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Kimberly Moore, Charles Wajsbrot, Cristina Burgart and Luci Fisher

Because salts in irrigation water decrease plant growth, we wanted to develop a quick and easy method for evaluating salt tolerance that could be used in the greenhouse. Using plastic containers with lids, sea salt, and rooted cuttings, we monitored changes in plant quality, growth, and leaf water potential as electrical conductivity (EC) and sodium (Na) levels increased. In the first of two experiments, we compared sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tilliaceus) leaf water potential and plant quality in solutions with an EC of 0, 2.1, 4.2, 6.1, or 8.2 dS·m–1 (0, 240, 420, 610, or 1010 mg·L–1 Na). After 14 days, sea hibiscus quality in solutions with an EC of 6.1 or 8.2 dS·m–1 was less than plants in solutions of 0, 2.1, or 4.2 dS·m–1. There was no difference in quality among plants in 0, 2.1, or 4.2 dS·m–1 solutions. To test this method, in Expt. 2, we compared coleus (Coleus ×hybridus), copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana), ficus (Ficus benjamina), jasmine (Jasminium multiflorum), and plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) plant quality and growth in solutions with an EC of 0, 1.3, 2.1, 4.2, 5.6, or 6.1 dS·m–1 (0, 170, 240, 420, 520, or 610 mg·L–1 Na). Coleus quality declined at an EC greater than 1.3 dS·m–1, whereas jasmine and plumbago quality declined at an EC greater than 2.1 dS·m–1 Copperleaf and ficus declined at an EC greater than 4.2 dS·m–1. Plant response did vary with low to medium salt-tolerant plants tolerating at an EC up to 1.3 and 170 mg·L–1 Na, whereas plants with a greater salt tolerance tolerated at EC and Na values up to 4.2 dS·m–1 and 420 mg·m–1 Na, respectively. The use of this method benefits growers by determining upper EC and Na limits when faced with poor-quality water resulting from saltwater intrusion or when using reclaimed wastewater with greater EC and Na levels.

Open access

Alyssa J. Brown, Phil S. Allen, Greg V. Jolley and J. Ryan Stewart

For the past several years, many college horticulture programs have experienced a decline in undergraduate enrollment, resulting in the elimination of some degrees. In this study, we compared postsecondary U.S. horticulture program availability from a survey completed in 1997 with offerings existing in 2012 and 2017. In 1997, 446 U.S. postsecondary institutions offered degrees and/or certificates in horticulture. In 2012, this number had decreased by 43% to 253 institutions, which included 98 with 4-year degrees, 215 with 2-year degrees, and 138 with certificate programs. In 2017, the total number of institutions offering horticulture-related degrees and/or certificates decreased to 209, representing a 53% decrease over the 20 years from 1997 to 2017 and a 17% decrease during the 5-year period between 2012 and 2017. In 2017, 85 institutions offered 4-year degrees, 133 offered 2-year degrees, and 98 offered certificate programs, which over this 5-year period represents decreases of 13%, 38%, and 29%, respectively. “Horticulture” was the most common program title in both 2012 and 2017, and the percentage of programs with this name increased during the 5-year period for all program types. In 2017, 28 horticulture programs not identified in the 1997 survey were found, but only two of these were confirmed to have been created since 1997. Overall, these data suggest a trajectory toward elimination of 2-year and certificate programs, and continued consolidation for 4-year degrees. If it continues, this trend is not favorable for the continued vitality of postsecondary horticulture programs in the United States and may impact progress negatively for the field of horticulture as a whole.

