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  • Author or Editor: David M. Monks x
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We evaluated the influence of three compost sources and compost amended with T382 with fumigant Telone C-35 and various combinations of compost and Telone C-35 on the yield and pest management of cucumber, pepper, tomato, collard, southern pea, and summer squash in a multicrop rotational system. In the first year, there were few differences between the compost treatments and Telone C-35, but all treatments resulted in more yield than the control. In the second year, all compost treatments and/or Telone C-35 improved total and marketable yield of cucumber, pepper, tomato, southern pea, and summer squash. Furthermore, in the second year, Telone C-35 treat-ments produced more yield than some of the compost treatments in tomatoes. Combining Telone C-35 with compost did not differ from either treatment alone. Nematode and disease assessments were not consistent and will be discussed in further detail.

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The `Beauregard' sweetpotato variety is very prone to damage to its skin. We evaluated several preharvest treatments to reduce skinning so that less damage was done at harvest, during transport, and packing. Three field tests were conducted in 1998 (two tests) and 1999 (one test) in North Carolina. Treatments were implemented 1 and 2 weeks prior to harvest and were either chemical or mechanical. The three mechanical treatments were flail mowing, flail mowing and barring off, and vine snatching. The following chemical treatments were made: PREP, Diquat, Dessicate II, and 2,4-D at various rates. Sweetpotatoes were harvested and roots were graded. Subsequently, U.S. No. 1 root subsamples were obtained from each plot in order to evaluate the effects of treatment on skin tightening of roots. Roots were evaluated from each plot for skin toughness using a “skin-o-meter” where a pressurized stream of water was directed at a sweetpotato. The roots were then evaluated for skinning by checking if the skin was broken using the skin-o-meter. A second method was used to evaluate the effect of treatment for its effect on skin tightening (reduced skinning). One bushel of roots from each treatment plot was transported to Clinton, N.C., and run through a small packing line at the Horticultural Crops Research Station the next day after harvest. The sweetpotatoes were then evaluated in Raleigh for the number of incidences where skin had been removed during the harvesting, transport, or packing process. The severity of skinning was characterized by counting the number of small (<5 mm), medium (width 5-10 mm) and large (width 10+ mm) skinned areas on a root. An overall appearance rating for roots was also recorded for each subsampled plot with 10 being the best rating and 1 being the worst. Results indicate that treatment 14 days prior to harvest rather than 7 days prior to harvest seems to be advantageous in most cases for reducing skinning and maintaining yield of sweetpotato when compared with not treating the vines. Regardless of whether the treatment was chemical or mechanical, treatments were apparently beneficial in these tests. Application of PREP 7 days prior to harvest resulted in sweetpotatoes with the most resistance to skinning in 1999, the fewest large-size skinning abrasions on roots, and best appearance. PREP shows promise as a means to reduce skinning in sweetpotatoes, but presently is not labeled for use on sweetpotatoes.

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Most seedless watermelons are grown on black polyethylene mulch to aid crop establishment, growth, yield, and quality and weed control. However, nutsedge is a persistent problem in this production system, as it can easily penetrate the mulch. Halosulfuron-methyl is registered in some crops and provides excellent yellow nutsedge control. The objective of this research was to determine the effects of reduced halosulfuron-methyl contract to the watermelon plant on fruit yield and quality. The seedless watermelon cultivars, Tri-X-313 and Precious Petite, were transplanted into black polyethylene mulch and sprayed 16 days later. Halosulfuron-methyl at 35 g a.i./ha plus 0.25% (v/v) nonionic surfactant was applied at 187 L·ha–1 with a TeeJet 8002 even tip nozzle. Treatments were no spray, 25% of the vine tips, 25% of the crown, and over the top (entire plant). Plants in each treatment were rated (0% = no damage, 100% = fatality) for herbicide injury and the longest vine was measured on four plants. The no-spray treatment had the longest vines (156 cm). The topical halosulfuron treatment resulted in the shortest vines (94 cm) and the highest visual damage rating (63%). The herbicide caused foliage to yellow, internodes to shorten, and stems to crack. Treatments receiving halosulfuron-methyl applied to 25% of the vine (tip end) or 25% of the vine (crown end) resulted in reduced injury compared to the topical application. Generally, the 25% vine tip application was the safest halosulfuron treatment. The total yield (kg·ha–1) and number of watermelons/ha were similar among treatments. The no-spray treatment produced 4450 kg·ha–1 and 8300 watermelons/ha. The over-top treatment produced 3500 kg·ha–1 and 7300 watermelons/ha. Watermelon in the no-spray treatment weighed 4.4 kg, while watermelons weighed 3.9 kg with the over the top treatment. Halosulfuron-methyl is registered to apply to middles between watermelon rows; however, topical applications are prevented due to the possibility of crop injury. This research suggests that reduction of topical application to only 25% contact of the crop may improve crop tolerance. Thus application to nutsedge patches where limited contact to watermelon occurs may be a possibility in the future.

