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Evan Elford, Jim Todd, Peter White, Rachel Riddle, John O’Sullivan, and Rene Van Acker

To foster development of Ontario commercial tigernut (Cyperus esculentus var. sativus) production, this study was conducted to identify cultural management practices that increase tuber yields. The agronomic practices of field preparation (hilled vs. not hilled), regular irrigation vs. natural rainfall, varying rates of nitrogen (N) fertility, and early season weed management were evaluated. Irrigation had no significant impact on total fresh weight, dry weight, and marketable yield over 2 growing seasons. Similarly, yields from plants grown in hilled rows vs. flat beds over two seasons showed no significant differences. Tigernut yields did not show a response to increasing rates of N up to 150 kg·ha−1. A critical weed-free period of 3 weeks resulted in an 844% yield increase over the nonweeded control. Overall, the results indicate that in general, tigernut requires few inputs to produce a viable commercial yield under Ontario growing conditions.

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Yun Kong, David Llewellyn, Katherine Schiestel, Martha Gay Scroggins, David Lubitz, Mary Ruth McDonald, Rene Van Acker, Ralph C. Martin, Youbin Zheng, and Evan Elford

There is a potentially large market for locally produced organic bitter melons (Momordica charantia L.) in Canada, but it is a great challenge to grow this warm-season crop in open fields (OFs) due to the cool and short growing season. To test the feasibility of using high tunnels (HTs) for organic production of bitter melons in southern Ontario, plant growth, fruit yield and quality, and pest and disease incidence were compared among three production systems: OF, HT, and high tunnel with anti-insect netting (HTN) at Guelph in 2015. The highest marketable fruit yield was achieved in HTN (≈36 t·ha−1), followed by HT (≈29 t·ha−1), with the lowest yield obtained in OF (≈3 t·ha−1). Compared with OF, there were several other benefits for bitter melon production in HT and HTN: increased plant growth, advanced harvest timing, reduced pest numbers and disease incidence, and improved fruit quality traits such as increased individual fruit weight and size, and reduced postharvest water loss. In addition to higher yield, HTN had fewer insect pests and disease incidence compared with HT. The results suggest that HTs can be used for organic production of bitter melon in southern Ontario and regions with similar climates. Also, the addition of anti-insect netting to HTs is beneficial to production if combined with an effective pollination strategy.