Hop stunt viroid (HSVd) is one of the most important pathogens impacting hop production worldwide. It reduces yields, stunts growth, and is easily transmissible. HSVd can cause significant yield losses upward of 62% depending on the hop variety. This study uses a net present value (NPV) approach over a 6-year production cycle of one acre of hops to examine the potential economic impact of HSVd on aroma and alpha hop varieties. The estimated economic impact of HSVd ranges from about $432 (for a 1% yield reduction) to $26,795 (for a 62% yield reduction) per acre. Using the NPV approach the study then analyzes potential economic benefits of using certified disease-free planting stock as a strategy to mitigate the risk of HSVd infection. If expected yield losses of aroma and alpha hops exceed 6% and 7%, respectively, then the NPV of investing in certified clean planting stock is greater than that of the infected hops over the 6-year production cycle. Complete removal and replanting of an entire acre of aroma and alpha hops with certified clean planting stock is economically beneficial once expected yield losses exceed 35% and 36%, respectively. These findings are valuable for giving hop producers information to devise profit-maximizing planting strategies and to create incentives for extended usage of certified clean planting materials.
Trent J. Davis, Miguel I. Gómez, Scott J. Harper, and Megan Twomey
Emma K. Dawson, George E. Boyhan, Tim Coolong, Nicholas T. Basinger, and Ryan McNeill
Along with the many known benefits of cover crops, they may be an effective ecological weed management strategy in low-input agriculture. This research aimed to determine the effect of cover crops, combined with reduced-tillage and nitrogen inputs on sweet corn (Zea mays) yield and weed communities. During the 2-year study, the impact of the cover crop on yield varied. Yield within the no-till conventional treatment plots was not significantly different from the conventional treatment [6844 and 7721 lb/acre (P = 0.592)] in year 1 but differed in year 2 (P = 0.003). Weed density and experimental area covered by weeds were not significantly different between conventional and no-till conventional treatments. Multivariate analyses showed associations between specific weed species and management practices. Weeds were greatest in no-till organic treatments, and they had significantly lower yields, suggesting additional weed control beyond cover crops may be necessary for organic vegetable systems under reduced tillage.
Rachel Leisso, Bridgid Jarrett, and Zachariah Miller
Haskap (Lonicera caerulea), also known as honeyberry, is a relatively new fruit crop in North America. To date, most academic activity and research in North America involving haskap has focused on cultivar development and health benefits, with relatively few field experiments providing information to guide field planning and harvest management for the recently released cultivars. In 2020, we documented preharvest fruit drop (PHFD) rates for 15 haskap cultivars planted in a randomized block design at our research center in western Montana with the aim of preliminarily determining whether certain cultivars may be prone to this phenomenon. Additionally, we evaluated two plant growth regulators (PGRs) to reduce PHFD in two cultivars previously observed to have high rates of PHFD. Results suggest cultivar-specific variations in PHFD near berry maturation. Because haskap harvest indices are not well-defined and may be cultivar-specific, we share our 1-year study results as preliminary information and as a call for further research. Cultivars Aurora, Boreal Blizzard, Borealis, Indigo Gem, Kapu, and Tana all had PHFD rates less than 12% of yield, where yield is the weight of berries lost to PHFD plus marketable yield and marketable yield is fruit remaining on the shrub at harvest. Cultivars Chito, Kawai, and Taka had the highest rates of PHFD, although marketable yields were still relatively high, especially for Kawai. We note that ease of fruit detachment is an important consideration in mechanical harvest, and this characteristic could be advantageous if managed appropriately. The PGRs evaluated (1-napthaleneacetic acid and aminoethoxyvinylglycine) did not influence PHFD rates; however, our study was limited by the sample size and by the lack of information regarding haskap abscission physiology. In summary, the haskap cultivars evaluated exhibited variable PHFD rates in the year of the study, and further research is needed to understand haskap fruit maturation, harvest indices, and abscission.
