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  • Author or Editor: Shouan Zhang x
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Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an important annual culinary herb grown in the United States. Recently, basil production was drastically affected by downy mildew caused by Peronospora belbahrii, a recently discovered foliar disease of basil in Homestead, FL. The disease has spread to more than 30 states in the United States causing significant losses to basil growers. As a result of the recent emergence of the disease, limited management tools are available for control of downy mildew, and it is critical for growers to apply management measures at appropriate times. This study was designed to evaluate 2- to 7-week-old basil plants for their susceptibility to downy mildew. Another objective of the study was to evaluate the effect of a pre-inoculation application of acibenzolar-S-methyl (ASM) for control of downy mildew. The results suggested that 2- to 3-week-old basil was more susceptible to downy mildew than 4- to 7-week-old plants. The area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC) was smaller for 5- to 7-week-old ASM-treated basil plants than for 2- to 4-week-old ASM-treated basil plants. This study indicated that 2- to 3-week-old basil plants need to be protected, and ASM should be applied before pathogen infection on 5- to 7-week-old plants to reduce downy mildew to a greater extent.

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The rapid expansion of Asian populations in the United States presents significant opportunities and challenges for the eastern U.S. produce sector to take advantage of their close proximity to densely populated areas. Initial crop studies followed by ethnic consumer and crop surveys were conducted to examine vegetable, leafy green, and herb consumption and expenditures among Chinese, Asian Indians, and other Asian groups. Consumer choices were used to prioritize subsequent production trials. Family expenditures were determined for specific Asian produce types and total produce purchases. This market data were extrapolated to the east coast Asian populations to assess potential market size (90% confidence interval, error margin 5.6%). Chinese consumer values ranged from $245 to $296 million per annum and Asian Indians ranged from $190 to $230 million per annum. The average annual fresh fruit and vegetable expenditures by both Asian groups were 2 to 3.5 times respective national averages. Leading Chinese vegetables determined by average expenditures were baby bok choy, pak choy, oriental eggplant, snow pea, oriental spinach, and napa cabbage. Highest expenditure of leafy greens and herbs for Chinese consumers were chives and garland chrysanthemum. This market-driven survey reported consumption of over 100 Asian crops and 42 cultivars were ranked “feasible” to grow in the eastern section of the United States. Horticultural matrices of selection criteria narrowed the list to the most promising candidates for production. As a result, 28 cultivars were then grown in University research and demonstration plots at Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Florida in determining growth characteristics and yield to focus horticultural crop producers. Leading vegetable cultivars for Asian Indian consumers were bitter gourd, eggplant, fenugreek leaves, cluster beans, and bottle gourd. Leading leafy greens and herbs for Asian Indians were turmeric, fenugreek, sorrel spinach, and radish greens. Most of these Asian cultivars were demonstrated to grow well in the three main growing zones of 5, 7, and 9. Phytochemical attributes such as antioxidant activity, polyphenols, and mineral contents were analyzed for several of the leading crop candidates. This initial field and laboratory data shows that many of these ethnic crops can be grown in the eastern United States to direct production opportunities and are nutrient rich to help drive consumer demand.

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