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Partial budget analysis was used to evaluate soil treatment alternatives to methyl bromide (MeBr) based on their cost-effectiveness in the production of strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa). The analysis was conducted for two geographical areas: the piedmont and coastal plain area (including North Carolina and Georgia) and the mountain area of western North Carolina, based on 7 years of field test data. The fumigation alternatives evaluated were Telone-C35 (1,3-dichloropropene 61.1% + chloropicrin 34.7%), Telone II (1,3-dichloropropene 94%), chloropicrin (Chlor-o-pic 99% and TriClor EC), InLine (1,3-dichloropropene 60.8% + chloropicrin 33.3%), and metam sodium (Vapam or Sectagon 42, 42% sodium methyldithiocarbamate). The MeBr formulation was 67% MeBr and 33% chloropicrin (Terr-O-Gas) with the exception of the earlier trials where a 98:2 ratio was used. In the piedmont and coastal plain area, the soil treated with chloropicrin showed the best results with an additional return of $1670/acre relative to MeBr, followed by Telone-C35 with an additional return of $277/acre. The projected return associated with shank-applied metam sodium was approximately equal to the estimated return a grower would receive when applying MeBr. Fumigating with drip-applied metam sodium, InLine, and Telone II as well as the nonfumigated soil treatment resulted in projected losses of $2182, $2233, $4179, and $6450 per acre, respectively, relative to MeBr. In the mountain area, all of the alternatives resulted in a projected increase in net returns relative to MeBr. The largest projected increase was $1320/acre for the InLine treatment, while the added returns for the TriClor and Telone-C35 applications were estimated to be $509 and $339 per acre, respectively. The drip-applied metam sodium application resulted in an additional return of $40/acre, and the added revenue for the nonfumigated soil treatment was $24/acre more than MeBr treatment. Although technical issues currently associated with some of the alternatives may persist, results indicate that there are economically feasible fumigation alternatives to MeBr in the production of strawberries in the southeastern U.S.

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Field studies were conducted in North Carolina in 2019 and 2020 to determine the effect of a reduced-tillage, high-residue rye (Secale cereal) cover crop system on soil health, and growth and storage root yield of sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) cultivars having upright (NC04-0531 or NC15-650) or prostrate (Covington or Bayou Belle) vining characteristics. Sweetpotato canopy width expanded quicker in the conventional tillage system than the reduced-tillage rye system. Prostrate sweetpotato cultivars had greater late-season canopy widths than upright cultivars. Soil bulk density of raised beds was greatest in the reduced-tillage rye system, but both systems remained within the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommended range for soil bulk density. The conventional-tillage system resulted in 17% more marketable roots; however, no differences were observed in total marketable root weight between systems. ‘Covington’ and ‘NC15-650’ had greater marketable yield than ‘NC04-0531’ but less marketable yield than ‘Bayou Belle’.

