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M.D. Orzolek

Optimization of crop production can be accomplished only if successful stand establishment is achieved first, since each plant contributes to the total crop yield. Reduction of plant populations after planting will reduce yield and/or quality, even though plants compensate to some degree for stand losses. Successful stand establishment is achieved if factors that affect establishment are known, evaluated, and modified appropriately at the time of field planting. The factors that affect stand establishment are biotic and/or abiotic. Biotic factors are generally pathogens that attack plants as parasites, while abiotic factors are the environmental and physical conditions to which the plant or seed is exposed at the time of planting. Abiotic factors can be classified under three headings: soil, planting requirements, and environmental stress.

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M.D. Orzolek

Hydrophylic polymers are synthetic, water-absorbing monomers of high molecular weight. They have been used as absorbents in the diaper industry for the past 30 years. Polymers differ from each other in the specific monomer building block, amount of water absorbed per gram of material, particle size and distribution, response to salinity, and cost. While there are only four different monomers used in the production of polymers, there are several dozen polymers available commercially under different trade names. Benefits derived from polymer application to soil or artificial medium include: increase in water-holding capacity, increase in pore size/number, increase in soil nutrient reserves, and reduction in soil compaction. Initial use of polymers was reported in greenhouse production in the late 1970s, but is now used in the production of fruits, vegetables, and turf. Development of application equipment has the potential to expand the use of polymers to large commercial growers.

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Paul Grun and M.D. Orzolek

Savory Peppers™ (Sp™) is the low heat form of Capsicum chinense from northern South America where it is widely used as a condiment. We are adapting it to northeastern conditions through introgression of genes from adapted C. annum, selection within SP™, and use of improved culture methods. Introgression is progressing in spite of species isolation barriers expressed as failure of F1 seeds to germinate, and F1 and later generation male sterilities. Selection has been carried out on plants of two landraces, producing ten improved strains which were tested at three stations last summer: 1) west PA on sandy soil with long growing season: 2) central PA on clay loam with short growing season, and 3) eastern PA on clay loam with long growing season. Strains of both landraces yielded well in region 1), and poorly in region 2), and one landrace yielded well in region 3), while those of the other yielded poorly as a result of early wilt. Roles of soil and temperatures in producing these results will be discussed.

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M.D. Orzolek, W.J. Lamont and L. Otjen

Twenty-two cabbage cultivars were evaluated in the spring and 26 cabbage cultivars evaluated in the fall of 1997. The cultivars were evaluated for uniformity of maturity, marketable yield, percent cull, stem core length, and head firmness. In addition, three heads of each cultivar were tasted at harvest by the summer farm crew and responses noted on the data collection forms. The highest yielding cultivars were not necessarily the best performing ones evaluated in the trial. Average head weight was significantly different between spring and fall plantings. Data from this trial suggests that multiple cultivars should be grown in Pennsylvania based on whether it is a spring or fall cabbage crop.

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M.D. Orzolek, W.J. Lamont and L. Otjen

Twenty-two ornamen tal corn (Zea mays) cultivars were evaluated in the summer of 1998. The cultivars were evaluated for marketable yield, percent cull, stalk characteristics, and ear characteristics. In addition, three ears of each cultivar were photographed to show size and variability in kernel color. The marketable yield of each cultivar was generally related to percent germination, established plant population, and ear size. Highest marketable yields (dozen/acre) were generally harvested from small-eared cultivars [ear size 2.0 to 4.5 inches (5.1 to 11.4 cm)]. Data from this trial suggest that multiple cultivars should be grown in Pennsylvania based on market requirements and extremes in weather patterns throughout the state.

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M.D. Orzolek, J.H. Murphy and L. Otjen

Early weed infestation in vegetable crops reduces both early and total marketable yield and quality. Even if escape weeds (12 inches tall or larger) are later killed by a postemergence herbicide application, their skeletons can cause yield loss due to competition for light, temperature modification within the plant canopy, and interference with fungicide and insecticide applications. In addition, weeds can also serve as a reservoir for insect and disease organisms, especially viruses. Experiments in nonchemical weed control in cabbage were conducted at the Horticulture Research Farm, Russell E. Larson Research Center, Rock Springs, Pa., from 1993 to 1995. In addition to weedy and hoed check plots, flaming weeds at 2- to 4-leaf stage of growth with propane gas burners and planting annual ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum) between the rows of cabbage, living mulch, were evaluated during 3 years. The cabbage cultivar Rio Verde was transplanted generally between 15 June and July during each year. Both flaming and living mulch treatments produced yield and head quality similar to the hoed check. Management and timing of ryegrass planting in relation to cabbage establishment is very critical for success with living mulch. Flaming requires straight rows of cabbage or other crop, tractor with driver that can maintain a straight line, and burners that are aligned to burn weeds and not the crop. Results will be discussed.

