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Postharvest shelf life of fresh sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) at 5°C is only 3 to 4 d due to development of chilling injury symptoms. Plants chill-hardened at 10°C for 4 h daily (2 h at end of the light period and 2 h at the beginning of the dark period) for 2 d prior to harvest had 3 d extended shelf life at 5°C. Increasing the duration of preharvest chill-hardening did not further improve the shelf life. Plants were chill-hardened at 10°C for 4 h daily for one week at different periods during the day. Four-, 5- and 6-week-old basil were used in each of three consecutive runs. With the 4- and 5-week-old basil, chill-hardening at the beginning of the day extended average shelf life by 1 and 1.5 d at 5°C, respectively. Shelf life was either decreased or not affected by the other periods of preharvest chilling. Postharvest chill-hardening of packaged sweet basil for 1 d at 10°C before transfer to 5°C increased shelf life by 5 d. Postharvest chill-hardening has potential for reducing chilling injury of packaged sweet basil.

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Intensive, deep-batch, hydroponic systems that use float beds (FBs) are used extensively by the tobacco industry to produce transplants. FBs and a modified FB system with separate drying and flooding stages called ebb-and-flood (EF) beds were used to grow 12 diverse horticultural crops to maturity. Beds were filled with 570 L of water with 114 mg·L−1 N and 143 mg·L−1 K or 66 mg·L−1 N and 83 mg·L−1 K in 1994 and 1995, respectively. The EF beds were flooded for 6 hours, then drained for a 6-hour dry stage each 12 hours in 1994, and flooded for 1 hour and dried for 5 hours each 6-hour period in 1995 from May through August. Although both systems were suitable for producing Chinese water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica Forssk.—see footnote in Table 1), vegetable amaranth (Amaranthus tricolor L.), zinnia (Zinnia elegans Jacq.), and sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L.), the EF system provided greater control over water availability and higher oxygen concentration in the root zone.

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Competition partitioning experiments were conducted to determine the extent of shoot and root interference between sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) and the weeds smooth amaranth (Amaranthushybridus) and livid amaranth (A.lividus). Sweet basil and amaranths were grown for 45 days in plastic 19-L containers filled with fertilized sandy soil. The plants were grown: 1) individually (one plant per container = no interference); 2) one basil plant and one amaranth plant together in the same container (= full interference); 3) one basil plant and one amaranth plant together in the same container, training the shoots apart to avoid canopy contact (= below ground interference); or 4) basil and amaranth grown in different containers set side by side (= above ground interference). Each basil/amaranth treatment was replicated five times and the experiment was conducted twice. The effects of smooth and livid amaranths on basil yield were the same for a given type of interference (full, above ground, below ground). Full interference from amaranth reduced basil shoot yield by about 35%, as compared to the yield of basil with no interference from amaranth. The effects of above-ground and below-ground interference on basil yield were additive, but interference above ground had a greater impact (about 21% basil yield loss) than below ground interference (about 14% basil yield loss). These results show that smooth and livid amaranths may drastically reduce sweet basil shoot yield, and that amaranth interference with sweet basil occurred to a greater extent above ground than below ground.

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Small-scale herb growers in the U.S. Virgin Islands traditionally water their crops with sprinkler cans and garden hoses. This method is inefficient and consumes large amounts of water, a scarce resource in the islands. Introduction of drip irrigation has reduced water use in vegetable production. Integrating this system with mulches may further cut water use, making herb production more profitable. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) was grown in plots with organic (compost or straw) and synthetic (black plastic or weed barrier) mulches. A no mulch control plot was also included. All plots were drip irrigated to maintain soil moisture at -30 kPa. Total plant fresh weight and leaf fresh and dry weights were highest in the compost mulch treatment. Fresh and dry basil yields in black plastic mulched plots were almost identical with those in compost mulch, but did not differ from other treatments. Black plastic mulch reduced water use 46% compared with 27% for compost or straw mulch. All mulch treatments resulted in increased water use efficiency. Organic mulches reduced surface soil temperature, while synthetic mulches increased soil temperature 2-5°C.

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O. basilicum L. ‘Superbo’ (basil), S. oleracea L. ‘Bloomsdale’ (spinach), Z. × marylandica Spooner, Stimart, and Boyle ‘Double Zahara Cherry’ (zinnia), or swamp tupelo (cleaned of pulp) were sown in each of 12 replicate containers (7.5 cm tall

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Fresh-market sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is in high demand from specialty produce markets and commercial restauranteurs. Many consumers are also demanding produce that has been organically grown. Three hydroponic media systems were evaluated twice over two years, rockwool slabs, perlite frames, and commercial sphagnum peat/perlite/compost medium, where the bag was laid flat on the bench. Plants grown in these systems were fertilized with nutrient solutions derived from either organic or conventional, saltbased fertilizer sources. Few differences in yield were detected between basil plants grown in the commercial medium with either fertilizer source. Total yield from plants grown in perlite with the organic fertilizer was 22% greater in the first study and 100% greater in the second study than those for plants grown with the conventional fertilizer. Plants grown in rockwool with the conventional fertilizer were 17% more productive in the first study and 46% more productive in the second study than those grown with the organic fertilizer. Taste test panelists (69%) could discern differences between samples from organically and conventionally grown basil plants, yet no preferences were shown.

