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Greenhouse production of fresh market basil




Succop, C. Elizabeth, author
Newman, Steven E., advisor
Brick Mark A., committee member
Basham, Charles W., committee member
Panter, Karen L., committee member

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Common green sweet basil Ocimum basilicum L., is a viable crop for fresh market greenhouse production due to its high value and increasing demand. Organically and hydroponically grown products conserve natural resources while providing a marketing edge and sales advantage for producers. Greenhouse growing methods fulfill a need for locally grown organic produce during the off-season. Data on greenhouse production of fresh market basil is needed by Colorado growers for efficient and profitable production. Growing/irrigation systems had an effect on the greenhouse production of fresh market basil. Comparison of bag mix, perlite, and rockwool growing systems were made within organic and salt-based fertilizer treatments. Differences were found among growing systems for total harvest per plant, final plant dry weight and final plant height depending on the fertilizer treatment and the summer/fall 1996 or spring/summer 1997 growing season. Comparisons were also made between fertilizer treatments within growing media. Basil yield in the organic fertilizer compared to the conventional, salt-based fertilizer depended on the growing system, the week of harvest, the Fusarium infection in 1997, and the growing season. Variables of interest were weekly harvested fresh weights; weekly harvested dry weights, and weekly chlorophyll readings with a SPAD meter. Nitrate nitrogen measurements and a complete plant leaf tissue analysis were taken at the termination of each study. Additionally, organoleptic taste test panel members performed a triangle difference test between the organically fertilized plants and the salt-based fertilized plants for the perlite, bag mix and rockwool growing systems. Panel members also performed a preference test between organically fertilized and conventionally fertilized plants. This research determined that basil can be successfully grown hydroponically and organically in a Colorado greenhouse. The physical appearance and health of the plants declined after four months of weekly harvesting in the 1996 and 1997 studies. During the last month of production of the 1996 study, the fresh weight and dry weight yields decreased for all growing systems reflective of the decreasing light intensities. The 1997 study shows an upward trend in fresh weight and dry weight yields for all growing systems reflective of increasing photoperiod reactions.


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Greenhouse plants


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