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Amy Oberly, John Masiunas and Mosbah Kushad

Rye (Secale cereale) residues used in an alternative cropping system will affect nutrients, soil moisture, and soil temperatures. Each of these factors can affect tomato fruit quality. A field study was conducted comparing the effects of a rye cover crop, tomato variety, and N fertility on tomato fruit quality. In October, cereal rye was seeded at 100 kg·ha–1 to one-half of the plots. The rye was killed in mid-May by applying glyphosate at 1.1 kg·ha–1. Tomato seedlings were planted into the rye and bare-ground plots in late May. Four tomato varieties differing in cracking and soluble solids were used. There were two fertilizer regimes, no additional fertilizer, and N fertilizer applied broadcast before tomato planting, and as a sidedress based on soil tests, leaf analysis, and current recommendations. Tomato quality was evaluated based on 1) color as assessed using a Minolta chromameter, 2) cracking based on type and severity, and 3) soluble solids as determined by HPLC.

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Juan José Ruiz and Fernando Nuez

Three clonal hybrids of pepino and their six parental clones were grown in a greenhouse at two salinity levels, 3 and 8 dS·m-1, and two K levels, 246 and 492 mg·L-1. Nearly all the clones maintained high yields even at 8 dS·m-1. Hybrids were highly productive and were more salt-tolerant than their parental clones. In the majority of clones, salinity shortened mean time to harvest by more than 10 days. Salinity also increased organoleptic quality of pepino fruit, mainly due to the increase in soluble solids concentration (SSC). Potassium had little effect on yield and on organoleptic characteristics, although the yield of the less-productive clones appears to be affected by the high level of K (492 mg·L-1). Our results suggest that the pepino could be an alternative crop in areas where only moderately saline water is available, since it is possible to maintain crop productivity while improving its organoleptic quality—the latter being a key issue for its acceptability in European and U.S. markets.

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Tanya Small, E. G. Rhoden, A. Woldeghebriel and G.W. Carver

Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) has become a pervasive weed in the southeast US. It has been receiving much attention recently and a study was initiated to evaluate the plant as an alternative food and feed source. Kudzu vines were sectioned into; 0-25, 25-50, 50-75 and 75-100 cm and analysed for acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), ash and crude protein content. Leaf ash content of kudzu increased while stem ash content decreased as the vine was sampled from the growing tip. Stem NDF increased from 44.4% at the 0-25 cm section to 57.83% at the 75-100 cm section of the vine, while leaf NDF declined from 52.23 to 39.01% for the same sections. The trend was reversed for ADF in the kudzu leaf and stem. Crude protein content of kudzu ranged from 18.45% at the 0-25 cm section for leaves to 7.42% for stem sections at 75-100 cm. The high crude protein content of kudzu as well as its abundance in the Southeast makes it a good feed source and a potential food source. However, further studies are needed to determine the vitamin content and digestion coefficient to ascertain its suitability as a food and feed source.

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Karen Neil, Carl Niedziela and Marihelen Kamp-Glass

A study was conducted with pansies (Viola wittrockiana) on a tobacco float bed system to determine if plugs could successfully be grown into transplants and to determine nutrient levels that wouldprovide the best transplants. Transplants were grown in a soilless media in 72-cell polystyrene float trays, floating on four different nutrient concentrations: 25, 50, 100, or 200 ppm. Length of time needed to produce regular-size transplants is reduced by half. Only 3 weeks are needed using the floating bed system, while 6 to 9 weeks are needed for the conventional method. Transplants displayed vigorous growth with normal morphology. Plant height and weight are significantly enhanced by increasing the nutrient concentration.

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Fabián Robles-Contreras, Rubén Macias-Duarte, Raul Leonel Grijalva-Contreras and Manuel de Jesus Valenzuela-Ruiz

The agricultural zones in the Sonoran Desert have great problems of water availability. An alternative that the grower must consider to diminish the negative effects caused by the water shortage is the establishment of crops with low water requirements. One such crop is the cactus pear vegetable (nopalitos). This crop supports and produces in conditions of low water availability and is a product of high demand. The objective was evaluate the potential of production of nopalitos under this condition. We evaluated two cultivars (Opuntia inermis and O. Ficus-indica) in a system of furrows with 1 m of separation between lines and 50 cm between plants, with a pruninig system of two producing caldodes per plant. The plot was drip-irrigated every 10–15 days. The evaluation was made during Spring 2004, harvesting the nopalitos to commercial size (17–21 cm) every 3–4 days. The measured variables were the yield and the weight of the nopalitos. The budbreak and harvest of nopalitos appeared in form of productive cycles, and we evaluated only the first two cycles of harvest (24 Mar. to 20 May). The obtained yields were 45.8 and 42 t·ha-1 in cv. Opuntia inermis and O. ficus-indica, respectively. The weight of nopalitos was 112 g and 106 g, respectively. We observed an insect attack (Dactylopiidae), and it was necessary to make two applications of a biological soap for pest control. The presence of this pest was almost exclusively in cv. Opuntia inermis, producing yellowish color in some cladodes.

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N.K.D. Ranwala, K. Brock, C.L. Ray, K. Greene and D.R. Decoteau

The effects of two winter cover crops, rye and crimson clover, on bell pepper yield were studied. Cover crops were planted in fall and incorporated into the soil prior to bell pepper planting. Both cover crops increased the marketable number and weight of bell peppers, and reduced the cull number of bell peppers compared to fallow (control) treatment. Delaying the harvest increased the marketable yield in both cover crops. Since there was no difference in bell pepper yield between two cover crops, both cover crops can be used effectively for bell pepper production. Use of cover crops may reduce the production costs and harmful effects on the environment by reducing chemical dependency, and increase the crop yield.

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J.P. Mitchell, G. Colla, B.A. Joyce, L.M. Huyck, W.W. Wallender, S.R. Temple, P.N. Brostrom, E.M. Miyao and D. Poudel

The Sustainable Agriculture Farming Systems (SAFS) Project was established in 1988 to study the transition from conventional to low-input and organic farm management in California's Sacramento Valley. We evaluated the effects of these alternative farming systems on soil compaction, water-holding capacity, infiltration, and water storage in relation to tomato yield and fruit quality within the SAFS cropping systems comparison 10 years after it had been established. Soil bulk density (0-15, 15-30, 30-45, and 45-60 cm) was not significantly different among the farming systems. In situ water-holding capacity at 24, 48 and 72 h after water application was significantly higher in the organic system at all times and depths except 45-60 cm. Cumulative water infiltration after 3 h in the organic and low-input cover crop-based plots was more than twice that of the conventional system. The more rapid infiltration in the low-input and organic systems resulted in increased total irrigation needs, more water stored in the soil profile throughout the 30 days before harvest, and lower fruit soluble solids and titratable acidity in these systems relative to the conventional system. Yields were not significantly different in the organic, low-input, and conventional systems during either 1997 or 1998.