Chemical thinning, the most common and cost-effective thinning method, is conducted during early apple fruit development over a 3- to 4-week period using multiple applications of plant growth regulators. It is critical to provide apple growers with tools to assess the efficacy of chemical thinners quickly and accurately because visible responses are not apparent for up to 2 weeks after application. The objective of this study was to build a model to predict apple fruitlet abscission following a chemical thinner application with in situ reflectance data obtained with a portable visible and near infrared (Vis/NIR) spectrophotometer. Developed models were compared with the currently available fruitlet growth model (FGM). ‘Honeycrisp’ fruitlet diameter and reflectance were measured on dates around a chemical thinner application across a 2-year period. After June drop, measured fruitlets were determined to have either persisted or abscised. Random forest, partial least squares regression, and XGBoost classification models were used to predict fruitlet abscission from reflectance data. Each classification model was developed with 2021, 2022, and combined 2021 + 2022 data. For each dataset, 5-fold cross validation was used to assess three model performance metrics: 1) overall accuracy, 2) recall, and 3) specificity. Datasets tested were either unbalanced, majority class down-sampled, or minority class up-sampled with synthetic minority oversampling technique. In both years, the FGM reliably estimated chemical thinner efficacy 9 days after application. Before this time point, the FGM had low prediction accuracy of the minority class in both years—persisting fruitlets in 2021 and abscising fruitlets in 2022. For reflectance spectroscopy, the developed random forest models that were balanced with synthetic minority over-sampling technique were found to be the best combination in predicting chemical thinner efficacy. The combined 2021 + 2022 dataset overall model accuracy ranged from 84% the day before to 93% at 9 days after thinner application. These results show that Vis/NIR is a promising tool to predict chemical thinner efficacy. This technology had high prediction accuracies over a range of fruitlet abscission potential and two growing seasons. Further development and testing of the model over cultivars, chemical thinner timings, and growing regions would facilitate commercialization of the technology.
Apple (Malus ×domestica L. Borkh.) growers need tools to predict the efficacy of chemical thinners that are applied to induce fruitlet abscission to aid in crop load management decisions. Recently, reflectance spectroscopy-based models to predict fruitlet abscission rates were developed. Using spectroscopy, persisting fruitlets had lower reflectance in the red-light (∼600 nm) and near infrared (∼950 nm) regions than abscising fruitlets. The goal of this study was to better understand how reflectance models distinguished between fruitlets that ultimately persisted or abscised. Individual models for the difference and ratio of each combination of wavelengths were developed to identify key wavelengths for abscission prediction from reflectance models. Accuracy for wavelength difference and ratio models was improved for all model prediction dates when reflectance (R) from R640–675 was subtracted from or divided by R675–696. This spectra region indicates differences in chlorophyll content between persisting and abscising fruitlets. Calculation of the chlorophyll concentration index (R522–579:R640–700) from nondestructively measured spectra supported this result. Chlorophyll concentration index was higher for fruitlets that ultimately persisted than abscised fruitlets (P < 0.01) for all measurement dates –1 to 9 days after thinner (DAT) in both years, except –1 DAT in 2021 (P = 0.468). Plant water index (R950–970:R890–900) was lower for persisting than abscising fruitlets for 3 to 9 DAT in 2021 (P < 0.001) and on –1 (P < 0.01) and 9 DAT (P < 0.001) in 2022. The relationship of fruit size and plant pigment (anthocyanins or chlorophyll) content in fruitlets to reflectance spectra between persisting and abscising fruitlets was also followed. Fruitlet persistence or abscission was predicted from developed models for destructively sampled fruitlets using measured reflectance spectra. Whole-fruit chlorophyll content was numerically higher in fruitlets predicted to persist than abscise for all collection dates. Higher total chlorophyll was correlated to a larger fruit size in persisting than abscising fruitlets. This higher chlorophyll content led to a lower reflectance of red light and was a key factor in model development. These results indicate that chlorophyll and water content can distinguish physiological parameters between persisting and abscising fruitlets.
Two key trends of sustainable agriculture are reducing the amount of inputs such as pesticides, fungicides, or fertilizer and finding ways to reduce or reuse agricultural waste. Leafy plant waste can be burned to produced smoke-water extracts that have effective antimicrobial and germination properties. Damping-off disease caused by Pythium spp. leads to significant losses at the papaya seedling stage and is usually managed with fungicides. Five smoke-water extracts derived from burning different plant residues—namely, rice straw smoke-water (R-SW), wheat straw smoke-water (W-SW), pangola grass smoke-water (P-SW), cornstalk smoke-water (C-SW), and bamboo leave smoke-water (B-SW)—were prepared. These were mixed into the V8 media used for culture of Pythium aphanidermatum. In vitro treatment with 5% P-SW, C-SW, or B-SW reduced mycelial growth rate significantly, whereas 5% B-SW inhibited mycelial growth completely. All 1% smoke-water preparations reduced zoospore production significantly, but the inhibition rate of 3% R-SW, 3% W-SW, 1% P-SW, 1% C-SW, and 1% B-SW reached 100%. For in vivo experiments, P. aphanidermatum was inoculated in 1 kg of potting soil and mixed with B-SW in concentrations of 1% to 5%. The papaya seedlings treated with 2% to 5% B-SW maintained the growth parameter without damping-off symptoms.