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Plantpro 45, an iodine-based compound, was evaluated as a seed treatment for management of fusarium wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. basilici on basil (Ocimum basilicum) in greenhouse assays and for effects on growth of the pathogen in vitro. Plantpro 45 at a concentration of 300 mg·L-1 (ppm) prevented fusarium hyphal growth in vitro. Seed treatments of 800 to 1000 mg·L-1 eliminated fungal contamination of seed and increased germination by 27% compared to the nontreated control. Basil transplants grown from seed treated with 400, 800, and 1000 mg·L-1 were significantly taller, weighed more, exhibited larger leaf area, and had reduced wilt severity in the greenhouse compared to the nontreated control. Transplants grown in soil treated with increasing concentrations of Plantro 45 had correspondingly decreased wilt severity, regardless of whether or not the seeds had been previously treated with Plantpro 45. Further research and optimization of soil and foliar applications in combination with seed treatments are needed to provide a complete program for management of fusarium wilt of basil.

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A foam mulch system was developed that can be applied as an aqueous mixture of cotton and cellulose fibers, gums, starches, surfactants and saponins and dries to an one inch thick mat. This mulch may overcome the difficulty in applying and lack of persistence with natural mulches. Foam mulch also has the advantage of being able to be incorporated into the soil without requiring disposal like some plastic mulches. The objective of our study was to determine the effect of foam mulch and its color on weed control within the crop row and on yields of basil (Ocimum basilicum) and tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum). The foam mulch maintained its integrity for the entire growing season and provided weed control within the crop row comparable to black plastic mulch. The only weeds that emerged in the crop row were through holes in either the black or foam mulch. Foam mulch color did not affect weed control because regardless of color it did not allow light penetration andserved as a physical barrier impeding weed emergence. Basil shoot biomass was not affected by mulch treatment. Mulch color affected early, ripe fruit, and total yield of tomato. Tomato yields in the blue foam were greater than other treatments. Yields in the black foam mulch were similar to those in black plastic mulch. Further research is needed to characterize the effects of foam mulch on crop microenvironment. Currently foam mulch is being commercialized for use in the home landscape and other highvalue situations.

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Essential oils were extracted from leaves, flowers, and stems of Ocimum basilicurn, O. kilimandscharicum, and O. micranthum by solvent extraction, hydrodistillation, and steam distillation for essential oil content and the oil analyzed by GC and GC/MS for composition. While the yield of essential oil was consistently higher from steam distillation than hydrodistillation, a similar number of compounds was recovered from both hydrodistillation and steam distillation. Though the relative concentration of the major constituents was similar by both methods, the absolute amounts were higher with steam distillation. Essential oil content and composition varied by plant species and plant part. Essential oil content was highest in flowers for O. basilicum and in leaves for O. micranthum. No significant differences were observed in essential oil yield and relative concentration of major constituents using fresh or dry samples and using samples from 75 g to 10 g of dry plant tissue. While minor differences between hydrodistillation and steam distillation were observed, both methods resulted in high yields and good recovery of essential oil constituents. Hydrodistillation is a more-rapid and simpler technique than steam and permits the extraction of essential oil where steam is not accessible.

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Nutrient-film technique (NFT) trials were conducted to quantify the effect of two different water-soluble hydroponic fertilizers (5N–4.8P–21.6K and 5N–5.2P–21.6K) on different cultivars of lettuce (Lactuca sativa), basil (Ocimum basilicum), and swiss chard (Beta vulgaris). Results indicated swiss chard yield was affected only by cultivars, with Fordhook Giant producing the greatest fresh weight across fertilizer treatments. For lettuce production, interaction between fertilizers and cultivars was significant. ‘Mirlo’ and ‘Rubysky’ had greater growth compared with other cultivars in both fertilizers, whereas Dragoon performed well using 5N–4.8P–21.6K, but not 5N–5.2P–21.6K. For basil, dry weight production showed a significant interaction between fertilizers and cultivars. ‘Largeleaf’ produced greater dry weight with 5N–4.8P–21.6K, whereas ‘Lemon’ produced greater dry weight with 5N–5.2P–21.6K. For nutrient concentration of leaves, the concentrations were within the recommended range for lettuce when fertilized with 5N–5.2P–21.6K. Nutrient concentrations varied by nutrient from the recommended range for basil, but there was no significant difference between fertilizers. For swiss chard, the nutrient concentrations were in the recommended range and there was no difference between fertilizers. Therefore, growers may need to use more than one type of fertilizer for different lettuce and basil cultivars for optimum production, whereas swiss chard cultivars can be selected based on yield regardless of fertilizer.

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