Dalyn McCauley, Alexander Levin, and Lloyd Nackley
This study reviews how mini-lysimeters have been used effectively to optimize irrigation control in container horticulture production. Lysimeters are devices that measure evapotranspiration (ET) from the water balance of a fixed soil volume. The primary components of lysimeter-controlled irrigation are load cell sensors, a multiplexer, a data logger, a controller, and solenoid valves. The two common mini-lysimeter systems are platform lysimeters and suspension lysimeters. In these systems, a bending-beam single-point load cell is fastened between two plates, and a container is placed directly on the top platform. Platform lysimeters are commonly used for smaller pot sizes, and suspension lysimeters have been used for large shade trees up to 2.8 m tall and weighing 225 kg. Mini-lysimeters have been used for decades to calibrate ET models and create on-demand irrigation control programs that replenish plant daily water use or maintain deficit conditions. Research has demonstrated that lysimeter-based irrigation can respond more effectively to seasonal and diurnal variations in water demand, increasing irrigation cycles when evaporative demand is high, and decreasing irrigation cycles when demand is low. A strength of these systems is that for containerized plants, such as nursery production systems, mini-lysimeters capture whole-plant water use, which presents a more holistic measure compared with soil moisture sensors or leaf moisture sensors.
Ricardo Goenaga, Brian Irish, and Angel Marrero
Banana (Musa acuminata AAA) is the most exported fruit worldwide and represents a major source of revenue for Central American and South American countries as well as the Caribbean region, among others. Black leaf streak disease (BLSD) or black sigatoka, caused by Pseudocercospora fijiensis (formerly Mycosphaerella fijiensis), is responsible for significant losses to this crop due to the high susceptibility of the most economically important cultivars. BLSD does not immediately kill banana plants, but it causes severe leaf necrosis that results in reduced photosynthetic area, thereby adversely impacting bunch weight and fruit production. Without cultural and chemical control, yields can be reduced by 20% to 80%, depending on severity. This study evaluated ‘FHIA-17’, a BLSD-resistant synthetic hybrid (AAAA), against ‘Grand Nain’, a standard commercial cultivar with no BLSD tolerance, at two locations in Puerto Rico on Ultisol (Corozal site) and Oxisol (Isabela site) soils where BLSD was not managed. Significantly lower bunch yield (45,990 kg·ha−1) and significantly fewer fruit (220,671 fruit/ha) were obtained at Corozal than at Isabela (53,755 kg·ha−1; 380,241 fruit/ha). Lower production at Corozal was the result of higher severity of BLSD at this location than at Isabela and to soil factors interfering with optimum nutrient uptake. Average fruit production of ‘FHIA-17’ was significantly higher than that of ‘Grand Nain’ at both locations, with bunch yields of 68,105 and 72, 634 kg·ha−1 at Corozal and Isabela, respectively. Fruit of the third-upper hand was significantly longer for ‘FHIA-17’ at Corozal but not different at Isabela; however, ‘FHIA-17’ fruit in this hand were of significantly greater diameter. Fruit in the last hand of ‘FHIA-17’ were significantly longer than in ‘Grand Nain’ at Corozal, but of significantly greater diameter at both locations. At both locations, the mean fruit weight was significantly higher in ‘FHIA-17’ than in ‘Grand Nain’. The number of functional leaves present at flowering and at harvest was significantly higher in ‘FHIA-17’ than in ‘Grand Nain’ at both locations, indicating more availability of photosynthetic area in ‘FHIA-17’ during the fruit-filling period. The harvest cycle of ‘FHIA-17’ was significantly longer than for ‘Grand Nain’. It took 315 and 204 more days in Corozal and Isabela, respectively, to harvest three cycles (mother crop and two ratoon crops) of ‘FHIA-17’ than for ‘Grand Nain’. No significant differences were found for starch and soluble sugars in green unripe or fully mature fruit among cultivars. In this long-term study, ‘FHIA-17’ showed to have good production and resistance against BLSD and is a viable alternative to current commercial cultivars. Its relative advantage of reduced production costs by not needing fungicide applications should be weighed against its longer harvest cycle to produce a fruit bunch.