Buddleja (butterfly bush) is a genus of common landscape plants in temperate and subtropical gardens. Substantial breeding has led to a wealth of diverse cultivars with varied pedigrees. Molecular markers would be useful tools for breeders and others studying butterfly bush to identify cultivars. We evaluated SSR markers developed in Buddleja to fingerprint 11 cultivars to determine whether they were useful in cultivar identification. Markers Bud_03, Bud_10, and Bud_13 were polymorphic across all genotypes in the study and capable of accurate cultivar identification. These markers may be useful to breeders for intellectual property protection and to identify cultivars in instances of mislabeling.
The genus Aronia Medik., also known as chokeberry, is a group of deciduous shrubs in the Rosaceae family, subtribe Malinae. The two commonly accepted black-fruited Aronia species are black chokeberry [Aronia melanocarpa (Michx.) Elliott] and aroniaberry [Aronia mitschurinii (A.K. Skvortsov & Maitul)]. The geographic range of wild A. melanocarpa is the Great Lakes region and the northeastern United States, with a southerly extension into the higher elevations of the Appalachian Mountains. Wild A. melanocarpa found in New England are diploids, whereas plants throughout the rest of the range are tetraploids. A. mitschurinii is a cultivated hybrid between ×Sorbaronia fallax (C.K.Schneid.) C.K.Schneid. and A. melanocarpa and exists as a tetraploid. There is currently limited diversity of Aronia genotypes in the ornamental and fruit industries, and many of the current cultivars are not adapted to the southern United States and similar environs with limited chilling to break winter dormancy. The goal of this study was to determine 1) the chilling requirements for A. mitschurinii ‘Viking’ and 2) the range of chilling requirements for wild A. melanocarpa genotypes from different geographic origins. Two experiments were conducted in which plants were subjected to various chilling accumulation treatments and then moved to a greenhouse for observation of budbreak and subsequent growth. Expt. 1 was conducted at the University of Maryland at Wye, MD, and focused solely on the commercial cultivar A. mitschurinii ‘Viking’. Outdoor, ambient fall and winter temperatures were used to achieve the chilling treatments. In Expt. 1, we determined the optimal chilling requirements for A. mitschurinii ‘Viking’ to be greater than 900 h using the single temperature model. Expt. 2 was conducted at the University of Connecticut and focused on wild genotypes, plus A. mitschurinii ‘Viking’. A fixed temperature cold room was used to achieve chilling treatments. In Expt. 2, we found A. melanocarpa genotypes from southern regions in the United States required chilling accumulation of 600 h (single temperature model), compared with genotypes from northern regions that required more than 900 h of chilling accumulation. Tetraploid A. melanocarpa required 900 h of chilling to break bud, but diploid A. melanocarpa required 1200 h of chilling to break bud. Expt. 2 confirmed the 900-h chilling requirement for A. mitschurinii ‘Viking’. For both experiments, the rate of budbreak and shoot growth was positively correlated with increasing amounts of chilling.
The color of horticultural shade nets is known to influence crop growth and quality because of variations in the amount and quality of light. Four ornamental plant species (celosia, begonia, gerbera, and fountain grass) were grown under aluminet, pearl, and red shade nets plus black as the control at 50% shade intensity for 8 weeks. Black had the least transmittance (∼10% to 30% of ambient) within the red spectrum (620–750 nm), whereas red had the greatest at ∼70% to 80%. Aluminet and pearl resulted in a similar reduction in photosynthetic photon flux at ∼50% to 55% and ∼55% to 65% of ambient, respectively. Aluminet increased the shoot dry weight for begonia and celosia, whereas no differences among shade nets were seen for gerbera or fountain grass. The chlorophyll concentration was greatest under aluminet for each species except begonia. Shade net color did not affect flower number.
Anthocyanins are responsible for fruit coloration and are beneficial to human health. The fruits of cultivated strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) varieties are colorful, a trait that attracts consumers. The fruits of wild Fragaria species, close relatives of the cultivated strawberry, vary in color. In this review, we describe the content and composition of anthocyanins in cultivated and wild strawberry varieties. We also explore the biosynthetic pathway of anthocyanins, including their transcriptional regulation mechanisms. Additionally, we discuss the effect of environmental factors on anthocyanin accumulation. This review will inform further studies toward developing anthocyanin-rich strawberries via environmental control and exogenous application of compounds.