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Open access

Osama Mohawesh, Ammar Albalasmeh, Sanjit Deb, Sukhbir Singh, Catherine Simpson, Nour AlKafaween, and Atif Mahadeen

Colored shading nets have been increasingly studied in semi-arid crop production systems, primarily because of their ability to reduce solar radiation with the attendant reductions in air, plant, and soil temperatures. However, there is a paucity of research concerning the impact of colored shading nets on various crops grown under semi-arid environments, particularly the sweet pepper (Capsicum annum) production system. This study aimed to investigate the effects of three colored shading net treatments (i.e., white, green, and black shading nets with 50% shading intensity and control with unshaded conditions) on the growth and instantaneous water use efficiency (WUE) of sweet pepper. The results showed that all colored shading nets exhibited significantly lower daytime air temperatures and light intensity (22 to 28 °C and 9992 lx, respectively) compared with the control (32 to 37 °C and 24,973 lx, respectively). There were significant differences in sweet pepper growth performance among treatments, including plant height, shoot dry weight, leaf area, leaf chlorophyll content, and vitamin C in ripened fruit. The enhanced photosynthetic rates were observed in sweet pepper plants under the colored shading nets compared with control plants. WUE increased among the colored shading net treatments in the following order: control ≤ white < black < green. Overall, the application of green and black shading nets to sweet pepper production systems under semi-arid environments significantly enhanced plant growth responses and WUE.

Open access

Bin Wu, Runshi Xie, Gary W. Knox, Hongmin Qin, and Mengmeng Gu

Crapemyrtle bark scale [CMBS (Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae)], a newly emerged pest in the United States, has spread to 16 U.S. states and unexpectedly spread on a native species american beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) in Texas and Louisiana in 2016 since it was initially reported on crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia sp.) in Texas in 2004. The infestation of CMBS negatively impacted the flowering of crapemyrtles. We observed the infestation on the two most commercially available edible fig (Ficus carica) cultivars Beer’s Black and Chicago Hardy in a preliminary trial in 2018. To help estimate CMBS potential in aggravating risks to the ecosystem stability and the green industry, we conducted a host range and suitability test using ‘Bok Tower’ american beautyberry as a positive control with other eight beautyberry (Callicarpa) species [mexican beautyberry (C. acuminata), ‘Profusion’ bodinieri beautyberry (C. bodinieri), ‘Issai’ purple beautyberry (C. dichotoma), japanese beautyberry (C. japonica var. luxurians), ‘Alba’ white-fruited asian beautyberry (C. longissima), taiwan beautyberry (C. pilosissima), luanta beautyberry (C. randaiensis), and willow-leaf beautyberry (C. salicifolia)] and three fig (Ficus) species [creeping fig (F. pumila), roxburgh fig (F. auriculata), and waipahu fig (F. tikoua)] over 25 weeks. All the tested beautyberry species and waipahu fig sustainably supported the development and reproduction of nymphal CMBS and were confirmed as CMBS hosts. Furthermore, comparing with the control, mexican beautyberry, ‘Profusion’ bodinieri beautyberry, taiwan beautyberry, and willow-leaf beautyberry were significantly less suitable, while ‘Issai’ purple beautyberry, japanese beautyberry, ‘Alba’ white-fruited asian beautyberry, and luanta beautyberry were as suitable as ‘Bok Tower’ american beautyberry. Thus, when using beautyberries in landscapes, their different potential to host CMBS should be considered to minimize spreading CMBS through the native ecosystems.

Open access

Ryan W. Dickson, Kalyn M. Helms, Brian E. Jackson, Leala M. Machesney, and Jung Ae Lee

The first objective was to evaluate wood components for differences in nitrogen (N) immobilization and effects on substrate physical properties. The second objective was to evaluate peat substrates amended with pine wood components for effects on plant growth, shoot tissue N, and fertigation practices during production. Substrates consisted of a coarse sphagnum peat blended with four types of processed pine wood at rates of 15%, 30%, 45%, and 60% (by volume). For comparison, peat was also blended with an aged pine bark, perlite, and coconut coir. Nitrogen immobilization was measured for individual components, except perlite. Individual components and blended substrates were evaluated for particle size distribution, total air porosity, container capacity, and dry bulk density. In a greenhouse experiment, petunia (Petunia × hybrida Vilm.-Andr.) were grown in hanging basket containers with each substrate blend as well as 100% peat, which served as a nonblended control substrate, and fertilized at each irrigation with 200 mg·L−1 N. Blended component and blend percent interacted in effects on all measured substrate physical properties; however, physical properties of all substrate blends were considered adequate for horticultural purposes. In the laboratory, pine bark immobilized 9% of total N supplied, whereas the remaining pine wood components immobilized <5% of total N. In the greenhouse experiment, blend component influenced shoot growth and flowering, which were greatest for petunia grown in 100% peat. Increasing the blend percent of all components decreased shoot growth and flowering with all blended components. Blended substrates had minimal effects on number of fertigation events, and substrate treatments differed by a maximum of three fertigation events per container over a 56-d period. This study illustrates the challenges of measuring N immobilization because results from the laboratory were not consistent with plant performance in the greenhouse. Increasing blends of each substrate (including perlite) were also observed to interact with fertigation practices and therefore applied N, tissue N, shoot dry weight, and total N uptake. As a practical conclusion from this study, peat incorporated with 60% wood fiber increased the risk of reduced plant growth and N uptake, but this risk was lower as the blend percentage decreased. In addition, other analytical methods to test N immobilization, such as microbial respiration, should be further explored.

