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W.H. Tietien, P. Nitzsche, and W.P. Cowgill Jr.

Environmental concerns about nitrate contamination of groundwater have prompted renewed interest in optimizing fertilizer rates. A field study was initiated to study the influence of preplant and drip fertigation rates of nitrogen on the yield of hell peppers grown on Quakertown (QkB) silt loam soil. Preplant nitrogen rates of 0, 56.7, and 113.5 kgha were incorporated into the plots before transplanting. The three fertigation rates (0, 17 and 34 Kg/mulched hectare) were injected through the drip irrigation starting one week after transplanting and repeated at three week intervals.

Proplant nitrogen applications variably influenced early pepper yield. and did not significantly influence total yield. Early pepper yield was not influenced by drip fertigation rate, however, total yield increased as the fertigation rate increased. The dry weather conditions of the 1993 growing season may have influenced the responsc of pepper yield to the fertilizer treatments. Further studies are required to determine the optimum fertilization program for bell peppers grown under Northern New Jersey's edaphic conditions.

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M.H. Maletta, W.P. Cowgill Jr., W. Tietjen, S.A. Johnston, T. Manning, and P. Nitzsche

Five variations of TOM-CAST and two sources of weather data were used to schedule tomato early blight control for research trials at the Snyder Research and Extension Farm, Pittstown, N.J. TOM-CAST scheduled fungicide applications were initiated at 15, 25, or 35 disease severity values (DSV) and resprayed at 15 or 25 DSV. Weather data for generating the DSVs was obtained on-site with a Sensor Instruments Field Monitor™ or through subscription to the electronic meteorological service SkyBit, Inc. Bravo 720, 3 pints/acre, was used for disease control. Foliar disease, yields, and postharvest decays were evaluated. Daily DSVs, cumulative DSVs, and forecast spray schedule varied with weather data source. Because SkyBit data generated more DSVs during the season than Field Monitor data, the SkyBit-based forecasts called for one or two more sprays than the Field Monitor-based forecasts. However, the number of sprays actually applied was the same, one more or one less for each combination of initiation and respray thresholds. All treatment schedules reduced disease compared to the untreated control. Variation in initiation threshold did not affect disease control. All TOM-CAST schedules respraying at 15 to 20 DSV were as effective as the weekly schedule. All fungicide treatments increased total yields and reduced postharvest decays compared to the untreated control. Most treatments also increased marketable yields. The most efficient, effective Field Monitor-generated TOM-CAST schedule required nine sprays compared to 13 weekly sprays. The comparable SkyBit-generated schedule called for 10 applications. Chemical name used: tetrachloroisophtalonitrile (chlorothalonil).

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M.H. Maletta, W.P. Cowgill Jr., T. Manning, W. Tietjen, S.A. Johnston, and P. Nitzsche

Weather information has many applications in crop production practices, including disease forecasting. A variety of weather instruments are available for on-farm use, but associated costs and need for regular calibration and maintenance can limit actual use, especially by smaller growers. Subscription to an electronic meteorological service may be a viable alternative to on-site weather stations. In 1997 and 1998, hourly temperature, relative humidity and leaf wetness were monitored at six sites in a 400-m2 area of New Jersey with Field Monitor™ data loggers (Sensor Instruments, Inc.) and by subscription to SkyBit, Inc., an electronic meteorological service. There was close correspondence in temperature data from the two sources at all sites, the average seasonal difference ranging from 0 to 2 °F. Relative humidity data was variable between the two sources, the greatest variation occurring at low and high humidity, the ranges at which relative humidity sensors had been shown to be least accurate. Leaf wetness estimates from the two sources agreed at least two-thirds of the time. Data differences related to source were attributed to both systematic and random error. The usefulness of electronic weather data in crop production depends on how sensitive the particular weather-dependent applications (e.g., predictive disease and insect models) are to variation in the input data. The TOM-CAST early blight forecaster for tomatoes was not particularly sensitive to differences between SkyBit and Field Monitor leaf wetness estimates.

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M.H. Maletta, W.P. Cowgill Jr., W. Tietjen, S.A. Johnston, and P. Nitzsche

Fourteen different fungicide schedules for early blight control, including eight variations of TOM-CAST, were evaluated at the Snyder Research and Extension Farm, Pittstown, N.J. Weather data was collected with Sensor Instruments Field Monitors. All calendar-based schedules—weekly, biweekly, grower simulation—reduced foliar disease compared to the untreated control. All forecast generated schedules—TOM-CAST variations, FAST and CUFAST—reduced foliar disease compared to the untreated control. Several of the forecast schedules resulted in disease ratings not significantly different from those following calendar based schedules or from each other. The fourteen different schedules required as many as sixteen to as few as four fungicide applications. Disease control schedule did not affect total yield, marketable yield and postharvest losses. Disease control with a TOM-CAST generated schedule based on weather data from an electronic meteorological service was not different from disease control obtained with a TOM-CAST schedule based on ground station weather data. Potential cost savings of as much as $295 per acre resulting from reduced fungicide schedules were estimated. Chemical name used: tetrachloroisophtalonitrile (chlorothalonil).

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M.H. Maletta, W.P. Cowgill Jr., W. Tietjen, P. Nitzsche, and S.A. Johnston

The number of fungicide applications for tomato early blight control required by three disease forecasting systems—FAST, Pennsylvania State Univ., CUFAST, Cornell Univ., and TOMCAST, Ridgetown College, Ont.—was less than the number required following a weekly schedule. Foliar disease was significantly lower for all schedules compared to the untreated control. Cultural treatment had no significant effect on disease control, but disease incidence was significantly lower for stake culture than ground culture treatments. Total yield was not affected by cultural treatment, was significantly increased by a weekly fungicide application schedule, and was not appreciably different among the forecast fungicide application schedules. Marketable yield was significantly higher for stake culture than ground culture treatments and was significantly increased by all fungicide application schedules compared to the untreated control. Marketable yield was significantly lower for certain forecast schedules compared to the weekly schedule. Potential cost savings of $379 per acre and pesticide reductions of 33 lbs a.i. per acre for the season were calculated. Chemical name used: tetrachloroisophtalonitrile (chlorothalonil).

