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W.J. Lamont Jr.

On-farm extension demonstrations are one of the best participatory research and educational resources available to extension specialists and county extension staff for presentation of new technology to agricultural producers. On-farm extension demonstration programs for intensive vegetable production, of which drip irrigation is a major component, can range from a complete package [3/4-ton truck, a trailer for transporting equipment, a tractor in the 36 to 42 HP range (i.e., Ford 3910) a plastic-laying machine, a bed press pan, hillers, and drip/overhead irrigation systems] with a price tag of about $40,000 used in a multistate, statewide, or multicounty program, to a small demonstration package using a household well source with a cost of about $250. The demonstration package used will depend on the scope of the program, local conditions, and economic realities.

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C.W. Marr and W.J. Lamont Jr.

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Jay M. Ham, G.J. Kluitenberg and W.J. Lamont

Research was conducted to determine the optical properties of eight plastic mulches and evaluate their effects on soil, mulch, and air temperatures in the field. Optical properties of the mulches were measured in the laboratory in the shortwave (0.3 to 1.1 μm) and longwave (2.5 to 25 μm) wavebands using a spectroradiometer and Fourier transform infrared spectrophotometer, respectively. Additionally, each mulch was installed on a fine sandy loam soil near Manhattan, Kan. Air and soil temperatures were measured 5 cm above and 10 cm below the surface, respectively. Measurements of longwave radiation emitted and reflected from the surface were used to approximate the apparent temperature of the surface. Shortwave transmittance of the mulches ranged from 0.01 to 0.84, and shortwave reflectance ranged from 0.01 to 0.48, with the greatest reflectance from white and aluminized mulches. Infrared transmittance ranged from 0.87 for a black photodegradable mulch to 0.09 for aluminized material. Air temperatures at 5 cm were similar for all mulch treatments, but were typically 3 to 5C higher than the air at 1.5 m during the day. Midday soil temperatures were highest beneath mulches with high shortwave absorptance (black plastics) or those with high shortwave transmittance coupled with low longwave transmittance. Apparent surface temperatures approached 70 to 80C during midday, with the highest temperatures occurring on mulches with high shortwave absorptance. For some mulches, both, shortwave and longwave optical properties of the plastic governed the level of radiative heating. Our results suggest that conduction of heat between the plastic and the soil surface also affects the extent of soil heating in a mulched field.

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M.D. Orzolek, W.J. Lamont and L. Otjen

Twenty-two cabbage cultivars were evaluated in the spring and 26 cabbage cultivars evaluated in the fall of 1997. The cultivars were evaluated for uniformity of maturity, marketable yield, percent cull, stem core length, and head firmness. In addition, three heads of each cultivar were tasted at harvest by the summer farm crew and responses noted on the data collection forms. The highest yielding cultivars were not necessarily the best performing ones evaluated in the trial. Average head weight was significantly different between spring and fall plantings. Data from this trial suggests that multiple cultivars should be grown in Pennsylvania based on whether it is a spring or fall cabbage crop.

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Wilfred Singogo, William J. Lamont Jr. and Charles W. Marr

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M.D. Orzolek, W.J. Lamont and L. Otjen

Twenty-two ornamen tal corn (Zea mays) cultivars were evaluated in the summer of 1998. The cultivars were evaluated for marketable yield, percent cull, stalk characteristics, and ear characteristics. In addition, three ears of each cultivar were photographed to show size and variability in kernel color. The marketable yield of each cultivar was generally related to percent germination, established plant population, and ear size. Highest marketable yields (dozen/acre) were generally harvested from small-eared cultivars [ear size 2.0 to 4.5 inches (5.1 to 11.4 cm)]. Data from this trial suggest that multiple cultivars should be grown in Pennsylvania based on market requirements and extremes in weather patterns throughout the state.

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Wilfred Singogo, William J. Lamont Jr. and Charles W. Marr

Four cover crops {alfalfa (Medicago sativa L. `Kansas Common'), hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth), Austrian winter pea [Pisum sativum subsp. arvense (L.) Poir], and winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L. `Tam 107')}, alone and in combination with feedlot beef manure at 5 t·ha–1 were evaluated for 2 years to determine whether sufficient N could be supplied solely by winter cover cropping and manure application to produce high-quality muskmelons (Cucumis melo L. `Magnum 45') in an intensive production system using plastic mulch and drip irrigation. Among the legumes, hairy vetch produced the most biomass (8.9 t·ha–1) and accumulated the most N (247 kg·ha–1). Winter wheat produced more biomass (9.8 t·ha–1) than any of the legumes but accumulated the least N (87 kg·ha–1). Melon yields produced using legume cover crops alone were similar to those receiving synthetic N fertilizer at 70 or 100 kg·ha–1. Melons produced on plots with cover crops combined with beef manure did not differ significantly in yield from those produced on plots with only cover crops. Legume cover crops alone, used with plastic mulch and drip irrigation, provided sufficient N for the production of high-quality muskmelons.