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Eric H. Simonne, Amarat H. Simonne, Larry W. Wells, Marvin E. Ruf, and John T. Owen

While lettuce is one of the most widely consumed vegetables in the United States, production is mainly concentrated in the western states. This research investigated the feasibility of lettuce production in the Southeast (SE), where downy mildew, tip burn, bitterness, bolting, and postharvest handling are potential production problems. Lettuce varieties were evaluated on plastic mulch and drip irrigation under several growing conditions. Cultivar and location significantly (P < 0.01) affected yield and transplant survival rate. Following these tests, 'Salinas 88 Supreme', 'Legacy', 'Bullseye', 'Epic' (crisphead); 'Nancy', 'Nevada', 'Ostinata' (butterhead); 'Parris Islands', 'Augustus' (Romaine); and 'Red Salad Bowl', 'Red Prize', and 'Slobolt' (loose leaf) are considered best-performing lettuce varieties for Alabama. These results, along with bitterness evaluation, support the potential for lettuce production in the SE.

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E.H. Simonne, J.N. McCrimmon, H.L. Scoggins-Mantero, and H.A. Mills

With recent advances in N analyzers, the Dumas method becomes more attractive as a replacement for Kjeldahl N. Kjeldahl N (K_N):Dumas N (D_N) ratios were determined for anthurium (A), orchid (O), fern (F) and turf (T). Dry tissues were ground to pass a 20-mesh seive. D_N was determined using 0.2 g of sample and a Leco FP-428. K_N was determined by digesting 0.4 g tissue with a CuO/TiO/K2SO4 catalyst and 10 mL H2SO4 at 450°C for 2 hr. Ammonium in the digest was assayed by colorimetry (Lachat analyzer). Overall (n=397 obs.), D_N was a good estimator of K_N: K_N = 0.90(p<0.01) D_N + 0.09(p=0.03), R2=0.93, over the 0.4-6.6 N range. K_N:D_N ratio was significantly (p<0.01) affected by plant type. Ratios of 0.85 for A, 0.92 for T, 0.99 for O, and 1.00 for F may be used to estimate K-N from D-N for the diagnosis of N nutrition, along with existing interpretative data.

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A.G. Hunter, G.E. Boyhan, E.H. Simonne, and O.L. Chambliss

Seed harvested from 41 entries in the 1994 southernpea variety trial was grown in a greenhouse for evaluation of seedborne mosaic viruses. When second trifoliate leaves were fully expanded, 100 plants per plot per block (4) were evaluated for blackeye cowpea mosaic virus (B1CMV), cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), cowpea severe mosaic virus (CSMV), and southern bean mosaic virus (SBMV). The average number of plants with virus symptoms ranged from 2% (Pinkeye Pinkpod) to 44% (Bettergreen). Plants with symptoms were assayed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). At least one virus was detected with ELISA in all entries, except for `Zipper Cream' in which none were evident. All viruses were detected in seven entries. B1CMV and CMV were present in 13. CMV was present in all but `Zipper Cream', `Mississippi Cream', and `Texas Pinkeye'. Symptomatology was poorly correlated to ELISA results: six entries having all four viruses had symptoms on less than 13% of their plants.

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Camille E. Esmel, Bielinski M. Santos, Eric H. Simonne, Jack E. Rechcigl, and Joseph W. Noling

A renewed interest in sulfur (S) deficiency has occurred because of reductions in atmospheric depositions of S caused by implementation of clean air regulations around the world. In vegetable production systems, other sources of S exist, such as soil S, fertilizers, and irrigation water. While soil testing and fertilizer labels impart information on quantity of S, it is unknown how much S within the irrigation water contributes to the total crop requirement. Two studies were conducted to determine the influence of elemental S fertilization rates and irrigation programs on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) growth and yield. Irrigation volumes were 3528, 5292, and 7056 gal/acre per day and preplant S rates were 0, 25, 50, 100, 150, and 200 lb/acre. Data showed that neither plant height, leaf greenness, soil pH nor total soil S content was consistently affected by preplant S rates. During both seasons, early marketable fruit weight increased sharply when plots were treated with at least 25 lb/acre of preplant S in comparison with the nontreated control. Early fruit weight of extralarge and all marketable grades increased by 1.5 and 1.7 tons/acre, respectively, with the application of 25 lb/acre of S. There were no early fruit weight differences, regardless of marketable fruit grade, among preplant S rates from 25 to 200 lb/acre. Based upon this result, adding preplant S to the fertilization programs in sandy soils improves tomato yield and fall within the current recommended application range of S (30 lb/acre) for vegetables in Florida. At the same time, irrigation volumes did not consistently influence soil S concentration, soil pH, leaf S concentrations or tomato yield, which suggested that irrigation water with levels of S similar to this location [58 mg·L−1 of sulfate (SO4) or 19 mg·L−1 of S] may not meet tomato S requirement during a short cropping seasons of 12 weeks, possibly because microbes need longer periods of time to oxidize the current S species in the water to the absorbed SO4 form.

