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  • Author or Editor: Thom Harker x
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The specialty vegetable market is a rapidly expanding niche in the produce industry. One popular sector of this market is focused on heirloom tomatoes. Heirloom varieties, mostly open-pollinated, are often favored for their taste and unique shapes and colors. Older, traditional varieties have been maintained mostly by home gardeners, seed saver organizations, and government germplasm centers, but are becoming increasingly popular with commercial growers, consumers, and seed companies. Special growing techniques and attention to postharvest handling is also necessary with heirloom tomatoes because most do not have an extended shelf life. For growers willing to develop special harvesting and handling techniques, specialty tomatoes offer colors, shapes, and flavors that are an important part of today's cuisine. Performance of a given cultivar will vary from year to year depending on several factors: planting date, irrigation, disease pressure, staking practices, and climatic conditions during the growing season. Fourteen heirloom tomato cultivars have been researched at Ohio State Univ. (OSU) since 1995. Data collected on yield, fruit characteristics, market outlets, cultural information, special harvesting and handling requirements, and disease pressure for heirloom cultivars will be presented.

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Pumpkins are Ohio's third-largest fresh-market vegetable crop. Many non-traditional growers are planting pumpkins to increase gross income. Experienced growers have noticed that new producers are successful with low input. Are intensive production practices needed for a good crop? High and low input production schemes were studied, over 3 years on pumpkin yield and quality. High input consisted of Furadan at planting, reflective mulch, trickle irrigation, and a routine fungicide and insecticide spray program. Low input consisted of no mulch, no supplemental irrigation, and a reduced fungicide and insecticide program. The number of insecticide plus fungicide sprays for high vs. low input were: 10 vs. 5 in year 1; 5 vs. 3 in year 2; and 12 vs. 8 in year 3. Number and weight of marketable orange fruit in high-input plots were significantly higher than low input plots in year 1 and 3. Plastic mulch conserved soil moisture and resulted in 91% plant stand in high input vs. 57% in low input in year 1. The only year without a significant yield difference was when the difference in pesticide sprays was two. High input is suited for retail markets where the expectation is good yields of high quality pumpkins. Wholesale producers can probably get by with reduced inputs in certain areas.

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