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Ali Loker and Sam E. Wortman

Crop variety trials provide growers with valuable performance data to help inform variety choices for their farms ( Pellack and Karlen, 2017 ; Williams and Roberts, 2002 ). Variety trials can also inform breeding efforts ( Pellack and Karlen

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Eric Simonne and Ronald Shumack

Vegetable variety trials (VVT) are of interest to the entire vegetable industry from breeders, seed companies, growers, consultants, researchers, to Extension personnel. However, despite their importance VVT have always been given little-to-no scientific merit. In a period where resources are limited, regional VVT may provide a way for Land Grant institutions to include VTT as an entire part of their effort. This presentation will discuss the advantages (better use of resources, increased service to industry), challenges (credit given to VTT authors during tenure, timeliness of publication, uniformity of methods), and opportunities (publications in Hort Technology, regional publication, VTT web page, SR-IEG) associated with VVT. Participants will be given an opportunity to express their opinion through a questionnaire. Together with industry response, results will be used to inform the administration and work toward a regional VTT for the Southeast.

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George E. Boyhan

Watermelon variety trials have been held in Georgia for the past 8 years (1998–2005). Over this period of time, 165 varieties have been evaluated in the trials with 43 entries in the trial ≥2 years. Average yields have ranged from 13,267 lb/acre in 2005 to 45,867 lb/acre in 2002. Lower average yields reflect problems such as poor weed control. There was a concomitant increase in coefficient of variations (CVs) with lower average yields. Over the 8 years, the CV has ranged from 26% to 78%. Soluble solids have ranged from 8.7 in 1999 to 10.8 in 2004. Soluble solids CVs, however, remained relatively constant and ranged from 8% to 14%. The percent triploids ranged from 9% to 64% of entries over the 8 years. Trends over the 8 years included increasing percentage of triploids and the introduction of mini melons.

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Eric H. Simonne, Christine E. Harris, Edgar Vinson, and Karen Y. Dane

Vegetable variety trials are of interest to the entire vegetable industry from breeders, seed companies, growers, consultants, researchers, to Extension personnel. The Auburn Univ. vegetable variety trial results have been made more accessible and user-friendly by becoming available online at Users can point and click through a completely searchable database by selecting one of the following categories: 1) explanation of rating system and database, 2) list of vegetable crops, 3) description of variety types of crops, 4) contacting seed companies and web sites, 5) vegetable variety trial team members. For additional information about vegetable variety production, a link to horticulture extension publications has been included. The database gives each vegetable crop tested by Auburn Univ. a rating and allows a search for varieties. For each crop, the five options available to search the database are “rating,” “variety name,” “variety type,” “seed company,” and “type.” The Web page is primarily intended to be a quick, practical reference guide to growers and horticulture professionals in Alabama. Variety performances presented are based on small-scale research plots and test results may vary by location. It is always recommended to perform an on-farm trial of several varieties before making a large planting of a single variety.

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J.M. Kemble and E. Simonne

In 1996, more than 72,000 acres of vegetables were produced in Alabama. This number has been steadily increasing since the mid-1980s. Growers and county agents requested information on which vegetable varieties performed well in Alabama. To support a growing vegetable industry, Auburn Univ. committed itself to developing an extensive vegetable variety trial (VVT) program focusing on rapid dissemination of results. Presently, replicated trials are held at nine experiment stations, each representing a unique growing environment. The VVTs are divided into a spring and fall section. The spring trials evaluate spring/summer planted crops such as tomato, peppers, watermelon, sweetpotato, eggplant, southernpea, lettuce, melons, cucumber, summer squash, and others. Fall trials examine cole crops, winter squash, pumpkin, and other late-summer/fall-planted crops. Turn around time from final harvest of the final crop to placing the report in the county agent's or grower's hands is 2 to 3 months. Good support is received from industry through financial contributions and/or materials. More than 3000 copies of the spring and fall VVT reports are distributed annually at field days, statewide and county meetings, and in direct mailings. Other research projects, such as projects on nutritional composition of vegetables, postharvest quality, and consumer acceptance, have been supported by materials from the VVT program. Without overwhelming support and commitment from the State of Alabama, Auburn Univ., grower organizations, and industry, the VVT program would not be the success that it is today providing timely and needed information to strengthen the growing vegetable industry in Alabama.

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Joseph D. Postman, Kim E. Hummer, and Kirk W. Pomper

A pawpaw (Asimina triloba) regional variety trial (PRVT) was established at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, National Clonal Germplasm Repository (NCGR), Corvallis, Ore., in Fall 1995. This orchard was a replicated planting of 28 commercially available varieties or advanced selections from the PawPaw Foundation (PPF; Frankfort, Ky.), with eight replicate trees of each selection grafted onto seedling rootstocks and planted in a randomized block design. Two years after planting, 32 trees had either failed to establish or had died after an initial healthy start. By July 1999, 25% of grafted trees had died due to a vascular wilt-like disease, and 2 years later mortality exceeded 50%. Grafted selections with the lowest symptom severity include 1-7-2, 2-54, 7-90, 8-58, 9-58, `Mitchell', `PA-Golden #1', `Taylor' and `Wilson'. Seedling guard trees were unaffected until July 2000, when six guard trees of 76 died and 10 more were declining. By July 2001, 14 guard trees were dead. No fungi were consistently isolated from declining trees. A number of bacteria were isolated from infected trees, but no specific pathogen has been confirmed as the causal agent. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for phytoplasmas and for the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa were also negative. Research is ongoing to determine if a bacterial pathogen was the cause of the pawpaw decline in the Oregon PRVT.