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Desire Djidonou, Xin Zhao, Eric H. Simonne, Karen E. Koch, and John E. Erickson

In addition to managing soilborne diseases, grafting with vigorous rootstocks has been shown to improve yield in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) production. However, the influence of different levels of nitrogen (N) and irrigation supplies on grafted tomato plants has not been fully examined in comparison with non-grafted plants, especially under field conditions. The objective of this two-year study was to determine the effects of different irrigation regimes and N rates on yield, irrigation water use efficiency (iWUE), and N use efficiency (NUE) of grafted tomato plants grown with drip irrigation in sandy soils of north Florida. The determinate tomato cultivar Florida 47 was grafted onto two interspecific hybrid rootstocks, ‘Beaufort’ and ‘Multifort’ (S. lycopersicum × S. habrochaites S. Knapp & D.M. Spooner). Non-grafted ‘Florida 47’ was used as a control. Plants were grown in a fumigated field under 12 combinations of two drip irrigation regimes (50% and 100% of commonly used irrigation regime) and six N rates (56, 112, 168, 224, 280, and 336 kg·ha−1). The field experiments were arranged in a split-plot design with four replications. The whole plots consisted of the irrigation regime and N rate combination treatments, whereas the subplots represented the two grafting treatments and the non-grafted plants. Self-grafted ‘Florida 47’ was also included in the 100% irrigation and 224 kg N/ha fertilization treatment as a control. In 2010, the 50% irrigation regime resulted in higher total and marketable yields than the 100% irrigation regime. Tomato yield was significantly influenced by N rates, but similar yields were achieved at 168 kg·ha−1 and above. Plants grafted onto ‘Beaufort’ and ‘Multifort’ showed an average increase of 27% and 30% in total and marketable fruit yields, respectively, relative to non-grafted plants. In 2011, fruit yields were affected by a significant irrigation by N rate interaction. Grafting significantly increased tomato yields, whereas grafted plants showed greater potential for yield improvement with increasing N rates compared with non-grafted plants. Self-grafting did not affect tomato yields. More fruit per plant and higher average fruit weight as a result of grafting were observed in both years. Grafting with the two rootstocks significantly improved the irrigation water and N use efficiency in tomato production. Results from this study suggested the need for developing irrigation and N fertilization recommendations for grafted tomato production in sandy soils.

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Amarat H. Simonne, Eric H. Simonne, Ronald R. Eitenmiller, Nancy R. Green, Joe A. Little, John T. Owen, Marvin E. Ruf, and Jim A. Pitts

Vitamin C (VC) levels (mg/l00 g FW) were determined in 10 varieties of colored bell pepper grown under different field conditions. VC was determined by the microfluorometric method. `Orobelle' (169 mg), `King Arthur' (143 mg), `Valencia' (141 mg), and `Chocolate Bell' (134 mg) had significantly higher VC levels than `Dove' (109 mg), `Ivory' (106 mg), `Blue Jay' (93 mg), `Canary' (90 mg), and `Black Bird' (65 mg). The largest variability (53 mg) in VC levels were observed for varieties that had the highest VC content. Mean VC levels were 143a, 143a, 141a, 136a, 108ab, 93bc, and 63c for the yellow, red, orange, brown, white, purple, and black colors, respectively. Since the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for VC is 60 mg per day, these results suggested that a 100-g serving of fresh bell pepper or less would supply 100% RDA of VC. Therefore, after selecting a color, growers still have the freedom to grow a variety that performs well in their area to produce peppers of high VC contents.

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Eric H. Simonne, Christine E. Harris, Edgar Vinson, and Karen Y. Dane

Vegetable variety trials are of interest to the entire vegetable industry from breeders, seed companies, growers, consultants, researchers, to Extension personnel. The Auburn Univ. vegetable variety trial results have been made more accessible and user-friendly by becoming available online at http://www.ag.auburn.edu/dept/hf/faculty/esimonne. Users can point and click through a completely searchable database by selecting one of the following categories: 1) explanation of rating system and database, 2) list of vegetable crops, 3) description of variety types of crops, 4) contacting seed companies and web sites, 5) vegetable variety trial team members. For additional information about vegetable variety production, a link to horticulture extension publications has been included. The database gives each vegetable crop tested by Auburn Univ. a rating and allows a search for varieties. For each crop, the five options available to search the database are “rating,” “variety name,” “variety type,” “seed company,” and “type.” The Web page is primarily intended to be a quick, practical reference guide to growers and horticulture professionals in Alabama. Variety performances presented are based on small-scale research plots and test results may vary by location. It is always recommended to perform an on-farm trial of several varieties before making a large planting of a single variety.