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Mayuki Tanaka, Robert Snyder, John K. Boateng, William J. Lamont, Michael D. Orzolek, Kathleen M. Brown and Jonathan P. Lynch

The utility of alumina-buffered phosphorus (Al-P) fertilizers for supplying phosphorus (P) to bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) in soils with low-P availability was evaluated. Plants were grown at low-P fertility (about 100 kg·ha–1, low-P control; LPC), with conventional P fertilization (205-300 kg·ha–1 annually, fertilizer control; FC), or with one of two Al-P sources (Martenswerke or Alcoa) in 2001–03. The two Al-P fertilizers were applied in 2001; no additional material was applied in 2002-03. Plants grown with Martenswerke Al-P had similar shoot dry weight, root dry weight, root length, leaf P concentration, and fruit yield compared with plants grown with conventional P fertilizer in both 2002 and 2003 seasons. Bell pepper grown with Alcoa Al-P had similar shoot dry weight, root dry weight, root length, leaf P concentration, and fruit yield compared with plants grown without P fertilizer in both seasons. Alcoa Al-P continuously released bioavailable P for 2 years between 2001 and 2002, while Martenswerke Al-P continuously released bioavailable P at least 3 years between 2001 and 2003. These results indicate that some formulations of Al-P can serve as long-term P sources for field vegetable production.

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Elsa S. Sánchez, Thomas M. Butzler, Lee J. Stivers, Timothy E. Elkner, Steven M. Bogash, R. Eric Oesterling and Michael D. Orzolek

Butternut, acorn, and buttercup/kabocha winter squash (Cucurbita sp.) cultivars were evaluated in a conventional system in central, southeastern, and southwestern Pennsylvania in 2010–11. Results from individual locations were used to create statewide recommendations, which are also relevant for the mid-Atlantic U.S. region. Additionally, butternut and acorn cultivars were evaluated in an organic system in central Pennsylvania. In a conventional system, butternut cultivars JWS6823, Betternut 401, Quantum, and Metro are recommended based on equal or higher marketable yield than the standard Waltham Butternut. Acorn squash cultivars that performed equally to or better than the standard, Tay Belle, were Table Star, Harlequin, and Autumn Delight. In the kabocha/buttercup category, ‘Sweet Mama’ and ‘Red Kuri’ had marketable yields not different from the standard ‘Sunshine’ in central and southeastern Pennsylvania. In the organic system, butternut cultivars JWS6823, Betternut 401, and Metro all had marketable yields not different from the standard Waltham Butternut. For acorn cultivars, Celebration yield did not differ from the standard Table Queen.

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Elsa S. Sánchez, Thomas M. Butzler, Steven M. Bogash, Timothy E. Elkner, R. Eric Oesterling, Michael D. Orzolek and Lee J. Stivers

Sixteen cultivars of green bell peppers (Capsicum annuum) were evaluated on the basis of yield in three locations across Pennsylvania during the growing seasons of 2008–09. Cultivars were evaluated in comparison with the cultivar Paladin. In central Pennsylvania, all the cultivars trialed had marketable yields (based on weight) not different than ‘Paladin’ except ‘Lynx’, ‘Socrates’, and ‘Escape’. In terms of fruit number, all cultivars were not different than ‘Paladin’ except ‘Socrates’. For large-sized fruit, all the cultivars trialed are recommended. In southeastern Pennsylvania, all the cultivars trialed except SP-05–47 had marketable yields not different than ‘Paladin’. For large-sized fruit, ‘Revolution’ outperformed all other cultivars, including ‘Paladin’. In southwestern Pennsylvania, all the cultivars trialed except Lynx and SP-05–47 produced comparable marketable yields to ‘Paladin’. None of the cultivars evaluated, including Paladin, consistently outperformed Revolution in terms of large fruit. Statewide, all the cultivars, except Lynx and SP-05–47, are recommended on the basis of marketable yields. For growers looking for large-sized fruit to meet market demand the cultivar Revolution is recommended over ‘Paladin’.

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William J. Lamont Jr., Michael D. Orzolek, E. Jay Holcomb, Robert M. Crassweller, Kathy Demchak, Eric Burkhart, Lisa White and Bruce Dye

The Center for Plasticulture's High Tunnel Research and Education Facility was established at Pennsylvania State University in 1999. Since its inception, applied research has been conducted at this facility by a team of researchers and extension specialists on the development of a new high tunnel design. The development of crop production recommendations for vegetables, small fruits, tree fruits and cut flowers grown in high tunnels has been a priority. To complement the applied research program, an aggressive extension education program was developed to extend information on the technology of high tunnels to county extension personnel, growers, industry representatives, students, master gardeners and the general public. The extension programming effort consisting of demonstration high tunnels, field days, tours, in-service training, publications and presentations made at winter meetings will be discussed in the report below.