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  • Author or Editor: John C. Snyder x
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Virus and fungal disease pressures limit fall production of summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) in Kentucky. Twenty-five summer squash cultivars (nine zucchini, eight yellow straightneck, and eight yellow crookneck entries) were evaluated for marketable yield, appearance, and disease resistance in a late summer planting. Genetically engineered virus-resistant materials and new conventionally bred resistant or tolerant cultivars were compared with popular susceptible hybrids. Virus incidence was determined visually before and after final harvest and was also determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Watermelon mosaic virus (WMV) was most frequently detected and appeared to have caused most of the observed symptoms. Conventionally bred cultivars containing the precocious yellow gene and two transgenic lines were in the highest yielding group of yellow straightneck squash despite high virus incidence in precocious yellow cultivars. Among yellow crooknecks, transgenic cultivars were clearly superior for disease resistance and yields. Conventionally bred cultivars with virus tolerance were among the highest yielding zucchini types. Most transgenics were superior to their nontransformed equivalent cultivars for virus resistance and yield. Cultivars and breeding lines varied considerably in color, shape, and overall appearance. ELISA results revealed that some (but not all) transgenic cultivars tested positive for the coat protein corresponding to the virus resistance present in that cultivar. Also, mild virus-like symptoms were observed in transgenic squash plants after the conclusion of harvest.

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Bacterial spot epidemics, caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria (Doidge) Dye, continue to plague bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) growers in a number of southern and midwestern states. A 3-year study designed to compare cultivars and breeding lines under induced bacterial spot epidemic and bacterial spot-free conditions began soon after the first release of cultivars having the Bs2 gene for resistance to races 1 to 3 of the pathogen. Bacterial spot epidemics were created by transplanting `Merlin' plants (inoculated with races 1 to 3) into plots of each test cultivar at an isolated location in eastern Kentucky. Plots of the same trial entries at a second location were kept free of bacterial spot for 2 of the 3 years of trials; however, a moderate natural epidemic occurred at this location in 1996. Bacterial spot resistance had the greatest impact on yields and returns per acre in the inoculated trials. Cultivars with only Bs1 or a combination of Bs1 and Bs3 were highly susceptible in the inoculated trials. There were statistically significant and economically important differences in resistance among cultivars and breeding lines having the Bs2 gene; some were nearly as susceptible as susceptible checks. Although many Bs2-gene cultivars showed satisfactory levels of resistance, only a few were highly resistant, horticulturally acceptable, and comparable in yields to the best susceptible hybrids in a bacterial spot-free environment.

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Thirty-eight leafy greens, eight kale (Brassica oleracea acephala group), nine mustard (Brassica juncea), six arugula (Eruca sativa), five swiss chard (Beta vulgaris var. cicla), five collards (B. oleracea acephala group), and five turnip (Brassica rapa ssp. rapa) varieties were evaluated during Spring and Fall 2007–08 to determine suitability for organic production with respect to yield and stability. Trials were conducted on certified organic land using organic production practices. For mustard, kale, collards, and arugula, there were significant variety by season by year interactions. Despite these interactions, some varieties consistently performed well throughout the trial. ‘Florida Broadleaf’ was the highest yielding mustard in three of the four seasons evaluated. ‘Siberian’, ‘White Russian’, and ‘Red Russian’ were in the highest yielding group of kale varieties for overall yield. For collards, ‘Georgia/Southern’ and ‘Flash’ were part of the highest yielding group as determined by Duncan’s multiple range test in three of the four seasons examined. Turnip and swiss chard had significant year by variety interactions. Overall yields of ‘Alamo’ and ‘Alltop’, both F1 hybrids, were better than other turnip varieties assessed. Despite the interaction, ‘Fordhook Giant’ had superior yields in both years of the study. Arugula performance was significantly and negatively affected in Spring 2008. Overall, ‘Astro’, ‘Apollo’, and ‘Arugula’ had the greatest yields. This trial was designed to provide recommendations specifically for organic growers marketing directly to consumers.

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Bacterial spot epidemics, caused by Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria (Xcv), are still considered serious risks for commercial pepper (Capsicum annuum) growers in a number of eastern, southern and midwestern states. Newly released bell pepper cultivars with the Bs2 gene for resistance to Xcv races 1, 2, and 3 were compared in 2000 under bacterial spot-free and severe (natural) bacterial spot epidemic conditions in central and eastern Kentucky where similar trials had been conducted from 1995 to 1997. In addition to the replicated bell pepper trials, 49 hot and specialty pepper cultivars were grown for observation in single plots at the same two locations. As in previous trials, there were economically important differences in resistance and marketable yields among bell pepper cultivars having the Bs2 gene; some resistant cultivars were as susceptible as susceptible checks. Others were highly resistant in spite of the presence of Xcv races 3 and 6 in the eastern Kentucky trial. Only a few were highly resistant with excellent fruit quality. With a few notable exceptions, most of the hot and specialty cultivars were very susceptible to bacterial spot. Two of the three new jalapeño cultivars carrying Bs2 were highly resistant to bacterial spot and high yielding under severe epidemic conditions.

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A 2-year field study in Lexington, Ky., evaluated weed control efficacy and influence on yields of several organic mulches in two organically managed bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) production systems. Five weed control treatments [straw, compost, wood chips, undersown white dutch clover (Trifolium repens) “living mulch,” and the organically approved herbicide corn gluten] were applied to two production systems consisting of peppers planted in double rows in either flat, bare ground or on black polyethylene-covered raised beds. In the first year, treatments were applied at transplanting and no treatment was found to provide acceptable season-long weed control. As a result, bell pepper yields in both production systems were very low due to extensive weed competition. First year failures in weed control required a modification of the experimental protocol in the second year such that treatment application was delayed for 6 weeks, during which time three shallow cultivations were used to reduce early weed pressure and extend the control provided by the mulches. This approach increased the average weed control rating provided by the mulches from 45% in 2003 to 86% in 2004, and resulted in greatly improved yields. In both years, polyethylene-covered raised beds produced higher yields than the flat, bare ground system (8310 lb/acre compared to 1012 lb/acre in 2003 and 42,900 lb/acre compared to 29,700 lb/acre in 2004). In the second year, the polyethylene-covered bed system coupled with mulching in-between beds with compost or wood chips provided excellent weed control and yields. When using the wood chip mulch, which was obtained at no cost, net returns were $5587/acre, which is similar to typical returns for conventionally grown peppers in Kentucky. Net returns were substantially decreased when using compost due to the purchase cost. Results from this study indicate that shallow cultivation following transplanting, combined with midseason mulch application, resulted in high yields in an organically managed bell pepper system that were comparable to yields of most varieties grown conventionally in a variety trial conducted on the same farm.

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