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Darrin Parmenter, Russell Nagata, Kent Cushman and Nancy Roe

Recently, an increasing number of restaurants in Palm Beach County, Florida, have been requesting squash (Cucurbita pepo) flowers from local vegetable growers. Typically, current field-grown squash cultivars produce a higher ratio of female to male flowers, with the emphasis on fruit production. However, a market for squash blossoms indicates a need for cultivars that produce higher numbers of consistently developing male flowers throughout the growing season. In order to evaluate male squash blossom production, 10 squash cultivars, including yellow-summer, zucchini, round, and scallop-types, and one compact-type pumpkin, were field-grown during the 2005–06 growing season. The average number of male flowers per plant by week was recorded for 7 weeks, starting when the first male flowers were identified within the entire trial. In addition to blossom counts, flower traits, such as bell height, depth, volume, and weight were also recorded. Preliminary results from the 2005 season indicate that the commercial yellow-summer squash cultivars, Mulitpik and Early Prolific Straightneck, and the zucchini cultivars, Jaguar and Raven, produced fewer male flowers on a week-by-week and total basis. The cultivar, White Bush Scallop, produced significantly more male flowers then any other entry, with an average of 9.8 male flowers per plant per week. Little or no difference was seen in bell height and depth among the 11 cultivars; however, two cultivars, Costa Romanesque and Hybrid Pam (compact pumpkin type) had significantly greater bell volumes and weights, indicating a much larger blossom size.

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S. Alan Walters, Bryan G. Young and Ronald F. Krausz

A field study was conducted in 2002, 2003, and 2004 to evaluate various pre-emergence herbicides (ethafluralin & clomazone, ethafluralin & clomazone + halosulfuron, and ethafluralin & clomazone + imazamox) with or without a winter rye (Secale cereale L.) cover crop in tillage and no-tillage `Appalachian' pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo L.) production. All herbicides were applied within two days of seeding, and no injury was observed with any of the herbicides evaluated at any time during the three growing seasons. Early- and late-season control of all weed species [giant foxtail (Setaria faberi Herrm.), common cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium L.), redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus L.), and common waterhemp (Amaranthus rudis Sauer)] were highly correlated (0.47 ≤ r ≥ 0.86, P ≤ 0.01) with pumpkin yield and fruit size. The winter rye + no-tillage system provided greater weed control compared to the tillage systems and the no cover crop + no-tillage production system. Although winter rye alone had little influence on pumpkin yield, the no-tillage system improved pumpkin yield and fruit size compared to the tillage system. The two herbicide combinations (ethafluralin & clomazone + halosulfuron and ethafluralin & clomazone + imazamox) improved weed control and pumpkin yields compared to only ethafluralin & clomazone. Although this study indicated that the use of a high-residue winter rye cover crop in no-tillage pumpkin production will provide some weed control, the choice of pre-emergence herbicides is critical to maximize pumpkin productivity. No-tillage pumpkin production is feasible with proper herbicide use and timing, although current herbicide options will not provide optimal weed control.

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S. W. Cady and H. C Wien

Investigations of varietal differences in pumpkin flowering and fruitset patterns were initiated in response to reports of poor fruitset by NYS growers. In addition, pollination requirements for marketable fruit were explored in one cultivar. Flowering date, fruitset, and fruit characteristics were recorded for 2 consecutive years in a RCBD of six popular Cucurbita pepo cultivars (Wizard, Happy Jack, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, Howden and Baby Bear). On average, female blossoms opened 38 days after 3-wk-old seedlings were transplanted into the field. Flowering period lasted for 3 to 4 weeks. No consistent pattern was found in female flower production nor fruitset until the last week when significant declines occurred. Each blossom only opens for one day and typically closes between 10 am and noon, limiting pollination opportunities. H and-pollination of Wizard' with various dilutions of pollen revealed that a minimum of approximately 2000 grains of pollen is necessary for fruitset. Removal of 66-75% of the stigmatic surfaces did not affect seed number or their location in the fruit, nor fruit shape or size. Fruit size was not correlated with seed number, although no fruit developed with less than 100 seed.

