Archive | December 2010

Black vs. Black Prince: Same thing or two different tomatoes?


“I would like to know the difference between Black and the BlackPrince tomato.  Some tomato sources are saying that “Black” is what somegardeners grew as “Black Prince” years ago. ~K.”

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Thanks for the email regarding Black and Black Prince Tomatoes.  They are not the same thing.  Anyone that is telling you this is either doing a bit of false advertising or they are trying to mislead you into buying a cheaper to produce variety.

Black Tomato, photo courtesy of Totally Tomatoea, 2011

Black Tomato (80-85 days) is a Russian heirloom variety that is very early indeterminate.  The fruit color is a dark red that is considered black.  The skin is thin and the flesh is a shade lighter red than the skin, soft and flavorful.  Black is a tomato that can grow under some rather adverse conditions.

Black Prince Tomato, courtesy of Totally Tomatoes, 2011

Black Prince Tomato (70-90 days) is a Russian heirloom variety that is also indeterminate, but they do not express the extra growth as quickly (makes you think it might be a determinate at first, then continues to grow).  The fruits are round and have deep garnet colored skins with a hint of green on the shoulders.  The flesh is dark red to brown colored and is tender, juicy, and flavorful.  The fruit is quite a bit smaller than the Black Tomato (about 2 inches in diameter, whereas Black is about 3 inches in diameter).

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Pole Bean Recommendations for Missouri


“I live in NW Missouri. I have tried to grow several varieties of pole beans, in the summer, and they all have seemed to wait til cooler weather to blossom and set beans. When I plant Blue lakes in early August, I have a tremendous crop, just before frost.  Since bean picking is much easier on an old back, when they are vertical… I am wondering if there is a variety that would be more suited to hot weather.  Bush beans do fine in our summer weather, but so far not pole-beans.  Thanks, ~A.”

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Some varieties that may work better for you would be Kentucky Wonder (Green), Kentucky Wonder Wax (Yellow), and Rattlesnake (Purple/Green Streak).  These all do well in hot  weather and produce very well.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tin Can Tomatoes and Two Corn Ears


“Is the time to germinate part of the growing time for corn? Do tomaos need sunlight to ripen. I want to experiment with forcing different shapes for tomatos (like growing inside an inverted tin can)? Is the IOCHIEF the only 2 ears on one stalk you sell? ~M.”

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The days to maturity for corn is derived to include a 7 day window for corn to germinate.  If the corn takes fewer or more days to germinate, then the days to maturity will be less or more, respectively.

Tomatoes do need a little bit of sunshine to ripen, but it has to be in the right aspect.  The fruit itself is damaged by direct sunlight.  When a tomato fruit is green, it contains tissue components that will develop into lycopene and hormones initials that will develop into ethylene, a naturally occurring plant hormone that allows the tissues to soften during ripening.  If the fruit is in the sun while developing, these tissues will be damaged by UV rays.  It is important to keep the fruits covered by leaves to protect them.  Once the fruit begins to ripen, sunlight is important to the leaves, as they will be using the energy from the sun to create sugars that are transported to the fruit to sweeten it.  So, indirectly, sunlight is needed when ripening tomatoes.

If the tomato has ‘blushed’ (has streaks of red), it can be ripened in a sunny windowsill.  The sugars have already been transported by this time and the glass will block the UV rays.

This entire process is the reason why tomatoes that you see in the store are pink and hard instead of red and soft.  The fruit was picked too green and was not allowed to have the sugars transported to the fruit or the hormone initials for the ethylene to form.  Instead, the fruit is gassed with ethylene gas.  Being that it only hits the exterior of the fruit, it ripens the skin, but not much more.  Thus, you have a underripe, cardboard-tasting, pink tomato.

A tomato should grow in a can or other shaped item.  The only thing you want to watch for is that the tomato stays relatively dry inside the can.  If moisture from precipitation events or dew gets in there and doesn’t dry in a reasonable amount of time, it is possible that it could allow fungal and bacterial growth that will damage the fruit.

Under good growing conditions, most hybrid corn varieties have two ears.  If the plants become stressed from extremes of precipitation, temperature, or wind, the yield may be decreased to one ear and one sucker or just one ear.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Field Corn Recommendations for Nebraska


“I would like to get started planting open pollinated field corn on our farm but I do not know which ones would fit our soils the best. I am located in East central Nebraska and the main use for the corn will be feed for the feedlot cattle but whatever we do not feed will get sold to the local elevator. I am not interested in tall leafy corn because I do not feed any silage. I am however, interested in a good quality high yielding corn that I can try on a few acres and see how it dose before I plant it on all the ground. Also what is a good seeding population. I hope we can do business together. Thanks”

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For your part of Nebraska, I would recommend either Best o’ Show 722 Hybrid or Reid’s Yellow Dent (open-pollinated).  The reason why I recommend these is that they do have higher yield rates of ears/kernels than many of our other field corn varieties and because they would be better suited for your area.

