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Richard L. Hassell, Tyron L. Phillips and Teri Hale

The small, B size potatoes (<2 inches but ≥1.25 inches in diameter) represent a keen interest in new, specialty food items. Exotic shapes and color shades of the specialty varieties are also known for intense flavors and variations in textures in firmness and fiber that consumers are looking for today in an ever increasing health consciousness among consumers. In 2006, the varieties `French Fingerling' (West Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), Villetta Rose (Univ. of Wisconsin) and B1145-2 (USDA, Beltsville, Md.) were planted in a double row 8 inches between tubers and 18 inches between rows in a replicated trial using colored mulches. The mulch color included red, white, black, blue, green, and silver foil. These plastic mulches were laid on 6-ft centers. The mulches were shown to affect the microclimate of soil temperature, as expected, and therefore affecting yield. These temperature differences were measured with a Campbell CR 10X weather station (Logan, Utah) probes at a 2 inches above the soil surface and 4 and 6 inches below the soil surface. Plant stands were excellent with all mulches, however, blue mulch caused early emergence while white and silver delayed emergence. Just the opposite effect happened when it came to yields. The highest individual tubers per plant came from the white mulch with the green having the lowest tuber yields. Cultivar differences were also seen in there ability to produce marketable tubers. `Villetta Rose' had the highest plant vigor and also the most marketable tubers per plant. B1145-2 produced most of its tubers >2 inches in diameter with the tubers nonuniform in shape. French Fingerling produced a very uniform oblong tuber with few defects. Yields and quality were above normal for all cultivars when grown on either the silver reflective mulch or the white mulch.

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Richard L. Hassell, Robert J. Dufault and Tyron L. Phillips

Early spring sweet corn (Zea mays var. rugosa) is usually planted in cold soils at sub-optimal temperatures for seed germination. It is important for growers to understand the relationships among temperature, germination, and vigor of sweet corn in order to plan the earliest planting dates that will not significantly reduce plant stand. The objectives of this research were 1) to determine the minimum temperatures to germinate to 75%, (the minimum germination percent for interstate commerce) for 27 new sweet corn su (sugary), se (sugar enhancer), and sh2 (shrunken-2) cultivars; 2) to determine vigor differences among the phenotypes; and 3) to select the most promising se, su, and sh2 cultivars for cold tolerance and vigor for early spring planting. Seeds of each cultivar were placed along a temperature gradient on a thermogradient table, Type 5001 (Seed Processing Holland, Enkhuizen, The Netherlands), and allowed to germinate over a 7-day period. The gradient treatments were [±2 °F (1.1 °C)] 52, 56, 60, 64, 68, 72, 76, 80, 84, and 86 °F (11.1, 13.3, 15.6, 17.8, 20.0, 22.2, 24.4, 26.7, 28.9, and 30.0 °C). Germination data from thermogradient testing were used to determine the minimum temperatures and time required for su, se, and sh2 cultivars to germinate at ≥75%, defined as minimum acceptable germination percent (MAGP); and the minimum temperature to reach the maximum germination rate (MGR) for a cultivar, defined as the ability to germinate to MAGP at the same rate equally at low and high temperatures. Generally, su phenotypes germinated to MAGP within 4 days, with sh2 requiring 6 days, but with se requiring 5 days. We found that within each phenotype, however, cultivars reacted uniquely to temperature. The most vigorous and cold tolerant su cultivars were `NK 199' and `Merit' which germinated to MAGP at 52 °F with `NK 199' more vigorous than `Merit'. The su cultivar `Sweet G-90' was vigorous at warm temperatures, but the least cold tolerant and desirable for planting under cold conditions. Within the se cultivars, `Precious Gem', `July Gold', and `Imaculata' germinated to MAGP at 52 °F with `Precious Gem' requiring 6 days and `July Gold' and `Imaculata' requiring 7 days. `Accord' was the least cold tolerant se cultivar, requiring at least 60 °F for MAGP with a slow MGR, even at warm temperatures. None of the sh2 cultivars reached MAGP within 7 d at 52 °F, as was also observed for certain su and se cultivars.

