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The challenges encountered and discussions generated during the review process of the manuscripts submitted to the Variety Trials category of HortTechnology have revealed the need to review issues encountered during manuscript preparation and to provide flexible guidelines for authors and reviewers. Using a question/answer format, this manuscript discusses issues related to data collection and statistical methods available to compare varieties. Clear objectives and conclusions, adequate plot size, careful selection of entries, and sound statistical procedures are considered essential. Several additional factors (following standard production practices, using multiple seed sources, reporting analysis of variance table and mean square error, reporting multiyear/multilocation trials) are regarded as desirable, with different degrees of desirability, depending on the crop. These flexible guidelines should be viewed as recommendations for authors and reviewers rather than requirements. While defining the state-of-the-art in variety trialing is of interest to all those involved, it may be difficult to achieve when resources are limiting. It is ultimately the prerogative and responsibility of the author(s) to ensure that the work is scientifically sound.

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Vegetable variety trials (VVT) are of interest to the entire vegetable industry from breeders, seed companies, growers, consultants, researchers, to Extension personnel. However, despite their importance VVT have always been given little-to-no scientific merit. In a period where resources are limited, regional VVT may provide a way for Land Grant institutions to include VTT as an entire part of their effort. This presentation will discuss the advantages (better use of resources, increased service to industry), challenges (credit given to VTT authors during tenure, timeliness of publication, uniformity of methods), and opportunities (publications in Hort Technology, regional publication, VTT web page, SR-IEG) associated with VVT. Participants will be given an opportunity to express their opinion through a questionnaire. Together with industry response, results will be used to inform the administration and work toward a regional VTT for the Southeast.

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Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production best management practices (BMPs) are under development for the Tri-County Agricultural Area (TCAA; St. Johns, Putnam, and Flagler counties) near Hastings, Fla. BMPs are designed to reduce nitrate non-point pollution in the St. Johns River from the |8000 ha in potato production in the TCAA. Research to develop a controlled release fertilizer (CRF) program to help growers meet the current nitrogen rate BMPs was conducted during the 2003 season. A randomized complete block experiment with four replications was conducted at the Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Hastings, Fla. The treatments were no nitrogen control, ammonium nitrate (168 and 212 kg N/ha) and three CRF products blended at different ratios (168 kg N/ha). Total tuber yields for `Atlantic' for the no nitrogen, and 168 and 212 kg N/ha ammonium nitrate treatments were 11.5, 23.4, and 36.4 MT/ha. The best combination of the three CRF products were a ratio of 33:33:33 with a 40 day, 75 day, 120 day release period, respectively. Total yield for this blend was 42.2 MT/ha. Specific gravities for tubers in all four treatments were 1.060, 1.072, 1.078, and 1.082, respectively. Percent of tubers with hollow heart four all four treatment were 8.1, 18.2, 20.0, and 6.4% respectively. Percent of tubers with internal heat necrosis four all four treatments were 20.6, 8.1, 20.6, and 6.3%, respectively. The CRF treatment produced significantly more tubers than the ammonium nitrate treatment at the same nitrogen rate. Quality of the tubers in the CRF treatment was higher than tubers from the no nitrogen control and ammonium nitrate treatments. Research will continue to optimize the CRF program for potato production in Florida.

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Because deer pressure in Alabama is high, the efficacy of Garlic Barrier™ (GB) in controlling deer damage was evaluated with sweetpotato (SWP), southernpea (STP), sweet corn (SC), and zucchini squash (ZSQH). GB was applied on or around the plots at 10× the recommended rate. Damage was rated three times weekly on a 0 (0% damage) to 5 (100%) scale between 15 June and 18 Sept. All damage observed was unambiguously attributed to deer. GB on the plot significantly (P < 0.02) reduced grazing damage to SWP and STP, but not enough to prevent economical losses. Protection from GB around the plots was similar to the unsprayed control. Damage to SWP began 3 days after establishment. Damage to STP was limited to the developing pods. No damage was observed to SC and ZSQH (P > 0.37) during vegetative and reproductive stages. These results document scientifically the deer-repellent property of GB under natural conditions when applied directly on the plants. However, in its present formulation and under severe deer pressure, GB alone may not provide economical protection.

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White sweet corn (Zea mays L.) is widely grown in the southeastern United States. Although `Silver Queen' has been a popular variety in that region for over 20 years, many other varieties are now available. Selecting a variety for commercial or home production is a complex decision because varieties vary considerably with regard to field performance, ear characteristics, and eating quality. Because limited information is available on overall evaluation of sweet corn varieties, the objectives of this study were to 1) evaluate field performance, ear characteristics and eating quality of selected white sweet corn varieties, 2) globally compare varieties using an overall rank-sum index (ORSI), and 3) determine if `Silver Queen' is still the best variety or if it benefits from name recognition. Significant differences among varieties were found for most of the attributes evaluated. When a variety needs to be selected on the basis of a single group of attributes, our results suggest that the best varieties for field performance, ear characteristics and eating quality were `Even Sweeter' and `Treasure', `Silver Queen' and `Rising Star', and `Silverado', respectively. When ranks for all attributes were pooled together, the ORSI for all varieties fell within the 40 to 60 median range for ORSI. These results suggest that while marked differences between varieties can be found for a selected attribute, overall all selected varieties showed similar potential for commercial production. Panel response on sweet corn variety names and the rate of correct blind identification of `Silver Queen' suggested that while it is still among the best varieties, `Silver Queen' did benefit from name recognition.

