November 2020 - 1

Effective weed control
vital for higher yielding
Garlic patch becomes
a place of pride,
November 2020 | Volume 54 |
Issue 11
Balancing act
Briner, grower needs drive seedless
cucumber moves
Selection of pickling cucumber varieties needs to strike a balance between both what briners need and growers want, said Ben Phillips, Michigan State University Extension
vegetable educator. Photos: Dean Peterson
By Dean Peterson
VGN Correspondent
Michigan's 25,000 acres of cucumbers
makes it the leading producer of
cucumbers in the country. Brining for
pickle production is the big market.
Mechanical harvesting predominates
and the industry is now exploring
seedless varieties.
To lend some insight into those
changes, Vegetable Growers News
reached out to Ben Phillips, Michigan
State University (MSU) Extension
vegetable educator, to discuss the subject.
Phillips conducts yield trials on seedless
cucumbers and is based in the Bay Region
of eastern Michigan which is prime
ground for growing pickling cucumbers.
Vegetable Growers News: How is
the plant architecture of seedless varieties
different from conventional varieties?
Ben Phillips: Plant architecture has
been going through a few different phases.
Older varieties have long vines, multiple
vines and flowers all along the length of
them. Plant breeders have been breeding
to shorten the vines and have more fruit
close to the crown. The seedless pickle
varieties I harvest - called parthenocarpic
varieties - mostly have one vine, set their
fruit near the crown of the plant, and it's
easy to tell when it's time to pick.
The big advantage is that with a
concentration of flowers, you get fruit
that's all about the same size. You get all
of the fruit around one crown. They're all
about the same. That's the gold crown of
mechanical harvesting.
VGN: What other advantages do
seedless varieties have?
BP: From the perspective of a grower,
seedless varieties have the potential to
yield higher and have a more concentrated
fruit set. Along with higher yield you get
more fruit of the proper shape - fewer are
misshapen - and you get fewer culls which
again improves yield. Seedless varieties
don't require bees so there are savings in
not having the expense of a beekeeper
See CUCUMBERS, page 6
Science of better seeds pursued
By Stephen Kloosterman
Associate Editor
A group of U.S. researchers is
exploring the science of seeds, looking
for technologies that can benefit
nurserymen and growers alike.
An ongoing multi-state project
research project, " Environmental and
Genetic Determinants of Seed Quality
and Performance, " was recently reapproved
by the USDA's National
Institute of Food and Agriculture for an
additional 5 years. The project is led by
11 U.S. universities in Arizona, Florida,
Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana,
New York, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas
and Virginia. Many of the researchers
involved are well-known to each other
as members of " W-4168 " - a group of
highly-dedicated seed research biologists
Seedlings growing in the greenhouse
facilities of the Texas A&M AgriLife Research
and Extension Center in Uvalde.
Photo: Texas A&M AgriLife Research
at universities and federal facilities who
meet yearly to network and collaborate.
The goal is a better scientific understanding
of how seeds are produced, germinate for
better in-field performance and to better
understand the biology of seeds. Both
nurseries and growers stand to benefit
from the knowledge.
" In simple terms, high seed quality
for the nursery equates to a high level
of success for the growers, so they can
have uniform and high-yields, " said
Daniel Leskovar, Ph.D., a Texas A&M
AgriLife Research vegetable physiologist.
" This not only goes for large commercial
vegetable growers also now for small
nurseries as well as those that are
engaging both in conventional as well as
organic systems. "
For instance, growers who receive
transplants with better-developed root
systems may save on their inputs into
the crop.
" Improving the root system of a young
plant is crucially important, so young
plants are able to more efficiently capture
water and nutrients and tolerate the
See SEEDS, page 8

November 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of November 2020

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