Water availability, quality, and management, particularly under climate change constraints and fierce competition for water resources, are challenging the sustainability of intensively irrigated nursery crops. We created an online tool to estimate costs and benefits of a water recycling investment at a commercial nursery, given data on the operation input by the user. The online tool returns a “regulatory risk score” based on the user’s drought and pollution risk. Then, using a partial budget approach, it returns net present value of the investment, upfront capital cost, and expected change in annual cash flow. The present article seeks to cross-validate this computer model with results reported in the case study literature. We aggregated data on 38 nurseries and greenhouses profiled in five published studies into a meta study dataset. These data validated the computer tool’s assumptions about the relationship of operation size to total capital cost. Separate simulations on the profitability effects of varying public water rates and price premia due to green marketing corroborated the findings of earlier studies. A major finding of the simulation analysis not previously emphasized in the literature is that capital cost and profit vary significantly with the precise method that is used to size the recapture pond. A “minimalist” approach to this decision is likely to be the most cost-effective, but growers should also keep stormwater runoff and other issues of environmental best practices in mind.
Paul D. Gottlieb, Robin G. Brumfield, Raul I. Cabrera, Daniel Farnsworth, and Lucas Marxen
Ji-Eun Jeong and Sin-Ae Park
This study was conducted to determine the physiological and psychological benefits of integrating software coding and horticultural activity. Participants included 30 adults in their 20s. The subjects randomly engaged in activities—namely, connecting Arduino components, coding, planting, and a combined coding and horticultural activities. During the activity, two subjective evaluations were conducted at the end of each activity, and participants’ brain waves were measured. The spectral edge frequency 50% of alpha spectrum band (ASEF50) and ratio of sensorimotor rhythm from mid beta to theta (RSMT) were activated in the prefrontal lobe as participants performed combined coding and horticultural activities. When performing these combined activities, relative beta (RB) increased, and relative theta (RT) decreased in the prefrontal lobe. In addition, ASEF50, relative low beta (RLB), and relative mid beta (RMB) were activated during plant-based activities (planting and a combined coding and horticultural activities). The subjective evaluations revealed that the plant-based activities had a positive effect on participants’ emotions. This study shows that activities combining coding and horticulture had a positive impact on physiological relaxation and increased concentration in adults compared with other activities and was also linked with positive subjectively reported emotions.
Yan He, Lulu Yang, Yanjun Zhang, and Qiong Liang
Bletilla is an Orchidaceae genus with high medical value, including detumescence, antibacterial, and hemostasis. In this study, detailed estimates of ploidy level, karyotype, and genome size were first obtained, and a comprehensive cytological analysis was carried out to better understand the evolution of the genus. The karyotypes of Bletilla were mainly composed of metacentric and submetacentric chromosomes with lengths ranging from 1.25 to 4.93 μm. There was moderate cytological variation in Bletilla (chromosome number 2n = 32 to 76). Diploid with 2n = 34 and 2n = 36 was detected in Bletilla ochracea and Bletilla formosana, respectively, whereas diploid (2n = 32) was dominant in Bletilla striata, dysploidy (2n = 34, 2n = 36) and polyploid (2n = 48, 51, 64, 76) variations were also observed. Three species had a relatively symmetric karyotype, and which of B. ochracea was more asymmetry. The genome size (1C-values) varied from 2.94 pg (B. striata) to 3.33 pg (B. ochracea), of which B. ochracea was significantly larger than the others (P < 0.05). A positive correlation (P < 0.01) between 1Cx vs. haploid chromosome length (HCL) and asymmetry coefficient of karyotypes (AsK%) was observed.
Chunxian Chen and William R. Okie
Peach (Prunus persica) cultivars maintained at the U.S. Department of Agriculture program at Byron, GA, have never been characterized with any molecular markers. In this study, 20 microsatellite markers were used to genotype 112 cultivars and the data were analyzed to discern their population structure and phylogenetic relationships. STRUCTURE simulations revealed four K clusters and broad genetic admixture among the cultivars. Principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) showed the cultivar groups from western, northeastern, and southeastern U.S. states were adjacent to each other except cultivars from Michigan (close to most southeastern state groups) and Florida (most distant from the other groups). Principal component analysis (PCA) showed that these cultivars had no obvious PCA partitioning boundaries. The intertwined distribution in both PCoA and PCA partitions suggested many of them were genetically closely related to each other largely because most shared same ancestral parentages. Most pairwise distance means within and between the cultivar groups were relatively low, suggesting close phylogenetic relations among those cultivars, as were demonstrated in the phylogenetic tree. Limiting factors and perspectives relevant to peach breeding are discussed.
