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L. Eric Hinesley and Scott A. Derby

Fraser fir [Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.] Christmas trees were sheared once annually over 4 years on dates ranging from July to March. Shearing reduced total tree growth. Trees sheared in July and August had the highest quality and retail value. Early shearing (July and August) yielded fewer leaders, longer leaders, and 35% to 66% more internodal branches on the leader, compared to later shearing (September through March). Early shearing also yielded more second-order laterals, followed by greater elongation of those laterals. Shearing late into the fall yielded progressively fewer branches, with the minimum in October. Shearing in March gave a little better results than October, but neither date was as good as July or August. In one experiment, two types of residual tip buds (bubble and whisker) were compared as future leaders. Differences in length and straightness of leaders derived from whisker and bubble buds were considered negligible in commercial shearing practice. The ratio of adaxial and abaxial buds on the proximal portion of the leader was about 1:1, and showed little change with shearing date. Distance from the base of the leader to the first abaxial branch also showed little variation among shearing dates.

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L. Eric Hinesley and Scott A. Derby

Fraser fir [Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.] Christmas trees were sheared once annually over a 4-year period using fixed schedules ranging from July to March. Shearng in July reduced potential growth of the upper crown by 38%; when done in October or March, the reduction was about 50%. Length, dry weight, and one-sided area of individual needles were smallest on nonsheared trees, and increased to maximum values on trees sheared in March. In the upper crown (top three internodes), trees sheared in July were 16% to 33% heavier than those sheared in August or later. Dry matter in the upper crown was 30% foliage and 70% woody material. Sixty-one percent of the biomass in the upper crown was branches for trees sheared in July, compared to 55% for October. In the upper crown, foliage comprised about 50% of the branch dry weight (all treatments); in 3-year-old branches, it was 54% to 58%. Among treatments, shearing in July caused the smallest reduction of potential growth and yielded the largest and heaviest branches with significantly more foliage and lateral shoots, all of which would be expected to improve crown density and commercial value. October was the least favorable time to shear.

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Richard L. Hassell, Jonathan R. Schultheis, Wilfred (Bill) R. Jester, Stephen M. Olson, Donald N. Maynard and Gilbert A. Miller

measures were taken at first harvest. Fruit were graded according to USDA grading standards for all watermelons ( USDA, 1978 ). Data from all locations were combined, and statistical analysis was conducted using SAS (version 8; SAS Institute, Cary, NC). The

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Roger J. Arnold, J.B. Jett and William T. Huxster

Wholesale values, retail values of five eastern United States lots, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) Christmas-tree grades, and measurements of various growth and quality traits were obtained on ≥1400 Fraser fir [Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.] (8 years old) Christmas trees. Retail lot values were similar, but average retail value correlated poorly with wholesale value within merchandising height classes. For each of the current wholesale categories (defined by the combination of 30.5-cm interval height classes and USDA grades), average values ranged widely. Some cull-grade trees, which would be unmerchantable according to USDA standards, had moderate retail value. Also, the retail mean of any one wholesale category generally was not significantly different from that of adjacent categories. Some tree quality defects that have equal impact on USDA grade, and consequently wholesale value, differed widely in their effect on retail values. This study indicates that current USDA Christmas-tree grade standards do not adequately differentiate Fraser fir trees with respect to their retail value. We propose a new method of Christmas-tree quality certification that involves computed Christmas-tree quality index values that offer greater accuracy in describing quality with respect to retail value.

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N.K. Damayanthi Ranwala, Kathy Brock, Chris L. Ray, Katie Greene and Dennis R. Decoteau

Rye and crimson clover as winter cover crops and red clover as a companion crop were evaluated in sweet corn and bell pepper production systems in South Carolina. Winter cover crops were planted in fall and incorporated into the soil 3 weeks prior to planting vegetable crops. Red clover was overseeded with the vegetable crops. There were no significant differences among treatments for corn yield. Marketable number and weight of bell peppers were significantly higher in both winter cover crops compared to red clover and fallow (control) treatments. Number of cull peppers (smaller peppers than USDA grades) were lower in both cover crops compared to other treatments. Lack of response in red clover compared to the fallow treatment may be due to the lower emergence of red clover when used as a companion crop with bell pepper. Marketable bell pepper yield was higher in the late harvest compared to the early harvest in all the treatments.

