I UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
A Vegetable Crops Extension Publication
Vegetable Crops Department 1253 Fifeld Hall Gainesville,L 32611 Telephone 392-2134
June 15, 1992
I. NOTES OF INTEREST
A. Vegetable Crops Calendar.
II. COMMERCIAL VEGETABLES
A. Florida Transplants: Vegetable Houses 1989 1990.
B. Demonstration on Reduced Fertilizer for Tomatoes.
III. VEGETABLE GARDENING
A. Inflorescence Abnormalities in Sweet Corn.
Note: Anyone is free to use the information in this newsletter.
Whenever possible, please give credit to the authors.
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COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS, STATE OF FLORIDA, IFAS, UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA,
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INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
I. NOTES OF INTEREST
A. Vegetable Crops Calendar.
July 13-17, 1992. 4H Horticulture
Camp, Camp Ocala. (Contact Jim
July 30, 1992. State 4H Congress
(includes state 4H Horticulture
Identification Contest). University of
Florida. (Contact Jim Stephens).
August 26-28, 1992. State Master
Gardener Continued Training Conference.
Reitz Union, University of Florida.
(Contact Kathleen Ruppert).
H. COMMERCIAL VEGETABLES
A. Florida Transplants:
Vegetable Houses 1989 1990.
Last month we discussed Florida
vegetable transplant volume. This month
we focus on transplant acreage and
shipping trends. The Florida containerized
vegetable transplant industry is
geographically concentrated in two
locations: the Sarasota, Ruskin, Plant City
area and the Immokalee, LaBelle, Naples
area. An isolated but major production
area is Bushnell where the bulk of the ebb
and flow irrigation production is located.
Slightly over 109 acres of transplant
production "under glass" (plastic actually)
were logged in 1990, 46 acres more than
recorded in 1980. Eighty-four percent of
these acres have traditional overhead
irrigation. Ebb and flow irrigation (bottom
watering) services 16% of the production
acreage (97.5% of which are at the
Greenhouse styles include:
aluminum trussed bow houses (65 acres),
wooden trussed houses (13 acres), saw-
toothed houses (3 acres), quonset houses
(12 acres), and 19 acres in unspecified
structures. Trussed bow houses
(aluminum or wood) in Florida traditionally
have curtain sides which are raised and
lowered for temperature modification.
Quonset houses do not have curtain sides.
Most vegetable transplant
producers, major and minor, (see Table 1
footnote) indicated they expected
production to either increase or remain
stable across all crops. Where areas of
decreasing production were a concern
growers cited various reasons such as:
yearly fluctuations in acreage, market
conditions, over production, and changes in
production areas to which plants were
Half of the vegetable transplants
grown by Florida's major producers were
shipped to users in-state, a third (36%)
were shipped out-of-state, and the rest
(14%) were used on-farm (Table 1).
Distribution of transplants used in-state
and on-farm indicates Florida's status as a
major producer of tomatoes, peppers, and
Volume wise, tomato, pepper,
cabbage, tobacco, celery, watermelon,
broccoli, lettuce and collard transplants
make up the bulk of Florida's out-of-state
In contrast to the distribution
pattern of the major producers, the twenty-
five smaller companies indicated greater
than 80% of all transplants produced were
used on-farm. This was true for all but
four types of transplants, broccoli,
cantaloupe, eggplant, and squash, most of
which were shipped in-state. Only 3% of
minor house production was shipped out-
Thirty-four states and two countries
(Bahamas, Canada) were cited as recipients
of Florida transplants. Among the most
frequently mentioned states receiving
transplants were Ohio, Pennsylvania, South
Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. This
factor may not identify those states
receiving the bulk of Florida's transplants
however. Other states listed as receiving
vegetable transplants include: Alabama,
Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia,
Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland,
Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri,
Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New
York, North Carolina, North Dakota,
Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and
Table 1. Distribution and Use of Florida Vegetable Transplants
Type Used on Farm (%) Shipped In-State (%) Shipped Out of State (%)
Major* Minor Major Minor Major Minor
*Major houses consist of: Classie Plants, CollierGro, Johnny Johnson Greenhouses,
LaBelle Plant World, Plants of Ruskin, Redi-Plants, Speedling, Inc. (2), and
The Plant Farm.
(Vavrina, Vegetarian 92-06)
B. Demonstration on Reduced
Fertilizer for Tomatoes.
Ken Shuler has just completed an
on-farm demonstration of reduced fertilizer
rates for tomatoes in Palm Beach county
with the Capella Farms operation. I know
we are starting to gather a few believers
out there ..... so it seems that the more of
these demonstrations we do, the better
things will get.
Ken's study involved four very
simple fertilizer treatments including the
grower standard practice for winter
tomatoes on the sandland in Palm Beach
county. The study was replicated four
times and Ken did the picking and grading.
His vegetable specialist analyzed the data
and provided moral support.
The test was conducted on a sand
that tested 4 ppm double-acid K (about as
low as you can go without hitting distilled
water!). The P was 120 ppm P and the soil
was 0.7% organic matter and had a water
pH of 7.3. The grower broadcast 500 lb per
acre of 8-4-12 on Sept. 26, 1991. Notice
that this grower has bought into the idea
that he needs next to no P205! However,
the high potash ratio philosophy still
prevails. (Ken is working with the grower
on that one).
