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T.K. Hartz

Overcoming environmental stresses during seedling establishment is crucial to successful vegetable production. In the irrigated production areas of the southwestern United States, stress most often is related to unfavorable temperature, soil or water salinity, or poor soil structure; it is frequently difficult to separate the effects of these stresses because they may all be present to some significant degree. Growers use a variety of techniques to ameliorate these conditions. Advances in seed technology have improved seedling establishment under unfavorable temperatures, particularly for lettuce. The use of sprinkler irrigation for stand establishment has become a widespread practice; sprinkling moderates soil temperature, minimizes salinity in the zone of germination, and reduces soil crusting. By modifying bed configuration, growers have been able to increase soil temperature to stimulate germination. Modifying seed placement and furrow irrigation patterns can create zones of lower salinity. Various chemical and physical treatments have proven effective in reducing soil crusting. The use of transplants-has expanded for many crops, both as a means to circumvent seedling establishment problems, as well as a technique to obtain earliness.

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T.K. Hartz

Many factors influence appropriate drip irrigation management, including system design, soil characteristics, crop and growth stage, and environmental conditions. The influences of these factors can be integrated into a practical, efficient scheduling system that determines quantity and timing of drip irrigation. This system combines direct soil moisture measurement with a water budget approach using evapotranspiration estimates and crop coefficients.

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T.K. Hartz

Nutrient loss from commercial vegetable fields has become a significant environmental issue in all the major vegetable-producing regions of the United States. Growers are facing potentially disruptive regulations aimed at improving the quality of both surface and ground water. Significant improvement in nutrient management will be required to meet this regulatory challenge. This paper discusses five practical, low-cost nutrient best management practices (BMPs). These BMPs are widely applicable, relatively inexpensive to implement, and can dramatically reduce nitrogen and phosphorus loss from vegetable fields. However, even with careful application of these BMPs, runoff and leachate from vegetable fields may periodically exceed environmental water quality standards, which are very stringent.

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T.K. Hartz

A recently enacted state law requiring California cities to reduce their solid waste flow to landfills has greatly increased the composting of yard and landscape wastes. Currently, much of this material is being composted for less than 16 weeks, some for as little as 4 weeks, before agricultural use. A study was conducted to document the effects of composting method and duration on the physiochemical and biological characteristics of green waste compost. At each of four commercial composting facilities, two windrows of municipal green waste were sampled at 3-week intervals over a 15-week composting period. Each sample was analyzed for pH, NH4-N, NO3-N, and total N and C. Phytotoxicity was measured by a tomato seed bioassay. N mineralization/immobilization behavior was evaluated in a 2-week aerobic incubation of a 10% compost/90% soil blend at 30°C. The growth of vinca plugs (Vinca minor cv. `Pink Cooler') in a 50% compost/50% perlite mix was also evaluated. At all sites, the initial green waste was similar, with 1.1–1.5% N and C/N ratio of 20–28. Rapid mineralization of carbon in the first 6- to 9-weeks reduced C/N ratios to 14–18, with little change thereafter. Phytotoxicity decreased through 9 to 12 weeks, then stabilized. Net N immobilization was observed throughout the compost period, but decreased with increased composting time. Vinca growth increased with increasing compost age, up to 9 to 12 weeks. In summary, at least 12 weeks of composting was required to produce material of sufficient quality for typical agricultural uses.

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T. K. Hartz

A 1993 survey of 50 commercial processing tomato fields in California revealed widespread potassium deficiency, as determined by tissue K levels below existing sufficiency standards and the occurrence of vine necrosis consistent with K deficiency. Soils from these fields were analyzed for exchangeable K by ammonium acetate extraction, and for K release rate by a 7 day incubation procedure (1:10 soil:. 01 M CaCl2 at 25°). Soil K release rate was more highly correlated with tissue K at midseason than was exchangeable K. These soils were further examined for K fixation capacity. Three g soil was blended with 3 ml 10 meq K as KNO3, allowed to dry, incubated for 7 days in a 1:10 soil: H2O solution, then extracted in 1 N NH4Cl; added K not recovered was considered fixed. Percent K fixation ranged from 0 to 82%. These data suggest that the inconsistent response of processing tomato to K application in numerous California trials may be related to a) the reliance on extractable K analysis to characterize soil K supply and b) no consideration of soil K fixation capacity in determining K application timing and method.

