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Hector R. Valenzuela and Joseph DeFrank

Living mulches offer a low-input alternative to achieve weed control while minimizing herbicide applications, decreased fertilizer leaching, insect and nematode management. and improved soil texture. A study was conducted to evaluate the effect of a Rhodes Grass (Chloris gayana cv. Katambora) living mulch on the growth and productivity of ten eggplant. Solanum melongena, cultivars grown under fertigation. The living sod was established at the Univ. Hawaii Waimanalo Experiment Station in June 1992. Soil analysis was taken before experiment initiation. Ten eggplant cultivars were transplanted on both living-mulch and control (woven-polyethelene mulch) plots on 4 March 1993. Weekly or bi-weekly harvests were conducted for six months. beginning on 19 May 1993. In addition plant height and canopy dimensions were determined on 16 April. and 10 Nov. Plant growth was monitored throughout the experiment. Soil samples were taken from the eggplant rhizosphere, hare-ground and in Rhodes grass monoculture, for nematode count determinations. Soil samples were also taken for nutrient determination after completion of the experiment. Overall yields were greater in the polyethelene mulch than in the living mulch plots. A differential response was observed on the response of cultivars to cropping system. However the most vigorous cultivars performed well in both systems. The living mulch system showed potential for nematode management in eggplant agroecosystems.

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Hector R. Valenzuela and Randall Hamasaki

Experiments were conducted to evaluate the effect of two different compost materials and several compost: synthetic N fertilizer ratios on the growth, yields, and nematode infestations in head and semi-head lettuce, and basil. Treatments were homemade compost at 25 MT/ha, Amend compost at 25 MT/ha, N alone at 150 kg·ha–1, and Amend compost at 25 MT/ha plus 0, 100, 200 or 300 kg N/ha. The basil trial followed the lettuce experiment on the same treatment beds to evaluate the long-term effects of compost applications. Compost plus 100 kg N/ha resulted in the greatest yields of 12 to 24 MT/ha for the semi-head and head lettuce trials, respectively. Basil was harvested for 6 months during a 10-month growth cycle. Highest basil yields of 64 MT/ha and canopy growth were obtained with a combination of compost plus synthetic N fertilizer, with 300 kg N/ha required for maximum yields during the 6-month harvesting period. By the last sampling date nematode counts were lowest for plots that received compost treatment alone and highest for the controls and for plants receiving synthetic N fertilizer alone.

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Hector R. Valenzuela, Osamu Kawabata, and Harry Yamamoto

Methanol sprays reportedly increased yields of several crops in Arizona by 50 to 100 percent (Nonomura and Benson PNAS 89:9794(1992). Reports from other parts of the country have shown conflicting results with regards to the effect of methanol sprays on yields of horticultural crops. Several greenhouse and growth chamber (controlled temperature. day length, and photosynthetic photon flux) experiments were conducted to evaluate the effect of methanol sprays on the growth and productivity of several vegetable crops in Hawaii. Treatment spray solutions consisted of 20-25% methanol, 0.5% low biuret urea. 0.001% chelated iron, and 0.02% surfactant. Control sprays only contained urea, chelated iron, and surfactant. Each experiment consisted of at least 5 weekly methanol sprays. Flowering cabbage, Brassica campestris var. parachinensis, had greater biomass production when sprayed with methanol in the late summer months. Similar results were obtained with choi sum in a 2 by 2 factorial experiment with methanol and water stress treatments. However, choi sum did not respond to methanol treatments in follow-up greenhouse trials. perhaps attributable to the shorter and Overcast days experienced in the fall and winter. Okra, chili pepper, and eggplant showed no response to methanol sprays. Okra showed a trend toward increase yields in response to methanol sprays, but differences were not significant. Follow-up studies in the greenhouse and in the field, which include evaluation of photosynthetic efficiency through chlorophyll fluorescence determinations will be presented.

