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Sylvie Jenni and Gaetan Bourgeois

The Biologische Bundesanstalt, Bundessortenamt und Chemische Industrie (BBCH) identification key was adapted for crisphead lettuce (Lactuca sativa) to facilitate identification of phenological stages and decisions regarding field operations from seeding to harvest maturity. The original system described leaf development based on leaf count from stage 11 (1 leaf) to stage 19 (9 leaf), and head development based on percentage of expected head size reached at maturity from stage 41 to 49. The new coding leaf development stages range from 11 to 29, corresponding to the 1-leaf to 19-leaf stages. The head development stages also ranged from 41 to 49, but phenological stages near commercial maturity from 43 to 49 are now described as a function of head firmness. The important maturity traits of crisphead lettuce include head size and density. Head volume can be estimated from three diameters by using Currence's equation, which takes into account head geometry. The firmness index obtained by hand compression gave a more precise estimate of head density than the density estimate derived from Currence's equation or the sphere equation. Crisphead lettuce development stages and maturity traits can be easily quantified in the field for use in planning field operations and for experimental purposes.

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Maude Lachapelle, Gaétan Bourgeois and Jennifer R. DeEll

Apple fruit firmness is one of the main attributes indicating fruit quality at harvest. It is affected by numerous factors during the entire growing season. The effects of weather conditions during apple development are often mentioned as a result of their impact on attributes linked to fruit firmness: fruit size, calcium concentration, water content, etc. In this study, the effects of weather conditions on ‘McIntosh’ apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh. cv. McIntosh) firmness at harvest time were analyzed. Fruit were harvested at nine sites in Quebec and Ontario over 15 years (1996–2011). For each case, weather parameters were analyzed from full bloom until harvest, either in monthly subperiods from May until September or in terms of days from full bloom (DFB) until harvest. Regression results highlighted the negative effect of lower air temperature conditions from 31 to 60 DFB, higher air temperature conditions and precipitations from 61 to 90 DFB, and higher temperature conditions from 91 DFB until harvest on ‘McIntosh’ apple firmness level at harvest. Precipitation from 61 to 90 DFB alone explained 39% of ‘McIntosh’ apple firmness variation at harvest time. The prediction of apple firmness at harvest time could be helpful for producers to adjust their marketing and storage strategies according to apple quality level.

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Sylvie Jenni, Katrine A. Stewart, Gaétan Bourgeois and Daniel C. Cloutier

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Sylvie Jenni, Daniel C. Cloutier, Gaétan Bourgeois and Katrine A. Stewart

Growth of `Earligold' muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.), expressed as plant dry weight from transplanting to anthesis, could be predicted using a multiple linear regression based on air and soil temperatures for 11 mulch and rowcover combinations. The two independent variables of the regression model consisted of a heat unit formula for air temperatures, with a base temperature of 14C and a maximum reduced threshold of 40C, and a standard growing-degree day formula for soil temperatures with a base temperature of 12C. Based on 2 years of data, 86.5% of the variation in the dry weight (on a log scale) could be predicted with this model. The base temperature for predicting developmental time to anthesis of perfect flowers was established at 6.8C and the thermal time ranged between 335 and 391 degree days in the 2 years of the experiment.

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Sylvie Jenni, Katrine A. Stewart, Gaétan Bourgeois and Daniel C. Cloutier

A simple method to predict time from anthesis of perfect flowers to fruit maturity (full slip) and yield is presented here for muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) grown in a northern climate. Developmental time for individual muskmelons from anthesis to full slip could be predicted from several heat unit formulas, depending on the temperature data set used. When temperature at 7.5 cm above soil level was used, the heat unit formula resulting in the lowest coefficient of variation (cv=6.9%) accumulated daily average temperatures with a base temperature of 11 °C and an upper threshold of 25 °C. With temperatures recorded at a meteorological station located 2 km from the experimental field, the method showing the lowest cv (8.9%) accumulated daily maximum temperatures with a base temperature of 15 °C. This latter method was improved by including a 60-degree-day lag for second cycle fruit. The proportion of fruit volume at full slip of 22 fruit from the first cycle could be described by a common Richards function (R 2=0.99). Although 65% of the plants produced two fruit cycles, fruit from the first cycle represented 72% of total yield in terms of number and mass. The blooming period of productive flowers lasted 34 days, each cycle overlapping and covering an equal period of 19 days. Counting the number of developing fruit >4 cm after 225 degree days from the start of anthesis (when 90% of the plants have at least one blooming perfect flower) could rapidly estimate the number of fruit that will reach maturity.

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Eric Riblaire, Laurent Gauthier, Thierry Neel and Gaetan Bourgeois

In Quebec, the carrot Cercospora blight represents a major foliar disease. In carrot fields, it causes reductions in yields of up to 30%. The evolution of this disease can be predicted by considering the meteorological and biological parameters and by using expert knowledge. Disease management can be enhanced through the use of a computerized decision support system (DDS). The objectives of the project were: 1) to define a conceptual framework for the operation of a carrot protection module, 2) to integrate a model of Cercospora blight evolution within the framework, 3) to integrate and structure the information needed for the consultation of the DSS, and 5) to validate the recommendations of the module. The various components (knowledge base, database, simulation model) constitute an extension to an existing framework used for agricultural production management (SAGE). The latter is built using an object-oriented programming language (Smalltalk) and an object-oriented database management system. A fully operational version of the system was developed and will be tested during the summer of 1995. The developed system combines a Cercospora blight model and a set of rules that convey the expert's knowledge. These rules were formulated based on interviews with the expert. The nature and organization of the rules will be presented as well as a critical evaluation of the methodology and tools used to build the system.

