Floricane red raspberry (Rubus idaeus) produces biennial canes that are traditionally managed by annual selective removal of previously fruited floricanes and training of primocanes that will bear fruit in the next growing season. This process of pruning and training is labor intensive and costly, and growers would benefit from more economical methods of pruning and training. This 6-year project evaluated the economic viability of alternate-year (AY) production in a commercial floricane red raspberry field in northwest Washington and compared it to traditional, every-year (EY) production to assess whether the former could save costs. Despite savings from reduced chemicals, fertilizers, labor, general farm supplies, and other variable costs, the overall benefits of AY production were not enough to offset losses in revenue resulting from reduced yields under the conditions of this experiment in northwest Washington.
Lisa Wasko DeVetter, Suzette Galinato, Troy Kortus, and Jonathan Maberry
Gerardo H. Nunez and Mariana Neves da Silva
Hands-on activities are an essential part of horticulture education. However, facilitating hands-on activities in online horticulture courses is challenging partly due to a lack of literature that describes remote laboratories in the discipline. Here we describe our experience planning and executing a remote strawberry-growing activity in an online horticulture course at the University of Florida, Gainesville. Students received strawberry-growing kits that contained a strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) plant, substrate, and fertilizer. Instructions on growing the strawberry plant were delivered online and students had to provide weekly updates about the status of their plant for 5 weeks. At the end of the semester, students provided feedback about the hands-on activity in the form of an essay. Their answers were analyzed using text mining to gauge their perception of the activity. About 77% of students expressed positive sentiments about the remote activity including excitement, enjoyment, and knowledge gain. Students who expressed negative sentiments about the activity (≈23% of the total) focused on plant casualties and difficulties related to management practices. Overall, student essays and weekly updates reflected a relevant and engaging cognitive exercise in horticulture. Our results suggest that remote laboratories can improve the student experience in online courses and provide a footprint for successful implementation of similar activities in online horticulture courses.
Renata Goossen and Kimberly A. Williams
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a well-known oxidizing agent often used as a remedy by consumers to treat algae and root decay from presumed root disease on interior plants, as well as to encourage root growth and health. To characterize the phytotoxic effects and define the safe concentration threshold for H2O2 use on ‘Vivaldi’ hybrid phalaenopsis orchid (hybrid Phalaenopsis), root systems were dipped for 3 minutes in 0%, 3%, 6%, or 12% H2O2 one time and observed in greenhouse conditions for the following 27 days. Root systems of each plant were assessed over time for percent visible root damage; ratings of root health on a scale of 1 to 5 points, with 5 points indicating “very healthy”; and final fresh and dry weights. To determine when symptoms manifested above the root zone, foliage and flower damage was evaluated over time by assessing percent visible foliage damage, ratings of foliage health, percent foliar wilt, flower/bud count, and final foliage and flower fresh and dry weights. Over the evaluation period, the root health rating of the ‘Vivaldi’ hybrid phalaenopsis orchids treated with 12% H2O2 decreased from 5 to 1.13, whereas those treated with 3% H2O2 only decreased from 5 to 4.13. H2O2 concentrations of 6% and 12% damaged root health permanently, whereas the 3% H2O2 concentration only caused minor damage to overall root health. However, algae were not killed at the 3% rate. Neither foliage nor flowers were seriously affected during the 3 weeks after application, but foliage wilt did result in the 6% and 12% treatments by week 4. As H2O2 concentration increased, fresh weights decreased in roots and leaves. Although a single 3% H2O2 root dip did not result in severe symptoms of phytotoxicity, the treatment’s long-term plant health effects are unknown. Because the 3% H2O2 root dip caused minor plant health setbacks and failed to subdue algae populations in the root zone, consumers should be wary of using H2O2 to improve orchid (Orchidaceae) root health and should instead focus on altering care and watering practices.
Coleman L. Etheredge and Tina M. Waliczek
As Generation Z (born 1995–2012) students replace Millennial (born 1981–94) students on college campuses, instructors may begin to evaluate and structure their courses based on how this new generation best learns. Generation Z students were exposed to such things as the internet, smart phones, personal computers, and laptops since infancy and, hence, are very comfortable with technology and multitasking. The purpose of this study was to compare students’ overall grades and perceptions of the course and instructor in a face-to-face vs. an online/hybrid basic floral design course taken by a majority Generation Z student population. The face-to-face course consisted of live lectures that met twice per week for 50 min at an assigned time; reading materials and standard lecture slides were used. The hybrid course had content placed online within weekly modules and released to students in an asynchronous manner each Monday. Both versions of the course had a face-to-face laboratory that met once per week. Comparisons of grades between the face-to-face and hybrid course formats were made using analysis of variance tests. A Mann-Whitney U test was used to determine if there were statistically significant differences in the way students in each course format answered the end of semester course and instructor evaluation survey. Of those that took the course, a majority [466 (98.3%)] was between the ages 18 and 24 years, within the Generation Z era. When comparing grades within this group, it was found students in the hybrid course received more A and B letter grades overall [223 (91%)] compared with the students of the same age range in the face-to-face course [198 (88.7%)]. Overall, seniors and juniors scored higher grades in both the hybrid and face-to-face course when compared with the sophomore and freshmen within the same class. No significant difference was found between the face-to-face and hybrid students’ responses to any of the 11 questions on the course and instructor evaluation survey. Results showed an overall high level of satisfaction (4.50) for both the face-to-face and hybrid format.