Open Access

Grafting watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is a common practice in many parts of the world and has recently received increased interest in the United States. The present study was designed to evaluate early season growth, yield, and fruit quality of watermelon in response to grafting and in the absence of known disease pressure in a fumigated system. Field experiments were conducted using standard and mini watermelons (cv. Exclamation and Extazy, respectively) grafted onto 20 commercially available cucurbit rootstocks representing four species: giant pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima), summer squash (Cucurbita pepo), bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria), and interspecific hybrid squash [ISH (C. maxima × Cucurbita moschata)]. Nongrafted ‘Exclamation’ and ‘Extazy’ were included as controls. To determine early season growth, leaf area was measured at 1, 2, and 3 weeks after transplant (WAT). At 1 WAT, nongrafted ‘Exclamation’ produced the smallest leaf area; however, at 3 WAT, nongrafted ‘Exclamation’ produced the largest leaf area in 2015, and no differences were observed in 2016. Leaf area was very similar among rootstocks in the ‘Extazy’ study, with minimal differences observed. Marketable yield included fruit weighing ≥9 and ≥3 lb for ‘Exclamation’ and ‘Extazy’, respectively. In the ‘Exclamation’ study, highest marketable yields were observed in nongrafted ‘Exclamation’, and ‘Exclamation’ grafted to ‘Pelops’, ‘TZ148’, and ‘Coloso’, and lowest marketable yields were observed when using ‘Marvel’ and ‘Kazako’ rootstocks, which produced 47% and 32% of nongrafted ‘Exclamation’ yield, respectively. In the ‘Extazy’ study, the highest marketable yield was observed in nongrafted ‘Extazy’, and ‘Kazako’ produced the lowest yields (48% of nongrafted ‘Extazy’). Fruit quality was determined by measuring fruit acidity (pH), soluble solids concentration (SSC), lycopene content, and flesh firmness from a sample of two fruit from each plot from the initial two harvests of each year. Across both studies, rootstock had no effect on SSC or lycopene content. As reported in previous studies, flesh firmness was increased as a result of grafting, and nongrafted ‘Exclamation’ and ‘Extazy’ had the lowest flesh firmness among standard and mini watermelons, respectively. The present study evaluated two scions with a selection of 20 cucurbit rootstocks and observed no benefits in early season growth, yield, or phytonutrient content. Only three of 20 rootstocks in each study produced marketable yields similar to the nongrafted treatments, and no grafted treatment produced higher yields than nongrafted ‘Exclamation’ or ‘Extazy’. Because grafted seedlings have an associated increase in cost and do not produce increased yields, grafting in these optimized farming systems and using fumigated soils does not offer an advantage in the absence of soilborne pathogens or other stressors that interfere with watermelon production.

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Grafting of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) is an established production practice that provides resistance to soilborne diseases or tolerance to abiotic stresses. Watermelon may be grafted on several cucurbit species (interspecific grafting); however, little research exists to describe root systems of these diverse rootstocks. A greenhouse study was conducted to compare root system morphology of nine commercially available cucurbit rootstocks, representing four species: pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima), squash (Cucurbita pepo), bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria), and an interspecific hybrid squash (C. maxima × C. moschata). Rootstocks were grafted with a triploid watermelon scion (‘Exclamation’), and root systems were compared with nongrafted (NG) and self-grafted (SG) ‘Exclamation’. Plants were harvested destructively at 1, 2, and 3 weeks after transplant (WAT), and data were collected on scion dry weight, total root length (TRL), average root diameter, root surface area, root:shoot dry-weight ratio, root diameter class proportions, and specific root length. For all response variables, the main effect of rootstock and rootstock species was significant (P < 0.05). The main effect of harvest was significant (P < 0.05) for all response variables, with the exception of TRL proportion in diameter class 2. ‘Ferro’ rootstock produced the largest TRL and root surface area, with observed values 122% and 120% greater than the smallest root system (‘Exclamation’ SG), respectively. Among rootstock species, pumpkin produced the largest TRL and root surface area, with observed values 100% and 82% greater than those of watermelon, respectively. These results demonstrate that substantial differences exist during the initial 3 WAT in root system morphology of rootstocks and rootstock species available for watermelon grafting and that morphologic differences of root systems can be characterized using image analysis.

