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J.C. Beaulieu, J.M. Lea, G. Eggleston and Z. Peralta-Inga

Markedly higher average sucrose (58.1%) was recovered from mesocarp tissue of six orange-flesh cantaloupe (Cucumis melo L.) genotypes over three seasons compared to glucose (17.5%) and fructose (25.6%). A significant decrease in sucrose concentration was observed in the fall for all six genotypes, and the glucose (21.2%) and fructose (33.5%) ratios were also higher in the fall; markedly different than the spring fruit averages. The female inbreds had significantly (P = 0.05) lower glucose, fructose, sucrose, and total sugars than the commercial hybrids. Compared to the male and female inbreds, commercial hybrids had significantly (P = 0.05) higher concentrations of fructose, sucrose and total sugars, but not glucose. Two refractometric digital measures of °Brix (°Brix-At and °Brix-II) in homogenized slurries were positively correlated (r = 0.914; P ≤ 0.001), and were also correlated with total sugars (r ≥ 0.839) and sucrose (r ≥ 0.752). °Brix of cubes (°Brix-cube) was significantly correlated with sucrose and total sugars (r ≥ 0.627). Total sugar was positively correlated with sucrose (r = 0.843; P ≤ 0.001). Eastern-type U.S. melons had significantly (P = 0.05) higher °Brix-cube and °Brix-At compared to U.S. western shipper-types. Female inbreds were significantly (P = 0.05) lower in mean °Brix (all three measures) compared to the hybrids and male inbreds, and female inbreds had higher pH than the male inbreds. Western shippers had significantly (P = 0.05) higher pH compared to eastern genotypes. The predominant organic acid in all six genotypes was succinic acid, generally followed by oxalic, citric/isocitric, then malic acid. Succinic acid recovery was significantly higher in all six genotypes harvested in the fall, compared to spring. Eastern genotypes had significantly (P = 0.05) lower organic acids compared to western genotypes. Results indicate that maternal inheritance appears to confer lower sugar accumulating capacity and higher pH, which, is associated with vacuolar acid invertase (AI) and hexose balance. Breeding programs should focus on hybrid vigor derived through accentuating homozygous female inbreds with lower pH and higher capacity for sucrose accumulation, as well as morphological and agronomic traits often carried in the female line.

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Matthew D. Stevens, Brent L. Black, John D. Lea-Cox, Ali M. Sadeghi, Jennifer Harman-Fetcho, Emy Pfeil, Peter Downey, Randy Rowland and Cathleen J. Hapeman

The environmental effects of the three strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) cold-climate production systems were compared: the traditional method of conventional matted row (CMR) and the two more recently developed practices of advanced matted row (AMR) and cold-climate plasticulture (CCP). Side-by-side field plots were instrumented with automated flow meters and samplers to measure and collect runoff, which was filtered and analyzed to determine soil, pesticide, and nitrogen losses. Although annual mean runoff volumes were similar for all three production systems, the soil losses from CMR plots were two to three times greater than the CCP plots throughout the study and two to three times greater than the AMR plots only in the first year of the 3-year study. In general, decreases in erosion and runoff volumes were observed in plots that were disturbed less by machine operations and had less foot traffic as a result of decreased need for hand weeding and in the plots that used straw mulch in the furrows between the beds. Timing and intensity of precipitation events also influenced the amount of soil erosion. Pesticide residues and nitrogen losses were also greatest in the runoff from the CMR plots. The two systems that used drip fertigation, AMR and CCP, also had higher nitrogen uptake efficiencies. Overall, the CCP and AMR systems performed similarly for most criteria; however, considering the nonrenewable nature of the plastic mulch and the need to dispose of the plastic mulch in a landfill, the AMR system was more environmentally sustainable than the CCP system.

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John D. Lea-Cox, Cindy Zhao, David S. Ross, Theodore E. Bilderback, J. Roger Harris, Susan D. Day, Chuanxue Hong, Thomas H. Yeager, Richard C. Beeson Jr, William L. Bauerle, Andrew G. Ristvey, Mary Lorscheider, Sarah Dickinson and John M. Ruter

Increasing environmental concerns and legislation in many states and in other countries require that we take a more comprehensive sustainable “best management” approach to production techniques in nursery and greenhouse operations. This is particularly important because these production facilities are typically intense users of resources that are applied to relatively small land areas. We have developed an online knowledge center to facilitate the implementation of more sustainable practices within the nursery and greenhouse industry. A web-based knowledge center provides the most cost-effective mechanism for information delivery, as our potential audiences are extremely diverse and widespread. We currently have a registered user database of over 450 educators, growers, and industry professionals, and undergraduate and graduate students. A gateway website provides an overview of the issues and the goals of the project. The associated knowledge center currently has 25 in-depth learning modules, designed in a Moodle learning management framework. These learning modules are designed to actively engage learners in topics on substrate, irrigation, surface water, and nutrient and crop health management, which are integral to formulating farm-specific strategies for more sustainable water and nutrient management practices. Additional modules provide assessment and implementation tools for irrigation audits, irrigation methods and technologies, and water and nutrient management planning. The instructional design of the learning modules was paramount because there can be multiple strategies to improve site-specific production practices, which often require an integration of knowledge from engineering, plant science, and plant pathology disciplines. The assessment and review of current practices, and the decision to change a practice, are often not linear, nor simple. All modules were designed with this process in mind, and include numerous resources [pictures, diagrams, case studies, and assessment tools (e.g., spreadsheets and example calculations)] to enable the learner to fully understand all of the options available and to think critically about his/her decisions. Sixteen of the modules were used to teach an intensive 400-level “Principles of Water and Nutrient Management” course at the University of Maryland during Spring 2008 and 2009. The water and nutrient management planning module also supports the nursery and greenhouse Farmer Training Certification program in Maryland. The Maryland Department of Agriculture provides continuing education credits for all consultants and growers who register and complete any module in the knowledge center. Although these learning resources were developed by faculty in the eastern region of the United States, much of the information is applicable to more widespread audiences.