Fang Xu, Junqin Zong, Jingbo Chen, Jianjian Li, Dandan Li, Jianxiu Liu, and Fang Xu
A static experiment in greenhouse was conducted to investigate the growth of three grasses in high and medium eutrophic water and the effects of their removal on ammonia nitrogen (NH4 +-N), nitrate nitrogen (NO3 −-N), total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), and the chemical oxygen demand (COD), and compared with cattail (Typha angustifolia). The results showed that 1) the removal efficiency of NH4 +-N, NO3 −-N, TN, TP, and COD treated by the four plants in eutrophic water were significantly higher than that in non-plant water. With the extension of treatment time, the concentrations of NH4 +-N, NO3 −-N, TN, TP, and COD in the eutrophic water decreased first and then tend to be stable. 2) Cynodon dactylon ‘Tifton 85’ (C. dactylon ‘Tifton 85’), Cortaderia selloana ‘Pumila’ (C. selloana ‘Pumila’) and T. angustifolia absorbed more than 95.7% and 88.6% of TN and TP in eutrophic water, and accumulate more than 89.5% and 82.0% in plants, respectively. However, the ratio of Cortaderia selloana ‘Silver Comet’ (C. selloana ‘Silver Comet’) was significantly lower. 3) The high abilities of these three plants to purify eutrophic water may be directly related to their rapid growth. 4) The comprehensive purification ability of the four plants to eutrophic was significantly different, in the order of C. dactylon ‘Tifton 85’ > C. selloana ‘Pumila’ ≈ T. angustifolia > C. selloana ‘Silver Comet’. These results indicated that C. dactylon ‘Tifton 85’ and C. selloana ‘Pumila’ can be used as alternative plants to T. angustifolia for the purification of eutrophic water. The results of this study can provide new materials and ideas for phytoremediation.
Danny Hillin, Pierre Helwi, and Justin J. Scheiner
Bunch grapes (Euvitis) are classified as moderately salt-tolerant. However, little is known about the salt tolerance of muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundifolia). The objective of this research was to evaluate the salt exclusion capacity of muscadine grapes relative to common bunch grape rootstocks and hybrid winegrapes using a greenhouse screening assay. In two separate experiments, 31 muscadine, six bunch grape rootstocks, and five hybrid winegrape cultivars were irrigated daily with a 25-mm sodium chloride salt solution for a period of 14 d, followed by a destructive harvest to determine sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl) concentrations in root and shoot tissues. Generally, the muscadines studied exhibited a greater range of salt concentration relative to bunch grape rootstocks. Total tissue (shoot and root) salt varied by 250% and 430% across muscadines and by 180% and 190% across bunch grape rootstocks for Na and Cl, respectively. Despite the wider range, muscadine grapes expressed significantly less leaf necrosis than the bunch grape rootstocks. The most effective salt-excluding muscadines, ‘Janebell’, ‘Scuppernong’, ‘Late Fry’, and ‘Eudora’, were not distinguishable from the bunch grape rootstocks [‘Paulsen 1103’ (1103P), ‘Ruggeri 140’ (140Ru), ‘Schwarzmann’, ‘Millardet et de Grasset 101-14’ (101-14 Mgt.), ‘Millardet et de Grasset 420A’ (420A), and ‘Matador’]. Overall, there was no discernable difference between the salt exclusion capacity of muscadine and bunch grapes. The hybrid winegrape ‘Blanc Du Bois’ displayed poor Na and Cl exclusion properties but showed only moderate leaf necrosis symptoms. In both experiments, ‘Blanc Du Bois’ accumulated more than two-fold higher root and shoot concentrations of Na and Cl compared with the best-performing rootstocks (1103P, 140Ru, 101-14 Mgt.), suggesting that ‘Blanc Du Bois’ could benefit from grafting if salinity is a limiting factor.