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Kirk W. Pomper, Desmond R. Layne, R. Neal Peterson, and Dwight Wolfe

Beginning in 1993, 12 institutions and individuals and The PawPaw Foundation (PPF) embarked on a joint venture to evaluate commercially-available, named pawpaw (Asimina triloba) varieties and PPF's advanced selections within and outside of the pawpaw's native range. Each Pawpaw Regional Variety Trial (PRVT) planting, consists of about 300 trees, with five to eight replications (blocks) of 28 grafted scion varieties per block in a randomized complete block design (10 named varieties and 18 clones selected in the PPF orchards at the University of Maryland Experiment Stations at Queenstown and Keedysville, Md.). Variables being examined in the trial include climatic effect, culture, pests, growth, fl owering, yield, and fruit characteristics. In 1995, PRVT plantings were established in Kentucky (Princeton, Ky.), Louisiana, North Carolina, Oregon, and South Carolina. In 1998, a second planting was established in Kentucky (Frankfort, Ky.). In 1999, PRVT plantings were established in Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, and Ohio. In the Frankfort planting, 95% of the trees have survived. Based on height and trunk diameter measurements taken from 1998 to 2001, most selections displayed good vigor. The variety PA-Golden had the best early fruit production as evidenced by the fact that five of eight trees had fruit in 2001. In the Princeton, planting, only 54% of the trees have survived. The selections `Sunfl ower', `PA-Golden', `NC-1', `Wilson', 1-23, 8-20, and 9-58 showed the best fruit production and survival rates (>63%) in 2001. Based on limited data collected so far in the Kentucky trials, `PA-Golden' and `Sunfl ower' have performed well in the two locations and other varieties and PPF selections show promise.

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Daniel J. Cantliffe

Since the establishment of the land-grant systems in the late 1800s, universities and experiment station systems have sought out and tested vegetable germplasm for its suitability in regional and local areas across the United States. The private seed industry continued to grow, both in number and volume of sales through the early half of the twentieth century. It was during this time that many of the public breeding programs at land-grant universities began corollary plant breeding programs in variety development for vegetables. For many years it was a cooperative coexistence between the private seed industry and the public programs, wherein the seed industry derived much of its germplasm for new variety releases from the public sector. Beginning in the 1970s, the numbers of public breeders began to decline, while the numbers, especially of PhD plant breeders in the private sector, began to proliferate. Throughout this 100-year period university personnel were actively involved in vegetable variety trials, both on main campuses as well as at experiment stations, and in many cases in locales in various counties through cooperative efforts with county agents. Up through this period much credit could be given to individual faculty members for their involvement in such endeavors. In the past 10 to 20 years, many things have changed in university operations and perspectives, namely faculty are only given credit for refereed publications, regardless of the area in which they work. Moreover, they must constantly procure money to support their programs. In the past, vegetable variety testing generally did not lead to refereed publications and was not supported by the industry. Moreover, as previously mentioned many of the public programs in germplasm improvement for vegetables across the United States have ceased, thus ending a direct need for variety testing to support these programs. The critical issue for today's faculty is the relative importance of variety testing and delivering information to the general public versus how they would support such a program and eventually get academic credit for conducting such a program.

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George C.J. Fernandez

Tire interpretation of variety trials conducted with many genotypes (G) grown in many environments (E) is usually complicated by the presence of the significant G × E interaction. The common statistical analysis using ANOVA and linear regression techniques are often inadequate to study the complex two-way data structure. The biplot, a multivariate technique provides, a graphical representation of the interaction, which allows the response of each G in each E to be displayed in a two dimensional plot. It displays not only the configuration of G and E, but it also relates the two. The importance of biplot display is illustrated by using the tall fescue variety trial data on mean quality ratings published by the National Turfgrass Evacuation Program. The biplot displays about 60% of the information in the 24 (G) × 23 (E) data matrix. Environments TX3 and GA1 responded differently from other environments. Based on the biplot display genotypes are grouped and their significance will be discussed.

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Sheri B. Crabtree, Kirk W. Pomper, Desmond R. Layne, and R. Neal Peterson

The pawpaw [Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal] is a tree fruit native to the eastern United States with potential as an alternative crop for small farmers. The Pawpaw Regional Variety Trial (PRVT) was established in 1993 by Kentucky State University (KSU) and the PawPaw Foundation (PPF) and includes 28 cultivars and advanced selections planted at 12 sites. The PRVT was established at the KSU Research Farm in Frankfort, Ky., in 1998. Data has been collected on the KSU-PRVT annually since its inception. The first fruit were produced in 1999, with Middletown, Mitchell, Overleese, and Sunflower being the most precocious varieties. A frost occurred in early April 2000, decimating the crop, with only eight fruit being produced across the orchard. In 2001, 12% of the trees produced fruit, with PA-Golden having the best early production. In 2002, 68% of trees in the PRVT fruited, producing a total of 3,500 fruit. Selections with the largest fruit (over 200 g) were Susquehanna, 5-5, 4-2, and 1-7-2. In 2003, a spring frost destroyed most of the flowers and developing fruit. Only 32 out of the 224 trees in the PRVT retained fruit, a total of only 131 fruit in the entire orchard. In 2004, the PRVT produced about 25,000 fruit across the entire orchard. Selections 4-2 and 7-90 produced the largest fruit, over 200 g. Shenandoah, 10-35, and 8-20 were the highest-yielding clones, all producing over 15 kg of fruit per tree. In 2005, spring frosts and a severe summer drought diminished fruit set and retention in the PRVT, with the orchard producing 8,900 fruit. Selections 4-2, 5-5, and Susquehanna produced the largest fruit, all weighing over 200 g. The highest yielding selections were 10-35, PA-Golden, and 1-7-2, all producing over 8 kg of fruit per tree.