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Joseph R. Heckman, Steve Johnston and Win Cowgill

1 Extension Specialist in Soil Fertility, to whom reprint requests should be addressed; e-mail: heckman@aesop.rutgers.edu . 2 Disease Management in Vegetable Crops. 3 County Agricultural Agent. This research was supported by the New Jersey

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James W. Rideout

1 Assistant Professor of Soil Fertility, North Carolina State Univ. I appreciate the excellent technical assistance of Dwayne Tate and the staff of the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research Station. Appreciation

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J.R. Heckman, W.T. Hlubik, D.J. Prostak and J.W. Paterson

1 Extension Specialist in Soil Fertility. 2 County Agricultural Agent. 3 Extension Specialist in Pest Management. 4 Extension Specialist Emeritus in Soils and Crops. The research reported in this publication was supported by the New Jersey

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Erin M. Silva and Geraldine Muller

In 2008, a collaborative project was initiated between the La Farge School District (La Farge, WI), University of Wisconsin–Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Organic Valley Cooperative Regions Organic Producers Pools (La Farge, WI), and Kickapoo Valley Reserve (La Farge, WI). The overarching mission of the program is to build a sustainable, hands-on educational farm and corresponding curriculum to teach organic agriculture principles to high school students and increase the number of students entering agriculture-related professional fields. Secondary goals of the project include delivering locally grown organic produce and related organic agriculture educational opportunities to the broader community. To achieve these goals, a multifaceted student internship program was created that includes a range of experiential learning opportunities for students. With the participation of each of the project partners, about ten students per year engage in the field production of certified organic vegetables, participate in field trips to sites related to organic agriculture, and distribute the produce to the school and the broader community. Through the integration of these activities, students are taught key principles of successful organic management, including ecologically based disease, weed, and insect management, development of a soil fertility plan, market analysis and its implications of crop selection, and determination of costs of production. In the face of both successes and challenges, through informal evaluation of students and the project team, the program continues to develop each year.

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Kim Patten, Gary Nimr and Elizabeth Neuendorff

Blueberry production is enhanced by the use of an organic mulch. An alternative to off-farm sources of mulch is the production of winter and summer living mulch cover crops grown in the row middles of the blueberry planting. These crops are mowed and then windrowed for use as a mulch. We evaluated living mulch crops for blueberries for the following parameters: adaptation to low soil pH, mulch production, ease and cost of stand establishment, mowing tolerance, allelopathic weed control, and N contributed by mulch. Rye, ryegrass, and crimson clover were the most overall suitable crops for the winter; while for summer, pearl millet was best adapted. Nitrogen was the major limiting factor that affected nonlegume production. Legume yields were limited by deer foraging and low soil pH. Pearl millet had the greatest allelopathic response on weeds of all cover crops tested. Maximum dry matter production for the living mulches ranged from 6000 kg/ha for elbon rye in the winter, to 30,000 kg/ha for pearl millet in the summer. With the appropriate cover crop selection and adequate soil fertility living mulches appear to be a efficacious practice to aid blueberry production in the south.

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Timothy J. Smalley and Frank B. Flanders

The Industry Liaison Committee of the American Society for Horticultural Science conducted a survey of the horticulture industry to systematically determine: 1) industry's perception of university training of recent graduates and 2) industry's perception of educational needs for future graduates. A Delphi survey was sent to experts in the fruit, ornamental, greenhouse, turf, and vegetable industry. The respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the level of competence of recent university graduates in personnel management and marketing. The lack of hands-on training in university courses was viewed as a major problem, but the respondents agreed that internships should provide university students with the necessary practical experience and universities should concentrate on the science of horticulture. The respondents indicated that business management and marketing expertise will be more important in the future than knowledge of production techniques; however, they would not be more likely to hire a business major instead of a horticulture major. The following areas of study were ranked for relative importance to be included in the university curriculum (from most important to least): communication skills, horticultural technology, business management, personnel management, plant nutrition and soil fertility, pest control, plant physiology, environmental awareness, plant physiology, plant pathology, accounting, and equipment use and maintenance. A second round of questioning for this Delphi survey is being conducted and results will be presented to verify preliminary results.

