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  • Author or Editor: Joan R. Davenport x
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Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is grown extensively throughout the Pacific Northwest as a high-value crop in irrigated rotations with other row crops such as wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and corn (Zea mays L.)—both field and sweet. Center pivots are predominant irrigation systems. Soil texture ranges from coarse sands to finer textured silt loams and silts and can vary within one field, often with very hilly topography. Site-specific management is being evaluated as an approach to help to optimize inputs (water, seed, agricultural chemicals) to maintain or enhance yield and reduce the potential of negative environmental impacts in these farming systems. Currently variable rate fertilizer application technology and harvest yield monitoring equipment are commercially available for these systems. Variable rate seeding and variable rate irrigation water application technologies are developed but not fully commercialized and variable rate pesticide application equipment is in development. At the Irrigated Agr. Res. and Ext. Ctr. in Prosser, Wash., we have a team of research scientists (both university and USDA/ARS), interested individuals from local industry, and other key organizations (e.g., local conservation districts) who are working together to evaluate different site specific technologies, improve the ability to use available tools, and to improve decision-making ability by conducting research both on farm and in research plots.

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To examine the impact of N fertilizer rates and timing on cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) yield and the fruit quality factors total anthocyanin, average berry weight, and field and storage rot, plots were established for 3 to 4 years. The cranberries received a total of 0, 22, or 44 kg N/ha over the growing season applied in three, four, or five applications, which varied by growth stage. There were eleven possible treatment combinations in Massachusetts on `Early Black' and `Howes' and in Wisconsin on `Stevens' and `Searles', and seven possible treatments in New Jersey on `Early Black' and in Washington on `McFarlin'. The results showed a nationwide response to N that suggests the experimental middle rate of 22 kg·ha-1 would result in high yields with moderate rot. However, the best timing for applying the fertilizer varied by both state and cultivar, where three late season applications were best on `Early Black' in New Jersey versus four early season applications on the same cultivar in Massachusetts, and applying N fertilizers across five applications was optimal for `Stevens' in Wisconsin.

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It has been speculated that cranberries are susceptible to chloride injury. If this is the case, it is possible that applications of high rates of 0-0-60 (KCl) fertilizer as a K source could be detrimental to cranberry productivity. Grower anecdotes of using 0-0-60 to “shut down the plants” persist. Supposedly, using 225+ kg·ha-1 of this material slows or arrests vegetative growth. In fact, growers have claimed it can overcome the production of rank vegetation that results when too much N fertilizer has been applied. Field plots were initiated to determine the suitability of KCl and to determine if high K rates could overcome the deleterious effects of excess applied N. Plots were set up in a split-block plot design with N doses [three each “normal” (28-34 kg·ha-1 N) vs. “high” (56-67 lb N/A)] in one direction and potassium/chloride treatments in the other direction (KCl or K2SO4 at 115 or 225 kg K2O; CaCl2 to give the equivalent Cl as in the high-rate KCl treatment, and a nontreated control) for a total of 36 2 × 2-m plots per each of three cultivar locations. Plots were treated and evaluated for three consecutive years. There were no significant differences in yield among the K2SO4 and KCl treatments, indicating that at rates as high as 225 kg·ha-1 K2O, 0-0-60 and 0-0-50 perform similarly. Further, treatment with CaCl2 had no significant effect on yield. In the third year, plots receiving no K treatment had significantly lower yield than those receiving either rate or form of K (single degree of freedom comparison, significant at 0.03). These results indicate that at the rates used in this study, KCl is an adequate K source. The effect of N rate was more pronounced than that of the K treatments. In years two and three, the low N rate strips had significantly greater yield compared to that in the high N rate strips. By year two, the high N strips were visually different, with rank overgrowth. There was no significant interaction of N rate and the K treatments. While there was a trend for greater difference between the 0 K and 115 kg K rates in the high N plots compared to the moderate N plots, the addition of K never entirely overcame the negative yield effects of high N rate.