Andrey Vega-Alfaro, Carlos Ramírez-Vargas, Germán Chávez, Fernando Lacayo, Paul C. Bethke, and James Nienhuis
The production of sweet peppers (Capsicum annuum) is often constrained in tropical environments by susceptibility to persistent soil-borne diseases, including bacterial wilt (Ralstonia solanacearum). However, the production of sweet peppers in high tunnels using sterile soilless media irrigated with nutrient solution offers the potential to reduce the incidence of bacterial wilt. An additional strategy for disease management is the use of sweet pepper scions grafted onto rootstocks that are resistant to soil-borne pathogens. Two sweet pepper cultivars grown extensively in the tropics, Nathalie and 4212, were used as scions and grafted onto the habanero pepper cultivar Habanero TEC (Capsicum chinense) and the aji pepper cultivar Baccatum TEC (Capsicum baccatum). Two cultivars related to the two rootstocks were prescreened for susceptibility to two virulent strains of bacterial wilt. Graft combinations were grown in two environments, a high tunnel with automatic nutrient solution irrigation of containers filled with sterile coconut fiber and an open field with known high levels of bacterial wilt inoculum. Self-grafted and nongrafted plants of scions were included as checks. The disease susceptibility screening showed that the area under the disease progress curve was consistently low for ‘Habanero TEC’ and ‘Baccatum TEC’ when inoculated with two virulent strains of bacterial wilt, suggesting that habanero pepper cultivars and, to a lesser degree, aji pepper cultivars may be useful as rootstocks in soils with bacterial wilt inoculum. Significant increases in yield, fruit number, and reduced time to flowering were observed in the high tunnel compared with the open-field environment. Individual fruit weight was reduced in the high tunnel compared with the field. Yield, fruit number, fruit weight, and time to flowering were consistent between scions regardless of rootstock. No differences were observed for yield, fruit number, fruit weight, or time to flowering of self-grafted and nongrafted scion checks. In the high tunnel, yield was higher in scions grafted onto ‘Habanero TEC’ compared with self-grafted and nongrafted checks. In the open field, yield and fruit number were highest on scions grafted onto ‘Habanero TEC’. Regardless of graft treatment, high-tunnel production in tropical environments can result in significant increases in yield and fruit number compared with open-field production. No advantage of grafted plants was observed in the high-tunnel production environment. In contrast, in the open-field environment, grafting sweet pepper scions onto pungent habanero rootstocks resulted in a significant increase in yield, fruit number, and fruit size compared with self-grafted and nongrafted checks. The increase was likely attributable to the resistance of habanero pepper cultivars to soil-borne diseases, including bacterial wilt.
Samantha R. Nobes, Karen L. Panter, and Randa Jabbour
The objective of this study was to determine best production practices for five different specialty cut flower species at an altitude of 7200 ft. Region-specific information about cut flower production is important because of unique environmental conditions. We grew five specialty cut flower species in two different growing environments: a greenhouse and a high tunnel. Flowers were grown year-round in the greenhouse and during late spring through fall in the high tunnels. We also used pinching as another production method for the potential increase in branching. The goals were to test the effects of species, growing environment, and pinching on the days from sowing to harvest, stem length, number of stems cut per plant, and marketable yield. Experiments were conducted at the University of Wyoming Laramie Research and Extension Center in Laramie, WY, to assess the potential for producing specialty cut flowers for local consumption. The species used in this study included ‘Princess Golden’ pot marigold (Calendula officinalis), ‘Lucinda Mix’ stock (Matthiola incana), ‘Double Mix’ strawflower (Helichrysum bracteatum), ‘Dara’ ornamental carrot (Daucus carota), and ‘Celway Mix’ cockscomb (Celosia argentea). Results showed significant species × environment and season interactions, indicating the importance of species and production practice selections. We successfully sold the cut flowers to the university student farm for community-supported agriculture shares and farm market sales, as well as to a local florist for use in floral arrangements. This study concluded that careful species selection for season and growing environment is essential for the successful integration of these niche cut flowers into current or future greenhouse and high-tunnel production in Wyoming.
