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HORT410 - Vegetable Crops

Course Assignment

Each student will participate in a 5-week simulation exercise that will integrate knowledge required for successful vegetable crop production, and which has a strong emphasis on problem solving.

The simulation begins when each student inherits a 60-acre vegetable farm from a rich uncle who has recently passed away. The farm is located 5 miles south of Lafayette, IN. In his will, the uncle stipulated that the farm could only be used for vegetable production! The rich uncle left all necessary equipment for operation of the vegetable farm, including cultivators, precision seeders, transplanters, plastic mulch layers, greenhouse for growing transplants, sprinkler irrigation system, etc. Before his untimely death, the rich uncle had already established a market for produce from the farm ... a supermarket chain that serves all of central Indiana. The supermarket chain pays a premium for high quality vegetables that are produced using the techniques of integrated pest management.

You must select a list of 6 vegetable crops to be grown on the 60-acre farm [10 acres per crop]. Later, you will select 4 individual crop varieties to be grown within these 10-acre crop sections. For example, you could elect to grow sweet corn in one 10-acre section, and then choose 4 varieties with different maturities (early, mid-season and late) to grow in the four 2.5-acre fields, in order to ensure that the sweet corn harvest is spread over as wide a period as possible. Alternatively, you could elect to grow 4 sweet corn varieties with 4 different genetic backgrounds (e.g. sugary, supersweet, white, yellow, or bicolor) with or without different maturities. If you select sweet corn varieties which have different genetic backgrounds and which have overlapping flowering times, you may have to separate these by a distance of greater than 250 feet in order to ensure that they do not cross-pollinate one another!

After crop and variety selection is completed, you must put together a 5-year plan for crop rotation for these 6 crops on the 60-acre farm, making sure that crops from the same plant family are not planted in the same farm section in consecutive years. You must also develop a detailed plan for planting and fertilization of the selected crops for the first year. This will require careful research for optimum planting density, method of planting [direct seeding, or transplanting], use of plastic mulch, trellising or staking, irrigation, and optimum N, P, K and limestone (Ca) fertilizer amounts to apply, based on soil test results which will be provided. The simulation will assume an average climate for the area (data for temperature, rainfall and growing degree days derived from the Midwest Climate Center). This climatic data must be used to select suitable planting dates for each crop and variety selected. The simulation exercise will compress the first year growing season into 5 weeks (the length of this course).

As the season progresses, you will be presented with a series of diverse "problems" which threaten crop health .... insect pests, diseases, nutritional deficiencies, environmental stresses and/or weeds. You must respond to each of these specific problems in a timely manner, and put forth plans to minimize crop yield potential/quality losses based on the facts provided. For example, you must decide whether the level of infestation of a crop with a certain insect pest exceeds a certain economic threshold where it becomes economically sound to spray a pesticide. If the infestation exceeds this economic threshold, what pesticide should be sprayed and at what level? You can consult the required textbook, the ID-56, and other resources that will be provided, to help in problem solving. As you make sound decisions about planting, fertilization, and integrated pest management, grade points will be awarded. A total of 200 points can be earned. Your final grade for the course will be proportional to the grade points accumulated at the end of the 5th week of the course:

Grade Points Accumulated
Final Course Grade
170 or greater/200
140 - 169/200
110 - 139/200
80 - 109/200
0 - 79/200

www www.hort.purdue.edu
David Rhodes
Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture
Horticulture Building
625 Agriculture Mall Drive
Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2010
Last Update: 01/07/08