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Scott N. White, Nathan S. Boyd, and Rene C. Van Acker

Experiments were established to evaluate the suitability of growing degree-day (GDD, T base = 0 °C) models for predicting emergence, tip dieback, and flowering of lowbush blueberry ramets in Nova Scotia, Canada. Data for model development were collected from quadrats established in several non-bearing and bearing blueberry fields throughout the dominant blueberry production areas in northern and central Nova Scotia. Blueberry ramets emerged between 222 and 265 GDD (6 May to 14 May) and reached 90% emergence between 619 and 917 GDD (7 June to 5 July). Emergence continued to slowly increase until late summer or early fall. Tip dieback began between 598 and 792 GDD (14 June to 21 June) and duration of this phase depended on whether late-emerging ramets developed to tip dieback. A four-parameter Weibull and a three-parameter Gompertz equation adequately explained cumulative blueberry ramet emergence and cumulative ramets at tip dieback as functions of GDD in the non-bearing year, respectively. The four-parameter Weibull function also explained the relationship between cumulative flowering ramets and GDD in the bearing year. Flowering ramets were first observed between 376 and 409 GDD (19 May to 30 May) in the bearing year. Model predictions for initiation of emergence, tip dieback, and flowering were 243, 692, and 389 GDD, respectively. Models were validated with independent data sets collected throughout northern and central Nova Scotia. The relationship between the percentage of open flowers on individual ramets and GDD in the bearing year was well described by a Gaussian model at two sites with a predicted peak number of open flowers between 552 and 565 GDD.

Open access

Evan Elford, Jim Todd, Peter White, Rachel Riddle, John O’Sullivan, and Rene Van Acker

To foster development of Ontario commercial tigernut (Cyperus esculentus var. sativus) production, this study was conducted to identify cultural management practices that increase tuber yields. The agronomic practices of field preparation (hilled vs. not hilled), regular irrigation vs. natural rainfall, varying rates of nitrogen (N) fertility, and early season weed management were evaluated. Irrigation had no significant impact on total fresh weight, dry weight, and marketable yield over 2 growing seasons. Similarly, yields from plants grown in hilled rows vs. flat beds over two seasons showed no significant differences. Tigernut yields did not show a response to increasing rates of N up to 150 kg·ha−1. A critical weed-free period of 3 weeks resulted in an 844% yield increase over the nonweeded control. Overall, the results indicate that in general, tigernut requires few inputs to produce a viable commercial yield under Ontario growing conditions.

Free access

Yun Kong, David Llewellyn, Katherine Schiestel, Martha Gay Scroggins, David Lubitz, Mary Ruth McDonald, Rene Van Acker, Ralph C. Martin, Youbin Zheng, and Evan Elford

There is a potentially large market for locally produced organic bitter melons (Momordica charantia L.) in Canada, but it is a great challenge to grow this warm-season crop in open fields (OFs) due to the cool and short growing season. To test the feasibility of using high tunnels (HTs) for organic production of bitter melons in southern Ontario, plant growth, fruit yield and quality, and pest and disease incidence were compared among three production systems: OF, HT, and high tunnel with anti-insect netting (HTN) at Guelph in 2015. The highest marketable fruit yield was achieved in HTN (≈36 t·ha−1), followed by HT (≈29 t·ha−1), with the lowest yield obtained in OF (≈3 t·ha−1). Compared with OF, there were several other benefits for bitter melon production in HT and HTN: increased plant growth, advanced harvest timing, reduced pest numbers and disease incidence, and improved fruit quality traits such as increased individual fruit weight and size, and reduced postharvest water loss. In addition to higher yield, HTN had fewer insect pests and disease incidence compared with HT. The results suggest that HTs can be used for organic production of bitter melon in southern Ontario and regions with similar climates. Also, the addition of anti-insect netting to HTs is beneficial to production if combined with an effective pollination strategy.