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Hector R. Valenzuela, Joseph DeFrank, and Greg Luther

The diamondback moth (DBM). Plutella xylostella, is the number one pest of cabbage in the the world. The pest is resistant to most pesticides registered for its use, and resistance has also been detected in several areas for registered biopesticides. Four experiments were conducted to: 1) Determine the tolerance to DBM feeding among 20 commercial head cabbage cultivars, 2) Evaluate the effect of three nitrogen fertility levels on DBM numbers. and 3) Evaluate the effect of Indian mustard. Brassica juncea trap crops as a tool to manage DBM populations in head cabbage agroecosystems. Experiments were conducted at University of Hawaii experiment stations located in Kamuela. Hawaii, and in Kula, Maui. The trap crop treatments consisted of planting two border rows of Indian mustard in cabbage field borders. Three or 4 biweekly insect counts were conducted for each trial. Insect counts consumed of destructive sampling of 3-6 plants per plot and determination of larvae and pupae number and parasitation levels. The nitrogen studies found more DBM in monoculture cabbage receiving 300 kg Ha-1 N than in controls even though cabbage yields did not vary among treatments. A range of tolerance to DBM feeding was found among the cultivars tested. The trap crop system was shown to be more effective during the summer than in the winter months. Data indicates that the trap crop also acted as attractant for beneficial insects, which may aid in the biological control of DBM in cabbage

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Hector Valenzuela, Stacy Riede, and Harry Yamamoto

Portable chlorophyll fluorometers have made it possible to evaluate the photosynthetic efficiency of photosystem 11 for vegetable crops under ambient conditions. A sampling protocol was first established to eliminate variability due to positioning of the fiber optics in relation to the leaf, leaf selection, and natural environmental variability. Fluorescence parameters of the quantum yield of noncyclic electron transport (DF/Fm') and electron transport rate (ETR) were taken from several economically important vegetables under ambient conditions between 11 and 14 h. The objective of the second part of the study was to conduct in situ chlorophyll fluorescence and biomass determinations as affected by salt stress and N deficiency. DF/Fm' and ETR were studied in rhizobium inoculated, noninoculated and inorganic N-fed soybean and differences in fluorescence were related to yield. The influence that salt stress, and several N rates have on fluorescence photochemical quenching (qP) and nonphotochemical quenching (qN), NPQ ([Fm-Fm']/Fm'), DF/Fm' and ETR for hydroponically grown lettuce will also be presented.

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Hector Valenzuela, Robin Shimabuku, and John Cho

Pink root (Phomaterrestris) is among the major limiting factors for the production of sweet onions on Maui, Hawaii. Few management options exist for the control of pink root in onions. Two split-plot experiments were conducted in the area of Kula, Maui, over 2 years to evaluate several alternative management practices. In Expt. 1, the main plots were a rotation with cabbage, solarization with a clear plastic mulch, and a fallow period. Subplots were plus or minus Vapam fumigation. Sub-subplots were biomass application of Sudex or rape, inoculation with an EM biostimulant, and control. Each treatment had four replications for a total of 96 plots. In the follow-up experiment, the main plots were Vapam fumigation, rotation with either a Sudex or rape cover crop, and controls. The subplots were plus or minus EM biostimulant application. In Expt. 1, three separate treatments: solarization, cabbage rotation, and Sudex incorporation had a synergistic effect with Vapam fumigation. Fumigation and solarization also decreased pink root incidence. Rape contributed to a decreased disease incidence while EM contributed to increased bulb size. In Expt. 2, EM and rape contributed to increased yields. Rape and sorghum rotations contributed to decreased pink root incidence. EM inoculation had differential effects on several diseases, contributing to reduced bacterial bulb rot levels. The data indicate that growers may have several alternative management tools at their disposal, in addition to proper varietal selection, to improve yields and reduce disease incidence in sweet onions.

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Hector Valenzuela, Roger Corrales, and Ted Goo

A major issue in the preparation of nutrient budgets for organic farmers is the residual nutrient effect from organic amendments available for follow-up crops in year-round rotation systems. A series of separate experiments were conducted to evaluate: 1) the residual nutrient effects on double-cropped sweet corn from initial applications of several organic amendments locally available in Oahu, Hawaii; 2) the residual effect of double cropped zucchini; and 3) mustard cabbage from the application of similar organic amendments. The sweet corn experiment consisted of six treatments, with organic amendments applied only prior to the first planting. The second follow-up sweet corn planting was grown without additional amendment applications. Treatments included: 1) a fruit fly based compost; 2) aged chicken manure; 3) bone meal; 4) synthetic fertilizer (farmer's practice); 5) a combination of compost and fertilizer; and 6) a combination of compost and chicken manure. The experiment was arranged with a randomized complete-block design. Each treatment plot consisted of two 20-m long rows of corn with five replications per plot for a total of 30 treatment plots. On a separate location similar trials were conducted on long-term organic farming plots, with double cropped zucchini and with double cropped mustard cabbage. The results from this research shows that crop yields were similar or greater under the organic amendment plots compared to the synthetic fertilizer plots. In crops with a high N uptake demand, yields from the organic amendment plots declined by about 10% in follow-up plantings. This data will allow organic farmers to prepare nutrient budgets to better match their organic fertilizer applications with crop nutrient demands.

