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Open access

John M. Ertle and Chieri Kubota

Grafted watermelon plants available in the United States are typically transported for a long distance from a specialized nursery to the production field. To investigate the effects of chilling stress during transportation on the early plant growth and development, grafted and nongrafted ‘Tri-X-313’ seedless watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) seedlings were subjected to low-temperature treatments applied over a 72-hour period. The first experiment exposed grafted and nongrafted seedlings to 0, 6, 12, 24, or 48 hours of 1 °C chilling, and then were moved to a 12 °C growth chamber for the remainder of the chilling treatment period. The second experiment exposed nongrafted seedlings to seven different combinations of chilling duration (0, 24, 32, 41, 44, or 48 hours) to create varied chilling degree hours (CDH) at different temperatures (between −0.4 °C and 1.2 °C). After 72 hours, seedlings were transplanted in pots filled with a commercial substrate in a greenhouse to evaluate the early plant growth and floral development. Each experiment had two repeats (spring and summer) with a randomized complete block design (n = 10). Although greater exposure to chilling negatively affected visual quality and photosynthetic capacity [measured by chlorophyll fluorescence parameter, variable fluorescence/maximum fluorescence (Fv/Fm)] in both repeats, delay in flowering after transplanting was significant in spring only and increased with increasing CDH (up to 6 days with 48 hours of 1 °C exposure). Grafting was found to mitigate the degree of flowering delay when the same chilling exposure was applied. When chilling temperatures were varied, visual damage of leaves, decrease in Fv/Fm, and delays in female flower development were best correlated with CDH at a base temperature of 15 °C, 3 °C, and 4 °C, respectively. Our experiments and further analyses with available literature data suggest that 50 to 70 CDH 4 [CDH with base temperature (BT) = 4 °C] seems to be a critical threshold to cause significant delay in female flower development (3.5 days for grafted and 1.3 days for nongrafted plants). Therefore, if temperatures lower than 4 °C are expected during transportation of seedlings, we suggest mitigation measures be taken so that CDH 4 do not reach greater than 50 degree hours.

Open access

Gerardo H. Nunez, Neil O. Anderson, Christopher S. Imler, Laura Irish, Chad T. Miller, and Mariana Neves da Silva

During the 2021 American Society for Horticultural Science annual conference, the Teaching Methods Professional Interest Group hosted the workshop “Going beyond Zoom: Tips and tricks for teaching horticulture online.” This workshop provided a forum for the dissemination of tools, materials, and approaches used to facilitate active learning in horticulture courses. Here we summarize the topics presented in the workshop as a resource for current and future horticulture instructors.

Open access

Zhenxu Liang, Mingde Sun, Yang Wu, Jun Liu, Yanyan Zhao, Haiqing Tian, Ruirui Du, and Songzhong Liu

To understand the soil nutrient status of pear orchards in Beijing, we investigated their fertilization situation, including the fertilizer type, amount, and period. Furthermore, soil samples were collected at a depth of 0 to 40 cm to determine the contents of soil nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The status of nutrient profits and losses was analyzed. The results showed that 50% of the pear orchards received organic fertilizer as a single nutrient source, and 35.7% of the pear orchards received a combined application of organic fertilizer and chemical fertilizer. Most pear orchards received organic fertilizer in autumn, but the application of chemical fertilizer occurred mainly before germination and during fruit expansion. The average nutrient input to the investigated pear orchards was 569.6 kg/ha for N, 855.0 kg/ha for P2O5, and 448.1 kg/ha for K2O, and the corresponding proportion of organic fertilizer was 76.9%, 88.0%, and 85.8%, respectively. However, the pear orchards had surpluses of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, with average surplus amounts as high as 445.5, 794.3, and 321.4 kg/ha, respectively. Among all pear orchards surveyed, 93.33% faced environmental risks and 37.04% faced leaching risks. The average content of soil phosphorus was 2.23 times its critical value, and 64.29% of the studied pear orchards exceeded the critical value. Most pear orchards had surplus potassium, with 26.92% exceeding 500 kg/ha. This study provides a basis for soil improvement, high-quality production of fruits, and efficient utilization of pear orchards in Beijing.