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Sylvie Jenni, Gaétan Bourgeois, Hélène Laurence, Geneviève Roy and Nicolas Tremblay

Four snap bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) cultivars, Goldrush, Teseo, Labrador, and Flevoro, were grown in irrigated fields of southern Quebec between 1985 and 1998. Data on phenology collected from these fields were used to determine which base temperature would best predict time from sowing to maturity. The optimal base temperature was 0 °C for `Goldrush', `Teseo', and `Labrador' and 6.7 °C for `Flevoro'. Adjusting different base temperatures for intermediate developmental stages (emergence, flowering) did not improve the prediction model. All years for a given cultivar were then used to determine the base temperature with the lowest coefficient of variation (CV) for predicting the time from sowing to maturity. A common base temperature of 0 °C was selected for all cultivars, since `Flevoro' was not very sensitive to changes in base temperature. This method improved the prediction of maturity compared with the conventional computation growing-degree days (GDD) with a base of 10 °C. For the years and cultivars used in this study, calculating GDD with a base of 0 °C gave an overall prediction of maturity of 1.7, 1.5, 2.0, and 1.4 days based on average absolute differences, for `Flevoro', `Goldrush', `Teseo', and `Labrador', respectively.

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Gaétan Bourgeois, Sylvie Jenni, Hélène Laurence and Nicolas Tremblay

The heat-unit system, involving the sum of daily mean temperatures above a given base temperature, is used with processing pea (Pisum sativum L.) to predict relative maturity during the growing season and to schedule planting dates based on average temperature data. The Quebec pea processing industry uses a base temperature of 5 °C to compute growing-degree days (GDD) between sowing and maturity. This study was initiated to verify if the current model, which uses a base temperature of 5 °C, can be improved to predict maturity in Quebec. Four pea cultivars, `Bolero', `Rally', `Flair', and `Kriter', were grown between 1985 and 1997 on an experimental farm in Quebec. For all cultivars, when using a limited number of years, a base temperature between 0.0 and 0.8 °C reduced the coefficient of variation (cv) as compared with 5.0 °C, indicating that the base temperature used commercially is probably not the most appropriate for Quebec climatic conditions. The division of the developmental period into different stages (sowing until emergence, emergence until flowering, and flowering until maturity) was also investigated for some years. Use of base temperatures specific for each crop phase did not improve the prediction of maturity when compared with the use of an overall base temperature. All years for a given cultivar were then used to determine the base temperature with the lowest cv for predicting the time from sowing to maturity. A base temperature from 0 to 5 °C was generally adequate for all cultivars, and a common base temperature of 3.0 °C was selected for all cultivars. For the years and cultivars used in this study, the computation of GDD with a base temperature of 3 °C gave an overall prediction of maturity of 2.0, 2.4, 2.2, and 2.5 days based on the average of the absolute values of the differences for the cultivars Bolero, Rally, Flair, and Kriter, respectively.

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Maude Lachapelle, Gaétan Bourgeois, Jennifer R. DeEll, Katrine A. Stewart and Philippe Séguin

‘Honeycrisp’ is a relatively new apple cultivar highly susceptible to physiological disorders, such as soggy breakdown. The overall objective of this study was to identify preharvest weather parameters that influence the incidence of soggy breakdown over the different phases of fruit development. Using weather data and evaluation of fruit quality from three sites in Ontario, two sites in Quebec, and one site in Nova Scotia from 2009 to 2011, and data from four sites in Ontario from 2002 to 2006, a model for soggy breakdown incidence (SBI) was developed to predict the level of susceptibility in ‘Honeycrisp’ apples. This model uses primarily two weather variables during the last phase of fruit development [91 days from full bloom (DFB) to harvest] to accumulate an SBI index during the growing season, from full bloom to harvest. Cool (temperature <5 °C) and wet conditions (precipitation >0.5 mm) during this last phase resulted in increased soggy breakdown susceptibility levels. The predictions of the SBI model resulted in 68% of well-estimated cases (threshold of ±5%) (RMSE = 6.45, EF = 0.28, E = −0.04). Furthermore, firmness was linked to soggy breakdown, in addition to weather conditions, revealing a positive effect of high firmness at harvest on the development of the disorder. However, the effect of fruit quality attributes (e.g., internal ethylene concentration, starch index, firmness, and soluble solid content) by themselves, without considering weather conditions, revealed no relationship with the incidence of soggy breakdown.

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Cindy B.S. Tong, Hsueh-Yuan Chang, Jennifer K. Boldt, Yizhou B. Ma, Jennifer R. DeEll, Renae E. Moran, Gaétan Bourgeois and Dominique Plouffe

Multiple types of flesh browning can occur as storage disorders in ‘Honeycrisp’ apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) fruit. Predicting its occurrence is hindered by differing definitions of the types of browning, incomplete understanding of their etiologies, and difficulty in assessing harvest maturity of ‘Honeycrisp’ fruit. In 2013, of ‘Honeycrisp’ fruit grown, harvested over multiple weeks, and stored in Maine, Minnesota, Ontario, and Quebec, only the Quebec fruit developed diffuse flesh browning. A detailed comparison showed that the Quebec fruit differed in size, but not in other quality attributes, from fruit of the other locations. The Quebec fruit experienced lower temperatures during active fruit growth and were increasing in cell size up to harvest. Analyses of climate data from 2009 to 2015 indicated that accumulated growing degree-days (GDD) 50–60 day after full bloom (DAFB) could account for 31% of the variation in diffuse flesh browning, and seasonal GDD <500 are associated with a greater likelihood of injury. Fruit that exhibited diffuse flesh browning had higher magnesium and lower fructose levels than unaffected fruit. As these measurements were made after browning was assessed, the timing of the onset of these characteristics in relation to browning cannot be determined.