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Christine Crosby, Hector Valenzuela, Bernard Kratky, and Carl Evensen

In the tropics, weed control is a year-round concern. The use of cover crops in a conservation tillage system allows for the production of a crop biomass that can be killed and mowed, and later used as mulching material to help reduce weed growth. This study compared yields of three vegetable species grown in two conventional tillage systems, one weeded and one unweeded control, and in two no-tillage treatments using two different cover crop species, oats (Avena sativa L. `Cauyse') and rye grain (Secale cereale L.). The cover crops were seeded (112 kg/ha) in Spring 1998 in 4 × 23-m plots in a RCB design with six replications per treatment, and mowed down at the flowering stage before transplanting the seedlings. Data collection throughout the experimental period included quadrant weed counts, biomass levels, and crop marketable yields. Weed suppression was compared with the yields of the vegetable crops. The greatest vegetable yields were in the conventionally hand-weeded control and the worst in the un-weeded controls. Weed species composition varied depending on the cover crop species treatment. The rye better suppressed weed growth than the oats, with greater control of grass species. Rye, however, suppressed romaine and bell pepper yields more than the oat treatments. Similarly greater eggplant yields and more fruit per plant were found in the oat treatment than in the rye. Both cover crops suppressed weed growth for the first month; however, by the second month most plots had extensive weed growth. This study showed that at the given cover crop seeding rate, the mulch produced was not enough to reduce weed growth and provide acceptable yields of various vegetable crops.

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Hector Valenzuela, Ted Goo, Ted Radovich, and Susan Migita

As many farmers transition toward organic farming, research-based information is required to determine the appropriate rates and timing for the application of available organic fertilizers. Four experiments were conducted over a 3-year period in Oahu, Hawaii, to evaluate the effect of five different organic amendments on the growth and yield of edible ginger. Fertilizer amendments, applied at a rate of 30–60 t·ha-1, included bone meal, a locally available commercial chicken manure-based compost, a commercial Bokashi compost, aged chicken manure, synthetic fertilizer (farmer's practice at 300 kg·ha-1 N), and a control. Each treatment plot consisted of a 10-m row with 15 plants per plot, and five replications per treatment. Ginger was planted in April of every year, and harvested from February to March of the following year. Data collected included soil fertility before initiation and after experiment completion, tissue nutrient levels, plant stands, plant height, and stem number, individual tops and root weight of 5–10 plants per treatment, as well as nematode counts before and after experiment completion. The data showed that similar or greater root weight yields and quality were obtained with the use of organic amendments compared to the use of synthetic fertilizer. Increased yields were obtained when organic amendment and fertilizer applications were split over the growing season. Data will be presented with regard to initial plant stands, tissue levels, and yield trends in response to the several amendments used in these experiments, and management considerations for farmers will be discussed.

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Hector Valenzuela, Ted Goo, Ray Uchida, and Susan Migita

Home gardening is a popular year-round recreational activity in Hawaii that helps to increase community food security in suburban and rural communities where high levels of poverty and unemployment exist. Updated fertilizer recommendations and accurate information about the latest products allows home gardeners to improve crop growth, and to minimize nutrient imbalances in the soil, pest problems, and environmental risks from nutrient runoff or leaching. Two field experiments were conducted in Oahu, Hawaii, to evaluate several new products in the market for the production of two home-garden Chinese cabbage varieties. The treatments included Miracle Grow, a new Miracle Grow Plus formulation, Plant Power 2003 nutrient solution, a Maui Liquid Compost product, and a standard fertilizer control (150 kg·ha-1 N rate). Each treatment consisted of a 6-m long row with 30-cm plant spacing in the row. Each treatment was replicated four times in a completely randomized block design, for a total of 40 plots (two varieties × five treatments × four replications). Data collected included soil fertility before initiation and after experiment completion, tissue nutrient analysis, plant height collected twice during the growing cycle, and head weight and length measured at harvest time. The variety Pagoda was more responsive to fertilizer applications, showing an average of 30% yield increases between the best and poorest treatment, compared to 20% for `China Express'. Overall, the Miracle Grow formulations outperformed the other products. The tissue nutrient data showed tissue nutrient levels above those recommended by the Extension Service. The treatments with highest yield response also showed greater symptoms of “black heart” from possible boron deficiency.