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Richard L. Hassell, Robert J. Dufault and Tyron L. Phillips

Ten triploid and 25 diploid watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) selections were evaluated to determine the temperature range and length of test for which germination index (rate of germination over time) and germination percentages were maximum for expediting vigor and seed testing practices. Temperature interacted with watermelon selection indicating that certain selections germinated faster within specific, but differing temperature ranges. Within 2 days after starting the germination process, 90% of triploid selections and 96% of diploid selections germinated to their greatest level and prolonging germination data collection for one week did not change this relationship. Although optimal temperature ranges may differ among the selections, the one temperature within the range common for all selections evaluated that maximized germination was 85 to 90 °F (29.4 to 32.2 °C) for diploids and 85 °F for triploids.

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Richard L. Hassell, Tyron L. Phillips and Teri Hale

The small, “B” size potatoes (<2 inches but ≥1.25 inches in diameter) represent a keen interest in new, specialty food items. Exotic shapes and color shades of the specialty varieties are also known for intense flavors and variations in textures in firmness and fiber that consumers are looking for today in an ever increasing health consciousness among consumers. In 2004, the varieties `French Fingerling' (West Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), W2275-3R (Univ. of Wisconsin) and B1145-2 (USDA, Beltsville, Maryland) were planted in a double row 8 inches between tubers and 18 inches between rows in a replicated trial using colored mulches. The mulch color included red, white, black, blue, green, and silver foil. These plastic mulches were laid on 6-ft centers. The mulches were shown to affect the microclimate of soil temperature, as expected, and therefore affecting yield. These temperature differences were measured with a Campbell CR 10X weather station (Logan, Utah) probes at 2 inches above the soil surface and 4 and 6 inches below the soil surface. Plant stands were excellent with all mulches, however, blue mulch caused early emergence while white and silver delayed emergence. Just the opposite effect happened when it came to yields. The highest individual tubers per plant came from the silver mulch with the blue having the lowest tuber yields. Cultivar differences were also seen in there ability to produce marketable tubers. `French Fingerling' had the highest plant vigor and also the most marketable tubers per plant. B1145-2 produced most of its tubers greater than 2 inches in diameter with the tubers nonuniform in shape. W2275-3R produced a very uniform round tuber with few defects. Yields were higher this past year, however, there was a greater incidence of hollow heart due to excess water and higher fertility.

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Teri A. Hale, Richard L. Hassell, Tyron Phillips and Elizabeth Halpin

Taste panel perception and preference of pericarp tenderness in three phenotypes (su, se, and sh2) of sweet corn (Zea mays) harvested at three different maturities were compared to the readings received from a penetrometer. Pericarp tenderness perception by taste panel correlated with penetrometer measurements when phenotypes and maturities were compared. The penetrometer showed significantly lower readings for sweet corn harvested at early maturity than those harvested at late maturity. This was also noted in the panelists' perception of tenderness, with the early and mature harvest samples being preferred over those from the late harvest. The only difference between cultivars within phenotypes was noted in sh2 `Rustler' and `AXC904'. `Rustler' received the greatest overall pentrometer values and lowest panel ratings; conversely, `ACX904' had low penetrometer values and was perceived as tender and very acceptable to panelists. Correlations between penetrometer readings and panel perception of pericarp tenderness indicate that a puncture force, using a 0.118-inch (3.0 mm) probe, of greater that 0.95 g/inch2 (0.147 g·cm-2) indicated a tough pericarp and lower than 0.70 g/inch2 (0.109 g·cm-2) indicated a tender pericarp.

