SUNIVERSITY OF Cooperative Extension Service
FLORIDA Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
A Vegetable Crops Extension Publication
H fIorticultural ienc8c Department P.O. 110690 Gaincavillc, FL 32611 Telephone (352)392-2134
January 15, 1998
I. NOTES OF INTEREST
A. Vegetable crops calendar.
II. COMMERCIAL VEGETABLES
SA. Producing strawberries in north Florida using an
S I .outdoor hydroponic system.
B. Cluster tomatoes.
C. Carrot yield, root quality, and N uptake affected by N
fertilization on a sandy soil.
D. Sweet onion variety trial, Spring 1997.
E. Tomato Variety Demonstration.
II. VEGETABLE GARDENING
A. Garden seed inventory.
Note: Anyone is free to use the information in this newsletter. Whenever
possible, please give credit to the authors. The purpose of trade names in this
/f'i publication is solely for the purpose of providing information and does not
__ necessarily constitute a recommendation of the product
The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is an Equal Employment Opportunity Affirmative Action Employer authorized to provide research, educational
information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function without regard to race, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin.
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I. NOTES OF INTEREST
A. Vegetable Crops Calendar.
February 18-21,1998. American Society
for PIasticulture 27" Congress, Tucson, Arizona.
Contact Bob Hochmuth, Suwannee Valley REC,
February 26 27, 1998. Florida Weed
Science Society's 21s annual meeting. Tavares,
Florida. Contact Bob Stamps, CREC, Apopka
March 7, 1998. Urban Farming
Workshop. Seminole County Extension
Auditorium, Sanford. Contact Richard Tyson at
(407-323-2500 ext. 5554).
March 9-13,1998. Florida Postharvest
Horticulture Institute and Industry Tour. Contact
Steve Sargent, UF, (352) 392-2134 ext. 215.
II. COMMERCIAL VEGETABLES
A. Producing strawberries in north
Florida using an outdoor hydroponic system.
A trial was conducted in the 1996-97
season at the Suwannee Valley Research and
Education Center near Live Oak, FL to evaluate
outdoor strawberry production using soilless bag
culture. Three soilless media were evaluated,
perlite, a peat mix, and wood fibers. Each was
placed in a layflat bag approximately three feet
long and ten inches in diameter. Bags were
placed end to end on a flat area of soil covered with
a black polypropylene ground cover. Bags were
arranged in pairs of rows with five feet between the
center of each pair to facilitate spraying with a
tractor mounted sprayer.
Irrigation was supplied via half-inch
polyethylene tubing laid in the center of each pair
of rows. Three plants were planted in each bag
and an irrigation emitter was placed at each plant.
Emitters were Chapin's "Trickle Stik" with a .05
inch inside diameter leader. A standard hydroponic
bag culture, two injectors, and nutrient stock tank
system was used. Two stock tanks of
concentrated nutrient solution were mixed as
needed according to the IFAS recommendations for
hydroponic tomato. The stage one tomato formula
was used throughout the season.
Bare rooted strawberry plants of three
cultivars ('Camarosa', 'Chandler', and 'Sweet
Charlie') from California were planted into the
bags on October 23, 1996. Each of the three
cultivars were planted into bags of perlite. In
addition, 'Sweet Charlie" was also planted into
bags of a peat mix and bags of wood fibers.
Sprinkler irrigation was supplied twice daily, at 11
a.m. and 2 p.m. for one week to assist transplant
establishment. After the first week all irrigation
was supplied via the drip emitter system. Future
systems will likely benefit by using plug plants to
establish the crop in such soilless systems.
Disease, insect, and mite populations were
managed through integrated pest management
scouting and control measures.
Frost Protection was provided by
application of Agryl polypropylene floating row
cover (2.0 ounce per square yard). The cover was
held up and away from the plants by using wire
hoops anchored in the ground. The wire hoops
formed an arch over the bags of strawberry plants.
The row cover protected blooms and fruit when
ambient temperatures reached as low as 24F.
Fruit was harvested and weighed from January, 1
to May 21, 1997.
Monthly and total yield per plant is
reported in Table 1. The observational yield data
shows similar production of' Sweet Charlie' in each
soilless media. Approximately one pound per plant
was produced in each medium. In the perlite
system, 'Camarosa' produced 1.8 Ibs per plant,
'Chandler' 1.6 and 'Sweet Charlie' 1.1 over the
total harvest season. Early season production
(January harvests), was highest for 'Camarosa' and
'Sweet Charlie' at about 0.1 lbs per plant followed
These yields of 1.5 to 2.0 lbs per plant
were approximately twice the yield of the same
plants grown in a traditional field production
system using common full-bed polyethylene mulch
system with drip irrigation at the same location.