Gunbharpur Singh Gill and Juang Horng Chong
Management of sweetpotato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci), one of the most economically important pests of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), relies heavily on neonicotinoid insecticides. Growers are seeking insecticide alternatives to neonicotinoids due to market demands. Although several systemic and translaminar insecticides have been suggested as alternatives to neonicotinoids, no published study has simultaneously compared their efficacies against sweetpotato whiteflies. This study compared the efficacies of 10 systemic and translaminar alternative insecticides with those of two systemic neonicotinoids, when all products were applied as foliar spray (twice at 14 d) or substrate drench (once) against sweetpotato whiteflies on poinsettia plants. Sweetpotato whitefly nymph and adult densities were examined 2 weeks before the first application (pretreatment), and weekly after the application for 8 weeks. Results showed that insecticides varied greatly in their efficacy, particularly against adults, and that spray application provided more effective suppression of nymphs than drench application. Spray and drench applications of imidacloprid and dinotefuran were consistently the most effective against sweetpotato whitefly nymphs and adults. Among the neonicotinoid alternatives, cyantraniliprole was the most effective insecticide in reducing sweetpotato whitefly nymph densities by both spray and drench application methods, with efficacy comparable to those of imidacloprid and dinotefuran. Although less effective than cyantraniliprole, foliar sprays of afidopyropen, chloratraniliprole, cyclaniliprole, flonicamid, flupyradifurone, pyrifluquinazon, spirotetramat, and sulfoxaflor + spinetoram were also effective against nymphs and could serve as partners in an insecticide rotation program.
Sarah E. Dixon, Jerri L. Henry, Dean S. Volenberg, and Reid J. Smeda
The increasing adoption of dicamba-tolerant soybean (Glycine max) increases the potential exposure of wine grape (Vitis sp.) to dicamba, to which off-target injury may occur via particle drift or vapor drift. In Missouri, at one site in 2017 and at two sites in 2018, research of production vineyards focused on the effects of dicamba on hybrid ‘Vidal blanc’ grapevines. During flowering and early fruit set, bearing grapevines were exposed to low rates of dicamba delivered as a spray solution of 81 or 161 ppm or by vapor from treated soil. Grapevines were highly sensitive to dicamba, and visible symptoms extended throughout the growing season. The severity of dicamba injury (leaf cupping and feathering) was similar at two of three site-years, with greater injury related to particle drift than to vapor drift of dicamba. Early-season injury resulted in dicamba impacting the total soluble solids (TSS) content of grape berries and grape yield. At harvest during two site-years, yield reductions of up to 45% were associated with dicamba exposure at flowering. Across all site-years, no significant effects of dicamba drift were observed in the TSS content of berries during veraison in August, as measured by refractometer. However, the final TSS content of berries at harvest in September was reduced by 12% from dicamba as particle drift. At a minimum detection level of 10 ng⋅mL−1, high-performance liquid chromatography mass spectrometry identified dicamba at levels up to 33 ng⋅mL−1 in grape must over all site-years. Unexpectedly, this was up to 125 d after grapevine exposure despite low levels of visible dicamba symptomology.
Yingli Ma, Tingting Yuan, Tao Wang, Jiaxin Li, Zhongqiu Xu, Siqian Luo, and Yinfeng Xie
In the actual cultivation process, blind fertilizer application was widespread, resulting in a serious decline in the yield of Pseudostellaria heterophylla. We used the 3414 fertilizer experiment design to study the effects of combined Boron (B), Molybdenum (Mo), and Copper (Cu) on the growth indexes, diurnal changes of photosynthesis, and rapid fluorescence induction dynamics in P. heterophylla. Our results show that the optimal combination of B, Mo, and Cu simultaneously promoted the growth of underground and aboveground parts, and significantly improved the quality of single root tuber and yield per unit area. The best combination was treatment 9 (T9 = B, 1 g/L; Mo, 0.08 g/L; Cu, 0.05 g/L), and resulted in a 35.1% increase in yield per unit area compared with the control group (T1). Although the optimal combined application of microfertilizers did not change the bimodal trend of diurnal variation of photosynthesis, it effectively increased the daily average, peak, and valley values of the photosynthetic rate by alleviating the nonstomatal limitation and the photosynthetic midday depression. Pseudostellaria heterophylla leaves showed greater photochemical activity and less photoinhibition of photosystem II in T9. Major effects were that it helped protect the activity of the oxygen-evolving complex to reduce the oxidative damage of chloroplasts and prevent the dissociation of thylakoid. The microfertilizer application also enhanced the electron receiving ability of the QB and plastoquinone (PQ) electronic pools, thereby increasing the ability of electron transfer from QA to QB. The number of reaction centers per unit area was promoted notably by the fertilization treatment.