INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIOA
A Vegetable Crops Extension Publication
egetable Crops Depal micnl- 1255 HSPPD Gainc.wilic, FL 32611 Telephone 392-2134
7tbl Cr 3
February 15, 1988
I. NOTES OF INTEREST
A. Vegetable Crops Calendar.
', l ." II. COMMERCIAL VEGETABLES
A. Row Covers for Early Muskmelon Production.
0 B. Florida Vegetable Production Summary 1986-1987.
III. PESTICIDE UPDATE
'_- -<. ..A. National Label for Sethoxydim (Poast) on
Tomatoes, Bell Pepper and Strawberries.
IV. VEGETABLE GARDENING
A. Feasability of organic gardening and farming in
'Note: Anyone is free to use the information in this
newsletter. Whenever possible, please give credit to the
',. I authors.
The use of trade names in this publication is solely for
"',''i the purpose of providing information and does not
,' 41 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, or national origin.
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS. STATE OF FLORIDA. IFAS. UNIVERSITY OF
I. NOTES OF INTEREST
A. Vegetable Crops Calendar.
February 23-25, 1988. Vegetable
Crops In-Service Training,
Gainesville. (Contact D. D. Gull).
March 4-5, 1988.
March 4, 1988. State FFA Vegetable
Training Contest, Central Florida
Fair, Orlando, (Contact Jim
April 29, 1988. State FFA Vegetable
ID Finals, JWRU, University of
Florida, Gainesville. (Contact Jim
May 5, 1988. State Vo-Ag Teachers
Training School, Gainesville.
(Contact Jim Stephens).
May 26, 1988. Home Horticulture
Agent In-Service Training,
Gainesville. (Contact Jim Stephens)
June 20-24, 1988. 4-H Horticulture
Institute, Camp Cloverleaf.
(Contact Jim Stephens).
July 26-27, 1988. 4-H State
Congress, Vegetable (Horticulture)
Contest and Career Exploration,
Gainesville. (Contact Jim Stephens).
II. COMMERCIAL VEGETABLES
A. Row Covers for early
Earliness is an important goal
in muskmelon production in Florida,
especially in northern Florida.
Research has shown the benefits of
transplanting and mulching to
achieve early crops. In more recent
research, row covers, used in
combination with mulch, produced
very early muskmelon crops. With
other crops, such as tomato and
pepper, variable response to row
covers has been observed. Proper
time of cover application and
removal is critical to success with
row covers on many vegetables.
These studies were undertaken
to study the relation of row cover
time of application to muskmelon
yield response. Several row covers
were evaluated for their effects on
muskmelon growth and yield.
Soil for the experimental area
was prepared by plowing and disking
and areas for raised beds were
subsoiled to 24-inch depth. Beds
were formed on 6-foot centers with
fertilizer incorporated in them at
the rate of 1000 pounds per acre of
a 13-4-13 (N-P 0 -K20) analysis
fertilizer. Soil tests indicated no
requirement for lime. Beds were
fumigated with a 75:25% mixture of
methyl bromide:chloropicrin and
covered with black polyethylene
Plots consisted of a single row
of muskmelon plants 24 feet long
with 24 inches between plants in the
row. Four-week old transplants of
'Magnum 45' cultivar of muskmelon
were used for all plantings.
Treatments were 4 row covers
and a check (no cover) in each of 3
planting dates (Table 1).
Table 1. Treatments used in muskmelon row cover experiment.
March 4, 1987
March 17, 1987
April 6, 1987
April 13, 1987
April 23, 12987
May 4, 1987
1. Check (no cover)
2. KC Farms
5. Linktuff tunnel
Covers 2 through 4 were applied
after transplanting as a floating
row cover, while treatment 5 was
applied on wire hoops. Small, wire
wickets were placed over each plant
before the row covers were applied
to prevent wind abrasion. This
prevented confounding of results by
Covers were removed after
flowering had begun except for
planting one where they were left on
for a longer period because of
frosts in early April.
Irrigation was by overhead
sprinkler to maintain optimum soil
moisture. Pesticides were applied
on a timely basis to control insects
and foliar diseases.
Fruits were harvested at mature
yellow, full-slip stage and graded
according to USDA grading standards.
Discussion of results will focus on
comparisons between row covers and
the check (no cover).
KC Farms, Agronet, and Vispore
increased early fancy yields over
those of the check for planting one
(Table 2), a planting that
experienced several days of low
temperatures (less than 35*F).