The soilless bag culture system may provide
opportunities for small or part-time growers to
produce a high value crop without high equipment
A continuation of this work with soilless
culture is being conducted at the Suwannee Valley
REC. Work includes evaluation of additional
horizontal and vertical soilless systems and other
soilless media. Plug plants are being compared to
traditional bare rooted transplants. Strawberry
cultivar evaluations will continue to determine the
best cultivar choices for northern Florida. In
addition, the role of slow-release fertilizers in the
soilless system will be determined. This
information is adapted from Suwannee Valley
Extension Report 97-6.
Table 1. Observational yield data for three strawberry cultivars and three different
soilless media at Live Oak, FL.
Yield Per Plant (Ibs)
Cultivar Media Season Jan. Feb. March April May
Camarosa Perlite 1.81 .12 .24 .68 .24 .53
Chandler Perlite 1.57 .02 .11 .64 .39 .41
Sweet Charlie Perlite 1.09 .11 .19 .30 .15 .34
Sweet Charlie Peat Mix 1.02 .06 .12 .39 .14 .32
Sweet Charlie Wood Fibers .99 .10 .22 .28 .14 .25
(Robert Hochmuth, Vegetarian 98-01)
B. Cluster tomatoes.
A new and popular tomato product is a
cluster of vine ripened fruit still attached to the
stems. These products are known as cluster
tomatoes, cluster-harvested tomatoes, truss
tomatoes, or on the vine tomatoes. The term truss
tomatoes is frequently used in Europe and cluster
tomatoes in the United States. Cluster tomatoes
are currently grown as a greenhouse crop
throughout the world although some limited trials
are being conducted with outdoor production. This
new way of marketing tomatoes is credited to
Italian producers who first began testing in 1989.
The popularity ofthis vine ripened product quickly
swept through the European greenhouse tomato
industry, and more recently the North American
industry. The large greenhouse tomato industry in
Holland began its shift toward cluster tomatoes in
1992 and 1993. Holland production of cluster
tomatoes was 900 acres in 1996 which was 38% of
the greenhouse tomato industry. It is reported over
half of the greenhouse tomatoes to be grown in
Holland and three quarters of the greenhouse
tomatoes in Italy in the 1997-98 season will be
cluster types. Other major European countries
producing cluster tomatoes include Israel, Spain,
and Portugal. Production in Canada, the United
States, and Mexico has also expanded in the last
three years. An estimated 150 acres of greenhouse
space will be dedicated to cluster cultivars in
Canada and the United States in the 1997-98
season. Major cluster tomato producing states in
the United States include: Texas, Arizona,
California, and, Colorado. A few small growers in
Florida have grown cluster tomatoes in the last two
years and more space is planned for 1997-98.
Greenhouse culture of cluster tomatoes is
similar to that used for traditional large beefsteak
types. Crop production includes hydroponic
systems such as nutrient film technique (NFT) or
media such as rockwool, glasswool, perlite, and
peat mixes. The crop is trained and supported by
strings on an overhead trellis system. Most
currently grown cultivars tend to have taller plants
requiring high trellis systems.
Most growers now use bumblebees for
pollination. Commercial hives of the bumblebee,
Bombus impatiens, are sold or leased to growers
and this method has replaced most hand pollination
methods except with some smaller operations.
The clusters are harvested by clipping the
main cluster stem from the plant. All tomatoes on
the cluster remain attached and range in maturity
from breaker to ripe. Harvested clusters are
usually marketed in a mesh bag or in a one layer
box. Prices vary, as with other tomato products,
but frequently sold in grocery stores for $2.99 per
Many cluster tomato cultivars have
outstanding flavor and appearance to compete with
the best of the vine-ripe tomatoes sold. In addition,
consumers are highly attracted to the tomato aroma
provided by the stems of the cluster. Consumers
also enjoy harvesting the fruit from the cluster
themselves. Outstanding fruit quality and shelflife
allow the consumer to pick tomatoes from the
cluster over several days. The post harvest quality
of the calyx is therefore an important characteristic
in the appearance of the cluster.
Most greenhouse tomato crops are grown
today with very little pesticide sprays applied to the
crop. This is especially true in northern states in
the United States and also in Canada.
Environmental controls are important in managing
diseases and biological pest control has become a
standard practice. Insect and disease management
in Florida greenhouses is much more challenging
due to the climatic conditions and high pest
populations. This is given special note here
because the presentation of the cluster of tomatoes
means everything to the rise in popularity to cluster
tomatoes. The clusters are generally free of any
visible pesticide residue. If routine applications of
pesticides are to be required in any production
system, inside or outside of a greenhouse, the
residue could be a significant detraction. At the
least, it would face great competition from the
current production free of visible residues.