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Camille Esmel*, John R. Duval, E.H. Simonne, and Steven A. Sargent

Strawberries are a high value commodity with a short shelf life. Florida is the largest producer of winter strawberries in the United States with 2,790 hectares of production, 90% are located in Hillsborough County. Many Florida growers apply additional calcium (Ca) as a foliar spray despite the lack of conclusive evidence of an increase in fruit quality or yield. It is believed that additional Ca will improve cell wall integrity through Ca linkages with pectins with in the cell wall and increase fruit firmness. Preharvest applications of calcium chloride have shown to delay the ripening of strawberry fruit and mold development. The objectives of this two year study were to determine the effects of Ca on yield, growth, and postharvest quality of strawberry when applied to the soil or as a foliar spray. `Sweet Charlie' strawberry plants were grown on a Seffner fine sand in Dover, Fla. The experimental design was a split-block replicated four times with soil and foliar Ca applications. Main plots consisted of a broadcast preplant incorporation of gypsum (calcium sulfate) 0 kg·ha-1, 36.7 kg·ha-1, and 73.4 kg·ha-1. Sub-plots consisted of foliar applications of 400 mg·L-1 Ca from calcium sulfate, 400 and 800 mg·L-1 Ca from calcium chloride and a water control applied weekly throughout the 2002-03 and 2003-04 growing season. Yield data was collected twice weekly through out the growing season. Fruits were graded for quality based upon size, visual appearance of pathogens degradation, frost/water damage, and misshapen form. Calcium content was determined for leaves, fruit, and calyxes in January and March. Postharvest quality evaluations of pH, titratable acidy, soluble solids, and firmness (Instron 4411) were determined in January and March.

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E.H. Simonne, J.T. Eason, J.A. Pitts, and J.T. Owen

Bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) fruit are typically green in color at the immature stage, 1/3 and 2/3 colored during ripening, and red at maturity. However, this sequence does not apply to new varieties with immature colors of white or purple, intermediate colors of brown or black, and mature colors of yellow or orange. The study of physiological changes during ripening in such cultivars requires the description of color changes. Therefore, color changes of new bell pepper varieties were evaluated by subjective description and objective measurement of L, a, and b. Color changes were described with a five-color stage scale. L, a, and b were affected significantly by variety (P < 0.01), and a and b were affected significantly by color stage (P = 0.95, 0.01, and 0.01 for L, a, and b, respectively). Location and cultivar*location had no significant effect. For each cultivar, differences in a and b values defined color stages that were clearly identifiable. When plotted, color measurements (a and b) were in good agreement with the verbal descriptions. Therefore, measurements of L, a, and b are not systematically necessary when referring to bell pepper colors.

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Desire Djidonou, Amarat H. Simonne, Karen E. Koch, Jeffrey K. Brecht, and Xin Zhao

In this study, the effects of grafting with interspecific hybrid rootstocks on field-grown tomato fruit quality were evaluated over a 2-year period. Fruit quality attributes from determinate ‘Florida 47’ tomato plants grafted onto either ‘Beaufort’ or ‘Multifort’ rootstocks were compared with those from non- and self-grafted controls. Grafted plants had higher fruit yields than non- and self-grafted plants, and increased production of marketable fruit by ≈41%. The increased yield was accompanied by few major differences in nutritional quality attributes measured for these fruit. Although grafting with the interspecific rootstocks led to consistently small, but significant increases of fruit moisture (≈0.6%), flavor attributes such as total titratable acidity (TTA) and the ratio of soluble solids content (SSC) to TTA were not significantly altered. Among the antioxidants evaluated, ascorbic acid concentration was reduced by 22% in fruit from grafted plants, but significant effects were not evident for either total phenolics or antioxidant capacity as assayed by oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). Levels of carotenoids (lycopene, β-carotene, and lutein) were similar in fruit from grafted plants with hybrid rootstocks compared with non- and self-grafted controls. Overall, the seasonal differences outweighed the grafting effects on fruit quality attributes. This study showed that grafting with interspecific hybrid rootstocks could be an effective horticultural technique for enhancing fruit yield of tomato plants. Despite the modest reduction in ascorbic acid content associated with the use of these rootstocks, grafting did not cause major negative impacts on fruit composition or nutritional quality of fresh-market tomatoes.