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William B. Evans, Peter M. Hudson, and Keri L. Paridon

In 2005, fifteen southernpea (Vigna unguiculata L.) Walp. subsp. unguiculata (L.) cultivars were evaluated for yield and quality at Crystal Springs, Miss. Pods were hand-harvested at the green-shell stage on three dates in August and early September 2005. In-shell fresh weights, shelled seed weight, and percent shell-out were recorded. Data was compared with that from similar trials in 2003 and 2004. Little disease or insect pressure has been seen in any year. Most peas evaluated have been in the pink-eye class. In 2005, all pink-eye types produced statistically similar fresh seed yield. Top Pick Brown Crowder produced higher seed yield than all other entries. Cream peas tested were generally lower yielding than the pink-eye types, with the lone black-eye cultivar tested, California Blackeye No. 5, intermediate in seed yield. Weighted average days to midharvest was not different among pink-eye cultivars evaluated but was slightly longer for several cream entries and for California Blackeye No. 5. Percent shell-out was highest in Top Pick Brown Crowder and lowest in Mississippi Cream. Over 3 years, more than thirty cultivars have been evaluated in the trials. Overall, most peas within a seed type have produced similar yields with few exceptions. Some lodging of the top-setting peas has been seen. The top-setting peas may offer advantages of ease of picking for hand-harvest in pick-your-own, small farm, and home garden situations. This trial does not address performance for machine harvest.

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Keri L. Paridon, Norman Winter, William B. Evans, and Guihong Bi

Landscape trials were conducted to evaluate 235 cultivars within 66 species in central Mississippi. All entries were grown from seed or vegetatively propagated material. Raised landscape beds were prepared using accepted regional methods. Planting into beds began on 4 April and was completed on 20 April. Plants were given an overall rating based on insect resistance, disease resistance, vigor, flowering, and foliage color. Each cultivar was rated bimonthly until early August when pruning or termination was necessary, depending on each cultivar, at which time rating frequency became once a month through the first freeze. The rating range was 0 to 5, where 5 is optimum and 0 is death. Height (cm) was measured for each cultivar at the same intervals as performance ratings. Heights were recorded to show the average height of each cultivar. No herbicides were applied; handweeding controlled weeds. No insecticides were applied to plants with the exception of the hibiscus where there was severe pressure from sawfly larva. In 2005 central Mississippi experienced a very hot and dry summer. Strong winds and heavy rains in late August and early September associated with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita took their toll on the trial, especially many of the taller cultivars. The top performing cultivars for 2005 were `Intensia Lilac Rose' phlox (Phlox ×), Proven Winners; `Intensia Neon Pink' phlox (Phlox ×), Proven Winners; `Elliottii Wind Dancer' grass (Eragrostis curvula), Pan American Seed; `Intensia Lavender Glow' phlox (Phlox ×), Proven Winners; `Dolce Licorice' heuchera (Heuchera ×), Proven Winners; `Diamond Frost' euphorbia (Euphorbia ×), Proven Winners; `Gold Flake' mecardonia (Mecardonia ×), Proven Winners; `Titan Polka Dot' annual vinca (Catharanthus roseus), Ball Seed; `Sun Fan' scaevola (Scaevola aemula), Proven Winners; `Golden Delicious' salvia (Salvia elegans), Proven Winners.

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William B. Evans, Kenneth W. Hood, Peter M. Hudson, and Keri L. Paridon

Yield and economics of vegetable crops are being evaluated in non-adjacent organic (OG) and nonorganic (NOG) vegetable production field areas in Crystal Springs, Mississippi. Each production area has six sections in which crops are rotated over several seasons and years. Production techniques and management are as similar in timing and methodology as possible between the systems without compromising either system. Production methods, timing, and costs are recorded for each operation. These are combined with yield data to create budgets and estimated returns for each production system/crop combination. When possible, harvested produce is marketed by a cooperating grower-retailer at a local mid- to up-scale farmers market. Three years into the study, positive returns have been found for several crops including potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), lettuce (Latuca sativa L.), summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L.), cucumber (Cucumis sativa L.), and others. Marketable new potato yields in 2005 were under 10,000 lb/acre for Yukon Gold and Red Lasoda in either production system. Estimated net returns, based on an actual $2.00/lb market price, were positive for all system/cultivar combinations although final budget numbers are not firm. Significant differences in yield among cultivars were seen in potato, lettuce, summer squash, and cucumber. Organic production budgets for other crops in the study are also being developed.

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William B. Evans, Christine E. Coker, Kent E. Cushman, Thomas E. Horgan, and Keri L. Paridon

Three years of trials in Mississippi have led to the naming of a Mississippi Medallion vegetable award winner for 2007, the fourth vegetable winner in the program's history. The Medallion program looks for garden crops that will perform throughout the state of Mississippi and help improve sales of plant materials to gardeners at retail. The Medallion selection process illustrates how growers and marketers, not just gardeners, can select specialty vegetables and cultivars for production and sale. Between 2003 and 2005, the Mississippi Medallion trials evaluated 11 sweet peppers with no green fruit stage for ornamental and yield value. Each site had three or four replications of all cultivars under evaluation annually with four plants per plot set out on raised beds with drip irrigation. Objective evaluation included total yield, marketable yield, fruit size, and days to harvest. Subjective evaluation included crop uniformity, pest tolerance, and appearance of the fruit based on color, uniformity, and shape. After nine trials, four cultivars were among the highest-yielding group in most trials: Mavras, Tequilla, Blushing Beauty, and Gypsy. The Medallion winner, to be announced in Fall 2006, was selected in part because it was within or near the top-yielding group, by least significant difference, in most trials. The perceived attractiveness of the mature fruit to the evaluating team and the perceived potential marketability of the cultivar moved it above the others under consideration. The reasons for not selecting other cultivars as the winner are as important as the reasons for selecting the winning cultivar. In the Medallion pepper case, these were mostly marketability concerns with the other cultivars, not yield issues, relative to that of the winner.

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William B. Evans, Kenneth W. Hood, Keri L. Paridon, and Peter M. Hudson

Yield, input, and economic data from research plots in central Mississippi are being used to test the economic potential of organic vegetable crop production. A six-part, multi-year rotation, including winter and summer cover crops, has been set up to generate yield, cost, and economic return data from vegetables produced in Mississippi using methods allowed by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture National Organic Standards and accepted by local growers employing pesticide-free and other similar management methods. Data being collected include labor and input costs, yields, and market prices for harvested crops. Marketable produce is being sold through a grower-retailer at a farmer's market. During 2004, the first full year of the rotation, 10 vegetable species were included in the plots. Pest pressure has generally been minimal. With one exception [one of two potato (Solanum tuberosum) cultivars failed to produce a good stand], all crops planted have produced fair to excellent yields. Crops generating high retail prices in this study include potatoes, snap beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), and leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa). In the future, the yield and price data being generated will be combined with new and existing cost data to create enterprise and production budgets for use by perspective and existing organic vegetable growers.