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Compost sources were used to determine long-term influence on common vegetable cropping systems (tomato, pepper, and cucumber). Three sources of Controlled Microbial Compost (CMC) (20 yd3/A) amended with fumigant Telone-C35 (35 gal/A) and Trichoderma-382 [2.5 oz/yd.3 (T-382)] were used during 3 consecutive years. Tomato showed statistic differences (1%) among compost treatments with higher total yields when CMC was combined with Telone-C35 (21%) and T-382 (8.2%). All treatments but Bio-Compost and control presented al least 25% more marketable yield per acre. No differences in fruit size were found for tomato, except for medium-size fruit when Telone C-35 was added. The CMC alone or combined with Telone C-35 and T-382 increased the total plant dry weight at least 18.6%. Pepper crop showed statistic differences with higher number of No. 1 fruit size when CMC was combined with Telone C-35 and T-382. Number of culls per acre decreased for all three compost sources, with no differences from the control. Cucumber yields differed among treatments for total and marketable yields and No.1 size fruit per acre. Best yields were achieved with CMC and when mixed with Telone C-35 and T-382. The lower numbers of culls per acre were found with Bio-Compost and Lexington sources and CMC+T-382. Total plant dry weight was increased in at least 24% when Bio-Compost or CMC compost were used alone or combined with Telone-C35 or T-382. CMC increased root knot nematode soil counts and percentage of root galling, but tended to improve root vigor in cucumbers. It seems that compost sources combined with Telone C-35 or T-382 could improve the cropping management as alternative to methyl bromide. Weed responses will also be discussed.

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Partial budget analysis was used to evaluate soil treatment alternatives to methyl bromide (MeBr) based on their efficacy and cost-effectiveness in the production of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). The analysis was conducted for the mountain tomato production region based on 6 years of field test data collected in Fletcher, NC. Fumigation alternatives evaluated included 61.1% 1,3-dichloropropene + 34.7% chloropicrin (Telone-C35™), 60.8% 1,3-dichloropropene + 33.3% chloropicrin (InLine), 99% chloropicrin (Chlor-o-pic), 94% chloropicrin (TriClor EC), 42% metam sodium (4.26 lb/gal a.i., Vapam), and 50% iodomethane + 50% chloropicrin (Midas). The MeBr formulation was 67% methyl bromide and 33% chloropicrin (Terr-O-Gas). Chloropicrin applied at 15 gal/acre provided the greatest returns with an additional return of $907/acre relative to MeBr. Telone-C35 provided an additional return of $848/acre and drip-applied metam sodium provided an additional return of $137/acre. The return associated with broadcast applied metam sodium was about equal to the estimated return a grower would receive when applying MeBr. Fumigating with a combination of chloropicrin and metam sodium; shank-applied chloropicrin at 8 gal/acre; drip-applied chloropicrin, Midas, or InLine; and the nonfumigated soil treatment all resulted in projected losses of $156/acre, $233/acre, $422/acre, $425/acre, $604/acre, and $2133/acre, respectively, relative to MeBr. Although technical issues currently associated with some of the MeBr alternatives may exist, results indicate that there are economically feasible fumigation alternatives to MeBr for production of tomatoes in North Carolina.

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There is a research gap with respect to documenting the effects of sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) seed root density and size on transplant yield and quality. Field studies were conducted in 2012 and 2014 to determine the effect of sweetpotato seed root (canner size) density [12, 24, 37, 49, 61, 73, and 85 bushels [bu (50 lb)] per 1000 ft2] on ‘Covington’ and ‘Evangeline’ slip production in propagation beds. Another field study was conducted in 2012 and 2013; treatments included canner, no. 1, and jumbo-size ‘Covington’ roots at 49 bu/1000 ft2, to determine the effect of seed root size on slip production. As seed root density increased in the propagation bed, transplant production increased with no change in slip quality as measured by node counts and slip length except for stem diameter. In 2012, the best marketable slip yield was obtained at root densities of 73 and 85 bu/1000 ft2. In 2014, marketable slip production of ‘Evangeline’ increased as seed root density increased at a greater rate than ‘Covington’. In 2014, the best seed root density for marketable slip production was 49 to 85 bu/1000 ft2 for ‘Covington’ and 85 bu/1000 ft2 for ‘Evangeline’. In 2012, potential slip revenues increased with an increase in seed root density up to 73 bu/1000 ft2. In 2014, revenue trend was similar for ‘Covington’ as 2012; however, for ‘Evangeline’, revenue was greatest at 85 bu/1000 ft2. Seed root size had no effect on marketable slip production when using a once-over harvest system. Results suggest growers would use a seed root density from 49 to 85 bu/1000 ft2 depending on variety, and any size roots for production of optimum marketable slips. Selection of optimum seed root density also depends on grower needs; e.g., high seed root density strategy will have a higher risk due to the upfront, higher seed costs, but potentially have higher profits at harvest time. Lower seed root density strategy would be a lower initial risk with a lower seed cost, but also potentially have lower net revenues.

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