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Soluble nitrogen (ammonium and nitrate) is released when soil organic matter is mineralized. The amount of N released by this process depends on the amount of organic matter present and soil temperature. Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) grows in acidic soils with a wide range in organic matter content. To evaluate how soil N release is affected by soil temperature, intact soil cores were collected from sites that had received no fertilizer and placed in PVC columns. Four different soil types, representing the range of cranberry soils (sand, sanded organic soil, peat, and muck), were used. Each column was incubated sequentially at six different temperatures from 10 to 24 °C (2.8 °C temperature intervals) for 3 weeks at each temperature, with the soils leached twice weekly to determine the amount of N release. The total amount of N in leachate was highest in organic soils, intermediate in the sanded organic soil, and lowest in the sands. The degree of decomposition in the organic soils was important in determining which form of N predominated. In the more highly decomposed organic soil (muck), most of the N was converted to nitrate. The data from this study resulted in the development of two models—one predicting the N mineralization and the other predicting the proportion of N in each of the two forms. Key factors for N release rate were soil temperature, percentage of clay, and organic carbon content. For predicting the proportion of N as ammonium vs. nitrate, key factors were soil temperature, soil pH, and the distribution of mineral matter in the silt and sand fractions.

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Leaf yellowing (chlorosis) is not unique to Concord grape, yet occurs with great intensity in the arid, irrigated central Washington state growing region. Past research on nutrients has not shown a clear cause and effect relationship between soil and/or plant nutrient status and chlorosis. We investigated both nutritional and climatic conditions for their association with chlorosis occurrence. Six vineyard sites were selected, 2 each with no history of chlorosis (achlorotic), occasional chlorosis, and annually reoccuring chlorosis (chronically chlorotic) and monitoring sites in chlorotic and achlorotic areas were established. Nutrient elements K, Ca, Mg, Mn, and Cu plus the nonnutrient elements Na and Al were monitored in soil (surface, 0 to 30 cm, and subsurface, 30 to 75 cm, depths) and leaf tissue (both petioles and blades) prebud burst (soil only), at bloom, and preveraison at 650 degree days at all vineyard sites for the 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 growing seasons. In addition, both soil temperature and moisture were monitored. To evaluate the intensity of chlorosis at each site, chlorotic vines were GPS marked and mapped post-bloom each year. Overall, chlorosis incidence was more widespread in 2001 and 2003 than in 2002 or 2004. There were few relationships with soil or tissue nutrient concentrations. However, soil moisture was consistently higher and soil temperature lower in the period between bud burst and bloom in the chlorotic sites. This suggests that a cold, wet soil environment prior to bloom impedes grape root growth and/or function and triggers plant chlorosis. Yearly differences strongly support this finding.

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Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) are grown extensively throughout the Pacific northwestern United States as a high value crop in irrigated rotations with other row crops such as wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and both field and sweet corn (Zea mays L.). Center pivots are the predominant irrigation systems. Soil texture ranges from coarse sands to finer textured silt loams and silts and can vary within one field, particularly in fields with hilly topography. Site specific management is being evaluated as an approach to help to optimize inputs (water, seed, agricultural chemicals) to maintain or enhance yield and reduce potential negative environmental impacts from these farming systems. Currently, variable rate fertilizer application technology and harvest yield monitoring equipment are commercially available for potato. Variable rate seeding and variable rate irrigation water application technologies are developed but not fully commercialized and variable rate pesticide application equipment is in development. At the Irrigated Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Prosser, Wash., we have a team of research scientists, interested individuals from local industry, and other key organizations (e.g. local conservation districts) who are working together to evaluate different site specific technologies, improve the ability to use available tools, and to improve decision-making ability by conducting research both on farm and in research plots.

