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T.K. Hartz, R.F. Smith, and W.L. Schrader

California vegetable growers are adopting drip irrigation at an accelerating pace, which affords the opportunity for more exacting control of nitrogen nutrition. Consequently, the need for quick, accurate, grower-friendly techniques for monitoring nitrogen status in soil and plant material has increased. Three field monitoring techniques were examined in detail: the analysis of soil water samples drawn by soil solution access tubes (SSAT). leaf reflectance as measured by the Minolta SPAD 502 chlorophyll meter, and petiole sap analysis with a Horiba portable nitrate-selective electrode meter. Nitrate concentration in soil solution was highly stratified in drip-irrigated soils, both with regard to location in the field and position with respect to the drip line, making the use of SSAT technology impractical as a tool for routine N fertigation scheduling. Correlation of SSAT nitrate values to any measure of plant N status was poor. Similarly, leaf reflectance correlated poorly with any measure of tissue N in the crops examined. Nitrate content of petiole sap was highly correlated with conventional laboratory analysis of dry petiole tissue over a range of crops and nitrogen levels.

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T.K. Hartz, F.J. Costa, and W.L. Schrader

The study was undertaken to determine the physiochemical properties and nutrient supply characteristics of composted green yard and landscape waste (CGW) and to document its performance as a field soil amendment or constituent of potting media. Three CGW samples were collected from each of two composting operations in California from Nov. 1993 to Apr. 1994. Macronutrient content varied widely between operations, and among samples from the same operation, with mean total N, P, and K levels averaging 1.1%, 0.26%, and 0.67%, respectively. Controlled-environment incubation of a moist 1 CGW: 9 soil blend (2 weeks at 30 °C) was conducted to determine net N mineralization from CGW. Despite low C: N ratios (<12), five of six CGW samples showed net immobilization, a characteristic of immature compost. An in-field incubation of soil amended with 1% or 2% CGW (w/w) showed no net N release from CGW over 4 months. In a field trial, bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) fruit yield was increased by soil amendment with CGW (17 or 34 t·ha–1) under a low N fertilizer regime (168 kg·ha–1), but was unaffected where sufficient fertilizer N (280 kg·ha–1) was applied. CGW was compared with peat as a constituent of potting media; both were blended 1:1 (v/v) with perlite and used in the production of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) and marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) plants under varying fertigation regimes (constant feed of N at 0, 50, or 100 mg·L–1 as 15N–13P–12K). CGW was equivalent or superior to peat in plant growth; CGW did contribute to crop macronutrient nutrition, but the highest fertigation rate was required for optimum growth.

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K.S. Mayberry, J.A. Principe, and W.L. Schrader

The artichoke, Cynara scolymus, is normally propagated by cuttings from mother plants; however, it is possible to produce some types of artichokes from seed. Methods used for producing open-pollinated seed of onion and carrots may be suitable for producing artichoke seed. Outcrossing in artichokes occurs because of differences in maturity of the staminate and pistillate phases within flowers. Producing artichoke seed by simple inbreeding techniques is usually not successful because of vigor loss and low pollen production, low seed production, and late maturity of progeny. Outcrossing is the preferred method of creating a new variety. The cultivar `Imperial Star' was developed by crossing a thornless French line with an Italian line that had sharp woody spines, and a uniform, olive-green color. The French line was a bright green with some light purple at the base of the bracks. The F1 generation from this cross had good hybrid vigor, and produced abundant seed and pollen. The F2 generation segregated widely with many recombinant types that neither parent showed (e.g., extreme thorniness of leaves and petioles). Two plants were selected for sibling pollination. Subsequent generations of siblings within this type produced higher percentages of the desired type—glossiness, earliness, and high seed yield. Subsequent sibling crossing led to the selection of `Imperial Star', PVP. 9000179.