Cecilia Rubert Heller and Gerardo H. Nunez
Coconut coir is widely used as a substrate component for southern highbush blueberry [(SHB) Vaccinium corymbosum L. interspecific hybrids] cultivation in containers. Coconut coir-based substrates can exhibit high potassium (K), sodium (Na), and chlorine (Cl) concentrations. Sodium in the substrate is particularly problematic because it can cause salinity stress and nutritional imbalances in young blueberry plants. Thus, Na removal is important to ensure transplant success. We hypothesized that preplant fertilization with large volumes of nutrient solution can reduce substrate salinity, replace Na with nutritional cations, and enhance blueberry establishment. We tested this hypothesis in a greenhouse experiment with ‘Snowchaser’ SHB grown in rhizoboxes filled with a 7:3 mix of coconut coir and perlite. Four different treatments were delivered every 24 hours starting 72 hours before transplant. Treatments included 1.75 g⋅L–1 calcium nitrate (CN), 2.38 g⋅L–1 monoammonium phosphate (MAP), deionized water, and well water. One rooted cutting was transplanted to each rhizobox. Rhizoboxes were fertigated during the 7-week cultivation period. We found that preplant fertilization increased nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and calcium (Ca) concentrations in the substrate without replacing Na. Thus, preplant fertilization increased substrate salinity. Preplant fertilization also promoted microbial respiration in the substrate at the start of the experiment. Treatments did not affect SHB root architecture, leaf area index, leaf greenness, or biomass accumulation, likely because nutrients delivered by the fertigation solution provided the plants with homogeneous optimal conditions. These findings suggest that preplant fertilization with large volumes of nutrient solution does not enhance blueberry establishment in coconut coir-based substrates.
Aidan Kendall, Carol A. Miles, Travis R. Alexander, Edward Scheenstra, and Gabriel T. LaHue
Irrigation water productivity is a priority for sustainable orchard management as water resources become more limiting. This study evaluated reduced irrigation (RI) as a management strategy for cider apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) production in 2019 and 2020 in northwestern Washington, which has a Mediterranean climate and averages 14.1 cm of precipitation from June to September. RI was evaluated on three cider apple cultivars, Dabinett, Porter’s Perfection, and Golden Russet, in their third and fourth leaf. Stem water potential (stem ψ) was measured weekly throughout the growing season to monitor water stress and implement the RI treatment: irrigation would be applied when stem ψ values dropped below −1.5 MPa, a threshold indicative of moderate water stress in apples. Soil water potential was monitored throughout the season, vegetative growth was assessed by measuring shoot length and non-destructive imaging of the plant canopy using lateral photography, and yield, fruit quality, and juice quality were measured at harvest. Moderate water stress as indicated by stem ψ did not occur either year, thus irrigation was never applied to the RI treatment plots. There was a negative relationship between average stem ψ and both yield and air temperature (P < 0.0001 for each); as yield increased by 5.9 kg per tree or temperature increased by 3.3 °C, stem ψ decreased by 0.1 MPa. The juice quality attributes of the three cultivars in this study were similar to their historic measures at this site and there were no differences due to irrigation treatment, likely because trees did not reach the threshold to induce physiological stress. Both years, trees in the RI treatment did not differ from the control treatment in vegetative growth, fruit yield, juice yield, or any juice quality attribute, but weight per fruit decreased by 7 g, and fruit firmness (measured only in 2020) increased by 2 N. Results from this study indicate that fruit yield and quality in an establishing orchard can be maintained when irrigation is reduced relative to crop water requirements that are estimated from a calculated water balance or relative to conventional grower practices for this region. This finding highlights the benefits of using plant water status to schedule irrigation.
Wei Hai Yang, Chao Zhong Lu, Wei Chen, and Huan Yu Xu
Fruit abscission occurring severely in the early fruit development affects macadamia yield. Developing effective methods to improve fruit retention is a priority for macadamia cultivation and production. Girdling is an important horticultural practice that has been widely used to increase fruit yield. Previous studies have shown that girdling fails to increase macadamia yield despite enhancing the early fruit set, but few have examined the effect of girdling on its related physiological mechanism. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of main-branch girdling (MBG) on early fruit retention and also on the levels of carbohydrates and endogenous hormones in the leaves, bearing shoots and fruit of macadamia. Herein, MBG was performed at fruit set using a single-blade knife on 9-year-old macadamia trees (Macadamia integrifolia). Results showed that MBG significantly reduced young fruit drop, concurrent with significant increases in the contents of starch in both the leaves and the bearing shoots and in glucose, fructose, and sucrose levels in the husk and seed. It was suggested that the availability of carbohydrate for fruit retention was improved by MBG. Additionally, MBG increased indole-3-acetic acid (IAA), gibberellin (GA3), and zeatin-riboside (ZR, a type of cytokinin) concentrations and decreased abscisic acid (ABA) contents in the husk and the seed, indicating that MBG reduced the early fruit drop by modifying the balance of endogenous hormones. Therefore, a positive interplay between carbohydrates and endogenous hormones induced by MBG was involved in the reduction of early fruit abscission in macadamia.