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W.H. Tietjen, M. Maletta, W.P. Cowgill Jr., P. Nitzsche, and S.A. Johnston

Freshly harvested and graded tomatoes were held for 7 days at 21C in 1993 and 15.5C in 1994. After the holding period, the fruit were examined for decay development. In 1993, decay losses were not significantly different between cultural treatments, possibly due to a very warm and dry growing season. However, decay losses were significantly different during a wet 1994 growing season. Stake-grown fruit decay loss was 10.1% vs. 34.1% loss for ground culture. Losses due to anthracnose (Colletotrichum coccodes) was significantly higher on the ground culture fruit (8.7%) than on the stake culture fruit (0.5%). Sour/watery rot (Geotrichum candidum), Rhizopus soft rot (Rhizopus stolonifer), bacterial soft rot (Erwinia carotovora) and the black mold rot complex (Alternaria, Stemphylium, Pleospora) were the other predominant postharvest decays.

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W. Tietjen, P.J. Nitzsche, W.P. Cowgill Jr., M.H. Maletta, and S.A. Johnston

`Market Prize' and `Bravo' cabbage (Brassica oleracea Var. capitata L.), transplanted as peat plug and bareroot plants into a field naturally infested with Plasmodiophora brassicae, Woronin, were treated immediately after planting with a liquid or a granular surfactant. APSA 80™, applied in transplant water, significantly reduced percent clubbing and disease severity index (DSI) compared to control treatments. Miller Soil Surfactant Granular™ did not significantly reduce percent clubbing or DSI. There was a significant effect of cultivar on percent clubbing and DSI. There was no significant effect of transplant type on percent clubbing or DSI. This year's study culminates five years of investigation of surfactants for clubroot control. Specific surfactants have proven to be an effective control of clubroot in cabbage. Chemical names used: nonylphenoxypolyethoxyethanol (APSA 80™); alpha-alkanoic-hydro omega-hydroxy poly (oxyethylene) (Miller Soil Surfactant Granular™).

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M.H. Maletta, W.P. Cowgill Jr., W. Tietjen, P. Nitzsche, and S.A. Johnston

Since 1990, FAST - Pennsylvania State University, CUFAST - Cornell University. and TOM-CAST - Ridgetown College, Ontario, three systems for forecasting early blight, have been field tested at The Snyder Research and Extension Farm in northwestern New Jersey for their potential use in fresh market tomato production in that area of the state. In 1993, the number of fungicide applications for tomato early blight control required by the three forecast systems was less than the number required following a weekly schedule. FAST and CUFAST scheduled applications of chlorothalonil, 1.5 lb per acre, reduced disease severity, hut TOM-CAST scheduled applications did not reduce disease severiety compared to the untreated control. Culture did not affect disease control results hut did affect disease incidence and post-harvest losses. Total and marketable yields were not affected by fungicide application schedule. Potential cost savings of $270 or $465 per acre, resulting from reduced numbers of fungicide applications following CUFAST or FAST. were estimated. Chemical name used: tetrachloroisophtalonitrile (chlorothalonil).

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W.H. Tietjen, J. Grande, P.J. Nitzsche, T. Manning, and E. Dager

Remote areas of the United States and developing nations depend on either electric grid extension or diesel power for operating crop irrigation systems. However, electric grid extension is expensive and often impractical. Diesel pumps are expensive, polluting, and require maintenance to operate. Utilizing the energy of the sun, captured by photovoltaic panels, to power irrigation systems offers a cost-effective, pollution-free, and maintenance-free alternative. Solar-powered pumping systems are capable of delivering water from rivers or wells in volumes up to 2000 gal/min. Combining solar power with drip irrigation takes advantage of the natural coincidence of peak energy from the sun and the crop's peak need for water. In 1999, cabbage was grown comparing solar and conventionally powered drip irrigation systems at the Rutgers Univ. Snyder Research and Extension Farm, Pittstown, N.J. The solar system was operated by a 1.5-horsepower motor powered by 18 solar modules.

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Peter J. Nitzsche, C.A. Storlie, W.P. Cowgill Jr., and W. Tietjen

Fruit cracking in tomatoes is a serious problem, particularly when trellis culture is used. Past studies indicate that fruit cracking is associated with fluctuating soil moisture levels. Soil moisture variations are influenced by irrigation practices, and an irrigation regime employing frequent applications of water will lessen variations in soil moisture. A field study was initiated to study the effect of trickle irrigation regime on fruit cracking in `Celebrity' tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill). In the three treatments used, soil was allowed to dry to 10-20, 50-60, and 100-110 centibars of tension, respectively, between watering and then was irrigated to field capacity. These tension levels corresponded with soil moisture levels of field capacity (10-20 cb), 20% of available water depleted (50-60 cb), and 40% of available water depleted (100-110 cb). Yield measurements indicated that the driest treatment (100-110 cb) significantly reduced the percent of radially cracked fruit. This treatment also significantly lowered the total yield, in terms of both fruit number and weight. There was no significant effect, however, on marketable fruit yield due to irrigation treatments. Further field studies are required to determine the optimum irrigation program to reduce fruit cracking.