Open access

Ravneet K. Sandhu, Laura E. Reuss, and Nathan S. Boyd

Sulfentrazone was recently registered for use in tomato and strawberry in Florida. Field experiments were conducted at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma, FL, to evaluate PRE sulfentrazone applications when applied on flat soil 30 days before bed formation (PRE-f), on the bed top immediately before laying plastic mulch (PRE-t), applied PRE-t as a tank mix with other PRE herbicides, or PRE-t followed by POST halosulfuron or rimusulfuron (POST). Sulfentrazone did not damage the tomato and strawberry crop and had no effect on strawberry and tomato fruit yield. It was as effective as the industry standards but none of the evaluated herbicide treatments provided adequate weed control. POST halosulfuron in tomato resulted in significantly greater nutsedge control at 11 (14%) and 13 (27%) weeks after initial treatment (WAIT) compared with other treatments in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020, respectively. However, in tomato, tank-mixing sulfentrazone with S-metolachlor or metribuzin did not enhance nutsedge control. Weed control did not improve with increased rates or with the use of PRE-f followed by (fb) PRE-t applications in tomato. PRE-t sulfentrazone fb POST halosulfuron was an efficient nutsedge management option in tomato. Sulfentrazone alone did not effectively control weeds in tomato or strawberry. Increased rates of sulfentrazone with the use of PRE-f fb PRE-t sulfentrazone applications did reduce (34%) total weed density in strawberry.

Open access

Elizabeth A. Perkus, Julie M. Grossman, Anne Pfeiffer, Mary A. Rogers, and Carl J. Rosen

High tunnels are an important season extension tool for horticultural production in cold climates, however maintaining soil health in these intensively managed spaces is challenging. Cover crops are an attractive management tool to address issues such as decreased organic matter, degraded soil structure, increased salinity, and high nitrogen needs. We explored the effect of winter cover crops on soil nutrients, soil health and bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) crop yield in high tunnels for 2 years in three locations across Minnesota. Cover crop treatments included red clover (Trifolium pratense) monoculture, Austrian winter pea/winter rye biculture (Pisum sativum/Secale cereale), hairy vetch/winter rye/tillage radish (Vicia villosa/S. cereale/Raphanus sativus) polyculture, and a bare-ground, weeded control. Cover crop treatments were seeded in two planting date treatments: early planted treatments were seeded into a standing bell pepper crop in late Aug/early September and late planted treatments were seeded after bell peppers were removed in mid-September At termination time in early May, all cover crops had successfully overwintered and produced biomass in three Minnesota locations except for Austrian winter pea at the coldest location, zone 3b. Data collected include cover crop and weed biomass, biomass carbon and nitrogen, extractable soil nitrogen, potentially mineralizable nitrogen, microbial biomass carbon, permanganate oxidizable carbon, soil pH, soluble salts (EC), and pepper yield. Despite poor legume performance, increases in extractable soil nitrogen and potentially mineralizable nitrogen in the weeks following cover crop residue incorporation were observed. Biomass nitrogen contributions averaged 100 kg·ha−1 N with an observed high of 365 kg·ha−1 N. Cover crops also reduced extractable soil N in a spring sampling relative to the bare ground control, suggesting provision of nitrogen retention ecosystem services.