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Field performance, ear characteristics and sensory ratings were determined for `Even Sweeter,' `Fantasia', `Silver Queen', `Silverado', `Snow Belle', `Snow White', `Starshine', and `Treasure' sweet corn varieties. Yield (P = 0.60), ears per hectare (P = 0.77), and ear fill (P = 0.22) were not significantly affected by variety, whereas ear set height (P < 0.01), ear length (P < 0.01) and diameter (P < 0.01), tip cover (P < 0.01), eye appeal (P < 0.01), as well as sensory ratings of appearance (P < 0.01), sweetness (P < 0.01), and flavor (P < 0.01) after cooking were. None of the selected varieties was rated unacceptable. However, because mean separation tests at the 5% and 10% levels did not provide clear groupings and because all attributes have to be considered together in variety evaluation, a global performance index (GPI) was developed by adding the ranks of each variety for each attribute. GPI ranged between 28 for `Treasure' and 59 for `Snow White' on a 10 (best) to 80 (worse) scale. `Treasure', `Silver Queen', and `Even Sweeter' were above average. These varieties may be considered best performers for white sweet corn production in central Alabama.

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Best management practices (BMPs) for vegetable crops are under development nationwide and in Florida. One goal of the Florida BMP program is to minimize the possible movement of nitrate-nitrogen from potato (Solanum tuberosum) production to surface water in the St. Johns River watershed without negatively impacting potato yields or quality. Current fertilizer BMPs developed for the area focus on fertilizer rate. Controlled-release fertilizers (CRF) have long been a part of nutrient management in greenhouse and nursery crops. However, CRFs have been seldom used in field-vegetable production because of their cost and release characteristics. Nutrient release curves for CRFs are not available for the soil moisture and temperature conditions prevailing in the seepage-irrigated soils of northern Florida. Controlled-leaching studies (pot-in-pot) in 2000 and 2001 have shown that plant-available nitrogen (N) was significantly higher early in the season from ammonium nitrate, calcium nitrate and urea compared to selected CRFs. However, N release from off-the-shelf and experimental CRFs was too slow, resulting in N recoveries ranging from 13% to 51%. Cost increase due to the use of CRFs for potato production ranged from $71.66 to $158.14/ha ($29 to $64 per acre) based on cost of material and N application rate. This higher cost may be offset by reduced application cost and cost-share pro-grams. Adoption of CRF programs by the potato (and vegetable) industry in Florida will depend on the accuracy and predictability of N release, state agencies' commitment to cost-share programs, and CRFs manufacturers' marketing strategies. All interested parties would benefit in the development of BMPs for CRFs.

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With the development and implementation of best management practices (BMP), extension educators are facing a new and unexpected combination of challenges and opportunities. Because the BMP mandate requires a combination of research, demonstration, and outreach, it may affirm the relevance of the land grant mission in the 21st century, engage universities in interagency alliances, and help rediscover the wonders of the proven extension method. The extension approach to water and nutrient management needs to shift from “pollute less by applying less fertilizer” to “pollute less by better managing water.” Applied research is leading to advances in areas such as nutrient cycles and controlled-release fertilizers. At the same time, universities need to walk a fine line between education and regulation, address perennial issues of overfertilization, and consider the reformulation of recommendations that are now used in a quasi-regulatory environment. A combination of education, consensus, and novel approaches is needed to adapt the rigor of research to a multitude of growing conditions and risks of nutrient discharge in order to comply with U.S. federal laws and restore water quality.

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Because cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) affects southernpea (Vigna unguiculata) grown in the southeast, plants were preconditioned with different nutrient solutions from germination to the flowering stage, 24 DAT (days after transplanting) and rub inoculated with CMV. Symptoms were observed at a rate of 1/5, 1/5, 4/5, and 4/5 (observed infected plants/plants infected) in the Al, NH4, NO3, and Na treatments, respectively. At 67 DAT, ELISA detected CMV at a rate of 5/5, 5/5, 4/5, and 4/5 (detected infection/plants infected) of the Al, NH4, NO3, and Na treatments, respectively. The interaction of inoculation and preconditioning was nonsignificant for fresh or dry weight (P > 0.10); however, nutritional preconditioning significantly (P < 0.01) affected the fresh and dry weight. These preliminary data suggest that nutritional preconditioning affects southernpea plants' reaction to CMV.

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