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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2010 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Field trials with vegetable and biofuels crops will identify profitable production combinations. Over the next 5 years we will focus on the following objective and sub-objectives: Objective 1: Develop management practices and production systems for South Central region farms to help small- and medium-sized producers diversify farm income and increase profitability. Sub-objective 1.A. Develop rotations to integrate biofuel feedstocks as components with specialty vegetable crops in production systems. Sub-objective 1.B. Determine effects of different crop components in rotations on input costs, productivity, and whole-system profitability. Objective 2: Develop soil-borne and post-harvest disease suppressive practices applicable to organic and reduced input specialty vegetable crop production systems.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
All projects will be conducted on a Bernow fine-loamy, siliceous, themic, Glossic Paleudaulf soil in Lane, OK, at the South Central Agricultural Research Laboratory. The proposed research will address efficacy of rotations including economic realities of production, effects of fertilizer management within rotations, effects of weed control within rotations, and specific questions concerning applicability of organic herbicides in biofuel feedstock production, and use of biofumigation as it affects establishment of crops. Concerns from stakeholders regarding weed control in particular vegetable crops will also be addressed. The proposed research projects and expected end products will provide specific cost comparisons and decision making tools for production systems.

3.Progress Report
This is the final report for 6222-21220-003-00D, which is undergoing redirection. This project was in existence for little more than a year and comprised a single growing season. All planned field experiments were completed during the growing season. The experiments begun in 2010 will be incorporated into the new project and support efforts to be initiated along complementary lines of research. An experiment to examine effects of inoculation of a growing medium in the greenhouse and into soil in the field with beneficial microbes produced preliminary results with effects due to treatment. Results are preliminary and require additional data be accumulated before statements are made concerning outcomes. Field evaluation trials on a new herbicide that has potential for use in organic vegetable production systems were begun. Initial results indicate differences in amount of weed control due to response to rates and volumes, and additional data will be accumulated before statements are made concerning outcomes.

1. Plants developed from organically produced bell pepper transplants do well under organic and conventional production. The method used to produce bell pepper transplants could affect subsequent plant development. One aspect of production to be evaluated is the effect of inoculation of the growing medium with beneficial microbes during transplant production and how plants respond when transferred to the field. ARS scientists at Lane, Oklahoma, inoculated a growing medium in the greenhouse with beneficial microbes and produced transplants using organic and conventional methods. Seedlings were transferred to the field for further evaluation in two soil types, with planting occurring at various planting dates, and with use of organic or conventional production methods. It was determined that yield was affected by planting date (late summer planting was better than spring planting) and soil type did (sandy soil was better than loamy soil). Inoculation with microbes during transplant production did not affect yield. Yield from organically produced plants was equivalent to that from conventionally produced plants. Nutrient content of fruit was not affected by inoculation but was lower on plants grown on loamy than on sandy soil, and was similar between organic and conventional production methods. This information is useful to those using organic production methods for bell peppers and to those who would like to reduce synthetic inputs in a conventional production system.

2. Ninety percent weed control can be achieved in onions with a new herbicide being considered for organic certification. Weed control is a challenge in onions produced with organic methods. Organic onion producers need herbicides that effectively provide post-emergent weed control. Ammonium nonanoate (ammonium pelargonate), which occurs in nature and is primarily formed from biodegradation of higher fatty acids, is the main component of the product Racer(registered trademark). The specific rate for use in onions has not been established. An ARS scientist evaluated various rates of the material at Lane, Oklahoma, with a post-directed application. It was determined that application rates of between 10 and 15% (v:v) were necessary to maximize weed control. This information can be used in development of labeling guidelines for Racer during the process to qualify it for organic certification.

5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
1. Surplus produce from vegetable field plots was distributed to local food banks and similar operations through the USDA Gleaner program. 2. Provided seed, transplants, soil preparation, and some field maintenance to establish a People's Garden in cooperation with the Choctaw Nation and Oklahoma State University. A Native American/African American female was supervised in duties dealing with the People's Garden. 3. A Native American male student was provided information on the scientific method in production of vegetables, and was mentored on procedures and processes of research, during his tenure as a summer worker at Lane, OK. 4. At various times during the year local schools, with significant numbers of Native American students, availed themselves of the opportunity to expose their students to the process of science during the production of vegetables with guided tours of the Lane, OK, facility and with demonstrations of projects. 5. At various times during the school year ARS scientists at Lane, OK, provided in-class instruction to schools with significant numbers of Native American students, on aspects of science. 6. At various times during the year an ARS scientist at Lane, OK, provided instruction to youth organizations with significant numbers of Native American members, on aspects of science. 7. The Lane, OK, laboratory hosted classroom visits from local schools with significant numbers of Native American students. 8. ARS scientistis provided classroom instruction at local schools with significant numbers of Native American students. 9. Provided instruction to local youth organizations with significant number of minority youths.

Review Publications
Russo, V.M., Perkins-Veazie, P.M. 2010. Yield and nutrient content of Bell Pepper pods from plants developed from seedlings inoculated, or not, with microorganisms. HortScience. 45(3):352-358.

Last Modified: 8/1/2015
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