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D.R. Waterer

The efficacy and cost efficiency of using various plastic soil mulches in the production of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.), corn (Zea mays L.) and muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) were examined over four growing seasons in Saskatchewan, Canada. Clear mulch with or without preemergent herbicides was compared with black or wavelength selective mulches. In all three crops, mulches enhanced yields relative to bare ground in most site-year combinations. Clear mulch usually produced the highest yields. Herbicides applied under the clear plastic provided effective weed control with no observable changes in product efficacy or toxicity to the crop. The weed control provided by the herbicides had no effect on yields in the clear mulch treatments. Consequently, clear mulch without added herbicide usually represented the most cost-effective production option for all three crops.

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C.S. Vavrina and F.M. Roka

In 4 years of research comparing production of short-day onions (Allium cepa L.) on plastic mulch versus bare ground in southern Florida, greater marketable yields were obtained when onions were grown on plastic mulch. Results showed that in a semitropical environment, white-on-black plastic mulch provided the greatest yield enhancement from increased weight and bulb size. Yield loss due to splitting, while apparent, was not sufficient to reduce the impact of mulch on the increase in individual bulb weight. Adopting plastic mulch for sweet onion production will add between $400 and $500/acre ($988 and $1,235/ha) of additional operating expenses. While this may increase cash-flow burdens and heighten overall financial risks, the added value from increased yields by weight and greater percentages of jumbo sized bulbs suggest that plastic mulch has an excellent chance to increase a grower's overall net return. Using conservative yield and market price assumptions, an economic analysis showed an increase in grower's net return of more than $120/acre ($296/ha).

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Lisa Wasko DeVetter, Suzette Galinato, Troy Kortus, and Jonathan Maberry

Floricane red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) produces biennial canes that are traditionally managed by annual selective removal of previously fruited floricanes and training of primocanes that will bear fruit in the next growing season. This process of pruning and training is labor intensive and costly, and growers would benefit from more economical methods of pruning and training. This 6-year project evaluated the economic viability of alternate-year (AY) production in a commercial floricane red raspberry field in northwest Washington and compared it to traditional, every-year (EY) production to assess whether the former could save costs. Despite savings from reduced chemicals, fertilizers, labor, general farm supplies, and other variable costs, the overall benefits of AY production were not enough to offset losses in revenue resulting from reduced yields under the conditions of this experiment in northwest Washington.

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Doug Waterer

Crop development rates, yields and production economics for muskmelon (Cucumis melo), pepper (Capsicum annuum) and tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum) grown in high tunnels [4.3 m wid × 2.5 m high × 29 m long (14 × 8 × 96 ft)] were compared to standard low tunnels over several cropping seasons in a temperate production area. The polyethylene-covered high tunnels protect several rows of crop for the duration of the cropping season. Air temperatures in the high tunnels were controlled by raising the sides of the tunnel. Low tunnels cover only a single row and must be removed soon after the crop is established to prevent overcrowding or overheating. When the low tunnels were in place, rates of accumulation of growing-degree days (GDDs) and early crop growth were comparable in the two tunnel systems. However, once the low tunnels were removed, the accumulation of GDDs in the high tunnels exceeded the standard system. The crops in the high tunnels matured 1 to 2 weeks earlier and produced substantially greater fruit yields before frost than in the low tunnel treatments. The high tunnels provided little frost protection and were of limited utility for extension of the growing season. The high tunnels were much more costly to purchase and construct than the low tunnels but were durable enough to be used for multiple cropping seasons. Based on wholesale commodity prices, it would take 2 to 5 years for the enhanced gross returns obtained with the high tunnels to cover their higher capital costs.

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George Hochmuth, Dan Cantliffe, Craig Chandler, Craig Stanley, Eric Bish, Eric Waldo, Dan Legard, and John Duval

Strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) crops were transplanted in two seasons in central Florida with bare-root and containerized (plug) plants under three transplant establishment-period irrigation methods to evaluate crop fruiting responses and production economics associated with the various establishment systems. Irrigation was not required to establish plug transplants in the field. Early (first 2 months) fruit yield with nonirrigated plug plants was greater than early yield with sprinkler-irrigated bare-root plants (the current commercial system) in one of two seasons and equal in a second season. Total-season yields were similar in each season between the two establishment systems. Large or medium plug plants led to greatest early fruit yields in one season while large plug plants resulted in greatest early yield in a second season. Total yield was greatest with medium plants in one season and large plants in another season. The extra cost for the plug plant system was $1853/acre. In one out of two seasons there was increased net income amounting to $1142/acre due to greater early yield associated with the plug plant cultural system. Strawberry plug transplants showed promise for earlier and more profitable crops in addition to substantial savings in water used for plant establishment in the field. The ability to establish strawberry crops without irrigation will be important in areas where growers are required to reduce farm water consumption.

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Jeffrey R. Pieper, Rebecca Nelson Brown, and José A. Amador

arrangement on rye cover crop and weed growth Agron. J. 101 1 47 51 Bryant, H.D. 2008 Hybrid mulch system: Effects on crop production, economics, weeds and soil quality. Univ. of Maine Orono, Master of Sci. Thesis Diss. 1133 Cannell, R.Q. Hawes, J.D. 1994

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Jeffrey P. Mitchell, Karen M. Klonsky, Eugene M. Miyao, Brenna J. Aegerter, Anil Shrestha, Daniel S. Munk, Kurt Hembree, Nicholaus M. Madden, and Thomas A. Turini

a lower cost ( Tables 5 and 7 ). The long-term nature of this tillage system comparison is unique in CA and has afforded opportunities to evaluate impacts of tillage and cover cropping not only related to production economics but also on a number

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Amanda Skidmore, Neil Wilson, Mark Williams, and Ric Bessin

impact that these management practices have on ecosystem functioning and production economics. We focused on the use of rowcovers and soil management to increase cucurbit yields and reduce environmental impacts in conventionally managed production systems

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Lucas G. Paranhos, Charles E. Barrett, Lincoln Zotarelli, Tatiana Borisova, Rebecca Darnell, and Kati Migliaccio

and bare-ground production economics for short-day onions in a semitropical environment HortTechnology 10 326 330 Walsh, P.J. Milon, J.W. Scrogin, D.O. 2011 The spatial extent of water quality benefits in urban housing markets Land Econ. 87 628 644

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Huan Zhang, Lisa Wasko DeVetter, Edward Scheenstra, and Carol Miles

mulches and herbicides on production economics of warm season vegetable crops in a cool climate HortTechnology 10 154 159 Waterer, D. 2010 Evaluation of biodegradable mulches for production of warm-season vegetable crops Can. J. Plant Sci. 90 5 1014 1021