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D. Scott NeSmith

Research over a two year period assessed the influence of planting date and location on time to flowering and number of flowers produced for five summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) cultivars. Heat units (HU) were calculated using a single equation to determine if this approach could account for a significant portion of the variability in time to onset of flowering over the range of environments. Depending on cultivar and flower sex, the number of days to flowering varied as much as 20 days. There were significant cultivar differences in HU required for the onset of both staminate and pistillate flowers. The use of HU instead of days reduced the variability of time to flowering as indicated by regression analyses and mean absolute differences between predicted and observed days to flowering. The total number of staminate flowers produced was more variable than that of pistillate flowers. The ratio of pistillate-to-staminate flowers was stable for two of the five cultivars; however, pistillate flower production for those two cultivars was severely restricted during hot weather. Thus environment has a considerable influence on both the onset of flowering and the number of flowers produced for summer squash.

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Anthony P. Keinath and Virginia B. DuBose

Twenty-six cultivars and two numbered selections of Cucurbita pepo L. pumpkin and four cultivars of C. maxima Duchesne pumpkin were evaluated in field experiments in 1996 and 1997 in Charleston, S.C. The four C. maxima cultivars (`Mammoth Gold', `Big Max', `Rouge Vif d'Etamps', and `Lumina') and three C. pepo cultigens (HMX 6686, HMX 6688, and Magic Lantern) had lower powdery mildew [Sphaerotheca fuliginea (Schlechtend.:Fr.) Pollacci] severities than did the other C. pepo cultivars. Overall, C. maxima cultivars also had less foliage showing virus symptoms and less downy mildew [Pseudoperonospora cubensis (Berk.& M.A. Curtis) Rostovzev] than did C. pepo cultigens. Mid- and long-season cultigens of both species (≥100 days to maturity) produced a greater number of marketable-quality fruit than did short-season cultigens. Cucurbita maxima and C. pepo produced similar numbers of marketable fruit; however, more potential marketable yield was possible in C. maxima since most fruit were affected by virus. The C. pepo cultigens Spookie, HMX 6686, and Spooktacular produced the greatest numbers of marketable fruit. In general, no cultigens were well-adapted to the growing conditions of the humid coastal plain of the southeastern United States.

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Heather A. Hatt Graham, Dennis R. Decoteau and Dale E. Linvill

A polyethylene mulch system that changes its predominant surface color from black to white in the field has been developed and used to grow tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv. Mountain Pride) and squash [Cucurbita pepo var. melopepo (L.) Alef. cv. Dixie Hybrid]. The system uses a black photodegradable polyethylene mulch placed on top of a white nondegradable polyethylene mulch (photodegradable mulch overlay system). As the black photodegradable mulch degrades with increasing exposure to radiation, the white mulch surface is exposed. Differences among plastic systems in the percentage that breaks down may be explained by differential shading of the mulch by the vegetative growth of the crops. None of the formulations of the Plastigone brand photodegradable mulches in the photodegradable mulch overlay system had an effect on tomato or squash production. As the color of the system changed from black to white, soil temperatures under the mulch decreased. Tomato production remained unaffected in one of the two years as long as the mulch remained black for at least the first 20 days during that season. In year 2, the controlled mulch system color change affected neither tomato nor squash production relative to nondegradable white and black mulches used as controls.

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Juan Pablo Arce-Ochoa, Frank Dainello, Leonard M. Pike and David Drews

`Pavo', a commercially grown, virus-susceptible squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) hybrid, and two experimental virus-resistant transgenic squash hybrids, XPH-1719 and XPH-1739, were tested for field performance. The two transgenic squash hybrids possess the desired fruit and plant characteristics of their parental line, `Pavo', plus resistance to zucchini yellow mosaic virus and watermelon mosaic virus 2 (XPH-1719), and resistance to zucchini yellow mosaic virus, watermelon mosaic virus 2, and cucumber mosaic virus (XPH-1739). Percent emergence and days to flowering were similar among the three hybrids. XPH-1719 and XPH-1739 were equally effective in producing a high percentage of quality marketable fruit and yields with 90% and 13,800 kg·ha–1 and 87% and 16,500 kg·ha–1, respectively. XPH-1719 and XPH-1739 demonstrated their outstanding virus resistance over `Pavo' by producing only 3% and 14% symptomatic plants, respectively, compared to 53% for `Pavo'. They also produced the lowest percentage of infected fruit, 0% and 7%, respectively, with `Pavo' at 26%.

