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Tracy A. Ohler, S. Suzanne Nielsen and Cary A. Mitchell

Plant density and harvest time were manipulated to optimize vegetative (foliar) productivity of cowpea [Vigna unguiculata (L.) Walp.] canopies for future dietary use in controlled ecological life-support systems as vegetables or salad greens. Productivity was measured as total shoot and edible dry weights (DW), edible yield rate [(EYR) grams DW per square meter per day], shoot harvest index [(SHI) grams DW per edible gram DW total shoot], and yield-efficiency rate [(YER) grams DW edible per square meter per day per grams DW nonedible]. Cowpeas were grown in a greenhouse for leaf-only harvest at 14, 28, 42, 56, 84, or 99 plants/m2 and were harvested 20, 30, 40, or 50 days after planting (DAP). Shoot and edible dry weights increased as plant density and time to harvest increased. A maximum of 1189 g shoot DW/m2 and 594 g edible DW/m2 were achieved at an estimated plant density of 85 plants/m2 and harvest 50 DAP. EYR also increased as plant density and time to harvest increased. An EYR of 11 g·m–2·day–1 was predicted to occur at 86 plants/m2 and harvest 50 DAP. SHI and YER were not affected by plant density. However, the highest values of SHI (64%) and YER (1.3 g·m–2·day–1·g–1) were attained when cowpeas were harvested 20 DAP. The average fat and ash contents [dry-weight basis (dwb)] of harvested leaves remained constant regardless of harvest time. Average protein content increased from 25% DW at 30 DAP to 45% DW at 50 DAP. Carbohydrate content declined from 50% DW at 30 DAP to 45% DW at 50 DAP. Total dietary fiber content (dwb) of the leaves increased from 19% to 26% as time to harvest increased from 20 to 50 days.

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Jay Frick, S. Suzanne Nielsen and Cary A. Mitchell

Effects of N level (15 to 30 mm), time of N increase (14 to 28 days after planting), and planting density (1163 to 2093 plants/m2) were determined for crop yield responses of dwarf, rapid-cycling brassica (Brassica napus L., CrGC 5-2, Genome: ACaacc). Crops were grown in solid-matrix hydroponic systems and under controlled-environment conditions, including nonsupplemented (ambient) or elevated CO2 concentrations (998 ± 12 μmol·mol-1). The highest seed yield rate obtained (4.4 g·m-2·day-1) occurred with the lowest N level (15 mm) applied at the latest treatment time (day 28). In all trials, CO2 enrichment reduced seed yield rate and harvest index by delaying the onset of flowering and senescence and stimulating vegetative shoot growth. The highest shoot biomass accumulation rate (55.5 g·m-2·day-1) occurred with the highest N level (30 mm) applied at the earliest time (day 14). Seed oil content was not significantly affected by CO2 enrichment. Maximum seed oil content (30% to 34%, dry weight basis) was obtained using the lowest N level (15 mm) initiated at the latest treatment time (day 28). In general, an increase in seed oil content was accompanied by a decrease in seed protein. Seed carbohydrate, moisture, and ash contents did not vary significantly in response to experimental treatments. Effects of N level and time of N increase were consistently significant for most crop responses. Planting density was significant only under elevated CO2 conditions.