Runshi Xie, Bin Wu, Mengmeng Gu, Stacey R. Jones, James Robbins, Allen L. Szalanski, and Hongmin Qin
Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS; Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae Kuwana) is an invasive insect that was first discovered in the United States in 2004. The polyphagous feeding habit of CMBS has allowed it to infest a wide range of plant species beyond its primary host, Lagerstroemia. Using molecular approaches, we studied the genetic relationships between CMBS specimens and their hosts from different geographic locations. Naturally occurring CMBS infestations were confirmed on American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana L.), a native plant species in the United States, and spirea (Spiraea L.). The new infestation of CMBS found on Spiraea raises the alarm that other economically important crops in the Amygdaloideae subfamily (subfamily under Rosaceae) might be susceptible to CMBS attacks.
Shivani Kathi, Catherine Simpson, Alinna Umphres, and Greta Schuster
In arid and semi-arid climates, water scarcity and nutrient availability are major constraints for food production. Excess fertilization to make up for the limited nutrient availability in dry soils leads to nitrogen runoff and groundwater contamination. Reducing nitrogen leaching into surface water while providing adequate nutrition remains a major challenge. Superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) can reduce water loss and improve nutrient retention and therefore minimize leaching and increase crop yields. SAPs are made from petroleum or natural products, but plant-based SAPs have been gaining popularity because they have fewer long-term effects on the environment. However, there is little known about how SAPs made from cornstarch effect plant growth and production in tomatoes. So, we evaluated total nitrogen and water retention in SAP-treated soils and evaluated their effects on growth and development of tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum). Soils were amended with different rates of cornstarch-based SAP (i.e., 0 kg SAP, 0 kg SAP+N, 0.5 kg SAP+N, 1 kg SAP+N, 1.5 kg SAP+N, and 2 kg SAP+N). Results indicate that the mean volume of water and nitrates retained in the soils amended with cornstarch-based SAPs increased with increasing rate of SAP. The treatment containing the highest dose (i.e., 2 kg SAP) decreased the amount of leachate and nitrates from soil 79.34% and 93.11% at 3 days after fertilization (DAF) and 78.84% and 81.58% at 9 DAF in comparison with the soil-only and fertilizer-only treatments, respectively. The results also indicate cornstarch-based SAP significantly improved plant growth and yield parameters compared with the treatments without SAP. Furthermore, the greatest number of leaves, flowers, fruits, and dry matter production were found in the 1-kg SAP treatment. Therefore, application of cornstarch-based SAPs can improve tomato production in times of drought stress by retaining more water and nutrients in the active rooting zone and can reduce environmental pollution by reducing nitrogen runoff.
Marife B. Anunciado, Larry C. Wadsworth, Shuresh Ghimire, Carol Miles, Jenny C. Moore, Annette L. Wszelaki, and Douglas G. Hayes
Plastic mulch films contribute to improved crop yield and quality for vegetable and small fruit cropping systems. Although the single-season agronomic performance of conventional polyethylene mulches and soil-biodegradable mulches (BDMs) are similar, over time BDMs can begin to break down during storage and subsequently not provide season-long soil coverage. In this study, the changes in physicochemical properties of BDMs were investigated over 3 years of indoor storage (2015–18) under ideal environmental conditions in two laboratories. Mulches evaluated were black, 20–40 µm thick, suitable for annual vegetable production, and included three BDMs: two polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT)-enriched mulches that are commercially available in North America, an experimental polylactic acid (PLA) and polyhydroxyalkanote-based film, and a conventional polyethylene mulch as a control. Tensile properties, specifically peak load and elongation at maximum tensile stress, decreased during storage, particularly for the PBAT-based BDMs, indicating a loss of strength. During year 3 of storage, the tensile properties declined extensively, suggesting embrittlement. The average molecular weight of PLA and PBAT slightly increased during year 1, perhaps due to release of monomers or oligomers, and then decreased extensively during years 2 and 3 due to hydrolysis of ester bonds (confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopic analysis). The structural integrity of BDMs was assessed during years 2 and 3 of the study (2017–18) in field trials at the locations where they were stored, Knoxville, TN, and Mount Vernon, WA, for vegetable production. The degradation of the BDMs during the cropping season was higher in 2018 compared with 2017, suggesting that degradation of mechanical and chemical properties while in storage may have contributed to rapid degradation of mulches in the field. In summary, BDMs undergo degradation even under ideal storage conditions and may perform best if deployed within 2 years of their receipt date. The farmer should verify that proper storage conditions have been used before receipt and that manufacturing date precedes the receipt date by no more than 6 months.
Trent J. Davis, Miguel I. Gómez, Scott J. Harper, and Megan Twomey
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.