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Robert F. Bevacqua

Navigators from Southeast Asia began voyages of discovery into the Pacific Ocean four thousand years ago that resulted in the dispersal of an assemblage of domesticated plants that has come to dominate horticulture in the world's tropical regions. Archaeological, botanical, and linguistic evidence indicates the assemblage included coconut, banana, taro, yam, sugar cane, and other important food and fiber crops. An emerging view among scholars is that an origin of horticulture is associated with early Chinese civilization and that Southeast Asia was a center for the domestication of vegetatively propagated root, tuber, and fruit crops. This paper describes (1) an origin for horticulture in Southeast Asia, (2) the eastward dispersal of horticultural plants by voyagers, and (3) the impact of the introduction of horticulture on the natural enviroment of the Pacific Islands.

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Robert F. Bevacqua

Sugar cane and pineapple have dominated agriculture in Hawaii for more than 100 years. The plantation system that produced these agronomic crops is now in sharp decline, and a search is underway for horticultural crops, such as macadamia nut, papaya, and potted foliage plants, with which to diversify island agriculture. This paper, using the case study of potatoes and melons, describes the constraints encountered in establishing a 1000-acre farm enterprise on lands made available by the closing of Oahu Sugar Plantation in 1994. The major constraints were 1) a short-term lease with a clause for immediate revocation, 2) the reallocation of irrigation water from agricultural to conservation use, 3) the available plantation work force was ill-prepared for the varied tasks of horticultural production, 4) an irrigation infrastructure not compatible with vegetable production, 5) difficulty in expanding pesticide labels for local use, and 6) the absence of an institution to provide policy and technical assistance in addressing the above constraints.

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Robert F. Bevacqua

Cork spot is a serious physiological disorder in pear (Pyrus communis L. cv. d'Anjou) in the United States, but a reliable technique for diagnosing it has not been developed. A review of the scientific literature indicated the disorder was generally linked with low calcium concentration in the fruit. In the present study, mineral analyses were conducted in 1987 and 1988 on soil, leaves, and fruit peel from normal trees and trees prone to cork spot. Soil tests and leaf analysis did not provide measureable differences between the two groups of trees. Fruit analysis provided variable differences between normal and cork spotted fruit, but no single nutrient or ration of nutrients could be consistently associated with the disorder. An assay for pyruvate kinase was evaluated as a diagnostic tool for cork spot. The assay did not provide measureable differences between normal and cork spotted fruit. An important finding of this study was to learn cork spotted fruit had higher soluble protein concentration than normal fruit.

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Robert F. Bevacqua

A research and extension program for increasing vegetable production in southeastern Virginia was launched by Virginia Cooperative Extension in 1997. The launch was triggered by the construction of a shipping point market in Southampton County. First, a market window study identified target crops and the harvest period when they could be most profitably marketed. Target crops were watermelon, sweet corn, snap beans, muskmelon, bell pepper, and pumpkin. Second, a technology transfer program was formulated that emphasized demonstrations, field days, classes, and workshops. On-farm demonstrations of intensive vegetable production techniques formed the foundations of the extension effort and focused on drip irrigation, plastic mulch on raised beds, water and nutrient monitoring, honey bee pollination, and integrated pest management (IPM). “Growing Vegetables for the Commercial Market” was the title of a short course offered in partnership with the local community college. Sixty-five graduates completed the course in 1999. Workshops were offered on farm labor, marketing, irrigation, and production techniques. On-farm research was conducted in support of the emerging vegetable industry. The focus was on sweet corn IPM, variety trials for watermelon and pumpkin, and soil and plant analysis. Information was made available to growers through a bimonthly newsletter, an annual bulletin entitled Commercial Production Recommendations, and VCE postings on the World Wide Web.

