refrigeration, controlled-atmosphere storage, and O3 were all better than SO2 with ‘Caramelo’. ‘Sapelo Sweet’ and ‘WI-129’, on the other hand in 2011, had better storage with SO2 compared with other storage methods. Onions stored for 2 months had 32% and 17% more marketable onions after removal compared with 4 months of storage regardless of storage conditions for 2010 and 2011, respectively. Poststorage shelf life was reduced by about one-third, 14 days after removal from storage regardless of the storage conditions.

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Harwinder Singh Sidhu, Juan Carlos Díaz-Pérez and Daniel MacLean

Controlled atmosphere (CA) storage has been observed to prolong the shelf life of fresh produce. The objective of this study was to determine whether CA storage performed better than regular air (RA) storage in maintaining fruit quality of six pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) cultivars grown in the state of Georgia. Pomegranate fruit produced in Ty Ty, GA in 2010 and 2011 were stored in CA [5% CO2 + 3% O2, 5 °C, 90% to 95% relative humidity (RH)] or RA (5 °C, 90% to 95% RH) for 3 months. Pomegranate whole fruit and juice were evaluated for various physical and chemical attributes at the end of storage. Fruit differed by cultivar for rind smoothness, fruit cracking, disease incidence, and chilling injury (CI). Fruit stored in CA had a smoother and less shriveled rind, lower CI, fewer disease severity symptoms, and thus better quality than fruit stored in RA. Fruit rind color, total soluble solids (TSS), titratable acidity (TA), and anthocyanin content in fruit juice were unaffected by storage method. The results showed that pomegranate fruit quality was better sustained under CA compared with RA storage.

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Fumiomi Takeda, Gerard Krewer, Changying Li, Daniel MacLean and James W. Olmstead

Northern highbush (NH) blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) and southern highbush (SH) blueberry (V. corymbosum hybrids) have fruit that vary in firmness. The SH fruit is mostly hand harvested for the fresh market. Hand harvesting is labor-intensive requiring more than 500 hours/acre. Rabbiteye blueberry (V. virgatum) tends to have firmer fruit skin than that of NH blueberry and has been mostly machine harvested for the processing industry. Sparkleberry (V. arboreum) has very firm fruit. With the challenges of labor availability, efforts are under way to produce more marketable fruit using machine harvesting. This could require changing the design of harvesting machine and plant architecture, and the development of cultivars with fruit that will bruise less after impact with hard surfaces of machines. The objectives of this study were to determine the fruit quality of machine-harvested SH blueberry, analyze the effect of drop height and padding the contact surface on fruit quality, investigate the effect of crown restriction on ground loss, and determine the effect of plant size on machine harvestability. The fruit of ‘Farthing’, ‘Scintilla’, ‘Sweetcrisp’, and several selections were either hand harvested or machine harvested and assessed during postharvest storage for bruise damage and softening. Machine harvesting contributed to bruise damage in the fruit and softening in storage. The fruit of firm-textured SH blueberry (‘Farthing’, ‘Sweetcrisp’, and selection FL 05-528) was firmer than that of ‘Scintilla’ after 1 week in cold storage. Fruit drop tests from a height of 20 and 40 inches on a plastic surface showed that ‘Scintilla’ was more susceptible to bruising than that of firm-textured ‘Farthing’ and ‘Sweetcrisp’. When the contact surface was cushioned with a foam sheet, bruise incidence was significantly reduced in all SH blueberry used in the study. Also, the fruit dropped 40 inches developed more bruise damage than those dropped 20 inches. Ground loss during machine harvesting was reduced from 24% to 17% by modifying the rabbiteye blueberry plant architecture. Further modifications to harvesting machines and plant architecture are necessary to improve the quality of machine-harvested SH and rabbiteye blueberry fruit and the overall efficiency of blueberry (Vaccinium species and hybrids) harvesting machines.

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W. Carroll Johnson III, David B. Langston Jr., Daniel D. MacLean, F. Hunt Sanders Jr., Reid L. Torrance and Jerry W. Davis

Field experiments were conducted from 2008 through 2010 near Lyons, GA, to develop integrated weed management systems for organic Vidalia® sweet onion (Allium cepa) production. Treatments were a factorial arrangement of summer solarization, cultivation with a tine weeder, and a clove oil herbicide. Plots were solarized with clear plastic mulch during the summer fallow period before transplanting onion. Cultivation treatments were twice at 2-week intervals, four times at 2-week intervals, and a noncultivated control. Herbicide treatments were clove oil plus vinegar, clove oil plus an emulsified petroleum oil (EPO) insecticide used as an adjuvant, and a nontreated control. ‘Savannah Sweet’ onions were transplanted in early-December each year, with cultivation and herbicide applications events occurring the following January and February. Onions were harvested the following spring. In addition to yield measurement, a subsample of harvested onion was stored in a controlled atmospheric (CA) storage facility to evaluate treatment effects on diseases of stored onion. Summer fallow solarization did not control the cool-season weeds present in these trials. Cultivating transplanted onion with a tine weeder effectively managed cutleaf eveningprimrose (Oenothera laciniata) and swinecress (Coronopus didymus) and improved onion yields in 2 of 3 years. There was little difference in overall performance between two cultivations and four cultivations with the tine weeder. The 1 year of marginal weed control with the tine weeder was due to persistently wet soils during winter months that inhibited optimum performance of the implement. Clove oil, combined with vinegar or an EPO insecticide, provided marginal weed control and had no effect on onion yield. Diseases of stored onion were unaffected by any of the treatment combinations, although overall incidence of diseases of stored onion was higher in 2010 compared with other years. This corresponds with the 1 year of marginal weed control with the tine weeder, suggesting that the presence of weeds may be a factor related to disease incidence during storage.