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  • Author or Editor: Heather Bryant x
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High demand for local produce year-round has led growers in the northeastern United States to experiment with fall planting of bulbing onion (Allium cepa) for spring harvest. Over two seasons, we evaluated survival, bolting, and bulbing of several cultivars of fall-planted onion in two sites in New Hampshire. Plants were seeded in August and September, and transplanted in September and October into raised beds covered with black plastic mulch. Low tunnels covered with 1.25-oz/yard2 rowcover and one layer of 6-mil-thick clear polyethylene were installed over the plants in late fall. Harvest dates ranged from 19 Apr. to 6 June in 2012, and from 22 May to 2 July in 2013. All onion cultivars showed high percentages of survival (65% to 100%). Cultivar, planting date, and the interaction between the two had a significant effect on the percentage of bolting and bulb diameter at harvest. In general, those planted later exhibited lower percentages of bolting and slightly smaller bulbs at harvest. Our work demonstrates that it is possible to harvest large bulbed onions in May and June in the northeastern United States in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 4B and 5B using low-tunnel season extension technology. This may provide additional marketing opportunities for growers in cold climates.

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Some Maine tomato growers use unheated greenhouses or high tunnels to extend the short growing season. But, what varieties should growers choose? The objective of this trial was to test varieties of greenhouse and open field tomatoes to identify the best performers in high tunnels in terms of yield, quality, disease, and taste. Results showed that both open field and greenhouse varieties produced similar and acceptable yields of high quality marketable fruit. Open field varieties showed more disease than greenhouse varieties. There were some significant differences between individual varieties. Betterboy scored highest in sensory analysis, but lowest in yield/quality. Brilliante scored poorly on marketable yields, but well in terms of premium yields, quality, disease and taste. It may be well suited for direct marketing to repeat customers (e.g., farmers' markets). For commercial production Jet Star, Brilliante, Cobra, and First Lady II appear to be good choices based on overall scores.

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