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Shawna L. Daley and Richard L. Hassell

Application of fatty alcohol compounds to rootstock meristems can control rootstock meristematic regrowth, thus decreasing the cost of producing grafted watermelon transplants by reducing the labor. Eight rates of Fair 85® and Off-Shoot T®, two commercially available fatty alcohol compounds, were applied to the meristem region of bottle gourd (Lagenaria sicereria cv. Emphasis) and interspecific hybrid squash (Cucurbita maxima × Cucurbita moschata cv. Carnivor) rootstocks to determine the optimal application rate to control regrowth without damaging the remaining plant parts. A water-only control treatment was also included. Rootstock seedlings were rated for damage and regrowth on Days 1, 7, 14, and 21 after treatment. Damage increased and regrowth decreased with increasing rates of fatty alcohol compound. In addition, a significant compound-by-rate interaction indicated that inert ingredients in the fatty alcohol formulation have an effect on both damage and regrowth. The optimal treatment rate, e.g., providing at least 95% control of regrowth with less than 10% damage, was found to be between a 5% (Off-Shoot T®) and 6.25% (Fair 85®) fatty alcohol application. At the optimal treatment rate, no adverse effects to grafting success were observed in the grafting procedure.

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Richard L. Hassell and D.W. Kretchman

Germination inhibitors found in parsley (Pertroselium hortense) seed have serious effects on field establishment. Studies have been conducted on chemical and physical attributes in relation to cultivar, age of seed and location of the seed on the seed stalk. Results indicate that the inhibitor is highly soluble in H2O and can be removed with as little as a half-hour aqueous wash. Soaking 30 g (∼500 seeds/g) of seed in an aerated graduated cylinder containing 100 ml distilled H2O for 24 hours then applied to radish, lettuce, and parsley seeds revealed complete germination inhibition of these seeds. Decreasing the soaking time did not reduce the inhibitory effects of the solution. Location of the inhibitor within the seed was found to be specific to the seed coat. The amount of inhibitor present varied with the cultivar and seed lot within that cultivar. Size and age of the seed had little effect on the amount and strength of the inhibitor. Location of the developing seed on the seed stalk effected the amount of inhibitor present. Primary umbels contained the least amount of inhibitor when compared to the secondary and tertiary umbels.

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Richard L. Hassell and Dale W. Kretchman

Seed from six species of the Apiaceae and six parsley (Petroselinum crispum L.) cultivars with three seed lots of each parsley cultivar were tested for the presence of germination inhibiting substances. Aqueous leachate from seed of all six species inhibited germination of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) and radish (Raphanus sativus L.). Leachate from root parsley seeds (P. crispum tuberosum) were least inhibitory, while leachate from celery and celeriac (both Apium graveolens L.) seeds were most inhibitory. Inhibitory concentrations in leachate varied by seed lot within a cultivar. Aqueous leachate of seeds from the primary umbels caused less inhibition of germination than did leachate from tertiary umbels. Washing parsley seeds in aerated water for 3 hours or more removed some of the germination inhibitory substance as indicated by the germination bioassay. An aqueous extract prepared from seedcoat tissue, removed during mechanical scarification, inhibited radish seed germination; inhibition was proportional to the duration of scarification and the amount of seedcoat tissue extracted. Parsley seeds scarified ≤60 minutes germinated at rates comparable to washed seeds, but longer scarification time reduced germination. Washing seeds of Apiaceae prior to commercial drying and cleaning may be a practical solution for removal of inhibitors.

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Richard L. Hassell and D.W. Kretchman

Two cultivars of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) and leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa) were evaluated using two plug trays, polyethylene and polystyrene in two colors, black and white. Cells were 2 cm square inverted pyramid and 5 cm deep. Temperatures 0.3 cm below the surface of the media in the black trays average 2 to 4°C warmer than in the white trays. Night temperatures were not influenced by tray color. There was no apparent interaction between color and tray composition. Tomato plants grown in black trays had longer, smaller diameter stems than those in the white trays. Total leaf area, plant fresh and dry weights, however, were not affected by tray color. Leaf lettuce grown in black trays had greater total leaf area than those in white trays. Leaf numbers were not affected by tray color. Plants of tomato and lettuce grown in white trays were shorter, stockier, and easier to handle during transplanting than those produced in black trays. Both cultivars of tomato and lettuce responded similarly to tray color and composition.