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Robert F. Bevacqua

The introduction of horticulture to the Hawaiian Islands by Polynesian voyagers in AD 300 represents the culmination of eastward voyages of discovery by navigators whose origins were in southeastern Asia and who dispersed an important assemblage of horticultural crops through the Pacific islands. Archaeological, botanical, and linguistic evidence has been used to establish that these voyagers, using double-hulled sailing canoes, transported 27 horticultural plants with them in their voyage of discovery of the Hawaiian Islands. This assemblage included banana, coconut palm, sweetpotato, yam, breadfruit, and taro. The introduction of these plants had a dramatic and damaging impact on the island ecosystem. Many native species of plants and birds became extinct as the settlers used fire as a tool in clearing land for the planting of the introduced plants. A complex civilization developed based on the production of horticultural crops. The staple of food for this society was taro or kalo. The corm or underground portion was mashed with water and eaten as a paste called poi. Large, irrigated, terrace systems were developed for taro production. The most enduring achievement of the Polynesian navigators who explored and colonized the Hawaiian Islands was the dispersal of an assemblage of horticultural plants that transformed the natural environment of both Hawaii and much of the world's tropical regions.

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Valerie J. Mellano and Robert F. Bevacqua

Municipal sewage sludge, previously amended with Eucalyptus tree trimmings and composted, was incorporated to a depth of 30 cm at rates of 0, 12.3 and 24.6 dry MT/ha for a field planting of onion, snapdragon, turf and spinach. In a similar subsequent planting, the sludge compost was incorpoated to a depth of 10 cm. Additional treatments address the residual effect of the material. The results indicated sludge compost incorporated to a depth of 30 cm had no effect on crop yields, but when incorporated to a depth of 10 cm there was a significant increase in yields for all test crops. No buildup of heavy metals, soluble salts or changes in soil pH that would depress crop growth were detected.

Two greenhouse experiments employed equivalent rates and the same four crops. Two materials, sludge compost and heat-dried sludge were compared. The former contained composted Eucalyptus tree trimmings. The latter did not. The results showed both materials were equally beneficial to crop growth and the presence of Eucalyptus trimmings did not decrease yields

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Robert F. Bevacqua and Valerie J. Mellano

Compost made from sewage sludge (40% by volume) and chipped trimmings of Eucalyptus trees (60%) was evaluated as a soil amendment for the field. production of onion (Allium cepa cv. Spanish Sweet Utah), lettuce (Lactuca sativa cv. Black Seeded Simpson), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus cv. Sonnet Yellow), and turfgrass (Festuca arundinacea cv. Marathon). Turf shows a strong reponse to preplant compost applications and is relatively tolerant of the buildup of soluble salts that can occur with compost applications. Also since it is not a food crop the possible uptake of heavy metals is not a major concern. These results indicate the amending of soil for the planting of turf is a likely commercial use of the compost. The authors are presently evaluating the use of the compost as a top dressing on turf plantings.

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Robert F. Bevacqua and Dawn M. VanLeeuwen

Chile pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) yields are highly variable and are strongly influenced by disease and weather. The goal of two field experiments was to evaluate crop management factors, especially planting date, that could contribute to improved and more consistent crop production. Current practice in New Mexico is to direct seed the crop from 13 to 27 Mar. In the first experiment, chile pepper was direct seeded on three planting dates, 13, 20, and 27 Mar. 2000, without or with a fungicide treatment of pentachloronitrobenzene and mefenoxam for the control of damping off. The results indicate planting date had no effect on stand establishment or yield. Fungicide treatment, significantly reduced stand, but had no effect on yield. In the second experiment, chile pepper was direct seeded on six planting dates, 13, 20, 27 Mar. and 3, 10, 17, Apr. 2001, with or without an application of phosphorus fertilizer, P at 29.4 kg·ha-1, banded beneath the seed row. During the growing season, this experimental planting suffered, as did commercial plantings in New Mexico, from high mortality and stunting due to beet curly top virus, a disease transmitted by the beet leafhopper. The results indicate planting date had a significant effect on crop performance. The best stand establishment and highest yield were associated with the earliest planting date, 13 Mar. This date also resulted in the least viral disease damage. Phosphorus fertilizer had no effect on stand establishment or yield. Chemical names used: pentachloronitrobenzene (PCNB); (R)-2-[(2,6-dimethylphenyl)-methoxyacetylamino]-propionic acid methyl ester (mefenoxam).