Ken went into the beds on Nov. 1
and applied his treatments to blank
shoulder band furrows left for him by the
grower. Ken's treatments were (this is
where the moral support of the specialist
1. 160 N: 180 K2O (close to IFAS recs.)
2. 160 N: 260 K20 (high potash).
3. 160 N: 180 K20 (half of N and K from
4. 200 N: 300 K20 (grower standard).
In late January, the whole field,
including Ken's test received a liquid
injection wheel addition of 40 lb/A of N
and 13 lb/A of K20. (Can't have
everything go right). Harvests were made
five times through February and into April.
And now ... the envelope please!
You guessed it! No significant treatment
effects for yield or size grades. The yields
were: 1560 ctns/Acre for treatment #2;
1745 ctn/A for treatment #1; 1830 ctns/A
for treatment #3, and 1870 ctns/A for
treatment #4. The grand mean was 1750
ctns/A which is the number we should talk
about when referring to yield results (since
there was no treatment effect).
Although the plots received an extra
injection of N and K2O, the results clearly
show the extra N and K applied in the
"grower" treatment was not warranted.
Furthermore, increasing the K20 to N
"ratio" by increasing the K2O rate did not
improve yields and indications are the
yields might be reduced. I hope we can
throw the word "ratio" out the window and
start talking about rates. Neither of Ken's
high potash treatments improved yields or
size grade over that from the 180 (plus 13)
lb K2O/Acre. And all this on a 4 ppm K
soil! Keep up the good work, Ken! More
details in Ken's Palm Beach Extension
(Hochmuth, Vegetarian 92-06)
m. VEGETABLE GARDENING
A. Inflorescence Abnormalities
in Sweet Corn.
About this time (early summer)
each year we in Extension get a lot of calls
from homeowners inquiring about strange
happenings in their vegetable gardens.
Commonplace questions are, "Did my
potatoes cross with my tomatoes, for I see
little green fruits on top of the potato
plants?", and "Why are my eggplants brown,
instead of black", or "Is this fruit growing
on my tomato plant a tomato or a pepper?
It looks just like a bell pepper!"
But the question most often asked
me this year has been, "What's going on
with my sweet corn?" "It's got tassels
where the ears should be!" So let's take a
closer look at this latter condition, which
seems to be happening on the 'Silver
Queen' variety more so than others.
First, the sweet corn plant is usually
what we call monoecious, that is, the male
staminatee) and the female pistillatee)
flowers are borne in separate inflorescences
on the same plant. The male flower is the
tassel at the top of the stalk, and the
female flowers are in the lateral branches
arising in the axils of the lower leaves.
These pistillate flowers when mature are
However, occasionally off-type
plants occur which produce seed in the
tassel, or a tassel in the ear. When either
of these two unusual occurrences happen,
the gardener is alarmed and quickly calls
for an explanation.
In both cases, the off-types occur as
a result of stressful climatic conditions.
For example, this year (1992) we have
experienced an unusually lingering cool
spring. This climatic pattern has disrupted
the normal inflorescence sex determining
hormonal production. The result a tassel
where it should not be, or a seed-head in
the tassel area. In an over-simplifying
manner we generally refer to the cause as
"a climatic induced physiological disorder."
Also, it could be labelled a "genetic
throwback", for keep in mind that very
early corn (pre-historic) had perfect flowers
- those with both male and female parts in
the same flowers. It was only years later,
through breeding and selection, that the
parts were separated to the tassel and ears.
If you examine closely each of the tassel-
sprouts coming from the base of the ears,
you will notice that each spike contains
both the staminate panicles and the
pistillate grains with emanating silks
clustered vertically along the spike next to
While I'm talking about unusual
sweet corn flowering conditions, I might as
well mention two more: xenia, and poor
The immediate effect of the pollen
parent on the characteristics (usually color)
of the endosperm of the kernel is called
"xenia". We see it most often when yellow
corn fertilizes a white variety the kernels
come out mixed or mostly yellow, since
yellow is dominant over white. When
yellow is pollinated by white corn, the
kernels are yellow, but lighter and often
have a white tip.
The other condition poor tip-fill -
has to do with stress. The flowers (kernels
with silks) near the bottom and middle of
the ear develop the silks first so are
pollinated first. However, those at the
bottom are farther away from the tip
(entrance of pollen) so take longer to
extend silks to the tip. Those flowers at
the tip are last to develop, so under stress
(unfavorable growing conditions), take
lower precedence than those earlier
pollinated. The result poor tip-fill and
Then why is so much seen in 'Silver
Queen'? Probably simply because this
particular variety is grown more frequently
than any other in Florida gardens.
Now, you say, so much for the corn
problem. What about the little potato
fruits and the "to-peppers" and the brown
eggplants? Well, those are great topics for
future Vegetarian articles. Stay tuned!
(Stephens, Vegetarian 92-06)
Prepared by Extension Vegetable Crops Specialists
Dr. D.J. Cantliffe
Dr. S.M. Olson
Mr. J.M. Stephens
Dr. G.J. Hochmuth
Dr. S.A. Sargent
Dr. C. S. Vavrina
Dr. D.N. Maynard
Dr. W.M. Stall
Dr. J.M. White