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T.K. Hartz and F.J. Costa

The production of cool-season vegetable crops in California's coastal valleys is characterized by high N input (typically 200–300 kg·ha–1 per crop), with two crops per year the norm. N. removal in harvested biomass seldom exceeds 100 kg·ha–1, suggesting a high degree of inefficiency in N management. A project was conducted on a commercial farm in Santa Maria to document the utility of intensive monitoring of soil and plant N status on improving N management. Eight fields were monitored through successive cropping cycles. Slow-release N fertilizer was applied preplant at 110–250 kg·ha–1 in subplots in each field to provide a reference of known N sufficiency against which to compare field productivity; these reference plots also received the same in-season fertilizer N applied in the balance of the field. N monitoring techniques included: in situ and controlled-environment soil incubation to estimate net N mineralization, soil NO3-N analysis by a “quick test” technique using colormetric test strips, and petiole sap analysis by NO3-N selective electrode. It was consistently demonstrated that, for lettuce, cauliflower, and broccoli, maximum crop productivity was obtained with seasonal N applications 50–100 kg N/ha less than the industry norm and that fertilizer cost savings more than offset the cost of crop and soil monitoring.

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T.K. Hartz, F.J. Costa, and W.L. Schrader

The study was undertaken to determine the physiochemical properties and nutrient supply characteristics of composted green yard and landscape waste (CGW) and to document its performance as a field soil amendment or constituent of potting media. Three CGW samples were collected from each of two composting operations in California from Nov. 1993 to Apr. 1994. Macronutrient content varied widely between operations, and among samples from the same operation, with mean total N, P, and K levels averaging 1.1%, 0.26%, and 0.67%, respectively. Controlled-environment incubation of a moist 1 CGW: 9 soil blend (2 weeks at 30 °C) was conducted to determine net N mineralization from CGW. Despite low C: N ratios (<12), five of six CGW samples showed net immobilization, a characteristic of immature compost. An in-field incubation of soil amended with 1% or 2% CGW (w/w) showed no net N release from CGW over 4 months. In a field trial, bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) fruit yield was increased by soil amendment with CGW (17 or 34 t·ha–1) under a low N fertilizer regime (168 kg·ha–1), but was unaffected where sufficient fertilizer N (280 kg·ha–1) was applied. CGW was compared with peat as a constituent of potting media; both were blended 1:1 (v/v) with perlite and used in the production of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) and marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) plants under varying fertigation regimes (constant feed of N at 0, 50, or 100 mg·L–1 as 15N–13P–12K). CGW was equivalent or superior to peat in plant growth; CGW did contribute to crop macronutrient nutrition, but the highest fertigation rate was required for optimum growth.

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M.J. Díez, S. Roselló, F. Nuez, J. Costa, M.S. Catalá, and A. Lacasa

Seedlings of three tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) cultivars [`RDD', carrier of the Sw5 gene, which confers resistance to tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV); `Pitihué', tolerant to the virus; and the susceptible cultivar Rutgers] were placed at the four- to five-leaf stage in cages containing a population of viruliferous thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis Perg.), and remained there for 0, 7, or 15 days. Plants were subsequently transplanted either into the open field or in tunnels protected with a mesh of 14 × 10 threads/cm. Systemic symptoms and number of dead plants were recorded and enzymelinked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) were performed. `Rutgers' exhibited severe systemic symptoms regardless of treatment and a high number of plants died. The level of infected plants remained low when protective measures were applied to seedlings of `Pitihué' and acceptable yields were obtained. In open air cultivation, where seedling infection was severe, <20% of `RDD' plants became infected and high yields were obtained; protected cultivation did not reduce yield. Although the percentage of infected plants was higher when cultivated under mesh, the yield of all three cultivars was greater than in the open field. The environment created under mesh stimulated growth, neutralizing the effect of the infection.

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L.F. Rosal, J.E.B.P. Pinto, S.K.V. Bertolucci, L.C.B. Costa, and R.M. Corrêa

The aim of the present work was to establish appropriate conditions for the in vitro micropropagation of Eremanthus erythropappus (DC.) MacLeish through shoot multiplication on apical and nodal bud explants. Explants were excised from in vitro-grown seedlings and incubated on Murashige and Skoog medium containing different combinations of 6-benzylaminopurine (BAP) and 1-naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) (for apical buds) and gibberellic acid and NAA (for nodal segments). Proliferation of apical shoots was successfully achieved in the presence of BAP and NAA, each at 1.0 mg L−1, while the elongation of apical shoots could only be attained on medium containing NAA at 1.0 mg L−1. Elongation of nodal shoots was induced in the presence of NAA at 2.0 mg L−1. The most suitable medium for inducing root proliferation on explants of E. erythropappus was NAA at 1.0 mg L−1.