Maanea L. Ramphinwa, Godwin R.A. Mchau, Ntakadzeni E. Madala, Ndamulelo Nengovhela, John B.O. Ogola, and Fhatuwani N. Mudau
Horticultural practices and quality of bush tea (Athrixia phylicoides DC.) are critical for herbal tea industrialization. The objective of the current study was to determine the effect of selected shade nets and seasonal variation on plant growth and development, and hydroxycinnamic acid content of field-grown bush tea. The trial was laid out in a randomized complete block design consisting of three shade nets (black, green, and white) and control or full sunlight with three different light intensities (40%, 50%, and 80%) replicated three times. Proportion of intercepted radiation by the canopy, chlorophyll content, plant height, and fresh and dry mass were measured, and hydroxycinnamic acid accumulation was determined. In addition, hydroxycinnamic acid composition was determined using liquid chromatography linked to mass spectrometry (LC-MS). The application of shade nets resulted in plant growth and yield reduction as compared with the plants exposed to full sunlight during summer followed by white shade net. The accumulation of hydroxycinnamic acid was higher in 80% white shade net plots compared with unshaded plants (control) and the other shade nets. Therefore, lack of shading provides a conducive environment to enhance plant growth and development of bush tea. The white shade net (80%) was an effective microclimate tool to enhance accumulation of caffeoylquinic acid (m/z 353), p-coumaric acids (m/z 337), dicaffeoylquinic acid (m/z 515), and tricaffeoylquinic acids of bush tea. This study is the first to demonstrate light as a determining factor for production of chlorogenates in bush tea plants. Future studies will be conducted to determine the effect of light on extracts of the bush tea using different solvents.
Manman Wang, Youliang Ye, Xv Chu, Yanan Zhao, Shuhong Zhang, Hui Chen, Wei Qin, and Yang Wang
Potassium (K) is a critical plant nutrient that determines quality in a myriad of crops and increases production yields. However, excessive application of various types of K fertilizers can decrease both the food quality and yields, which translates as economic losses and food safety issues. The objectives of this study were to 1) elucidate the impacts of different application rates of various K fertilizers on garlic, with the aim to identify the optimal and most economical K fertilizer dosage and 2) compare the effects of applying two common K fertilizers (KCl and K2SO4) on garlic, to determine the optimal combination. From 2018 to 2020, we utilized two distinct K-fertilized fields to conduct our experiments. The results revealed optimal KCl fertilization increased the biomass and vegetation index in garlic, and promoted the transfer of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium nutrients from the stem and leaf to bulb, thereby increasing bulb production. The application of KCl fertilizer increased the number of cloves, the diameters of the cloves and bulbs, and reduced variations in bulb size. In addition, the application of KCl fertilizer improved the nutritional quality (Vitamin C, soluble sugar, soluble protein, and allicin) of the garlic and reduced the accumulation of nitrate. However, excessive KCl fertilizer cause decreased yields, appearance traits, and nutritional quality. Applying the same rate of K fertilizer in the form of K2SO4 in isolation increased the garlic yield by only 0.1% to 22.5% when compared with KCl fertilizer. However, the results were not always significant. In this study, the highest yields, appearance traits, and nutritional quality were achieved with the ratio of K2SO4: KCl = 3:1. Consequently, to ensure the highest economic value (considering the market prices of K fertilizer, garlic sprouts, and bulbs), the authors recommend a K fertilizer rate of 252.5 kg·ha−1 K2O, with K2SO4 accounting for 61.6% for garlic production in field.
Stephanie Rossi and Bingru Huang
Heat stress symptoms in cool-season plants are characterized by loss of chlorophyll (Chl) and membrane stability, as well as oxidative damage. The objectives of this study were to determine whether foliar application of β-sitosterol, a naturally occurring plant metabolite, may promote heat tolerance by suppressing heat-induced leaf senescence as indicated by the maintenance of healthy turf quality (TQ), and Chl and membrane stability; and to determine its roles in regulating antioxidant metabolism in creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera). ‘Penncross’ plants were exposed to heat stress (35/30 °C day/night) optimal temperature conditions (nonstressed control, 22/17 °C day/night) for a duration of 28 days in environment-controlled growth chambers. Plants were foliar-treated with β-sitosterol (400 µM) or water only (untreated control) before heat stress, and at 7-day intervals through 28 days of heat stress. Plants treated with β-sitosterol had significantly greater TQ and Chl content, and significantly less electrolyte leakage (EL) than untreated controls at 21 and 28 days of heat stress. Application of β-sitosterol reduced malondialdehyde (MDA) content significantly at 21 and 28 days of heat stress, and promoted the activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD), peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT), and ascorbate peroxidase (APX) from 14 through 28 days of heat stress. β-Sitosterol effectively improved heat tolerance through suppression of leaf senescence in creeping bentgrass exposed to heat stress in association with the alleviation of membrane lipid peroxidation and activation of the enzymatic antioxidant system.