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Stephen Reiners and Stephen A. Garrison

The motherstalk method of `Jersey Centennial' asparagus production was examined in two greenhouse studies. This technique allowed for one, two, or three spears to develop a mature fern while permitting harvest of later-developing spears. Cumulative yield was highest 10 weeks after planting with one and two motherstalks, and crown dry weights in these treatments were similar to those of the nonharvested treatment. In a second experiment, spear yield and crown dry weight were determined when the motherstalk was initiated at 0, 2.5, and 5 weeks after planting. Yields were highest when the motherstalk was established at week 0 or 2.5 compared to week 5. Crown dry weights of early motherstalk treatments were similar to those of the nonharvested treatment at the end of the 10-week harvest period. Our results indicate that the motherstalk system may allow for extended asparagus harvest in temperate areas.

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Stephen Reiners and Stephen A. Garrison

The effect of soil moisture levels on the yield and dry matter accumulation of asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L) using the motherstalk method was examined in a greenhouse study. This technique allows for a spear to develop a mature fern while permitting harvest of later-developing spears. The motherstalk treatment resulted in significantly heavier spears as compared to the conventional practice without a motherstalk and harvesting all spears. In addition, crown weights between the motherstalk and the nonharvested treatment were similar at the end of the 12-week harvest period, but significantly lower when spears were harvested without the benefit of a motherstalk. Optimizing soil moisture significantly increased yield in the motherstalk treatment and increased the fern dry weight but had no effect on crown dry weight. Our results indicate that the motherstalk system may allow for extended asparagus harvest in temperate areas but soil moisture may need to be carefully monitored to use this technique.

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Joseph A. Fiola, Peter Probasco and Stephen Garrison

An RCB (4 replicates - 4 m plots) planting of `Chandler' was established to test the effects of planting date and floating row covers (FRC) in a high density strawberry planting system under NJ conditions. Transplant “plugs” from runner tips were planted on a double row (0.5 m × 0.3 m) on a raised plastic mulch bed (1.5 m centers), with trickle irrigation. Treatments included: plant 9/18/91 w/FRC on 10/7/92; plant 9/18/91 w/FRC on 12/2/92; plant 9/18/91 w/noFRC; plant 10/7/91 w/noFRC; plant 9/14/92 w/FRC on 10/7/92; plant 9/14/92 w/noFRC. In 1992, `Chandler' yield increased with earlier planting date and earlier FRC application (range: 8,600 to 13,400 kg/ha). There were no significant differences in cull or fruit weight. In 1993, there were no significant differences in 2nd year yield for 1991 treatments (range: 19,198 to 20,531 kg/ha). However, the 1992 treatments again showed the benefit of FRC (range: 13,437 to 20,531 kg/ha) for improved first year production. One year old plots had significantly larger average fruit weight than two year plots (range: 10.3 to 13.7 g). Early planting date with early applied FRC was the best treatment, combining high yield and good fruit weight.

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Wallace G. Pill, Thomas A. Evans and Stephen A. Garrison

One-year-old crowns of `Jersey Giant' asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) were forced into spear production at 28C in darkness. Total spear fresh weight and number per square meter responded quadratically to the percentage of sand incorporated in Pro-Mix BX (PMX) peat-lite medium, with maximum yields at 25% to 75% (by volume) PMX. In a second study conducted at 22 and 28C, total spear fresh weight and number per square meter for 96 days of harvest were similar when grown in weathered, spent mushroom compost (SMC) or 1 PMX: 1 sand (v/v), but were lower than those grown in PMX. The lower temperature caused heavier individual spears, while the higher temperature stimulated earlier spear production. During the first month of harvest at 22C, the total number and fresh weight of spears in SMC were 11% and 17% less, respectively, than in PMX. SMC may be a low-cost forcing substrate for white asparagus.

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Peter R. Probasco, Stephen A. Garrison and Joseph A. Fiola

Chandler strawberries were planted on plastic mulch in September and renovated at various times after harvest during the next summer. Renovation treatments included mowing, thinning to three crowns/plant, and mowing plus thinning. These treatments were applied to 1-year-old and 2-year-old beds of `Chandler' strawberries. We conducted this study over two harvest seasons to compare winter conditions and the influence of polyester rowcovers. The second harvest season had severe winter temperatures (–5F), along with frequent ice accumulation. Marketable yields, culls, and fruit size were determined from each treatment. Yields varied with the time of treatment and with the degree of winter severity. Fruit size of renovated berries was smaller than first year berries, but still marketable. Polyester covers increased early yields.

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Wesley L. Kline, Stephen A. Garrison and June F. Sudal

Heirloom tomato production is increasing in the Eastern United states as consumer demand increases. Pruning and suckering heirloom tomatoes have not been studied to see if there is any need for this labor-intensive activity. A 2-year study was undertaken to evaluate whether pruning or suckering would affect yield or fruit size for two heirloom cultivars (`Mortgage Lifter' and `Prudens Purple'). The treatments imposed on the cultivars were 1) removing all suckers from the second or third stem down after the flower cluster; 2) removing the bottom two suckers, or 3) removing no suckers. Pruning had no effect on early yield or fruit size (harvests 1–4). Mid-season (harvests 5–7) total and marketable yields were significantly higher for removing two suckers or not suckering over the other two treatments for year 1, but not year 2. The tomato fruit size was only reduced for the non-suckering treatment. There were no statistical differences among the pruning treatments for yield or fruit size for late season harvests (8-10) for both years. Marketable yields were statistically higher for no suckering over the two- and three-stem treatments, but not different from two suckers when all harvests were combined for the season for year 1. No statistical differences were observed in year 2. However, fruit size was reduced when not suckering compared to the other treatments. The cultivar `Prudens Purple' did have higher total and marketable yield than `Mortgage Lifter' for both early and total combined harvests, but not for mid- or late-season harvests in year 1. There were no statistical differences between the two cultivars for year 2.

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J. Howard Ellison, Stephen A. Garrison and John J. Kinelski

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Wesley L. Kline, Stephen A. Garrison and June F. Sudal

The cultivar `Mortgage Lifter' was planted in a 2-year trial to evaluate staking systems. All plots were established with black plastic and drip in a randomized complete block design with three or four replications. In year 1, treatments consisted of straw mulch and plants grown on 4 and 8 ft tomato stakes without straw mulch. In year 2, treatments were added to include topping plants at 4 and 6 ft, when plants grew to the top of the stake and down to touch the plastic or not topping. All were grown on 4-ft stakes. Additionally, plants were grown on 8-ft stakes, but topped at 5, 6, 7, and 8 ft. The first year there were no statistical marketable yield differences between plants grown on 4 or 8-ft stakes, but the yields were significantly higher than the straw mulch treatment after the seventh harvest. The straw mulch treatment did have significantly more cull fruit, lower percentage marketable fruit and a smaller marketable fruit size for all harvests compared to the staking treatments. In year two, there were no statistical differences for marketable yield among the treatments until the late harvests (9–12). For the late harvest, all treatments grown on 8-ft stakes had higher marketable yields than all other treatments. When all harvests were combined, the 6- and 7-ft treatments had higher marketable yields with the exception of the 5- and 8-ft treatments and the 6-ft treatment on 4-ft stakes. Cull fruit yields were only significant among treatments for the mid season harvest (5–8) with the straw mulch treatment having more cull fruit than all other treatments. There were no statistical differences for percentage marketable fruit for any harvest.