Washing of clusters of tomatoes to remove the
residue from the stems and fruit would be very
A cluster tomato cultivar trial was
conducted during the 1996-97 season at the
University of Florida, Suwannee Valley Research
and Education Center, near Live Oak, Florida.
The trial included several cluster tomato cultivars
and the standard beefsteak cultivar, 'Trust', as
comparison. The trial at Live Oak resulted in very
similar total yield between 'Trust' and the best
yielding cluster tomato cultivars including:
'Ambiance', 'Jamaica', 'Durasol', 'Tradiro', and
'73-15 RZ'. Complete details of this trial is
reported in Suwannee Valley Extension Report
(Robert Hochmuth, Vegetarian 98-01)
C. Carrot yield. root quality, and N
uptake affected by N fertilization on a sandy soil.
As the state of Florida purchases the
organic farm land on the shores of Lake Apopka,
displaced vegetable growers are searching for
suitable production sites for the vegetables once
grown on the Histosols of the Zellwood area.
Carrots can be moved to the sandy mineral soils of
central and northern Florida but production
information for sandy soils needs updating. We
conducted a series of fertilizer trials in the winter
of 1994-95 to evaluate the N fertilizer
recommendations for sandland-grown carrots and
to determine effects of N fertilization on carrot
quality. General responses of yield to N and K
fertilization have been reported in previous
Vegetarian articles along with a description of the
production techniques Vegetarian 96-01 and 96-
02). The yield results, along with results for plant
N uptake, whole-leaf tissue N concentration, and
root quality, are presented in Table 1.
Carrot yield for both cultivars leveled off
after 150 lb per acre N, the current recommended
N rate for carrot grown on sandy soils. N was split
in 4 applications during the season, at planting and
at the 2, 4, and 6-inch plant height stages. N
uptake was rather poor relative to amounts of N
applied and the efficiency was reduced as N rate
increased. Whole-leaf tissue N concentration
profiles of about 3.5, 2.0, and 1.5% for the early,
midseason, and harvest periods, respectively
appear to indicate adequately fertilized carrots.
Both carotene (related to vitamin A) and
total sugar concentrations followed N response
patterns similar to those of yield. Carotene and
sugar concentrations were maximized with similar
N amount to that needed for maximum yield.
Extra N, above that needed for best yields, did not
improve quality and only led to more N being left
behind in the soil after harvest.
Table 1. Response to N fertilization of carrots growing on sandy soil in northern Florida in a winter season.
N rate Yield N uptake (lb/acre) Tissue N ('% Carotene Sugar
Cultivar (lb/acre) (cwt/acre) Shoots Roots Total Early Midseason Harvest (nmg I 00g"') (mg-g'fr.wt.)
Scarlet Nantes 0 10 5 10 15 2.1 1.7 1.5 35 32
50 118 14 30 44 3.2 1.5 1.4 51 30
100 178 20 44 64 3.5 1.9 1.7 50 36
150 184 19 44 63 3.5 2.0 1.8 53 35
200 179 23 55 78 3.7 2.1 1.8 46 34
Signif. ** ** ** ** ** ** ** NS
Choctaw 0 2 9 9 18 2.1 1.6 1.4 39 36
50 130 15 26 41 3.3 1.3 1.2 55 44
100 220 25 46 71 3.5 1.6 1.6 47 44
150 219 30 51 81 3.8 1.8 1.4 66 42
200 196 38 54 92 3.9 1.8 1.7 57 43
Signif ** ** ** ** ** ** ** **
(G. Hochmuth, Vegetarian 98-01)
onion variety trial. Snrinw
Sweet onions marketed as a dry bulb are a
minor crop in Florida. There are small pockets of
production throughout the state. Shipments totaled
6,900 hundredweight in the 1995-96 season down
considerably from 16,000 hundredweight in the
1994-95 season. One of the biggest deterrents for
increased production is competition from the south
Georgia and south Texas production areas where
the industry is well established and known. One
area of expansion has been from small growers
producing for local markets such as supermarket
chains and farmers markets. In the north Florida
area, the county prison farming programs has
shown considerable interest in production for own
The objective of this trial was to evaluate
the performance of sweet onion varieties (short-
day) under north Florida conditions.