Best o’ Show 722 Hybrid is a medium-late hybrid that combines remarkable yields with good eye appea, excellent disease resistance, and broad adaptability to be the variety to grow if you farm south of I-80.  Best O’ Show 722 is a power-packed, single-cross hybrid with ruggedness, eye appeal, huge yellow ears, vigorous emergence, and early plant health.  It grows taller than all other hybrids except Hybrid Goliath Silo and can be  used either for grain or for ensilage.  Excellent for no-till.  Adapts to a wide range of soil types.  Excellent tolerance to stress.  Matures in 110-115 days.  Plant at a population of 22-26K kernels for best results.

Reid’s Yellow Dent dates back to the 1840’s, when it originated as a cross between ‘Gordon Hopkins’, a late, light red variety, and an early yellow flint variety.] The cross was accidental: Robert Reid had a poor stand of ‘Gordon Hopkins’ one year and replanted the missing hills with the early yellow flint corn. He grew the hybrid until it stabilized. ‘Reid’s Yellow Dent’ is one of the most productive, hardy corns ever developed, and was a prize winner at the 1893 World’s Fair and progenitor of a number of yellow dent lines. This old-timer is well known in the Mid-Atlantic region, where it is revered for its adaptability and dependability in southern heat and soils. Stalks to 7′ with 9 in. double ears well filled with 16 rows of deep, close-set, moderately flat seed. Average analysis is 9.9% protein and 0.31% lysine.

As for good seeding population, you want to put in about 15 lbs. (about 20,000-22,000 seeds) per acre.

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Corn Isolation Requirements


“Dear Horticulture Talk Expert, I am interested in growing Polka Bicolor Corn and Honey Select Triplesweet Corn OR the Honey Select with Mirai 131Y.  It says that I am supposed to isolate these.  Why?  Also, can you tell me where I can purchase these?  Thanks, R.C.”

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Thank you for your question regarding corn isolation.  Sweet corn is a naturally occuring genetic mutation of field corn, producing kernels consisting mostly of sugar rather than starch.  However, sugar in the kernels rapidly converts to starch after its prime harvest stage. Recent sweet corn hybrids have been bred for even higher sugar concentrations and slower conversion of sugar to starch. Several different types of mutations and gene combinations can result in sweet corn. The following types are most commonly available:

1. Standard Sweet – su or su*(Silver Queen Hybrid, Peaches & Cream, etc.)

2. Partially modified types – at least 25% of the kernels are modified as follows:

a. Synergistic or Sugary Supersweets – su sh2* (Honeycomb, golden Nectar, Sugar Time, and Sugar Loaf;

b. Sugar Enhanced or EH – su se* (Kandy Korn EH, Earliglow EH, and Tendertreat EH)

3. Fully Modified types – su se* on all kernels (Miracle)

4. Single gene replacements for su – usually sh2* (Illini Xtra Sweet, Early Xtra Sweet, Northern Xtra Sweet)

5. Multiple gene replacements for su  are combined to replace su (Mirai varieties)

6.   A relatively new type of sweet corn known as “triplesweet” has both sugar enhanced (se) and supersweet (sh2) kernels on the same ear (Honey Select, Serendipity, Avalon, Polka)

Corn pollen is carried by the wind from the tassels to the silks. Different types of corn can cross-pollinate and contaminate one another. All sweet corn types must be isolated from other types of corn including field corn, popcorn, and ornamental corn because their pollen will turn sweet corn starchy. The shriveled characteristic of sweet corn is dominant, so popcorn pollinated by sweet corn will be sweeter, have less popping potential, and probably shriveled. The color yellow is also dominant, so yellow corn that is pollinated by white corn will remain yellow. However, white corn that is pollinated by yellow will turn yellow.

Cross-pollination among some of the genetically  different types of sweet corn can have undesirable results. For example, sweet corn types 4 and 5 must be isolated from each other and from all other types of sweet corn because pollen from the other types will make the kernels starchy like field corn. In addition, pollen from types 4 and 5 can make standard sweet corn starchy. Types 2a and 2b will regress to normal sweetness when pollinated by standard type pollen. Type 6 (Polka, Honey Select) does not require isolation from most sweet corn types, except for Type 4 and 5. In order to preserve the intended sweet quality of the corn you are planting, isolation is recommended to prevent cross-pollination with other types.  Isolation can be achieved in several ways.

–Distance. Since pollen is carried by the wind rather than insects, distance can be used as an effective barrier. A distance of 250 feet between different types will result in some contamination, but not enough to materially affect the quality of the produce. A distance of 700 feet should give complete isolation; however, complete isolation is only necessary for scientific and plant breeding purposes.

–Maturity. The number of days to maturity can be used to prevent different types from being at a pollinating stage at the same time. Maturity isolation can be achieved by staggering planting dates or by selecting cultivars that mature at different times. A minimum of 14 days should separate the tasseling time of the different types.

–Barrier/Border Rows. A considerable amount of contaminating pollen can be diluted by planting two to five border rows between different types. Most of the cross-pollination would occur in these border rows so that isolation distances could be reduced.