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Judith A. Abbott, Henry A. Affeldt and Louis A. Liljedahl

`Delicious' apples (Malus domestica Borkh.) from five major U.S. production areas were tested after ≈3 months of commercial storage. Soluble solids concentration (SSC), titratable acidity (TA), Magness-Taylor (MT) firmness, and sonic transmission spectra were compared with ripeness (maturity in trade terminology) scores assigned by six U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA)-licensed apple inspectors according to USDA Grades and Standards inspection procedures. USDA ripeness categories are defined by textural and flavor terms. Inspectors in this test used visual, manual, oral, and auditory sensations to make their judgments, but firmness was the paramount characteristic judged. SSC and TA did not correlate with inspectors' scores, MT, or sonic measurements and thus are not satisfactory indices of ripeness for stored apples. Sonic resonance functions correlated significantly with mean inspectors' scores and with MT firmness. Inspectors' scores correlated slightly better with MT firmness than with sonic terms. MT is destructive and site-specific; in contrast, sonic measurements are nondestructive and representative of the entire fruit.

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Laura Sue Kippen and W. Timothy Rhodus

Quality is extremely important to the processors of horticultural and agricultural commodities. It is important from the standpoint of producing high-quality end-products as well as resulting in lower costs and higher profits. However, producers of commodities receive few benefits from the production of higher quality for several reasons. One important reason is that producers lack information about the qualities processors require. In addition, producers are uninformed of the end-user quality their crops manifest. Presently, little incentive exists for producers to improve quality, other than that provided by USDA Grades and Standards. Using experimental economics, empirical evidence is provided demonstrating that increased awareness of crop quality requirements of processors by producers influences market efficiency, pricing efficiency, and crop quality management strategies of producers.

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R.B. Batts and A.W. MacRae

Trials were conducted at Plymouth, NC in 2004 and 2005 to determine the effect of halosulfuron on the yield and grade of white-skinned and red-skinned Irish potatoes when used in combination with different infurrow insecticides. Factors for the factorial design used included potato variety, halosulfuron timing, halosulfuron rate, and insecticide. In-furrow insecticides included imidacloprid. aldicarb, and phorate at 30.3, 293, and 233 g ai/1000 m of row, respectively. Halosulfuron was applied at 26.3 or 52.6 g ai/ha preemergence (PRE), postemergence, over the top (POST), or postdirected (P-DIR) to the potatoes. Preemergence applications of halosulfuron were made after last hilling of the bed, POST applications were made at early flowering, and P-DIR sprays were applied at late flowering. Crop injury was evaluated visually at 2 and 4 weeks after treatment (WAT). Potatoes were dug and graded at maturity. Data was subjected to analysis of variance (ANOVA) with means separated using Fisher's protected LSD (p = 0.05). No interaction between insecticides and halosulfuron were observed. However, some yield differences were seen due to halosulfuron alone. Minimal (<10%) injury was seen with PRE and P-DIR applications. Substantial injury was only seen at 2 WAT, and only from POST treatments. At this timing, halosulfuron applied at the low rate injured potato 14-19% across the insecticides, while the high rate caused significantly higher injury (23% to 24%). Injury from the POST timing did affect yield. Higher levels of smaller potatoes (USDA Grade #1) were found in the POST treatments, when pooled over years, varieties and rates. This indicates that tuber development may have been delayed due to foliar injury. This is supported by the lower levels of USDA Grade #3 potatoes from POST applications compared to other timings. When pooled across years, varieties, and rates, the lowest total yields were with the POST timing.

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Jack E. Staub, Philipp W. Simon and Hugo E. Cuevas

, size, and exterior quality, and orange color is observed in exocarp and mesocarp tissue. Although orange internal fruit pigmentation was mainly observed in mature fruit (USDA grade sizes 3b and 4a) ( Cuevas et al., 2010 ), preliminary inspection of

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Jennifer L. Emerson, John Frampton and Steven E. McKeand

rotation age height class, USDA grade, and wholesale value, indicating that early age selection can be done successfully in Fraser fir ( Arnold and Jett 1995 ; Arnold et al., 1994a , 1994b ). The number of lateral buds and number of lateral buds per