Linktuff resulted in no yield
increase over the check because of
loss of early blossoms due to
excessive heat. In planting 2, only
KC Farms and Agronet increased the
yield of fancy fruits. Planting 3
was made too late and row covers did
not increase early yields.
Planting one was a more optimum
planting date, providing higher
yields of fancy fruit, even though
the plants endured several nights of
low temperatures (Table 3). Total
season yields of fancy fruits were
increased over those of the check by
all row covers except the Linktuff
tunnel (Table 4). In this study,
yields of fancy fruit alone exceeded
the state average for total season
production. Overall, seasonal
yields were increased by all row
covers compared to the check (Table
4). All row covers were similar to
each other in their effects on
yield. Even though Linktuff was
similar to the other covers for
total yield, it was probably not
favored over the others because of
reduced early fancy fruit
production, the most valuable
portion of the yield. Plants
covered with KC Farms and Agronet
were superior in production of early
In summary, row covers appear
to have benefits for muskmelon
production in Florida, however
several factors need to be
considered. Some covers are favored
over others for early plantings, and
some covers, compared to others,
have a more favorable effect on
fancy fruit production. Clear
polyethylene tunnels appear to
provide for excessive temperatures
which can reduce early fruit set.
In these studies, early March to mid
March planting dates were best, and
KC Farms and Agronet row covers
appeared to offer good potential for
light frost protection, increased
early fancy fruit yields, and
increased total season muskmelon
Table 2. Effects of planting date and row cover
early yields of fancy muskmelon fruits.
1 2 3
Row Cover Ib/A lb/A lb/A
No Cover 0 3654 133
KC Farms 2066 6433 0
Agronet 2150 6596 97
Vispore 809 4210 0
Linktuff 610 2011 0
Interaction LSD .05 = 613
Table 3. Average effects of planting date on total (season) yields of fancy
fruits and on total marketable fruit yields.
1 2 3 LSD .05
---------- lb./acre ---------------
Fancy fruits 16856 13554 7636 2310
Total marketable 28094 26748 17457 1977
Table 4. Average effects of row cover type on total (season)
yields of fancy fruits and on total marketable fruit yields.
Row cover Fancy Total
(Hochmuth, Veg. 88-02)
B. Florida Vegetable
Production Summary 1986-1987.
According to the Florida
Agricultural Statistics Service in
Orlando, the value of vegetables
produced in the 1986-1987 crop year
increased 17% over the preceding
year. Planted acreage was somewhat
higher whereas harvested acreage was
slightly less than in 1985-86.
Fresh market tomatoes continued
to be Florida's number 1 vegetable
reaching a record value of
$514,746,000, over a 12% increase
over the previous year. Other big
gainers were pepper (+78%), potato
(+52%), cucumber (+36%), strawberry
(+28%), watermelon (+28%), bean
(+20%), and sweet corn (+18%).
Meanwhile, the value of some
crops declined: celery (-2%),
escarole (-15%), lettuce (-32%),
squash (-8%), and radish (-18%).
The value of cabbage, carrot, and
eggplant production was virtually
unchanged from the previous year.
Higher volume accounted for
most of the increase in tomato
value, on the other hand higher
prices accounted for most of the
increase in pepper, potato,
cucumber, and watermelon. The
increased value of bean, sweet corn,
and strawberry was related to both
higher volume and prices.
Lower prices accounted for most
of the decline in radish value,
whereas lower prices and volume were
related to decline in the value of
escarole, lettuce, and squash.
Although results of the 1986-87
crop year were not uniformly
outstanding, the outcome was
generally quite favorable because of
the absence of a major statewide
freeze, volume consistent with
market demands and adequate prices.
(Maynard, Veg. 88-02)
III. PESTICIDE UPDATE
A. National Label for
Sethoxydim (Poast) on Tomatoes, Bell
Pepper and Strawberries.
Poast (sethoxydim) has received
a section 3 (national) label for the
control of annual and perennial
grass weeds in tomatoes, bell
peppers, and strawberries.
Poast is a selective, broad-
spectrum postemergence herbicide for
the control of emerged annual and
perennial grass weeds. It will not
control sedges or broadleaf weeds.
Apply to actively growing
grasses. Unsatisfactory control may
result if applied while grass is
under stress. A nonphytotoxic oil
concentrate at 2 pts/A is to be used
in the spray mixture.
A rate of 1 to 1 1/2 pts/A
(0.1875 to 2.0 lb ai/A) is labelled
for use depending on crop and grass
species to be controlled. Under
high temperatures and high humidity,
do not apply to peppers as leaf
injury may occur. Have and read the
label or supplemental label and
follow all recommendations for use.