Open access

Yuqi Li and Neil S. Mattson

Fertility management of seedlings and transplants is considered a key challenge in organic greenhouse production. This study was conducted to determine response of greenhouse-grown cucumber (Cucumis sativus) and nutrient release profile to two organic fertilizers and their combinations applied at three different concentrations in organic substrate. The organic fertilizers used were a turkey litter–based compost (TC) and a dairy manure vermicompost (VC). In addition, two control treatments [no fertilization (CK), conventional liquid fertilizer (CF)] were included. For TC, substrate leachate pH decreased for the first 17 days after addition and then increased, whereas electrical conductivity (EC), and calcium (Ca) and nitrate-nitrogen (NO3 -N) concentrations increased and then declined. For VC, EC decreased continuously over time from days 0 to 52, whereas pH increased. The Ca and NO3 -N concentrations decreased over time to 24 days and then did not change further. For TC/VC combinations, EC was stable for the first 17 days and then declined. For all organic fertilizer applications, potassium concentration was stable for the first 17 days and then decreased, whereas most of the sodium, ammonium-nitrogen, and chloride were no longer leached by 24 days. The VC and TC/VC combinations did not affect cucumber seed germination rate, seedling survival rate, seedling height, and leaf greenness (SPAD) as compared with CF. The stem length, leaf number, dry weight (DW), root index, and SPAD readings of cucumber transplants increased with increasing TC and VC fertilizer applications. The TC/VC combinations increased the biomass of cucumber transplants compared with CK, and did not differ from CF. The results of this study indicated that the 28.32 lb/yard3 of VC (high rate) or the 9.44 lb/yard3 of VC combined with 4 lb/yard3 of TC (medium rate) can be substituted for CF for the cultivation of cucumber seedlings. Based on DW, the 12 lb/yard3 of TC (high rate) or the 4 lb/yard3 of TC combined with 9.44 lb/yard3 of VC (medium rate) fertilizers were suitable replacements for CF for the cultivation of cucumber transplants.

Open access

Amalie B. Kurzer, Rose Bechtel and Jean-Xavier Guinard

To identify factors that may reduce mandarin (Citrus reticulata) and orange (Citrus sinensis) consumer acceptance and to acquire information on current consumer thoughts and perceptions, a series of eight focus groups were held in a college town in northern California: four with children and four with adults. Adults mentioned cost proportionately more (P ≤ 0.05) often than children, as well as farm to fork, purchasing preferences, and seasonality. Children mentioned eating preferences, social use, and healthiness more often (P ≤ 0.05). Flavor and taste were important to both age groups, as well as ease of peeling. Both ages viewed oranges as slightly too large and messier than mandarins. Adults felt frustration that oranges and mandarins lack flavor and that quality is not consistent. Many indicated they would be willing to pay more for consistent quality. Children reported relying on availability, appearance, and the basic tastes to guide their choices and did not express a clear preference between mandarins and oranges. Development of a fruit intermediate in size between an orange and a mandarin, either a small orange or a large mandarin, would potentially satisfy an untapped area of the market. Other potential areas of consumer interest are in fruits with edible peels, like kumquats (Citrus japonica) and in more unique, identifiable varieties such as Cara Cara oranges.

Open access

Elena E. Lon Kan, Steven A. Sargent, Daniel J. Cantliffe, Adrian D. Berry and Nicole L. Shaw

Datil hot pepper (Capsicum chinense) has potential for increased production due to its unique, spicy flavor and aroma. However, few reports have been published related to postharvest handling characteristics. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of harvest maturity on fruit quality under simulated commercial storage conditions. ‘Wanda’ datil pepper plants were grown hydroponically under protected culture. Fruit were harvested at yellow and orange maturity stages, placed in vented clamshell containers, and stored at 2, 7, or 10 °C for 21 days. Peppers harvested at yellow stage maintained greater quality than orange peppers during storage at all temperatures. Marketable fruit after 21 days for peppers harvested at the yellow stage was 94% (2 °C), 88% (7 °C), and 91% (10 °C); that for orange-stage peppers was 68%, 74%, and 82% for the same respective temperatures. No chilling injury (CI) symptoms were observed in these tests. Initial pepper moisture content was 90%, decreasing only slightly during 21 days of storage; weight loss ranged from 2% to 8%. Soluble solids content (SSC) was greater for peppers harvested at the orange stage (9.5%) than for those at yellow stage (7.8%). Neither harvest maturity nor storage temperature affected total titratable acidity (TTA; 0.13%) or pH (5.3). Respiration rate varied with temperature but not by harvest maturity and ranged from 12 to 25 mg·kg−1 per hour after 8 days of storage. Peppers harvested orange contained double the amount of total carotenoids as yellow fruit. Carotenoid content for yellow and orange peppers was 58 and 122 µg·g−1, respectively. Capsaicinoid content ranged from 1810 to 4440 µg·g−1 and was slightly greater for orange-harvested peppers. Datil peppers harvested at the yellow stage and stored in vented clamshell containers had better quality than peppers harvested at the orange stage after 21 days at 2 °C.

