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  • Author or Editor: Tracy L. Wootten x
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The vegetable industry is important to our nation as a provider of nutritious and safe food directly consumed by our citizens. It is also critical to a rich and vigorous national agriculture. During the 20th century, engineering innovations coupled with advances in genetics, crop science, and plant protection have allowed the vegetable industry in the U.S. to plant and harvest significantly more land with higher yields while using less labor. Currently, fresh and processed vegetables generate 16% of all U.S. crop income, but from only 2% of the harvested cropland. Yet, many of the challenges in production that existed a century ago still exist for many crops. Perhaps the most significant challenge confronting the industry is labor, often accounting for 50% of all production costs. A case study of the mechanized production system developed for processed tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) confirms that systematic methodology in which the machines, cultural practices, and cultivars are designed together must be adopted to improve the efficiency of current mechanized systems as well as provide profitable alternatives for crops currently hand-harvested. Only with this approach will horticultural crop production remain competitive and economically viable in the U.S.

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In an effort to increase lima bean yields in Delaware, the documentation of lima bean plant development and the comparison of Delaware and California lima bean production was conducted. Delaware lima bean yields have averaged 1905 kg·ha-1 for the last 30 years. California averages 3923-4484 kg·ha-1. Cultivar M-15 is used by both states for production. Plant population density, plant fresh weight, and final yield was greater in California than in Delaware. Although plant populations were the same in 1992, yields remained higher in California than in Delaware. High night temperatures have an adverse affect on lima bean yields. Minimum temperatures from both states were compared. Minimum temperatures from the California planting were greater than the minimum temperatures for the late planting in Delaware.

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