Open access

Alexander Luckew, Geoffrey Meru, Ya-Ying Wang, Rodrick Mwatuwa, Mathews Paret, Renato Carvalho, Melanie Kalischuk, Andre Luiz Biscaia Ribeiro da Silva, Joara Candian, Bhabesh Dutta, Rajagopalbabu Srinivasan, Saritha Raman Kavalappara, Naga Charan Konakalla RRD, Sudeep Bag, and Cecilia McGregor

Summer squash (Cucurbita pepo L.) is a major vegetable crop produced in Georgia and Florida during the fall season. This production is vulnerable to whitefly (Bemisisia tabaci Genn.)-transmitted viruses that lead to severe yield losses. Over the past several years, whitefly populations have increased during the fall, thus leading to an increase in whitefly-transmitted viruses such as Cucurbit leaf crumple virus (CuLCrV) and Cucurbit yellow stunting disorder virus (CYSDV). Whitefly management for summer squash relies on the use of insecticides and can be costly without providing adequate management of the viruses. Deployment of host resistance to whiteflies and their transmitted viruses (CuLCrV and CYSDV) is the best strategy for mitigating yield loss of summer squash; however, no resistant cultivars are commercially available. In the current study, resistance or tolerance to whiteflies, CuLCrV, and CYSDV was determined for squash germplasm from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), university breeding programs, and commercial companies in Georgia and Florida across 2 years. In both locations and years, visual virus symptom severity scores were collected and a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) was used to determine the CuLCrV viral load and CYSDV presence in Georgia. Whitefly-induced feeding damage was evaluated by directly assessing the intensity of silverleaf symptoms and visual counts of whitefly adults on the foliage in the field or in photographs. Virus symptom severity was lower in C. moschata Duchesne ex Poir. genotypes, namely, PI 550689, PI 550692, PI 550694, PI 653064, and Squash Betternut 900, than in other evaluated genotypes. Two C. pepo accessions were common between both locations for viral severity (PI 442294) or viral severity and viral load (PI 171625). Lower CuLCrV loads were identified in C. ecuadorensis Cutler & Whitaker (PI 540895), and C. okeechobeensis (Small) L.H.Bailey (PI 540900) than other evaluated genotypes. Four genotypes tested negative for CYSDV during both years: C. pepo (PI 507882), C. moschata (PI 483345), C. ecuadorensis (PI 390455), and C. okeechobeensis (PI 540900); they are potential sources of resistance. Six C. moschata accessions (PI 211999, PI 550690, PI 550692, PI 550694, PI 634982, and PI 653064) showed high tolerance to silverleaf disorder and had the lowest adult whitefly counts. Collectively, the accessions identified in the current study are potential sources of resistance or tolerance to whitefly and whitefly-transmitted viruses (CuLCrV and CYSDV).

Open access

Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, Haijie Dou, Christina Perez, and Lisa Alexander

Hydrangeas are popular landscape plants that are widely grown in many parts of the world. The objective of this study was to evaluate the salinity tolerance of three novel Dichroa ×hydrangea hybrids [Dichroa febrifuga ‘Yamaguchi Hardy’ × Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Hamburg’ (YH × Hamburg), Dichroa febrifuga ‘Yellow Wings’ ×Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nigra’ (YW × Nigra), and Dichroa febrifuga ‘Yellow Wings’ ×Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Oakhill’ (YW × Oakhill)]. A 52-day greenhouse study was conducted by irrigating container-grown plants with nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.1 dS·m−1 (control) or saline solution at an EC of 5.0 dS·m−1 (EC 5) or 10.0 dS·m−1 (EC 10). At harvest, YH × Hamburg and YW × Nigra in EC 5 and EC 10 still exhibited good quality with average visual scores greater than 4.1 (0 = dead; 5 = excellent). For YW × Oakhill, moderate foliar salt damage was observed with an average visual score of 2.9 in EC 5 and 2.2 in EC 10. Compared with control, the shoot dry weight of YH × Hamburg, YW × Nigra, and YW × Oakhill in EC 5 reduced by 35%, 35%, and 55%, respectively, whereas that in EC 10 decreased by 58%, 58%, and 67%, respectively. Elevated salinity also decreased plant height, leaf area, and leaf greenness [Soil Plant Analysis Development (SPAD) readings]; chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm); performance index (PI); and net photosynthetic rate (Pn). All these responses might result from excess accumulation of sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl) ions in hydrangea leaves. In this study, compared with control, leaf Na+ concentration of YH × Hamburg, YW × Nigra, and YW × Oakhill increased 11, 36, and 14 times, respectively, in EC 5, and 31, 53, and 18 times, respectively, in EC 10. Compared with control, leaf Cl concentration increased 4, 9, and 7 times in EC 5, and 10, 11, and 8 times in EC 10 for YH × Hamburg, YW × Nigra, and YW × Oakhill, respectively. Leaf nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), potassium (K+), and iron (Fe3+) concentrations decreased at elevated salinity levels but did not cause any nutrient deficiency. In summary, the three Dichroa ×hydrangea hybrids exhibited different salinity tolerance: YH × Hamburg and YW × Nigra were more tolerant than YW × Oakhill. Salt-tolerant hydrangea hybrids should be chosen for landscape use if soil and/or irrigation water are salty.

