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Stephanie J. Walker

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Erin Silva, Mark Renz, and Stephanie Walker

Chile pepper (Capsicum annum) production in the southwest can be impacted by many factors. In particular, factors that alter root growth and development can be critical to pepper productivity. Several factors can cause less-than-optimal taproot formation, including irrigation practices, planting method (seeds vs. transplants), climactic conditions, and competition from weed species for limiting resources. The goals of this research were to quantify the root development of chile peppers established from either seeds or transplants under furrow and drip irrigation. Research was conducted in 2005 at Artesia Plant Science Research Center in Artesia, N.M., using a state-of-the-art drip irrigation system. Differences in root development between both irrigation types and planting methods were measured using of the mini-rhizotron image capturing system. Measurements occurred at a weekly basis to document location, root length density, and pattern of root formation. At the time of harvest, yield and fruit quality were evaluated. Direct-seeded chile plants yielded more fruits than transplanted chile under both irrigation regimes. Patterns of root development differed over time for direct-seeded vs. transplanted and furrow vs. drip-irrigated chile peppers. Planting and irrigation method affected root growth differently at various points in the season. These data can aid in the optimization of management strategies for specific production practices.

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Stephanie J. Walker and Paul A. Funk

New Mexican-type red and green chile (Capsicum annuum) is important to New Mexico’s identity and economy. Producers began experimenting with mechanical harvest in the mid-1960s, but efforts stalled in the 1970s. Adverse impact to production following the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement spurred renewed interest in chile mechanization. Through private and public collaboration, the red chile industry in New Mexico has successfully transitioned with more than 80% of domestic acreage currently mechanized. Green chile has proven to be more challenging with fruit damage and lack of efficient mechanical stem removal posing key obstacles. Recent identification and developments in equipment have provided necessary components for mechanization of green chile, but must be scaled-up to production volumes.

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Stephanie J. Walker and Paul W. Bosland

The inheritance of resistance to Phytophthora capsici Leonian root rot and foliar blight was compared in two different Capsicum annuum L. var. annuum pod types. The seedling was screened for phytophthora root rot, while a genetically identical stem cutting was screened for phytophthora foliar blight to determine if the same gene(s) confer resistance to both disease syndromes. The susceptible parents were `Keystone Resistant Giant #3' (`Keystone'), a bell pepper type, and `Early Jalapeño', while `Criollo de Morelos-334' was the resistant parent. Resistance was observed in both F1 populations screened for phytophthora root and foliar infection indicating dominance for resistance. Reciprocal effects were not detected. To determine if the same gene(s) conferred root rot and foliar resistance, root rot screening results were matched to the corresponding foliar blight stem cutting reaction. The segregation of resistance in the F2 generations was dependent on the susceptible parent. In the F2 generation derived from `Early Jalapeño', root rot resistance and foliar blight resistance segregated in a 9:3:3:1 (root resistant/foliar resistant: root resistant/foliar susceptible: root susceptible/foliar resistant: root susceptible/foliar susceptible) ratio. One independent, dominant gene was necessary for root rot resistance, and a different independent, dominant gene was needed for foliar blight resistance. In the F2 generation derived from `Keystone', root rot and foliar blight resistance segregated in a 7:2:2:5 (root resistant/foliar resistant: root resistant/foliar susceptible: root susceptible/foliar resistant: root susceptible/foliar susceptible) ratio. This segregation ratio is expected when one dominant gene is required for root resistance, and a different dominant gene is required for foliar resistance. In addition to these two genes, at least one dominant allele of a third gene must be present for expression of root rot and foliar blight resistance.