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Harry S. Paris

Most cultivars of acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo), such as `Table Queen', have fruit that are light green when young, become dark green by intermediate age, and remain dark green through maturity, carrying genotype D/D l-l/l-1 L-2/L-2. Many other forms of C. pepo that carry this genotype, the most familiar being the Halloween and pie pumpkins, turn orange at maturity. The genetic basis for green color retention of acorn squash was investigated by crossing `Table Queen' with `Vegetable Spaghetti', `Fordhook Zucchini', and accession 85k-9-107-2 (the parental, filial, backcross, and testcross generation progenies being grown out in the field and observed and scored for fruit color at maturity, between 40 and 44 days past anthesis). The results indicated that the three stocks crossed with `Table Queen' carry two recessive genes, designated mature orange-1 (mo-1) and mature orange-2 (mo-2), which act in concert to result in complete loss of green color before maturity in 1-1/1-1 plants. `Table Queen' is Mo-l/Mo-1 Mo-2∼o-2. Genes D and mo-2 are linked, ≈15 map units apart.

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Jack A. Hartwigsen and Michael R. Evans

Cucumis sativus (cucumber), Pelargonium × hortorum (geranium), Tagetes patula (marigold), and Cucurbita pepo (squash) seed were sown into plug cells (5 ml volume) filled with a germination substrate containing peat, vermiculite, and perlite. After the seed were sown, the substrate was saturated with solution containing 0 (deionized water) 2500, or 5000 mg/L humic acid (HA). Additional treatments included seed which were sown into the substrate and saturated with nutrient solutions corresponding to the nutrient concentration of each humic acid solution. Seed were placed in a growth chamber and maintained at 22°C and under a 12-h photoperiod with a PPF of 275 μmol·m–2·s–1. After 10 d for cucumber and squash and 14 d for marigold and geranium, plants were harvested and root and shoot fresh mass recorded. Shoot fresh mass was not significantly affected by treatment for any of the species tested. Except for squash, root fresh mass was significantly increased by humic acid treatments. For cucumber, root fresh mass ranged from 0.24 g in deionized water to 0.34 g in 2500 and 5000 mg/L HA. Geranium root fresh mass ranged from 0.03 g in deionized water and 5000 mg/L HA to 0.05 g in 2500 mg/L HA. Marigold root fresh mass ranged from 0.02 g in deionized water to 0.03 g in 2500 and 5000 mg/L HA. Root fresh mass for nutrient controls were similar to those for deionized water.

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Jonathan R. Schultheis and S. Alan Walters

Yellow and zucchini squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) cultivars/elite lines (cultigens) were evaluated over two seasons (fall 1995 and spring 1996) in North Carolina. Different cultigens were tested over the 2-year period for both yellow and zucchini squash, although some cultigens were tested both years. Cultigen recommendations are based on yield, quality, disease resistance, and season grown. Yellow squash cultigens that yielded well include: Destiny III, Freedom III, Multipik, TW 941141, Liberator III (fall 1995); and HMX 4716, Superpik, PSX 391, Monet, Dixie, Picasso, and XPH 1780 (spring 1996). Superior-yielding zucchini squash cultigens were: TW 940981, Tigress, TW 940982, ZS 19, Elite, and Noblesse (fall 1995); and Leonardo, Hurricane, Elite, HMX 4715, Noblesse, and Tigress (spring 1996). Virus ratings for fall 1995 indicated that some transgenic plants with virus resistance withstood virus infection better than those without resistance. These were Freedom III, Destiny III, Freedom II, Liberator III, Prelude II, and TW 941121 (yellow), and Tigress, TW 940982, TW 940981, TW 940866 (zucchini). Virus-infected plants were assayed and viruses were determined to be zucchini yellow mosaic, watermelon mosaic II, and papaya ringspot.