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Stephen Reiners and Peter J. Nitzsche

Three tomato varieties were evaluated for early and total yield using row covers. Tomatoes were planted three weeks earlier than the normal planting date and row cover treatments included; 1) slitted, clear polyethylene 2) floating, spunbonded, polypropylene and 3) bare, no row cover. `Pilgrim', `Celebrity' and' Mountain Pride' were selected as early, mid-season and late varieties, respectively. Row covers were removed after three weeks at which time a second planting was made, representing the normal planting time. Slitted, clear, polyethylene row covers significantly increased early yields in all varieties as compared to the bare treatment. In addition, clear row covers resulted in higher early yields in `Pilgrim' and `Mountain Pride' than floating row covers. Despite row covers over `Celebrity' and `Mountain Pride', early yields were still not as great as the `Pilgrim' cultivar without any row cover.

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Stephen Reiners and Peter J. Nitzsche

`Pilgrim' tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) grown under slitted clear polyethylene or spunbonded polypropylene rowcovers were compared to those with no protection for the effect on yield. Both covers significantly increased early yield in terms of fruit numbers and weight, but no differences were observed in total yields. In addition, no difference was observed in yield between two tomato transplant sizes- 4- to 5-leaf stage and 6- to 7-leaf stage---grown in the same-sized containers. The results from this study indicate that early tomato yield may be enhanced with the use of rowcovers.

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Peter J. Nitzsche, Jack Rabin, and Bruce Barbour

Fax-on-demand is a new system of communications that combines computer, fax, and telephone technologies. Corporate use of fax-on-demand has shown it to be a rapid, user-friendly, economical way to disseminate technical support information. A project was initiated to evaluate the usefulness of fax-on-demand for disseminating “time-sensitive” crop management information to growers. The system, named the “RCE FaxInfo Line,” has made extension newsletters, pesticide label updates, market price summaries, IPM insect counts and treatment thresholds, etc. available to callers 24 hours a day. While most of the producers surveyed felt the system fit their needs, there has not been widespread use. A limiting factor has been the lack of producers with fax machines. A recent survey revealed that only 8% of New Jersey farmers own fax machines. If this technology is to be effective for extension, the percentage of growers utilizing fax machines must increase.

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Stephen Reiners, James Nichnadowicz, Peter J. Nitzsche, and Stephen Bachelder

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Stephen Reiners, Peter J. Nitzsche, and William H. Tietjen

Spring-planted `Pilgrim' tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) were grown under slitted clear polyethylene rowcovers on beds prepared in the fall with black plastic mulch and trickle irrigation. Fall beds allowed for earlier planting and a corresponding earlier harvest. Plastic mulch and trickle irrigation remained intact during the winter. There was no significant advantage to leaving covers on past the time of the traditional planting date for the area. It was estimated that the additional cost for this system would be about $1000 per acre. The profitability of this system will be determined by the price growers receive for their earliest fruit. An early season price of $0.60/1b is the approximate break-even figure. Higher early season prices will lead to much greater profits. For heatsensitive crops like tomatoes, using rowcovers on fall beds may effectively maximize early yield and profitability.

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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.

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William H. Tietjen, Winfred P. Cowgill Jr., Martha H. Maletta, Peter J. Nitzsche, and Stephen A. Johnston

The effect of disease forecasting systems and stake or ground culture on foliar and postharvest disease control for tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) was evaluated during two growing seasons in northern New Jersey. Foliar disease was reduced and marketable yield increased by stake culture. Percent of postharvest losses, including loss due to anthracnose, was significantly reduced by stake culture. Effectiveness of disease control schedules, weekly or forecaster-generated, was not affected by cultural system. Disease forecasting was shown to have potential for optimizing fungicide use in tomato production by controlling foliar disease and fruit anthracnose with fewer applications than a weekly schedule.