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Richard L. Hassell, Tyron L. Phillips and Teri Hale

The small, B size potatoes (<2 inches but ≥1.25 inches in diameter) represent a keen interest in new, specialty food items. Exotic shapes and color shades of the specialty varieties are also known for intense flavors and variations in textures in firmness and fiber that consumers are looking for today in an ever increasing health consciousness among consumers. In 2006, the varieties `French Fingerling' (West Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), Villetta Rose (Univ. of Wisconsin) and B1145-2 (USDA, Beltsville, Md.) were planted in a double row 8 inches between tubers and 18 inches between rows in a replicated trial using colored mulches. The mulch color included red, white, black, blue, green, and silver foil. These plastic mulches were laid on 6-ft centers. The mulches were shown to affect the microclimate of soil temperature, as expected, and therefore affecting yield. These temperature differences were measured with a Campbell CR 10X weather station (Logan, Utah) probes at a 2 inches above the soil surface and 4 and 6 inches below the soil surface. Plant stands were excellent with all mulches, however, blue mulch caused early emergence while white and silver delayed emergence. Just the opposite effect happened when it came to yields. The highest individual tubers per plant came from the white mulch with the green having the lowest tuber yields. Cultivar differences were also seen in there ability to produce marketable tubers. `Villetta Rose' had the highest plant vigor and also the most marketable tubers per plant. B1145-2 produced most of its tubers >2 inches in diameter with the tubers nonuniform in shape. French Fingerling produced a very uniform oblong tuber with few defects. Yields and quality were above normal for all cultivars when grown on either the silver reflective mulch or the white mulch.

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Richard L. Hassell, Tyron L. Phillips and Teri Hale

The small, “B” size potatoes (<2 inches but ≥1.25 inches in diameter) represent a keen interest in new, specialty food items. Exotic shapes and color shades of the specialty varieties are also known for intense flavors and variations in textures in firmness and fiber that consumers are looking for today in an ever increasing health consciousness among consumers. In 2004, the varieties `French Fingerling' (West Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), W2275-3R (Univ. of Wisconsin) and B1145-2 (USDA, Beltsville, Maryland) were planted in a double row 8 inches between tubers and 18 inches between rows in a replicated trial using colored mulches. The mulch color included red, white, black, blue, green, and silver foil. These plastic mulches were laid on 6-ft centers. The mulches were shown to affect the microclimate of soil temperature, as expected, and therefore affecting yield. These temperature differences were measured with a Campbell CR 10X weather station (Logan, Utah) probes at 2 inches above the soil surface and 4 and 6 inches below the soil surface. Plant stands were excellent with all mulches, however, blue mulch caused early emergence while white and silver delayed emergence. Just the opposite effect happened when it came to yields. The highest individual tubers per plant came from the silver mulch with the blue having the lowest tuber yields. Cultivar differences were also seen in there ability to produce marketable tubers. `French Fingerling' had the highest plant vigor and also the most marketable tubers per plant. B1145-2 produced most of its tubers greater than 2 inches in diameter with the tubers nonuniform in shape. W2275-3R produced a very uniform round tuber with few defects. Yields were higher this past year, however, there was a greater incidence of hollow heart due to excess water and higher fertility.

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Shawna L. Daley, Jeffrey Adelberg and Richard L. Hassell

Application of fatty alcohol to rootstocks used for vegetable grafting has been shown to increase the efficiency of producing grafted transplants by controlling cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae) rootstock meristematic regrowth and by allowing the rootstocks to accumulate carbohydrates, especially starch, over time in the hypocotyl and cotyledon. A grafting experiment was conducted to determine the effect of increased carbohydrates on survival of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) grafts using standard grafting procedures. ‘Carnivor’ interspecific hybrid squash (Cucurbita maxima × C. moschata) and ‘Macis’ bottle gourd (Lagenaria sicereria) rootstocks at 1, 7, 14, and 21 days after fatty alcohol treatment were grafted with ‘Tri-X 313’ seedless watermelon using the one-cotyledon method. Graft survival on ‘Macis’ rootstock was acceptable or significantly increased up to day 14, with a slight decrease at day 21. Graft survival on ‘Carnivor rootstock was also acceptable up to day 21, with a significant increase between days 1 and 7. The second experiment was conducted to determine whether the increased carbohydrates provide sufficient energy to successfully graft without the rootstock cotyledon, a method that has previously shown inconsistent results. Graft survival was improved by 90% using treated ‘Carnivor’ rootstock 7 days after fatty alcohol treatment and ‘Macis’ rootstock 14 days after fatty alcohol treatment. Adoption of the hypocotyl-only graft method in commercial production may increase efficiency by better using greenhouse space and could decrease disease probability by removing the cotyledons before grafting.

