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  • Author or Editor: Deborah Fravel x
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An apparatus was developed for the rapid and facile evaluation of soil fumigants in a controlled manner using small volumes of soil. The apparatus consisted of a manifold to which were attached six canisters containing a loamy sand soil (adjusted to –100 kPa soil water potential). The soil was infested with either conidia of Fusarium oxysporum or Trichoderma harzianum; sclerotia of Sclerotinia minor; ascospores of Talaromyces flavus; vermiculite colonized with Pythium aphanidermatum; or beet (Beta vulgaris L., cv. Detroit Red) seed colonized with Rhizoctonia solani. Using nitrogen gas (N2) as a carrier gas, either N2 or N2 plus benzaldehyde was passed continuously through the soil for 24, 48, or 72 hours. At all three exposure times, benzaldehyde + N2 reduced viability of R. solani and S. minor, and reduced populations of P. aphanidermatum and T. harzianum. Populations of F. oxysporum were reduced after 48 and 72 hours of exposure to benzaldehyde, whereas populations of T. flavus were reduced only after 72 hours of exposure. Fumigation with benzaldehyde + N2 for 24 hours did not affect soil pH 1 week after exposure, but fumigation for 48 or 72 hours temporarily lowered pH from an average of 6.86 to 5.57 and 5.32, respectively. The biocontrol fungus, T. flavus, was less sensitive to benzaldehyde than the pathogens or the biocontrol fungus, T. harzianum. Thus, combining T. flavus with benzaldehyde to enhance biocontrol may be possible.

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Afield study of organic production of tomato (Lycopersiconesculentum Mill.) in high-tunnels was conducted in 2004. `Mountain Fresh' was transplanted 31 Mar.; `Ultra Sweet' and `Sun Leaper' were transplanted on 21 July. The primary objective was to determine the feasibility of obtaining two crops of fresh-market tomatoes by starting plants 4–8 weeks earlier than the average last spring-killing frost, and extending the growing season 4–6 weeks past the average first fall-killing frost. Plants were started at weekly intervals for 4 weeks in both seasons. Data and observations were recorded on the yield of marketable fruits, plant growth and development, and plant health. Other objectives were to evaluate: 1) the benefits of using a selective UV-blocking film on plant growth and development, disease events; and 2) compost amendments on soil improvement and disease control. Major cultural challenges included water management, soil texture/drainage, prevention of chilling injury, plant support, and adequate ventilation. Major disease/pest challenges involved stalk rot caused by Sclerotinia sclerotiorum in the spring, powdery mildew in spring and late summer, Alternaria and Septoria leaf blight in late summer, and aphids, tomato hornworm, corn earworm, and beet army worm also in late summer. In addition, macrofaunal intrusions by fox, mice, and birds occurred sporadically. Poor drainage and stalk rot in the spring necessitated relocating the tunnels to an uninfested site with better drainage. The fall crop yielded high numbers of marketable quality fruits, well beyond the 15 Oct. average killing frost date. The results suggest that with improved management, there is a considerable potential for profitable extended-season production of organic tomatoes in this region.

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