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Teri A. Hale, Richard L. Hassell, Tyron Phillips and Elizabeth Halpin

Increased value of fresh sweet corn (Zea mays) during the last decade has lead to increased interest into the characteristics that increase marketability. Sweetness was examined over three phenotypes (su, se, and sh2) to determine if there was an optimum phenotype or cultivar within a phenotype. Each phenotype was isolated to prevent cross-pollinization. Cultivars were grown on sandy loam soil located at the Clemson University Coastal Research and Education Center (Charleston, S.C.). Early, mature, and late harvest dates were also evaluated to determine the optimal harvest date(s) for maximum flavor. High performance liquid chromatography was used to determine sucrose, fructose, glucose, and total sugars. Panelists' evaluation of sweetness and its acceptability significantly correlated with the high performance liquid chromatography analysis for sucrose and total sugars (sweetness, R = 0.70 and 0.61; acceptability, R = 0.64 and 0.55). Sucrose correlated with the total sugars (R = 0.95). As maturity increased, the ability of the taste panel to identify differences in phenotypes also increased. Although sucrose and total sugar levels were different between se, sh2, and su, taste panelists indicated no difference between se and sh2. Sh2 cultivars were considered sweet and acceptable on all harvest dates, but su was only acceptable to panelists at early maturity.

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Teri A. Hale, Richard L. Hassell and Tyron Phillips

The refractometer has been proposed as a rapid, inexpensive technique for determining sugar levels in fresh sweet corn (Zea mays). High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of sugars in three phenotypes (su, se, and sh2) of sweet corn harvested at three maturities indicated that sucrose content was highly correlated with the total sugars (R = 0.95). Sucrose and total sugar concentration were significantly different among all phenotypes. Soluble solids concentration (SSC) was high in su and se compared to the lower SSC of sh2. Early, mature, and late harvested samples differed in sucrose and total sugar content. Sugar concentration varied within phenotypes at each maturity level. Sh2 indicated no difference in sucrose and total sugars at early and mature harvests, but increased at late harvest. In contrast, sucrose and total sugar content decreased between early and mature harvests, then increased to highest levels at late harvest in se and su phenotypes. Overall, phenotype SSC increased significantly from early to late harvests, probably due to increased water-soluble polysaccharides in the su and se cultivars. Unlike other crops, a negative relationship was found in sweet corn between SSC and sucrose or total sugars, with an overall correlation of –0.51. This relationship was most affected by maturity, especially mature and late harvested sweet corn. Among phenotypes, sucrose, total sugar, and SSC were poorly correlated. Our results indicate that a refractometer should not be used to estimate total sugars or sucrose of sweet corn.

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Robert J. Dufault, Tyron L. Phillip and John W. Kelly

Gerbera seedlings (Gerbera jamesonii H. Bolus Ex. Hook F.) `Florist Strain Yellow' were planted on drip-irrigated, plastic-mulched beds at 24,000, 36,000 or 72,000 plants/ha. Nitrogen and potassium fertilizers at 55, 110, or 220 kg·ha-1 were factorially combined with populations. In the 1st year of a 2-year study, the number of marketable flowers increased as N and K increased to 110 kg·ha-1, but as N and K were increased to 220 kg·ha-1, cull production increased. In the 2nd year, marketable and cull yields increased with N rate to 220 kg·ha-1; K did not affect yield. As populations increased from 24,000 to 72,000 plants/ha, marketable and cull flower production increased in both years. Flower size and quality were unaffected by plant populations. Nitrogen and potassium fertility did not affect flower size, quality, or vase life in either year.

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Richard L. Hassell, Robert J. Dufault, Tyron Phillips and Teri A. Hale

Seeds of pale coneflower (Echinacea pallida), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), and valerian (Valeriana officinalis), classified as “old” (1-year-old seed) or “fresh” (seed crop produced in the current year), were germinated at 62, 65, 69, 72, 75, 78, 82, 85, 89, and 92 °F, (16.7, 18.3, 20.6, 22.2, 23.9, 25.6, 27.8, 29.4, 31.6, and 33.3 °C). The optimum germination temperature, defined in this study as the temperature range within which the percent germination is greatest in the shortest period of time, was determined. Old and fresh pale coneflower seed germinated optimally after 5 days at 69 °F. Old purple coneflower seed required 5 d at 78 to 82 °F, but fresh seed germinated optimally after 3 days at 75 °F. Old feverfew germinated optimally after 5 days at 65 °F, but fresh seed germinated to its optimum after 5 days at 69 °F. Old and fresh valerian seed germinated to its optimum after 3 days at 75 °F.