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James F. Cahill and Eric G. Lamb

A plant's performance depends on its ability to deal with numerous, simultaneous ecological challenges. In both natural and production systems, dominant challenges include competition for soil resources and light, herbivory, and general abiotic stress. A central goal of research is to understand how these processes interact with each other and with plant phenotype (above- and belowground) to influence overall plant performance. Complicating these efforts is the reality that plants are phenotypically plastic with the phenotypic response to one challenge potentially altering the impact of a different challenge. Furthermore, factors external to the plant (e.g., the genotypic and phenotypic composition of the surrounding plants) can also influence the consequence of various ecological pressures. We have been using Arabidopsis thaliana as a model organism to help disentangle this complicated web of ecological interactions. Competitive ability can be influenced by small genotypic changes. A plant's ability to suppress competitors is driven mainly by size-related traits and soil fertility and a plant's ability to withstand harm coming from numerous sources. The relative importance of competition is contingent not only on the match between genotype and environment, but also on the diversity of genotypes within a given population. There is a need to consider alternative effects of plant traits along with the cascading consequences of plant responses to biotic and abiotic challenges.

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Robert H. Snyder, Jonathan P. Lynch, Donald Kaufman and Terry Schettini

Sustainable agricultural systems favor high organic amendments over chemical fertilizers for maintaining long-term soil fertility. To study root responses bell pepper was grown in soil treated with dairy compost, raw dairy manure, and a chemical fertilizer mix at Rodale Institute Research Center, Kutztown, Pa. Root crowns were excavated at 2-week intervals and total length determined from root subsamples by computer-based image analysis. Roots from compost amended plots displayed a simple branching pattern; a first order branch with short second order branches. Fertilizer stimulated a complex branching; short, thickened first and second order branches that supported long and thin third and fourth order roots. An intermediate form in the raw dairy plots yielded both simple and complex branching forms. All forms were dynamic within each treatment over time. Crown length averaged 250-300 m across treatments 6 weeks after transplanting. Raw dairy and fertilizer treatments decreased slightly in length by week 10, while compost remained constant. After heavy rainfall crown length increased to 400 m for compost and raw dairy, and to 750 m for the fertilizer treatment by week 13. Length for the fertilizer treatment dropped nearly 200 m by week 14. though an increase of 100-200 m occurred for compost and raw dairy treated roots respectively.

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Paul Lyrene

The best time to harvest fresh blueberries in Florida is 1 April to 15 May. Weather during this period is normally favorable for harvest: low rainfall, low humidity, warm, sunny days, and cool nights, and supplies of fresh blueberries from other producing areas are low. To ripen high-quality blueberries in April, the plants must flower in February and must have a full canopy of leaves to support the developing crop in March and April. Observations of thousands of blueberry seedlings and selections over the past 25 years in Florida have indicated that blooming and leafing time are affected by the chilling requirement and heat requirement of the variety and also by environmental factors. Factors that increase plant vigor (high soil fertility, ample moisture, and young plants) cause the plants to flower earlier in the spring. Flower buds that do not open by 15 Mar. in north Florida frequently abort. The timing and extent of this physiological bud abortion varies with cultivar. Some southern highbush cultivars leaf before they flower. Others flower before they leaf. The ideal blueberry variety for north Florida would have a very low chill requirement, a high heat requirement to prevent January flowering, and a short flowering-to-ripening interval.

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Mahdi Abdal and Majda Sulieman

Agricultural development in Kuwait faces many problems and obstacles, such as limitation of water resources for irrigation, soils conditions, climatic extreme (particularly during the summer periods), and trained labor. With these extreme conditions for agricultural development in Kuwait, there is a strong demand from the public and the government for agricultural activities, particularly in urban landscape and greenery. World travel has enhanced the public's desire for the beautification of the urban areas and has emphasized the importance of the urban landscape. Planning urban landscape and greenery for Kuwait depends on various variables and efficient management of limited resources. Irrigation water is limited in Kuwait, and the quality of water is deteriorating from over-pumping of underground water and increased soil salinity by over irrigation and lack of drainage. Efficient irrigation-water management can be improved in Kuwait with enhanced irrigation research and implementation of the recommendations of this research. Research topics can also include water evaporation, which is high in Kuwait, and the introduction of mulching materials to improve water irrigation efficiency. Most of the soils in Kuwait are sandy with limited organic materials and plant nutrients. Research in soil fertility and plant uptake of nutrients is essential for any agricultural activities. Introducing ornamental plants tolerant to drought, salinity, and heat is a continuous research component of urban landscape and greenery in Kuwait. Training local staff in basic agricultural activities and research development should improve resource management and enhance the greenery of Kuwait.