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Joseph R. Heckman, Thomas Morris, J. Thomas Sims, Joseph B. Sieczka, Uta Krogmann, Peter Nitzsche, and Richard Ashley

The pre-sidedress soil nitrate test (PSNT) was evaluated in 27 fields in New Jersey, 6 in Connecticut, 5 in Delaware, and 2 on Long Island in New York for its ability to predict whether sidedress N is needed to grow fall cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) as a double crop. Soil NO3-N concentrations measured on 20 field sites on the day of transplanting and 14 days after transplanting indicated that NO3-N concentrations over this time period increased, and that residues from the previous crop were not causing immobilization of soil mineral N. The relationship between soil NO3-N concentration measured 14 days after transplanting and relative yield of marketable cabbage heads was examined using Cate-Nelson analysis to define the PSNT critical level. Soil NO3-N concentrations ≥24 mg·kg-1 were associated with relative yields >92%. The success rate for the PSNT critical concentration was 84% for predicting whether sidedress N was needed. Soil NO3-N concentrations below the PSNT critical level are useful for inversely adjusting sidedress N fertilizer recommendations. The PSNT can reliably determine whether fall cabbage needs sidedress N fertilizer and the practice of soil NO3-N testing may be extendable to other cole crops with similar N requirements.

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Pamela J. Bennett, Ellen M. Bauske, Alison Stoven O’Connor, Jean Reeder, Carol Busch, Heidi A. Kratsch, Elizabeth Leger, Angela O’Callaghan, Peter J. Nitzsche, and Jim Downer

Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteers are central to expanding the outreach and engagement of extension staff. A workshop format was used at the Annual Conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science on 31 July 2012 in Miami, FL to identify successful management techniques and projects that expand EMG volunteer outreach, leading to increased extension effectiveness. One program leader described how EMGs manage a farmer’s market that has been thriving for more than 30 years, generating income for the EMG program as well as the county extension office. Another program leader described a beneficial partnership between EMGs and the university in which EMGs grow plants for demonstration gardens and classroom use, facilitating learning for university students, EMGs, and the public. EMGs in another program have assumed much of the management role of the university orchard, using it for teaching and demonstrations. The final discussion focused on extension programs that used volunteers to assist in conducting research to expand extension’s capabilities, and also increasing EMGs’ understanding of the research process. All projects emphasized the need for extension agents to empower volunteers to take on leadership and decision-making roles as well as the value of EMGs to extension.

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William J. Sciarappa, Jim Simon, Ramu Govindasamy, Kathleen Kelley, Frank Mangan, Shouan Zhang, Surendran Arumugam, Peter Nitzsche, Richard Van Vranken, Stephen Komar, Albert Ayeni, Gene McAvoy, Chung Park, William Reichert, David Byrnes, Qingli Wu, Brian Schilling, and Ricardo Orellana

The rapid expansion of Asian populations in the United States presents significant opportunities and challenges for the eastern U.S. produce sector to take advantage of their close proximity to densely populated areas. Initial crop studies followed by ethnic consumer and crop surveys were conducted to examine vegetable, leafy green, and herb consumption and expenditures among Chinese, Asian Indians, and other Asian groups. Consumer choices were used to prioritize subsequent production trials. Family expenditures were determined for specific Asian produce types and total produce purchases. This market data were extrapolated to the east coast Asian populations to assess potential market size (90% confidence interval, error margin 5.6%). Chinese consumer values ranged from $245 to $296 million per annum and Asian Indians ranged from $190 to $230 million per annum. The average annual fresh fruit and vegetable expenditures by both Asian groups were 2 to 3.5 times respective national averages. Leading Chinese vegetables determined by average expenditures were baby bok choy, pak choy, oriental eggplant, snow pea, oriental spinach, and napa cabbage. Highest expenditure of leafy greens and herbs for Chinese consumers were chives and garland chrysanthemum. This market-driven survey reported consumption of over 100 Asian crops and 42 cultivars were ranked “feasible” to grow in the eastern section of the United States. Horticultural matrices of selection criteria narrowed the list to the most promising candidates for production. As a result, 28 cultivars were then grown in University research and demonstration plots at Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Florida in determining growth characteristics and yield to focus horticultural crop producers. Leading vegetable cultivars for Asian Indian consumers were bitter gourd, eggplant, fenugreek leaves, cluster beans, and bottle gourd. Leading leafy greens and herbs for Asian Indians were turmeric, fenugreek, sorrel spinach, and radish greens. Most of these Asian cultivars were demonstrated to grow well in the three main growing zones of 5, 7, and 9. Phytochemical attributes such as antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and mineral contents were analyzed for several of the leading crop candidates. This initial field and laboratory data shows that many of these ethnic crops can be grown in the eastern United States to direct production opportunities and are nutrient rich to help drive consumer demand.