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Shawna L. Daley, William Patrick Wechter and Richard L. Hassell

Fatty alcohol treatments can be used to eliminate the meristem of cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae) rootstocks, which prevents regrowth when grafting, but the effects of the treatment on the rootstock have not been documented. Two rootstock types, ‘Emphasis’ bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) and ‘Carnivor’ interspecific hybrid squash (Cucurbita maxima × C. moschata) commonly used in watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) grafting significantly increased in cotyledon and hypocotyl size over 21 days after treatment (DAT) with a 6.25% fatty alcohol emulsion. There was a significant increase in total soluble sugar (glucose, sucrose, and fructose) content for each rootstock hypocotyl and cotyledon. Starch concentrations of hypocotyls and cotyledons also increased significantly in both rootstocks. This increase in stored energy could greatly increase the success rate of the grafting process. Increased rootstock energy reserves could overcome the need for keeping the rootstock cotyledon intact when grafting.

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Richard L. Hassell, Robert J. Dufault and Tyron L. Phillips

Early spring sweet corn (Zea mays var. rugosa) is usually planted in cold soils at sub-optimal temperatures for seed germination. It is important for growers to understand the relationships among temperature, germination, and vigor of sweet corn in order to plan the earliest planting dates that will not significantly reduce plant stand. The objectives of this research were 1) to determine the minimum temperatures to germinate to 75%, (the minimum germination percent for interstate commerce) for 27 new sweet corn su (sugary), se (sugar enhancer), and sh2 (shrunken-2) cultivars; 2) to determine vigor differences among the phenotypes; and 3) to select the most promising se, su, and sh2 cultivars for cold tolerance and vigor for early spring planting. Seeds of each cultivar were placed along a temperature gradient on a thermogradient table, Type 5001 (Seed Processing Holland, Enkhuizen, The Netherlands), and allowed to germinate over a 7-day period. The gradient treatments were [±2 °F (1.1 °C)] 52, 56, 60, 64, 68, 72, 76, 80, 84, and 86 °F (11.1, 13.3, 15.6, 17.8, 20.0, 22.2, 24.4, 26.7, 28.9, and 30.0 °C). Germination data from thermogradient testing were used to determine the minimum temperatures and time required for su, se, and sh2 cultivars to germinate at ≥75%, defined as minimum acceptable germination percent (MAGP); and the minimum temperature to reach the maximum germination rate (MGR) for a cultivar, defined as the ability to germinate to MAGP at the same rate equally at low and high temperatures. Generally, su phenotypes germinated to MAGP within 4 days, with sh2 requiring 6 days, but with se requiring 5 days. We found that within each phenotype, however, cultivars reacted uniquely to temperature. The most vigorous and cold tolerant su cultivars were `NK 199' and `Merit' which germinated to MAGP at 52 °F with `NK 199' more vigorous than `Merit'. The su cultivar `Sweet G-90' was vigorous at warm temperatures, but the least cold tolerant and desirable for planting under cold conditions. Within the se cultivars, `Precious Gem', `July Gold', and `Imaculata' germinated to MAGP at 52 °F with `Precious Gem' requiring 6 days and `July Gold' and `Imaculata' requiring 7 days. `Accord' was the least cold tolerant se cultivar, requiring at least 60 °F for MAGP with a slow MGR, even at warm temperatures. None of the sh2 cultivars reached MAGP within 7 d at 52 °F, as was also observed for certain su and se cultivars.

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Richard L. Hassell, Robert J. Dufault and Tyron L. Phillips

Ten triploid and 25 diploid watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) selections were evaluated to determine the temperature range and length of test for which germination index (rate of germination over time) and germination percentages were maximum for expediting vigor and seed testing practices. Temperature interacted with watermelon selection indicating that certain selections germinated faster within specific, but differing temperature ranges. Within 2 days after starting the germination process, 90% of triploid selections and 96% of diploid selections germinated to their greatest level and prolonging germination data collection for one week did not change this relationship. Although optimal temperature ranges may differ among the selections, the one temperature within the range common for all selections evaluated that maximized germination was 85 to 90 °F (29.4 to 32.2 °C) for diploids and 85 °F for triploids.