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Kathleen G. Haynes, Lincoln Zotarelli, Christian T. Christensen, and Stephanie Walker

Consumer demand for specialty market potatoes has been growing. Cultivated South American diploid potatoes possess great variation for skin and flesh colors, shape, and taste. A long-day adapted population of Solanum tuberosum groups Phureja and Stenotomum (phu-stn) was evaluated for characteristics associated with the type known as papa criolla or papa amarilla in South America. Tubers have intense yellow flesh and may be fried or roasted and eaten whole. A U.S. northern location (Maine), representative of a seed growing region, and two southern locations (Florida and New Mexico), representative of potato growing regions near large Hispanic populations, evaluated yellow-fleshed clones selected within a phu-stn population. Agreement between selectors at two locations was greater than 50%. Tuber skin color and shape were highly correlated between locations; flesh color and tuber dormancy moderately so; eye depth had low correlation between locations; and appearance and skin texture had low or no correlation between locations. Tuber dormancy was generally short, but a few longer dormant clones were identified. There were significant differences among clones for yields, with the highest yields occurring in Maine. More intense evaluations are planned for a subset of these clones before possible release as new varieties. Future breeding efforts will be undertaken to lengthen tuber dormancy in this population.

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Stephanie Walker, Marisa M. Wall, and Paul W. Bosland

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Marisa Wall, Cynthia Waddell, Paul Bosland, and Stephanie Walker

The β-carotene and total carotenoid content of different Capsicum fruit types and species were analyzed using HPLC. This information is useful for breeding high carotenoid chiles (New Mexican type) for the food industry, and also provides nutritional data for the range of fruit types within the Capsicum genus. Fresh fruit from 25 accessions and dried fruit from 39 accessions were evaluated in 1996 and 1997. β-carotene levels varied from 0 to 16.6 mg/100 g fresh weight, and carotenoid levels were from 0.1 to 89.6 mg/100 g in red ripe fruit in 1996. The range of values for β-carotene was similar in 1997, but a wider range in total carotenoids (0.4 to 117.3 mg/100 g fresh weight) was observed. Fresh fruit (100 g) of the cultivars `Greenleaf Tabasco', `Pulla', `Guajillo', `NuMex Conquistador', `Ring-O-Fire', and `Thai Dragon' contained greater amounts of β-carotene than the RDA for vitamin A for the average adult. For dried Capsicum entries, New Mexican, aji, pasilla, ancho, and guajillo types had the highest levels of β-carotene. In 1996, β-carotene levels among the dried Capsicum germplasm ranged from 0 to 739.2 μg/g dry weight, and carotenoid levels were from 21.3 to 6,225.9 μg/g. Values were higher in 1997, and ranged from 23.7 to 1,198.1 μg/g dry weight for β-carotene and from 76.9 to 10,120.6 μg/g for total carotenoids. A pasilla type (C. annuum) had the highest total carotenoid content among the dried entries in both years.

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Israel S. Joukhadar, Stephanie J. Walker, and Paul A. Funk

New mexico pod–type green chile (Capsicum annuum) is one of New Mexico’s leading horticultural commodities. Cultivated acreage of green chile in New Mexico is threatened because of the high cost and insufficiently available labor for hand harvest. Therefore, mechanization is necessary to sustain the industry. Successful mechanization depends on harvester design coupled with plant architecture that optimizes harvest yield and quality. Harvested green fruit must be whole, unbroken, and unblemished for fresh and processed markets, so harvester design and plant architecture must maximize yield while minimizing fruit damage. In two trials conducted at the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center in Los Lunas, six cultivars (AZ-1904, Machete, PHB-205, E9, PDJ.7, and RK3-35) were evaluated for plant architecture and harvest efficiency with a double, open-helix mechanical harvester with two counter-rotating heads. Cultivars were direct seeded on 17 Apr. 2015 and 14 Apr. 2016 and managed according to standard production practices. Plant architecture traits, plant width, plant height, height to first primary branch, distance between first primary branch and first node, basal stem diameter, and number of basal branches were measured before harvest. Mechanical harvest yield components, which included marketable fruit, broken fruit, ground fall losses, unharvested fruit remaining on branches, and nonpod plant material, were assessed after once-over destructive harvests on 2 Sept. 2015 and 31 Aug. 2016. Fruit width, fruit length, and pericarp thickness were measured from a representative sample of 10 marketable fruit. In 2015, ‘AZ-1904’ and ‘PDJ.7’ had significantly (P ≤ 0.05) more marketable yield than ‘Machete’ that had the least marketable yield. No statistically significant differences were found in marketable yield in 2016. When both years were combined, ‘PDJ.7’ had significantly more nonpod plant material harvested and the plants were taller than all other cultivars. We found mechanical harvest performance to be significantly affected by plant height, with shorter plants yielding less marketable fruit. Despite differences in fruit wall thickness, no significant differences were measured in broken fruit. In 2015, ‘AZ-1904’ had significantly less basal branches per plant, reducing obstruction for the picking mechanism. Harvest efficiencies (marketable harvested fruit yield as a percentage of total plot yields) ranged from 64.6% to 39.3% during this 2-year trial, with the highest harvesting cultivars PDJ.7 and AZ-1904. In the future, all new mexico pod–type green chile breeding efforts for mechanical harvest must incorporate desirable plant architecture traits to increase harvest efficiencies.

