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  • Author or Editor: Danielle Williams x
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Postharvest storage of southernpeas, Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp., is a crucial point of the production process. Governed by consumer demands, farmers strive for a product that is high in quality and freshness, and has an appropriate texture and appealing color. Improper storage of southernpeas will result in their eventual deterioration, unacceptance, and possible loss of profit. Because of this, an appropriate storage facility and temperature should be devised that will benefit both farmer and consumer. In an effort to prevent potential losses of southernpeas, a study was conducted to determine the best environmental condition at which to store them to potentially extend their shelf-life. In 2004, five southernpea varieties—`Early Acre,' `Early Scarlet,' `Excel Select,' `Coronet,' and `Arkansas Blackeye #1'—were planted in a randomized block design on the University of Arkansas horticulture farm. Upon maturity, 12 green pods of each variety were subjected to a sweated and unsweated treatment and then shelled. After shelling, the seeds were subjected to four different environmental conditions evaluating each on the basis of changes in physical appearance. Further objectives of the study were to determine the best variety, environmental condition, and treatment to maintain product quality in a manner that would relate to growers on a commercial basis. Results showed that a refrigerated environment at or near 3 to 5 °C is a good environment to store this particular crop for nearly 2 weeks. It also appeared that the sweated treatment assisted with the shelling process and maintained the appearance of each variety longer. From the results, temperature and percent relative humidity are arguably two important components of postharvest storage that have the potential of negatively affecting the crop.

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Pumpkin cultivar trials were held in 2003 and 2004 at the Agricultural Experiment Station Fayetteville, AR. 18 cultivars were direct seeded the 4th week of June. Plots 8 plants each, spaced 3 ft apart, 12 ft between rows were randomly replicated 6 times. Pumpkin fruit were harvested October 1 and evaluated for number, size shape, and quality. Plots were irrigated by drip irrigation and standard production practices were followed. During 2004 the same practices were followed except plots were planted during the second week of July. In 2003 large fruited pumpkins yielded 700 to 1950 fruit per acre. Howden, the industry standard yielded 700 fruit, averaging 16 lb each, with a gross return of $700/acre. Cultivar fruit size ranged from 15 to 27 lb, and yields ranged from 10200 to 52000 lbs to the acre. Based on the 1 Oct. 2003 prices from USDA AMS, gross returns ranged from $744 to $1760 per acre. Specialty types Jack be Quick, Rouge, and Long Island Cheese yielded 15700, 1800, and 1470 fruit per acre valued at $2100, 1950, and 3400 respectively. Excessive rain in June 2004, and cooler that normal weather during July and early August significantly affected quality and yields of pumpkin fruit. Fruit number and size per plot were reduced up to 75%. Yields ranged from 10% to 20% of 2003 yields. Fruit quality was significantly affected making most of the fruit harvest unmarketable due to immaturity and size.

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There are four southernpea breeding programs left in the United States: USDA-South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas and the largest at University of Arkansas. Selected breeding lines from these programs are grown in the Southernpea Cooperative Trial along with industry standards as checks. The yield trial is conducted in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Texas. Each location collects yield data; at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville samples are also canned at the Department of Food Science Pilot Plant Facility. The process we use for canning southernpeas is similar to that used in the industry. Dry weights are recorded then soaked overnight in water. Imbibed weights are recorded after the peas are drained, blanched, and cooled. A weighed amount of peas are placed in each can; prepared brine (water, salt, and preservatives) is poured to the top of the can. The cans are sealed then cooked in a retort. The cans set a month before the tasting evaluation. For the tasting evaluation we use a minimum of 10 individuals for a consumer panel. Panelists rate pea color, liquor color, wholeness, texture, flavor, and the general appearance on a scale of 1–10, 10 being best. The industry standards are included, these are used as checks. This allows breeders to see how their lines look and taste as a canned product.

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