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  • Author or Editor: Gene McAvoy x
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Abstract

The accuracy of a computer planning model for the management of a single-truss tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) production system was tested in the greenhouse. The model was used to generate a production schedule for 24 successive crops during a 15-month study. The time, in days, required for an emerging seedling to reach anthesis and the total fresh weight fruit yield were predicted for each of the 24 crops by the planning model. Correlation analysis, used to compare the expected crop response (i.e., data generated by the planning model) to the actual crop response, indicated that both the number of days from emergence to anthesis and fresh weight fruit yield were accurately forecast, r 2 = 0.76 and 0.83, respectively. More important, the cropping schedule that was generated by the planning model successfully produced a continuous harvest of tomatoes from sequential crops.

Open Access

Florida, like other states, is developing BMPs for specific commodities. Vegetables are in a statewide document that includes field crops. Vegetable advisory committee members from the counties in southern Florida were concerned that the existing document was too broad in its scope and that many practices did not apply to production on sandy or calcareous soils. Based on grower comments, extension agents organized grower meetings to address these issues. The first meeting was a presentation by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) Office of Agricultural Water Policy. The second meeting in Miami–Dade was a hands-on session, where growers and industry were divided into three areas—nutrition, pesticides, and water quality. Each group was facilitated by a faculty member or the NRCS conservationist. Other counties used newsletters and other methods to receive grower feedback. Participant comments were compiled and forwarded to FDACS, where they are being incorporated into a greatly revised document. Concerns will be presented.

Free access

The success of the best management practices (BMPs) program for vegetables in Florida is measured by the level of BMP implementation and the improvement of water quality. Both require keeping water and fertilizer in the root zone of vegetables. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) Extension Vegetable Group has identified the fundamental principles of 1) basing UF/IFAS production recommendations on the rigors of science and the reality of field production; 2) replacing the out-of-date paradigm “pollute less by reducing nutrient application rates” with “improve water management and adjust fertilizer programs accordingly”; 3) engaging growers, consultants, educators, and regulators in open-channel discussions; and 4) regularly updating current fertilization and irrigation recommendations for vegetables grown in Florida to reflect current varieties used by the industry. The group identified 1) developing ultralow-flow drip irrigation; 2) assisting conversion from seepage to drip irrigation; 3) using recycled water; 4) developing controlled-release fertilizers for vegetables; 5) developing real-time management tools for continuous monitoring of soil water and chemical parameters; 6) developing yield mapping tools for vegetable crops; 7) developing and testing drainage lysimeter designs suitable for in-field load assessment; and 8) using grafting and breeding to develop commercially acceptable varieties with improved nutrient use efficiency by improving morphological, biochemical, and chemical traits as new strategies to keep nutrients in the root zone. These strategies should become funding priorities for state agencies to help the vegetable industry successfully transition into the BMP era.

Full access

The rapid expansion of Asian populations in the United States presents significant opportunities and challenges for the eastern U.S. produce sector to take advantage of their close proximity to densely populated areas. Initial crop studies followed by ethnic consumer and crop surveys were conducted to examine vegetable, leafy green, and herb consumption and expenditures among Chinese, Asian Indians, and other Asian groups. Consumer choices were used to prioritize subsequent production trials. Family expenditures were determined for specific Asian produce types and total produce purchases. This market data were extrapolated to the east coast Asian populations to assess potential market size (90% confidence interval, error margin 5.6%). Chinese consumer values ranged from $245 to $296 million per annum and Asian Indians ranged from $190 to $230 million per annum. The average annual fresh fruit and vegetable expenditures by both Asian groups were 2 to 3.5 times respective national averages. Leading Chinese vegetables determined by average expenditures were baby bok choy, pak choy, oriental eggplant, snow pea, oriental spinach, and napa cabbage. Highest expenditure of leafy greens and herbs for Chinese consumers were chives and garland chrysanthemum. This market-driven survey reported consumption of over 100 Asian crops and 42 cultivars were ranked “feasible” to grow in the eastern section of the United States. Horticultural matrices of selection criteria narrowed the list to the most promising candidates for production. As a result, 28 cultivars were then grown in University research and demonstration plots at Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Florida in determining growth characteristics and yield to focus horticultural crop producers. Leading vegetable cultivars for Asian Indian consumers were bitter gourd, eggplant, fenugreek leaves, cluster beans, and bottle gourd. Leading leafy greens and herbs for Asian Indians were turmeric, fenugreek, sorrel spinach, and radish greens. Most of these Asian cultivars were demonstrated to grow well in the three main growing zones of 5, 7, and 9. Phytochemical attributes such as antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and mineral contents were analyzed for several of the leading crop candidates. This initial field and laboratory data shows that many of these ethnic crops can be grown in the eastern United States to direct production opportunities and are nutrient rich to help drive consumer demand.

Free access