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Native nitrogen is released when soils are mineralized. The amount of N released by this process depends on the amount of organic matter present and soil temperature. Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) grows in acidic soils with a wide range in organic matter content. To evaluate release of cranberry soil N at varied soil temperatures, intact soils were collected from sites that had received no fertilizer. Soils were cored and placed in polyvinyl chloride (PVC) columns 20 cm deep × 5 cm in diameter. Four different soil types, representing the array of conditions in cranberry soil (mineral, sanded organic, organic peat, and muck) were used. Additional columns of sand soil (pH 4.5) that had been pH adjusted to high (6.5) and low (3.0) were also prepared. Each column was incubated sequentially at six different temperatures from 10 to 24 °C (2.8 °C temperature intervals) for 3 weeks at each temperature, with the soils leached twice weekly to determine the amount of N release. The total amount of N in leachate was highest in the organic soils, intermediate in the sanded organic, and lowest in the sands. At the lowest temperature (10 °C), higher amounts of N were released in sanded organic and sand than in organic soils. This was attributed to a flush of mineralization with change in the aerobic status and initial soil warming. The degree of decomposition in the organic soils was important in determining which form of N predominated in the leachate. In the more highly decomposed soil (muck), most of the N was converted to nitrate. In the pH adjusted sand, high soil pH (6.5) resulted in an increase in nitrate in the leachate but no change in ammonium when compared to non-adjusted (pH 4.5) and acidified (pH 3.0) treatments. This study suggests that for cranberry soils with organic matter content of at least 1.5% little to no soil-applied fertilizer N is needed early in the season, until soil temperatures reach 13 °C. This temperature is consistent with the beginning of active nutrient uptake by roots. Soil N release from native organic matter was fairly consistent until soil temperatures exceeded 21 °C, indicating that when temperatures exceed 21 °C, planned fertilizer applications should be reduced, particularly in highly organic soils.

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Surface sand application to cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) is commonly practiced for a combination of vine and insect management. However, the efficacy of sanding on crop production has been poorly documented. This study determined the effect of three rates of sand application using a barge sanding technique on two different cultivars—`Early Black' and `Stevens'. Beds were sanded to a depth of 0, 1.3, or 2.5 cm in November and monitored at the end of the following three growing seasons for yield, berry weight, and upright distribution. The 2.5-cm sanding rate adversely affected yield in `Early Black' during the first two growing seasons. In `Stevens' yields were not reduced until the third season and then only by the 2.5-cm rate. Although the 2.5-cm sanding rate increased vegetative upright density in both cultivars in the first growing season, yield and number of fruiting uprights were not significantly influenced the next year. Application of 1.3 cm of sand could improve insect pest management without negatively impacting yields of `Early Black' and `Stevens'.

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Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait.) has the opportunity to partition resources into sexual and/or asexual (stolons) modes of reproduction. Nitrogen status has been shown to impact the degree of stoloniferous growth. To determine whether there is a genotypic response to varying nitrogen levels, six hybrid and four native cultivars were treated with three annual rates of nitrogen fertilizer (17, 34, or 67 kg·ha-1) for 4 years. Fruit yield was determined each year and asexual vegetative growth (stolons) weight was removed and measured in all but the first year of the experiment. Cultivars exhibited different patterns of yield and stolon weight response over the three nitrogen rates. Not all cultivars exhibited significant yield decreases at the high N levels. Vegetative growth (stolon weight) generally increased with increasing N, however, not all cultivars responded similarly over three N rates. Partitioning between yield and stolon production favored fruit yield at the lower N rates in three of the four native cultivars studied (`Cropper', `Early Black', and `Howes'). Yield over N rates was more stable for four of the six hybrid cultivars, which may be the result of greater heterozygosity in hybrids than natives, and/or genetic gain from one breeding and selection cycle, offering increased tolerance to nitrogen stress. This study indicates that genetic variation exists for yield, yield stability, and stolon production relative to nitrogen level, and that genetic gain in cranberry is possible for these traits. Future studies involving cranberry physiology and nutrition should consider the genotypes used.

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