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Lewis W. Jett, Ronald D. Morse and Charles R. O'Dell

Consumer attitudes and preferences towards fresh market broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. Group Italica) are changing. Consumers desire large-head broccoli with more florets per unit weight, which we term single unit broccoli. Single unit broccoli could be field established by transplanting, alleviating the problems of poor stand establishment encountered with direct-seeded broccoli in the Southeast. The objectives of this research were to determine the feasibility of producing single unit broccoli and the optimal plant arrangement and spacing to maximize the yield of single unit broccoli. Two spatial arrangements (single vs. twin row) and five plant densities (10.8, 7.2, 5.4, 4.3 and 3.6 plants/m2) were examined in 1990 and 1991 for production of single unit broccoli. Spatial arrangement had no significant effect on any measured variable, although the twin row arrangement resulted in less plant damage with each multiple harvest. For exclusive production of high quality, single unit broccoli with high yields of marketable florets, a planting density of 3.6 plants/m2 (46 cm within row spacing) should be used in a twin row arrangement.

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A. M. Borowski, R. D. Morse and M. M. Alley

A Preliminary study conducted in 1985 indicated no significant yield response to 8 treatments ranging in amount of total N applied from 56 to 290 kg N/ha. Treatments in 1986 were as follows: base rate N at 0, 56, 112, and 168 kg N/ha with 0, 1, or 2 sidedressings at 56 kg N/ha each applied at 3 and 6 wks after seeding. Yield differences for base rate n were significant at the first harvest only, while sidedressing effects on yield were significantly different for 3 of the 4 harvests and total yield. Nitrogen uptake during the first 32 days after seeding (DAS) was minimal, 0.17 kg N/ha/day, but increased to 8.05 kg N/ha/day during head formation (55 to 77 DAS). Initial soil nitrate status was high in the top 25 cm (52 kg N3O /ha) but decreased to 10.6 kg NO3/ha in the control plot by the end of the season. Sidedressings, prior to and during head formation, are recommended to maintain an adequate available N supply throughout the growing season.

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Gregory E. Welbaum, Charlie R. O'Dell and Ronald D. Morse

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Lewis W. Jett, Ronald D. Morse and Charles R. O'Dell

There is a strong consumer demand for single-head broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica) that yields more florets per unit weight than bunching broccoli. Two spatial arrangements (single vs. twin row) and five plant densities (10.8, 7.2, 5.4, 4.3, and 3.6 plants/m2) were examined for single-head broccoli production. Spatial arrangement had no significant effect on any measured attribute, although the twin-row arrangement resulted in less plant damage with each harvest. For exclusive production of quality, single-head broccoli with high yields of marketable florets, 3.6 plants/m2 (46-cm within-row spacing) should be used.

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Aref A. Abdul-Baki, John R. Stommel, Alley E. Watada, John R. Teasdale and Ronald D. Morse

Ten cultivars of processing tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) grown in bare soil or on black polyethylene and hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth.) mulches were evaluated for yield, fruit processing quality, and leaf necrosis. Yields were higher, fruit was heavier, and leaf necrosis less in hairy vetch than in bare soil or black polyethylene mulch. With the exception of pH, yield and fruit quality component responses to mulch treatments were not cultivar-dependent. Fruit pH, soluble solids concentration, and color equaled values obtained using bare soil production practices. Percent solids was highest with black polyethylene and lowest in hairy vetch. The hairy vetch mulch delayed fruit maturity compared to the bare soil and black polyethylene. The hairy vetch cultural system has the potential to increase yield of processing tomatoes.

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Aref A. Abdul-Baki, Ronald D. Morse, Thomas E. Devine and John R. Teasdale

`Emperor' broccoli (Brassica oleraceae L. Botrytis Group) was grown in Fall 1995 at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center (BARC), Md., and at the Kentland Agricultural Research Farm (KARF), Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ., Blacksburg. The objectives were to determine the effects of cover crop mulches in no-tillage production systems on marketable broccoli yield and weed suppression. The mulch treatments included cover crops of forage soybean (Glycine max L.), foxtail millet (Setaria italica L.P. Beauv), and a combination of soybean and millet. Broccoli marketable yield from all three mulch treatments was equal to that from a conventional clean cultivation system, except for the millet treatment at BARC, which produced a lower yield. All treatments maintained weeds below levels that reduced yield. Cover crop biomass ranged from 4.6 to 9.6 t·ha-1 and N content from 10 g·kg-1 for millet to 28 g·kg-1 for soybean.