The transplants for the trial were produced
in field beds. Twenty entries were seeded on 2
October 1996. Seed were planted at rate of 30
seed/ft into rows spaced 14 inches apart. Preplant
fertilization of seedbeds was 36-48-48 lbs/a of N-
P20s-K20. Dacthal 75 WP was applied over the
top after seeding at 12 lbs/a. Seedbeds were top
dressed once with 30 lbs N/a. Entries were
transplanted into production field on 3 December
1996. Soil type was an Orangeburg Loamy fine
sand. Preplant fertilization was 60-80-80 lbs/a of
N-P205-K20. Production scheme was 3 rows
spaced 15 inches apart under a 60 inch tractor
spacing and in-row spacing was 4 inches (78,408
plants/a). Goal 2XL was applied on soil surface at
1 qt/a before transplanting. Nitrogen was applied
three times during the production season at 30 lb/a
N each time. One top dressing of K20 as KC1 at
60 lbs/a was made during the season. Registered
pesticides were applied to control pests.
Entries were harvested as the matured
where matured was defined as when 25 % of the
tops fell down. Bulbs were lifted and tops and
roots were removed. Bulbs were then placed in
baskets and dried for 72 hours at 100F in large
drying rooms. After drying was complete onions
were removed, allowed to cool down and graded.
Grading consisted of removing culls (small onions,
splits, off colors and decayed) and sizing into large
(2-3 inches) and jumbo (> 3 inches) categories.
nno vait tra S n, rin.
Bulbs were then weighed and counted. Medium
size bulbs (1.5-2 inches) were included in the culls
because so few were present.
Harvest occurred from the period of 15
March to 8 May 1997. Yields ranged from 986
50 lb bags/a for 'Pegasus' to 445 50 lb bags/a
for'Dessex', almost a two fold yield difference
(Table 1.). 'Ram', 'Marquis' and 'Lexus'
produced yields similar to 'Pegasus'. Percent
marketable bulbs ranged from a low of 65.5 % for
'Linda Vista' to a high of 97.1 % for 'Mr. Max'.
'Ram' produced the largest bulb at 15.2 oz and
'Dessex produced the smallest at 6.8 oz over a two
There were a number of entries that
produced higher yields than 'Granex 33' (industry
standard used here) and bulb quality for these was
good to excellent except for 'Ram'. 'Ram'
produced very large bulbs, almost a quarter of a
pound larger than any other, but the bulb was soft
(spongy) and not considered desirable.
Table 1. Yield, percent marketable and average bulb size of onion variety trial, NFREC, Quincy. Spring
Yellow Granex Imp.
'50 lb sacks/A
YMean separation by Duncan's Multiple Range Test, 5% level.
(Olson, Vegetarian 98-01)
E. Tomato Variety Demonstration.
Tomato Variety Demonstration, Fall 1997, Mecca Farms (Ciba Farm), Boynton Beach, FL, Fall 1997'
Fruit Yield (25-1b ert/A)
Yield (25-1b cn/Al Size (ouncea/fruit per
Cultivar Source X-lrg Lrg Med Total X-lrg Lrg Had. Avg plant 11/18 11/28 12/11 Total
FTE 30 Petoneed 949 703 733 2385 8.5 6.2 5.0 6.4 34.1 1248 1052 5B 2385
Sunbeam Asgrow 793 673 788 2253 8.5 6.5 5.2 6.5 31.9 944 1130 180 2253
Equinox Agrisales 562 565 1030 2157 7.8 6.3 4.9 5.8 34.3 906 1114 137 2157
Suncrest Rogers 503 542 1082 2127 7.8 6.3 5.1 5.9 33.3 856 1133 138 2127
XPH 10047 (PL 47) Aegrow 737 578 810 2126 8.6 6.5 5.0 6.3 30.7 10B4 949 93 2126
Bxp 10069 Angrow 477 '603 990 2070 8.0 6.3 5.0 5.9 32.3 999 1007 65 2070
Agriset 761 Agrisales 520 605 935 2060 7.5 6.1 4.8 5.7 33.2 779 1150 132 2060
Sunpride Asgrow 433 666 890 1990 7.8 6.1 5.0 5.8 31.6 635 1034 321 1990
STM 5206 Sakata 565 504 907 1976 8.1 6.4 4.9 5.9 30.5 777 1024 174 1976
Exp 10072 ESL Asgrow 279 517 1179 1975 7.9 6.2 4.9 5.5 33.2 633 1258 84 1975
ACX 12A A&C 361 526 1042 1929 7.8 6.4 4.8 5.6 31.7 665 1224 41 1929
Solimar Angrow 330 545 1026 1901 8.1 6.3 5.0 5.7 30.6 750 872 279 1901
Sunleaper Rogers 405 532 946 1883 7.6 6.1 4.8 5.6 31.0 710 1025 148 1883
Agriset 775 Agrisales 358 466 960 1784 7.9 6.3 5.0 5.7 28.7 649 1018 117 1784