Open access

Karen L. Panter, Timmothy M. Gergeni, Casey P. Seals and Andrea R. Garfinkel

High tunnels are gaining popularity for their use in horticultural crop production. However, little is known about the effect of high tunnel orientation on plant growth and development. In this set of studies, we show tunnel orientation does not necessarily affect the production of cut sunflower (Helianthus annuus) and culinary herbs oregano (Origanum vulgare), marjoram (Origanum majorana), and garlic chive (Allium tuberosum). Two high tunnels, one with the long axis oriented north-south (NS) and the other east-west (EW), were used to test the effects of high tunnel orientation on several crops over a 5-year period: cut sunflower (2012 and 2016); marjoram, oregano, and garlic chive (2013 and 2014); and garlic chive (2015). The tunnels are 12 × 16 ft, smaller than those used in commercial production. The size would be appropriate for hobby and seasonal production of horticultural crops for local markets. Cut sunflower stems were similar lengths both years in both high tunnels. Sunflower times to harvest were different between cultivars but not between high tunnels. Oregano fresh weight yields were highest in the NS tunnel in 2013 but similar between tunnels in 2014. Marjoram fresh weights were highest in 2013 in the EW tunnel but highest in 2014 in the NS tunnel. Garlic chive fresh weights were similar between tunnels all 3 years. We show that differences are more a function of innate cultivar characteristics than which way small high tunnels are oriented.

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Renata Koyama, Ronan Carlos Colombo, Wellington Fernando Silva Borges, João Pedro Silvestre, Ibrar Hussain, Muhammad Shahab, Saeed Ahmed, Sandra Helena Prudencio, Reginaldo Teodoro de Souza and Sergio Ruffo Roberto

The application of S-ABA enantiomer to clusters of poor pigmentation cultivars can improve grape color. The aim of this study was to assess whether S-ABA applied to clusters of the new hybrid ‘BRS Melodia’ seedless grape can improve its color characteristics and to evaluate the consumer acceptance. The following treatments were evaluated: Control; S-ABA at 200 mg·L−1 7 days after veraison (DAV); S-ABA at 400 mg·L−1 7 DAV; S-ABA at 200 mg·L−1 7 DAV + 200 mg·L−1 21 DAV; and S-ABA at 400 mg·L−1 7 DAV + 400 mg·L−1 21 DAV. To apply the treatments, clusters were sprayed using a backpack sprayer until runoff. The exogenous application of S-ABA significantly improves the color of berries of ‘BRS Melodia’ seedless grape, particularly at a concentration of 400 mg·L−1 in two applications, at 7 DAV and 21 DAV, resulting in clusters with greater consumer acceptance through visual-sensory analysis. Regardless of concentration or application timing, there was no change in the physicochemical characteristics of the berries or clusters, nor in the number of shoots per cane or clusters per shoot in the season after its application.

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Juan Carlos Álvarez-Hernández, Javier Zaragoza Castellanos-Ramos and Cesar Leobardo Aguirre-Mancilla