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T.K. Hartz

Trials were conducted under California field conditions examining the impact of drip irrigation and nitrogen fertigation regime on in-season NO3-N leaching losses. Six field studies were conducted, 4 on tomato and 2 on pepper. Seasonal fertigation ranged from 0-440 kg N/ha; irrigation was applied 3X per week, with leaching fractions of 10-25% of applied water. NO3-N leaching losses were estimated both by suction lysimetry and the use of buried anion resin traps. A similar pattern was seen in all trials. From transplant establishment until early fruit set soil solution at 0.8 m had relatively high NO3-N concentration (>30 mg/liter), which declined as the season progressed; in the month before harvest soil solution NO3-N at 0.8 m was consistently below 10 mg/liter (tomato) and 15 mg/liter (pepper) in appropriately fertilized plots. Seasonal NO3-N leaching estimates were generally below 25 kg/ha (tomato) and 35 kg/ha (pepper), with only modest differences among fertigation regimes. These results suggest that well managed drip irrigation can minimize in-season NO3-N leaching.

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T.K. Hartz

Overcoming environmental stresses during seedling establishment is crucial to successful vegetable production. In the irrigated production areas of the West stress is most often related to unfavorable temperature, soil or water salinity, or poor soil structure; it is frequently difficult to separate the effects of these stresses since they may all be present to some significant degree. Growers use a variety of techniques to ameliorate these conditions. Advances in seed priming and coating have improved seedling establishment under unfavorable temperatures, particularly for lettuce. The use of sprinkler irrigation for stand establishment has become a widespread practice; sprinkling moderates soil temperature, minimizes salinity in the zone of germination, and reduces soil crusting. By modifying bed configuration growers have been able to increase soil temperature to stimulate germination. Modifying furrow irrigation patterns can create zones of lower salinity. Various chemical treatments have proven effective in reducing soil crusting. The use of transplants is expanding for many crops, both as a means to circumvent seedling establishment problems as well as a technique to obtain earliness.

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T.K. Hartz

Drip-irrigation scheduling techniques for fresh-market tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) production were compared in three growing seasons (1989-91). Three regimes were evaluated: EPK [reference evapotranspiration (ETo, corrected Penman) × programmed crop coefficients], ECC (ET0 × a crop coefficient based on estimated percent canopy coverage), and SMD (irrigation at 20% available soil moisture depletion). EPK coefficients ranged from 0.2 (crop establishment) to 1.1 (full canopy development). Percent canopy coverage was estimated from average canopy width ÷ row width. Irrigation in the SMD treatment was initiated at -24 kPa soil matric tension, with recharge limited to 80% of daily ET0. The EPK and ECC regimes gave similar fresh fruit yields and size distributions in all years. With the EPK scheduling technique, there was no difference in crop response between daily irrigation and irrigation three times per week. In all seasons, ECC scheduling resulted in less total water applied than EPK scheduling and averaged 76% of seasonal ET0 vs. 86% for EPK. Irrigating at 20% SMD required an average of only 64% of seasonal ET0; marketable yield was equal to the other scheduling techniques in 1989 and 1991, but showed a modest yield reduction in 1990. Using an SMD regime to schedule early season irrigation and an ECC system to guide application from mid-season to harvest may be the most appropriate approach for maximizing water-use efficiency and crop productivity.

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T.K. Hartz

Overcoming environmental stresses during seedling establishment is crucial to successful vegetable production. In the irrigated production areas of the southwestern United States, stress most often is related to unfavorable temperature, soil or water salinity, or poor soil structure; it is frequently difficult to separate the effects of these stresses, since they may all be present to some significant degree. Growers use a variety of techniques to ameliorate these conditions. The use of sprinkler irrigation for stand establishment has become a widespread practice; sprinkling moderates soil temperature, minimizes salinity in the zone of germination, and reduces soil crusting. By modifying bed configuration, growers have been able to increase soil temperature to stimulate germination. Various chemical and physical treatments have proven effective in reducing soil crusting. The use of transplants has expanded for many crops, both as a means to circumvent seedling establishment problems and as a technique to obtain earliness.