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Rachel E. Rudolph, Carl Sams, Robert Steiner, Stephen H. Thomas, Stephanie Walker, and Mark E. Uchanski

Biofumigation is a sustainable method of soil management in cash crop rotations that can increase soil organic matter (SOM), moderate soil pH, suppress weeds and soilborne pathogens through glucosinolates (GSL), and increase water infiltration. This 2-year (2011–13) field study evaluated four different Brassica crops for their biofumigant potential in a chile pepper rotation system in southern New Mexico. The four cultivars included: three mustards (Brassica juncea ‘Caliente 61’, ‘Caliente 199’, and ‘Pacific Gold’) and one broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis ‘Arcadia’). As a result of concerns that these mustards could be hosts for nematodes, a greenhouse study was conducted in the second year to evaluate the biofumigant crops for their southern root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita, RKN) host suitability and their seedling establishment in the presence of RKN. In Year 1 (2011), conditions were ideal, which resulted in high mustard biomass production and, consequently, significantly higher SOM and lower pH than the bare soil control plots. However, there were no chile pepper yield differences among treatments. Conditions were much less favorable in Year 2 and the resultant poor biomass production did not cause an increase in SOM as seen in Year 1. In the RKN greenhouse study, broccoli was the least susceptible biofumigant crop. After one nematode generation (683 cumulative heat units), RKN populations were less than half of the original inoculum level on the broccoli. However, RKN populations increased in the presence of ‘Caliente 61’, ‘Caliente 199’, and ‘Pacific Gold’. Overall, broccoli produced lower biomass and lower GSL concentrations than the mustard treatments but may be a valuable crop for growers with nematode issues because RKN populations decreased in its presence. Based on high biomass production and high GSL concentration, ‘Caliente 199’ showed the most potential as a biofumigant crop for southern New Mexico.

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Marisa M. Wall, Stephanie Walker, Arthur D. Wall, Ed Hughs, and Richard Phillips

In the southwestern U.S. growing region, which includes southern New Mexico, west Texas, and southeastern Arizona, mechanical harvest of chile peppers (Capsicum annuum) is increasing because of the high cost of hand labor. Mechanical harvesters have been developed, but there is limited information on the performance of chile cultivars when machine harvested. Four red chile pepper cultivars (New Mexico 6-4, Sonora, B-18, and B-58) were grown in a farmer's field near Las Cruces, N.M., and harvested in October 2000 using a double-helix-type harvester. Ethephon was applied 3 weeks before harvest at 1.5 pt/acre (1.75 L·ha-1) to promote uniform ripening. Ethephon caused fruit of `B-18' and `B-58' to drop before harvest, thereby affecting yield results. Treatment with ethylene-releasing compounds is not recommended for these cultivars. `Sonora' and `New Mexico 6-4'dropped much less fruit than `B-18' and `B-58' after the ethephon treatment. Dry weight marketable yield ranged from 1419 to 2589 lb/acre (1590.5 to 2901.8 kg·ha-1), and total yield potential (discounting dropped fruit) ranged from about 2500 to 3100 lb/acre (2802.1 to 3474.6 kg·ha-1), depending on cultivar. Harvest efficiencies of 73% to 83% were observed among the cultivars. Trash content of the harvested chile varied from 25% to 42% of dry weight. Trash was predominantly diseased and off-color fruit, leaves, and small stems. Trash content was highest for `Sonora'. `New Mexico 6-4' had the greatest marketable yield and harvest efficiency among the cultivars evaluated in this study.