Open access

Rachel A. Itle, Eileen A. Kabelka, and James W. Olmstead

Carotenoids serve as protective antioxidants, and function in normal vision, bone growth, cell division and differentiation, and reproduction. Winter squash (Cucurbita spp.) is an excellent dietary source of carotenoids. The range of colors from yellow to red in Cucurbita species indicates that increasing carotenoid levels through plant breeding is possible. The objective of this research was to determine the heritability of flesh color in winter squash in both Cucurbita moschata Duchesne and Cucurbita pepo L. Segregating families representing F2, BC1P1 and BC1P2 populations were created in two families of C. pepo (‘Table Gold Acorn’ × PI 314806 and ‘Table King Bush’ × PI 314806) and one family of C. moschata (‘Butterbush’ × ‘Sucrine DuBerry’). Broad-sense heritabilities were calculated for the F2, BC1P1, and BC1P2 populations within each of the three families. Heritabilities ranged from 0.19 to 0.82 for L*, 0.28 to 0.97 for chroma, and 0.12 to 0.87 for hue across all families. Transgressive segregation for color space values L* was identified in the ‘Table King Bush’ × PI 314806 C. pepo population. Our results indicate that it is possible to breed for improved flesh color in Cucurbita, but the population size and number of test locations for evaluation need to be increased to provide better heritability estimates. Cucurbita species are grown throughout the world and their availability and low price makes them an important potential source of carotenoids for human nutrition and health for all ages.

Open access

Kelly M. Gude, Eleni D. Pliakoni, Brianna Cunningham, Kanwal Ayub, Qing Kang, Channa B. Rajashekar, and Cary L. Rivard

The implementation of high tunnels has shown to increase marketability and/or yield of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and lettuce (Lactuca sativa) crops compared with open-field systems. These structures provide the opportunity to alter light intensity and spectral quality by using specific polyethylene (poly) films and/or shadecloth, which may affect microclimate and subsequent crop productivity. However, little is known about how specific high tunnel coverings affect these parameters. The overall goal of this study was to evaluate the impact of various high tunnel coverings on the microclimate and crop productivity of tomato and lettuce. The coverings included standard, ultraviolet (UV)-stabilized poly film (standard); diffuse poly (diffuse); full-spectrum clear poly (clear); UV-A/B blocking poly (block); standard + 55% shadecloth (shade); and removal of standard poly 2 weeks before initial harvest to simulate a movable tunnel (movable). Microclimate parameters that were observed included canopy and soil temperatures, canopy growing degree-days (GDD), and photosynthetic active radiation (PAR), and crop productivity included yield and net photosynthetic rate. Hybrid red ‘BHN 589’ tomatoes were grown during the summer, and red ‘New Red Fire’ and green ‘Two Star’ leaf lettuce were grown in both spring and fall in 2017 and 2018. Increased temperature, GDD, and PAR were observed during the spring and summer compared with the fall. The soil temperatures during the summer increased more under the clear covering compared with the others. For tomato, the shade produced lower total fruit yield and net photosynthetic rate (Pn) compared with the other treatments, which were similar (P < 0.001 and <0.001, respectively). The greatest yield was 7.39 kg/plant, which was produced under the clear covering. For red leaf lettuce grown in the spring, the plants under the clear, standard, and diffuse coverings had significantly greater yield than the movable and shade coverings (P < 0.001). The coverings had less effect on the yield during the fall lettuce trials, which may have been attributed to the decrease in PAR and environmental temperatures. The findings of this study suggest that high tunnel coverings affect both microclimate and yield of lettuce and tomato.

Open access

Jules Janick and Harry Paris

In the first century CE, two Roman agricultural writers, Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella and Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), referred to proto-greenhouses (specularia) constructed for the Emperor Tiberius (42 BCE–37 CE) presumably adjacent to his palace, the Villa Jovis on the Isle of Capri. Pliny stated in Historia Naturalis (Book 19, 23:64) that the specularia consisted of beds mounted on wheels that were moved into the sun, and on wintry days withdrawn under the cover of frames glazed with transparent stone (lapis specularis) to provide fruits of cucumis. According to Pliny, this was “a delicacy for which the Emperor Tiberius, had a remarkable partiality; in fact there was never a day on which he was not supplied it.” The cucumis fruits described by Columella and Pliny, long mistranslated as cucumbers, Cucumis sativus, were in fact long-fruited melons, Cucumis melo subsp. melo Flexuosus Group. They are known today as vegetable melons, snake melons, and faqqous, and were highly esteemed in Rome and ancient Israel.