Open access

Ya Li, Junhai Niu, Shisong Xu, Qingyun Leng, Guangsui Yang, Hernán Ariel López, and Shitao Xu

Open access

Jiaqi Lin, Weiyan Xuan, Yanpei Li, Shixiang Xiao, and Dou Feng

Banana (Musa sp.) is one of the world’s most important crops, and a source of extreme economic importance in many countries around the world. However, the height of banana plant poses a significant challenge in both harvesting fruit and their tolerance to extreme weather. Gibberellin (GA) is one of the important endogenous hormones affecting plant height. Copalyl diphosphate synthase (CPS) is the first key enzyme in the GA biosynthesis pathway. In this paper, two full-length coding sequences of CPS genes were cloned from ‘William B6’ dwarf mutant banana and its wild-type parent (Musa AAA group), named CPS-A and CPS-G, respectively. The full-length complementary DNA (cDNA) sequences of CPS-G and CPS-A were both 2163 base pairs (bp), and encoded 720 amino acid residues. There were eight differences between the two speculative amino acid sequences in the alignment analysis. The molecular weights of CPS-G and CPS-A were 82,359.00 and 82,412.15 Da, respectively, and their isoelectric points were 6.17 and 6.03, respectively; there were no signal peptides and transmembrane structures. The banana CPS was mainly located in the cytoplasm by subcellular localization prediction. The results of reverse quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction showed that CPS gene expression levels in the leaves and false stems of dwarf banana were lower than those of wild banana except for the developmental stage of the 10th leaf. Its expression level in the dwarf banana stem was significantly lower than that of the wild type at the 15th, 20th, and 25th-leaf age, respectively. The results showed that the dwarfism of the ‘Williams B6’ dwarf mutant might be related to the mutation of the CPS sequence and the difference of expression level. This study laid a foundation for further research on functional verification and the genetic regulation mechanism of the CPS gene.

Open access

Cathryn Chapman, Stephanie Rossi, Bo Yuan, and Bingru Huang

Effects of amino acids and nitrogen on plant regrowth or recovery from drought stress remain largely unknown. The objectives of this study were to examine how gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) or proline, alone and in combination, or inorganic nitrogen [ammonium nitrate (NN)] may differentially affect turf performance during drought stress and rewatering, and to determine which specific endogenous amino acids regulated by GABA, proline, or NN priming were associated with plant tolerance to drought stress and postdrought recuperation in cool-season grass species. Creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera cv. Penncross) planted in porous ceramic fritted clay medium were exposed to well-watered conditions or drought stress by withholding irrigation for 21 days in growth chambers. Plants were treated with water (untreated control), GABA, or proline alone and in combination, or NN through foliar spray before drought stress and every 7 days during the 21-day stress period. For postdrought recovery, at 21 days of drought treatment, plants were rewatered for 14 days to return soil water content to prestress levels. Plants treated with GABA or proline alone or in combination maintained higher turf quality (TQ), dark green color index (DGCI), and stolon length by 21 days of drought stress, whereas proline-treated plants also maintained higher leaf relative water content (RWC) during drought as well as longer stolon length during rewatering. Plants treated with NN maintained higher TQ and leaf RWC during drought and had improved percent canopy cover, DGCI, and stolon length during postdrought rewatering. Accumulation of endogenous amino acids under drought stress, including proline and alanine, for proline-treated creeping bentgrass may have contributed to the enhancement of drought tolerance and postdrought regrowth. Nitrogen-enhanced accumulation of GABA, proline, and glutamic acid may have played a role in active amino acid assimilation and subsequent postdrought regrowth. Results from this study indicate that GABA or proline were mainly effective in promoting the tolerance of creeping bentgrass to drought stress while inorganic NN was effective in promoting rapid postdrought recovery and regrowth potential through the activation of amino acid metabolism. Endogenous amino acids, including GABA, proline, alanine, and glutamic acid, may be used as biomarkers to select for drought-tolerant plants and biostimulant components for improvement of drought stress tolerance and poststress recovery in cool-season turfgrass species.