–Wind Direction.  Isolation can be enhanced, although not fully achieved, by avoiding the prevailing wind direction.

As for a place to purchase these varieties, it depends on whether you are interested in treated seed (I recommend this for those planting in spring and live in the northern regions) or untreated seed.

Treated seed:  http://www.jungseed.com/dc.asp?c=30

Untreated Seed: http://www.rhshumway.com/sp.asp?c=166http://www.vermontbean.com/dc.asp?c=22

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Match Up: Is Isolation Required for Silver Queen and Kandy Korn Sweet Corns?


“I want a yellow corn to plant with white silver queen and Kandy Korn EH sounds like a good candidate. My question is if Kandy corn is an se or sh2 hybrid. If they would be a good match how would they’re growing times coordinate? Would the Kandy corn have to be planted later? I live in the very southern part of Texas, zone 9b, so these corns should grow okay, right. Down here sh2 corn gets too sweet, I suppose because of the heat. These corns both seem to have about the same ear size, plant size, and unique coloring. I want to plant these in hills, six seeds to the hill and maybe thin to three or four of best starts. The hills will be set up on four foot centers both in the row and between rows. Any help with this would sure be appreciated. Thanks, ~R.”

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Thanks for contacting me.  Kandy Korn EH Yellow Hybrid Sweet Corn (Zea mays var. ‘Kandy Korn EH’) is a SE variety.  SE stands for Sugary Enhanced, and means that this hybrid sweet corn has a gene that increases the tenderness and sweetness of the kernel.  The  result is a sweet, creamy, and tender kernel that has a longer harvest and shelf period.  Varieties designated SE are hybrids that have SE and SU parents (horticultural term: heterozygous).  Sugary enhanced varieties do not require isolation from normal (SU) sweet corn.

Silver Queen White Sweet Corn is a normal (SU) variety and does not require isolation from any other sweet corn.  In other words, you have a very good pairing with the Kandy Korn and the Silver Queen White.

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Pining in the Poles: My Pole Beans Are Not Producing


“I bought Bountiful Stringless Bush Beans and Blue Lake Pole Beans in Feb2010 and planted them side by side.The bush beans did fine but the pole beans grew 7 feet up the trellis with not one green bean. I had 35 feet of healthy vine but wondered why no fruit when the bush beans were productive. I live in PA. Any suggestions are welcome. ~G.”

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Thank you for your email regarding your Blue Lake Pole Beans.  How disappointing!

There are several reasons why your beans may not have produced:

1)      Beans are even more intolerant of excess nitrogen – one of the most common causes of blossom drop – than those other plants are. Pole beans are even more sensitive to this than bush beans because they have more biomass.  Excess nitrogen results in huge lovely plants but no beans.  Beans can make their own fertilizer by nitrogen fixation.  This occurs by a process called symbiosis, in which a bacteria is embedded in the root tissues of the plant.  The areas with bacteria swell into structures called nodules.  The bacteria convert nitrogen (from the air in the soil) into a solid form that can be used by the plant.

2)      Beans prefer temperatures between 70-80.  If the maximum temperature is consistently over 85, the flowers will drop off without setting pods.  Heat can also cause the blossoms to deteriorate on the plant without actually dropping off.  Hot dry winds also aggravate this situation.   If the maximum temperature is consistently under 70, the plant will not initiate flowering.  Bush beans are more tolerant of temperature than pole beans are.

The Pennsylvania area did experience a very warm summer, so it is likely that could have greatly contributed to the poor blossom set.

Based on the information from your email, I am guessing that one of the above is the source of your problem.  Other reasons include:

3)      Extremes in soil moisture.  Plants growing in soil that is too wet or too dry are stressed by a lack of oxygen and water.  Stress makes blooms drop.

4)      Again, probably not the case based on your description, but weakened plants produce few pods.  If your plants had any type of disease, this would have made it more difficult for the plant to set pods.

5)      It is not uncommon for a person to have an initial lag with pole beans when compared to bush beans.  Bountiful is a 47 day variety whereas the Stringless Blue Lake S-7 is a 60 day variety.  The tradeoff is that bush beans do not produce as much but give you a crop sooner whereas the pole beans take longer but produce more.

6)      If your beans are planted too close together, the production goes way down.

7)      If you let your beans mature the plant will stop making more beans. This is probably not the case because you didn’t have any to begin with, but thought I’d say so because it is the problem experience by most of our customers that ask the same question as you have.

If you have not had your soil tested, I would recommend doing so.  This will allow you to know what your starting point in the spring is in terms of how much nitrogen to apply for your beans.  Also, it is good to know what type of soil you have.  If your soil is heavier (as opposed to being sandy), then your nitrogen requirements are going to be even lower because it is held in the soil rather than washing out.  Sandier soils tend to have the nitrogen leach throw the porous texture and be washed out.

As for doing something to aid with the temperature, there is not much we can do with that other than pray.  =)

 

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.