Leading Lady SunseedB 178 507 1055 1740 7.6 6.3 4.9 5.4 29.3 949 949 118 1740
RFT 3260 Rogers 289 401 1041 1729 8.4 6.3 5.0 5.6 28.2 619 1011 99 1730
Sanibel (PS 8266) Petoseed 294 428 920 1642 7.9 6.3 4,9 5.6 26.9 821 908 178 1642
SRT 6629 Sunseeds 549 462 608 1619 8.1 6.3 5.0 6.1 24.2 581 930 50 1619
XTM 6217 (95-222) Sakata 380 470 736 1586 8.2 6.2 4.8 5.8 25.2 650 901 86 1586
SRT 6631 Sunseede 426 369 780 1576 8.0 6.3 4.9 5.8 25.1 728 905 76 1576
Captiva Petoseed 377 421 758 1556 8.0 6.3 4.8 5.7 25.0 687 795 97 1556
Exp 10095 Asgrow 201 389 878 1467 7.6 6.2 4.8 5.4 24.8 818 882 72 1467
ACR 6504 A&C 210 376 881 1467 7.5 6.2 4.9 5.4 24.8 821 870 72 1467
Lenor Sunseeds 170 224 640 1034 7.5 5.9 4.7 5.2 18.2 584 714 56 1034
'Palm Beach Co. Cooperative Extension Service. Seeded July 21, 1997. Transplanted September 2, 1997 (43 days old).
Transplants grown by LaBelle Plant World. Subsurface seepage irrigation with full bed plastic mulch culture using white on white
plastic mulch. Average of three replications. Harvested from four plants per replication, 5 ft. between beds, 24 inches between
plants (4,356 plants/A).
(Ken Shuler, Vegetarian 98-01)
III. VEGETABLE GARDENING
A. Garden seed inventory.
This is the time of the year gardeners
receive their new seed company mail order
catalogs. Many of us in the home horticulture
advisory field are on mailing lists to get copies
also. Have you ever wondered how nice it would
be to get only one publication that would include
all of the seed offerings from all these numerous
catalogs? Well, there is a book that attempts to do
just that. It is "Garden Seed Inventory", published
by the Seed Savers Exchange.
The Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) is an
8,000 member non-profit organization whose goal
is to protect seeds of vegetables and other
horticultural crops from extinction. SSE
headquarters is located at Heritage Farm near
Decorah, Iowa. At that farm they maintain and
display several unique collections, including rare
and common vegetable varieties. Seeds are
available for purchase, along with an assortment of
books, posters, etc.
Garden Seed Inventory is in its Fourth
Edition (1996). Edition Five is scheduled for 1998.
This 632 page soft or hard covered book contains
a comprehensive inventory of 245 U.S. and
Canadian mail-order seed catalogs. It includes
varietal descriptions of 6,483 standard vegetables,
including 1,800 recently introduced vegetable
varieties. I have used my copies for years to
quickly locate sources of hard to find varieties for
inquiring gardeners and garden advisors. Many of
you have wondered how I found a reference to your
variety so quickly. Now you know my secret. The
sources are listed by the company catalog offering
a particular variety, and the address of that
company. To get a copy of Garden Seed
Inventory, or any of the many other gardening
related materials, here is the address and phone
number: Seed Savers Exchange, 3076 North Winn
Road, Decorah, Iowa 52101. Phone: (319) 382-
5990 (9:00-5:00 M-F Central) or FAX (319)382-
5872 24 hrs daily.
The current (1998) prices of the Garden
Seed Inventory are $24.00 softcover and $30.00
hardbound (not including handling charges). Many
of their posters are quite colorful and have unique
educational value for display in your office or
meeting rooms. Especially well done are these six:
Eggplant, Squash, Corn, Pepper, Tomato, and
Sunflower. These 23x36 vertically mounted
posters show the many types, kinds, and varieties
of these garden crops.
(Stephens, Vegetarian 98-01)
EDITORS NOTE: This is the first edition of the
Vegetarian under our new and hopefully improved
content and authorship. Please drop us a note
letting us know what you think.
Prepared by Extension Vegetable Crops Specialists
Dr. D. J. Cantliffe
Dr. G. J. Hochmuth
Dr. D. N. Maynard
Dr. S. M. Olson
Mr. J. M. Stephens
Dr. S. A. Sargent
Dr. C. S. Vavrina
Dr. W. M. Stall
Dr. J. M. White