Grafting Carica papaya plants can have several benefits for productive, phytosanitary, and sexing purposes. However, the literature on the subject of papaya grafting is limited. The tongue approach and cleft grafting techniques seem to be the most adequate for C. papaya, but the quality of grafts depends on several factors. With the objective of developing and adapting a grafting method for papaya, experimental assays were carried out in the Valley of Apatzingan, Michoacan, Mexico. The physical condition of the seedlings was assessed, and the most advantageous time for grafting was determined based on the size and thickness of the stems. Three assays were then carried out. The first assay was a test of the tongue approach and cleft grafting techniques using two clamping devices. The second assay involved the same techniques with modifications and the addition of another treatment. In the third assay, the modified tongue approach grafting method was tested on three containers with papaya plants. Seedling vigor, graft survival, and graft quality were the recorded variables. The results indicated that unwanted tissue should be cut 6 days after grafting. The tongue approach grafting method using tape as the fastening device (T-T) yielded a graft survival of 80%. The modified tongue approach grafting method, in which the tongues were formed just below the stem-site cut and tape was used as the fastening device (M-T-Bc-T), yielded a graft survival of 90%. In the third assay, the previously described modified method, but with seedlings grown in plastic bags (M-T-Bc-T-B), yielded a graft survival of 92.5%. It can be concluded that the modified tongue approach grafting method with seedlings grown in plastic bags (M-T-Bc-T-B), is a reliable grafting method for papaya that does not require special handling conditions.

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Josue Ortega-Ortega, Francisco Arturo Ramírez-Ortega, Roberto Ruiz-Medrano and Beatriz Xoconostle-Cázares

Coffee is an important crop worldwide, grown on about 10 million hectares in tropical regions including Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The genus Coffea includes more than 100 species; most are diploid, except for C. arabica, which is allotetraploid and autogamous. The genetic diversity of commercial coffee is low, likely due to it being self-pollinating, in addition, the widespread propagation of few selected cultivars, such as Caturra, Bourbon, and Typica. One approach is the analysis of genome size in these cultivars as a proxy to study its genetic variability. In the present work, genome size of 16 cultivars was assessed through high-resolution flow cytometry (FCM). Nuclear DNA was analyzed using a modified procedure that uses propidium iodide (PI) and 4′,6′-diamino-2-phenylindole dihydrochloride hydrate (DAPI) staining. The C. arabica cultivars investigated possessed a nuclear DNA content ranging from 2.56 ± 0.016 pg for Typica, to 3.16 ± 0.033 pg for ICATU, which had the largest genome size. All cultivars measured using both fluorochromes had greater estimates with DAPI than PI. The proportion of the genome composed of guanosine and cytosine (GC%) among the cultivars evaluated in this study ranged from 37.03% to 39.22%. There are few studies of genome size by FCM of distinct important C. arabica cultivars, e.g., hybrids and artificial crosses. Thus, this work could be valuable for coffee breeding programs. The data presented here are intended to expand the genomic understanding of C. arabica and could link nuclear DNA content with evolutionary relationships such as diversification, hybridization and polyploidy.

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Azadeh Behrooz, Kourosh Vahdati, Farhad Rejali, Mahmoud Lotfi, Saadat Sarikhani and Charles Leslie

Drought stress is one of the main constraints limiting worldwide crop production. Arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) and plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) such as Azotobacter chroococcum and Azospirillium lipofrum have been shown to alleviate drought stress effects. Therefore, the interaction effect of AM fungi [Glomus mosseae, G. etunicatum, and a mix of these (G. mix), and PGPB bacteria (Azotobacter chroococcum + Azospirillium lipofrum)] was investigated in 1-year-old walnut seedlings (cv. Chandler) under normal and drought stress conditions. Drought stress reduced growth (plant height, root length, number of leaves, and fresh weight) and leaf nutrient content (N, P, and Zn) significantly of walnut plants. In contrast, proline, total soluble sugar, starch peroxidase enzyme activity, and total phenolic content of walnut leaves increased under this stress. Application of fungi or bacteria, and especially their simultaneous use, alleviated the negative effects of drought stress on walnut seedlings. AM fungi and PGPB increased significantly the content of some metabolites, including total phenolic content, proline level, peroxidase activity, total soluble sugar, and starch content as well as peroxidase enzyme activity. This led to an increase in walnut plant growth under the drought stress condition. Among AM fungi, G. etunicatum was more effective in reducing drought stress symptoms than either G. mosseae or the G. mix of fungi. In conclusion, use of G. etunicatum, along with PGPB, can reduce negative effects of drought stress on walnut seedlings.