Open access

Lisa Tang and Carol J. Lovatt

Effects of water-deficit stress and foliar-applied gibberellic acid (GA3) on ‘Washington’ navel orange (Citrus sinensis) floral gene expression and inflorescence number were quantified. Trees subjected to 8 weeks of water-deficit stress [average stem water potential (SWP) −2.86 MPa] followed by 3 weeks of re-irrigation (SWP recovered to > −1.00 MPa) produced more inflorescences in week 11 than trees well-irrigated (SWP > −1.00 MPa) for the full 11 weeks (P < 0.001). After 8 weeks of water-deficit stress, bud expression of flowering locus t (FT), suppressor of overexpression of constans1 (SOC1), leafy (LFY), apetala1 (AP1), apetala2 (AP2), sepallata1 (SEP1), pistillata (PI), and agamous (AG) increased during the re-irrigation period (weeks 9 and 10), but only AP1, AP2, SEP1, PI, and AG expression increased to levels significantly greater than that of well-irrigated trees. Foliar-applied GA3 (50 mg·L−1) in weeks 2 through 8 of the water-deficit stress treatment did not reduce bud FT, SOC1, or LFY expression, but prevented the upregulation AP1, AP2, SEP1, PI, and AG expression that occurred during re-irrigation in water-deficit stressed trees not treated with GA3. Applications of GA3 to water-deficit stressed trees reduced inflorescence number 95% compared with stressed trees without GA3. Thus, GA3 inhibited citrus (Citrus sp.) floral development in response to water-deficit stress through downregulating AP1 and AP2 expression, which likely led to the failed activation of the downstream floral organ identity genes. The results reported herein suggest that bud determinacy and subsequent floral development in response to water-deficit stress in ‘Washington’ navel orange are controlled by AP1 and AP2 transcript levels, which regulate downstream floral organ identity gene activity and the effect of GA3 on citrus flower formation. The water-deficit stress floral-induction pathway provides an alternative to low-temperature induction that increases the potential for successful flowering in citrus trees grown in areas experiencing warmer, drier winters due to global climate change.

Open access

Koichi Nomura, Eriko Wada, Masahiko Saito, Hiromi Yamasaki, Daisuke Yasutake, Tadashige Iwao, Ikunao Tada, Tomihiro Yamazaki, and Masaharu Kitano

In horticultural leafy vegetable production, continuously monitoring crop size indicators such as the leaf area index (LAI), leaf fresh weight (LFW), and leaf length (LL) is of practical value because these indicators are related to crop yields and harvest timing. The aim of this study was to develop a method that enables the continuous, automatic estimation of the LAI, LFW, and LL of a Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) canopy by combining timelapse photography with allometric equations. LAI was estimated based on the gap fractions of nadir photographs (i.e., the fractions of nonleaf area), which were retrieved using the deep learning framework DeepLabv3+ with satisfactory accuracy (mean intersection over union, 0.71). This photographically estimated LAI (LAIphoto) corresponded well with the destructively measured LAI (LAIdest) (LAIphoto = 0.96LAIdest, R 2 = 0.87). LAIphoto was then used as the input of allometric regression equations relating LAIphoto with LFW and LL. A power function (y = axb ) fit the observed LAIphoto–LFW and LAIphoto–LL relationships well (R 2 = 0.89 and 0.74, respectively). By combining nadir timelapse photography with the allometric equations, changes in the LFW and LL of a Chinese chive canopy were estimated successfully for a 9-month cultivation period. Our approach can replace time-consuming, labor-intensive manual measurements of these crop size indicators for Chinese chive and may be applicable to other crops with different parameter sets.

Open access

Jeff B. Million and Thomas H. Yeager

Fabric containers (FAB), due to their root-pruning properties, can be used as an alternative to conventional plastic containers (PLA) in container nurseries. Because sidewall evaporation in FAB has been shown to reduce container substrate temperatures, our objective was to determine if FAB would reduce the release rate of controlled-release fertilizer (CRF), resulting in less leachate loss of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) and greater CRF longevity. Dwarf Burford holly were grown in 36-cm-diameter (18-L substrate) FAB or PLA in a bark-peat substrate with incorporated CRF. Spray stake irrigation was routinely adjusted to a target leaching fraction of 25%. Maximum daily substrate temperature, measured 3 cm from southwest-facing container wall, averaged 6 °C lower in FAB than in PLA. For two 31-week experiments where leachate was continuously collected and sampled weekly, FAB reduced leachate N loss by 30% and P loss by 47% despite requiring 66% more irrigation water and collecting 31% more leachate than with PLA. FAB reduced average N loss from 114 to 78 kg·ha−1 and average P loss from 16.0 to 8.6 kg·ha−1. FAB increased plant size by 8% and shoot dry weight by 12% for one experiment but had no effect in the other. We concluded that compared with PLA, the use of FAB can decrease leachate loss of N and P but require considerably more irrigation water to offset water loss via sidewall evaporation.