(Stall, Veg. 88-02)
IV. VEGETABLE GARDENING
A. Feasability of organic
gardening and farming in Florida.
Over the years, growing
vegetables organically has been a
method of production utilized more
extensively in home gardens than in
commercial agriculture. Even in
gardens, only a relatively few,
probably less than 5 percent, of
Florida's 1,000,000 plus gardens
were grown exclusively by organic
Today, however, many eyes and
heads are turning toward organic
farming with renewed interest, as
the search for alternative crops
leaves few stones unturned. IFAS
administrators and others have
listened closely to leaders in the
produce and fast-food chains express
belief that there may be a place,
although limited, for organically
grown produce in today's
In the past, agricultural
authorities, including Florida
Extension Service, have expressed
several concerns as restraints from
fully promoting organic farming as a
reliable and economical farming
systems approach to providing
consumers with an authentic product.
Most of these constraints are
still viable questionmarks. Last
month, I outlined them briefly to
one of Florida's leading advocates
on organic farming, and received the
Constraint #1: Defining "organic".
Can it be defined in such a way that
all will know and agree on what is
meant by "organically grown"? What
authority exists that can say which
practices and products used in
production are "organic" and which
Response: "In California, there are
two standards for organic crops. A
moderate definition has been defined
by state statute, and to be
advertised "organic" it must conform
to these minimum standards. There
is a private organic grower's group
(California Certified Organic
Growers CCOF) that has more
stringent requirements and they
certify each member of their
grower's group and their produce."
"Furthermore, he added, "the Georgia
Organic Grower's Association (GOGA)
is still in the process of trying to
define the standards for
certification in Georgia. It is not
in printed form yet."
Note (JMS): According to The New
Farm, Feb. 88, now there are 10
states having laws defining how food
must be grown to be labeled
"organic", resulting in a
bewildering array of definitions.
Constraint #2: Certification and
enforcement. Even if "organic" can
be defined to everyone's
satisfaction, what agency can
(should) be responsible for
enforcing the standards and
certifying the product?
Response: "Initially, I feel
certain that the definition and
certification in Florida will come
from the organic growers themselves
as an association long before
there is any state activity."
Note (JMS): Again, New Farm states
that there is a lack of agreement on
how to enforce the laws. Among
states that try to enforce their
laws, the farmers often bear part of
the financial burden. They conclude
by saying that the laws in their
current form give shoppers little
protection from label fraud, and
organic food is as vulnerable to
consumer skepticism as any other
food. The USDA has added that
before it could allow an "organic"
label, some appropriate
certification would have to be met,
and that has not been determined.
Constraint #3: Pest problems. In
this state with so many pest
problems, how can we solve them with
the technology we have and without
the reliance of chemicals?
Response: "I have quite a list of
companies that sell natural pest
controls ranging from predatory
nematodes, fungi, bacteria, etc. to
help control pests without
petro-chemicals. The Safer line of
natural pesticides and plant care
products is an example. There are a
number of articles written by IFAS
professors and printed in
professional agricultural journals
which outline the effectiveness of
insecticidal soap in killing
whiteflies at economical low
application rates. In California it
is also used effectively against
spider mites on fruits like
Constraint #4. Organic fertilizer.
Where will farmers obtain organic
fertilizer in sufficient quantity
and quality to produce crops?
Response: "Part-not all of the
answer may be in green manures used
in crop rotation programs. What we
really need is a perennial legume
like "Spredor 2" alfalfa that
propagates by rhizomes as well as
seed, that is adapted to this far
south. Farmers could afford to plow
down this alfalfa after one or two
Constraint #5. Economics. Is
organic farming of vegetables
economical. We need cost and
returns studies of production
practices, coupled with marketing
studies on costs, spoilage loss,
labeling, and packaging.
Response: In California it is big
business; it could be in Florida
Summary While the responses
to my concerns do not provide a
complete and definite solution, they
do convey a certain amount of
promise. Obviously there are still
many answers to be found for each
of the constraints. However, some
say IFAS stands for "I'll Find A
Solution", so perhaps we will be
able to provide enough answers to
get at least a fledgling organic
component to our industry going
someday soon. Until then, wary
consumers will be reluctant to buy
and pay top dollar for an uncertain
product, and the organic way will
remain primarily for the gardener.
(Stephens, Veg. 88-02)
Prepared by Extension Vegetable
Dr. D. J. Cantliffe
Dr. S. M. Olson
Dr. D. N. Maynard
Dr. G. J. Hochmuth
Dr. D. D. Gull
Dr. W. M. Stall
Mr. J. M. Stephens