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Charlotte Mundy, Nancy G. Creamer, L. George Wilson, Carl R. Crozier and Ronald D. Morse

Conservation tillage using residue from a cover crop grown before potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) production has been infrequently and inconclusively studied. The objectives of this study were to 1) conduct a field study to evaluate soil physical properties, and potato growth and yield, in conventional-tillage (CT), no-tillage (NT), and subsurface-tillage (SST) systems and 2) conduct a greenhouse study to evaluate the effect of soil bulk density (ρb) on potato growth and yield. Potatoes (`Atlantic') were planted into residue of sorghum-sudangrass [Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench × S. sudanense (Piper) Staph] at two sites in eastern North Carolina—Plymouth into Portsmouth fine sandy loam and Lewiston into Norfolk sandy loam. Potatoes in the NT and SST system emerged more slowly than potatoesplanted conventionally. There were no differences in plant population or size by 8 weeks after planting at Plymouth, but plant population and size were less in NT and SST systems at Lewiston. Reducing tillage also affected soil compaction, increased soil moisture early in the season at both sites, and increased ρb at Lewiston. Yield of U.S. No. 1 potatoes planted in NT and SST systems were comparable to potatoes planted in a CT system at Plymouth, but were less than potatoes planted in a CT system at Lewiston. There were no differences in yield between potatoes planted with NT and SST. In the greenhouse study, ρb did not affect leaf area or tuber yield or tuber grade. Specific sites and soils may allow for comparable potato production with no or SST, but further research, conducted on different soil types would promote further understanding of the impacts of reducing tillage in potato production.

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Lewis W. Jett, Gregory E. Welbaum, Charles R. O'Dell and Ronald D. Morse

The effect of matric and osmotic seed priming on stand establishment and maturity of broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. var. italica) was investigated in three years at two locations in Virginia. Seeds (`Earlidawn') were primed at 1.1 MPa (68F for 7 days) either osmotically in polyethylene glycol (8000 molecular weight) or metrically in vermiculite (horticultural grade no. 2). In the frost year of the study, seeds were hand-seeded in August into crustprone soil with a mean temperature of 82F, and there were no differences in the percentage or mean time of seedling emergence between osmotic- and matric-primed seeds. Under cooler temperatures during the remaining two years of the study, priming increased the percent emergence and decreased the mean time of emergence by about 15 hours. Primed seeds did not increase yields or accelerate maturity in two out of three years. In the third year, the spread of seedling emergence times was less for primed seeds, which reduced plant-to-plant competition and hastened maturity. The primary benefit of primed broccoli seeds was faster emergence, which increased stands by reducing exposure to stresses that decrease emergence.

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E.V. Herrero, J.P. Mitchell, W.T. Lanini, S.R. Temple, E.M. Miyao, R.D. Morse and E. Campiglia

No-till processing tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum Mill.) production in four winter cover crop-derived mulches was evaluated in 1997 and 1998 in Five Points, Calif. The effectiveness of two medics, `Sava' snail medic (Medicago scutellata Mill.) (sava), and `Sephi' barrel medic (Medicago truncatula Gaertn.) (sephi), and two cereal/legume cover crop mixtures, triticale/`Lana' woolypod vetch (X Triticosecale Wittm./Vicia dasycarpa Ten.) (triticale/vetch) and rye/`Lana' woolypod vetch (Secale cereale L./V. dasycarpa) (rye/vetch), was compared with two conventionally tilled fallow controls (with and without herbicide) (fallow+h and fallow-h) in suppressing weeds and maintaining yields with reduced fertilizer inputs. The comparison was conducted as a split plot, with three N fertilization rates (0, 100, and 200 lb/acre; 0, 112, and 224 kg·ha-1) as main plots and cover crops and fallow controls as subplots. Tomato seedlings were transplanted 3 weeks after the cover crops had been mowed and sprayed with herbicide. There were no significant differences in weed cover in the no-till cover crop treatments relative to the fallow controls in 1997. Early season weed suppression in rye/vetch and triticale/vetch plots was similar to herbicide-treated fallow (fallow+h) in 1998, however, later in the 1998 season weed suppression was best in the fallow+h. Tissue N was highest in the fallow treatments in both 1997 and 1998. Yields were highest in the triticale/vetch and fallow and lowest in sephi treatments in 1997, but there were no differences among treatments in 1998. These results demonstrate the feasibility of no-till mulch production of furrow irrigated processing tomatoes and identify opportunities for further optimization of the system.