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  • Author or Editor: Laura Ingwell x
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Locally produced strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa) have outstanding market potential. But strawberry production has been decreasing in the north-central United States, partly because of high production risks associated with the traditional matted-row system. The annual plasticulture system attracts attention but its low yield limits the wide adoption of the production system in the north-central United States. High tunnels are widely used to extend strawberry seasons worldwide, but the system was not fully explored in the United States. Although the benefits of growing strawberries in high tunnels were recognized, information on suitable strawberry cultivars specific for the fall-planted high tunnel production system is limited. A wide range of short-day and day-neutral strawberry cultivars, including recently released cultivars, were evaluated in the fall-planted annual plasticulture high tunnel systems for three seasons. Averaged among cultivars, the marketable yields were 1.96, 1.35, and 2.27 lb/plant for 2015–16, 2019–20, and 2020–21 seasons, respectively. The combined use of high tunnels and floating rowcovers created favorable microclimate conditions that led to high yields. Florida Radiance, San Andreas, Chandler, and Rocco were the top-yielding cultivars. Besides Chandler, the other top-yielding cultivars entered peak harvest in the second half of April. Harvests ended at the end of May or early June. All cultivars reached the US Department of Agriculture standard for total soluble solids in all three seasons, although Camino Real, FL Radiance, and Sweet Sensation consistently had relatively lower sugar content. Considering a warm-season crop could grow in high tunnels before or after strawberry, a diversified cropping system involving strawberry and other vegetables is highly valuable for high tunnel production systems in the north-central United States. This study did not compare cultivars’ resistance to diseases, but it should be a critical factor in selecting cultivars. Future studies are also warranted to evaluate the effects of incorporating soil treatments and cover cropping for suppressing diseases in the soil-based high tunnel system. Sustainable management strategies to control two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) are also crucial in successfully using the system in the north-central United States.

Open Access

Black soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens; BSFL) composting is biotechnology used for organic waste management and an alternative to traditional composting. We designed a two-phase experiment to evaluate the effect of BSFL composting on the emergence of the following six weed species: barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crus-galli), common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia), giant foxtail (Setaria faberi), ivyleaf morningglory (Ipomoea hederacea), redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), and velvetleaf (Abutilon theophrasti). The first experiment phase was in the laboratory (laboratory composting phase), which consisted of 100 seeds of each weed species subjected to five composting treatments [two controls (nontreated and standard Gainesville diet alone) and three types of substrates (standard Gainesville diet, vegetable waste, food waste) + BSFL]. Live pupa weighed 179 mg with the standard Gainesville diet + BSFL and 205 mg with the food waste diet + BSFL. Dry pupa weighed 68 mg and 70 mg, respectively. The BSFL in the vegetable waste + BSFL treatment did not pupate. During the second experiment phase, the composting treatments were placed in a greenhouse to evaluate weed emergence. Emergence in the nontreated control was 62% for barnyardgrass, 38% for common ragweed, 26% for giant foxtail, 66% for ivyleaf morningglory, 3% for redroot pigweed, and 69% for velvetleaf. Compared with the nontreated control, all treatments with BSFL reduced the emergence of each weed species to ≤1%, except for velvetleaf. This study suggests that BSFL composting may effectively reduce weed seed emergence of many weed species and could be a safe alternative to conventional composting processes to minimize weed pressure in compost. However, efficacy may vary by weed species and may be dependent on seed characteristics, such as an impermeable seedcoat.

Open Access

Fresh-consumed parthenocarpic cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) are a popular and high-value crop sold in local food markets. The parthenocarpic plant characteristics and climbing growth habit make cucumbers an ideal crop for high-tunnel production. Major types of parthenocarpic cucumbers include Beit alpha and mini, Dutch greenhouse, American slicer, and Japanese. Information regarding yield performance, plant growth, and disease resistance of the four types grown in high-tunnel conditions is limited. In this study, 16 parthenocarpic cucumber cultivars from the four major types were evaluated in high tunnels at three locations in Indiana and Illinois during Spring 2018. Plants were pruned to a single stem that was supported on a string. At all locations, the cultivars that had the most total yields were Beit alpha and mini, although their total yields were not always significantly higher than that of all the others. However, Beit alpha and mini cucumbers had high percentages of unmarketable fruit, mainly because of insect feeding damage and mechanical injuries on the skins that led to scarred fruit. Dutch greenhouse cultivars had relatively lower marketable yields at two of the three locations where there was a high percentage of misshaped fruit. ‘Tasty Green’ Japanese cucumber consistently had the lowest yields at all three locations. This cultivar also produced the most side shoot growth and, therefore, more pruning waste. The Japanese types ‘Tasty Jade’ and ‘Taurus’ had yields comparable to those of other cultivars, and they were more tolerant to two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae). However, ‘Tasty Jade’ was the cultivar most susceptible to powdery mildew (Podosphaera xanthii and Golovinomyces cichoracearum). ‘Corinto’ American slicer cucumber had relatively high yields at two of the three locations. This cultivar also had the highest percentage of marketable fruit. Information provided in the study is readily useful for growers using high tunnels when selecting parthenocarpic cucumber cultivars. It is also valuable for seed companies wishing to breed new cultivars adaptive for high-tunnel production.

Open Access