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Open access

Timothy Coolong, Kate Cassity-Duffey, and Andre Luiz Biscaia Ribeiro da Silva

Georgia is a leading fresh market cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) producer. Current recommendations for bare-ground cabbage grown in the Coastal Plain of Georgia indicate 175 to 225 lb/acre nitrogen (N). Approximately one-third of N fertilizer is recommended at planting, with two or three additional side-dress applications during the season. Growers have begun banding liquid fertilizer between four and six times during the season to reduce N leaching and enhance productivity. To determine the validity of current recommendations as well as the efficacy of applying periodic liquid fertilizer throughout the growing season, field experiments were conducted in Tifton, GA in Fall 2016 and 2017 with the cabbage cultivar Cheers. Fertilizer N rates were 175, 200, 225, and 250 lb/acre N applied using equivalent preplant fertilizer (50 lb/acre N) with two posttransplant applications of a granular fertilizer (27–0P–0K–5Ca) or six applications of a liquid fertilizer (9N–0P–0K–11Ca). A factorial, randomized, complete block design was used. There were no interactions among fertilizer program, N rate, or year for cabbage yield or nutrient concentrations. Total yield was unaffected by the N rate. However, plants fertilized with the lowest N rate (175 lb/acre N) had the lowest yields from the first two harvests compared with the other N rates. Nutrient concentrations were affected by year, with 2017 having greater concentrations of most macronutrients compared with 2016. In conclusion, the application of 175 lb/acre N led to a potential delay in harvest, but all other N rates were equal. The application method did not impact yield or earliness, suggesting that current recommendations for fertilizer applications after planting cabbage in Georgia are adequate.

Open access

Chengyan Yue, Manlin Cui, Xiangwen Kong, Eric Watkins, and Mike Barnes

Outdoor water use, especially for lawn and landscaping irrigation, accounts for a substantial proportion of residential water use and often peaks during summer months. Understanding how to reduce outdoor water use can play a critical role in balancing the increasing demand for and subsequent protection of water resources. This study aims to find out if information-based strategies can be effective in reducing homeowners’ water use as well as identifying the key determinants that can enhance water conservation campaigns. Using online survey data from 2077 randomly selected urban homeowners with home lawns in a relatively water-rich state, we found that social norm-based information is generally more effective to promote household water conservation behavior than education information. Moreover, the results showed that the households’ water-saving actions, lawn watering knowledge, awareness for local water scarcity, attitudes toward water conservation, socio-demographics, and landscape characteristics all play a role in determining household water conservation intention.

Open access

Lyn A. Gettys, Kyle L. Thayer, and Joseph W. Sigmon

Herbicides that are labeled for aquatic use are often the foundation of aquatic vegetation management programs in the United States because many of these products, which are registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are effective, selective, and relatively inexpensive. Resource managers are interested in reducing the use of synthetic herbicides and are considering alternative methods for aquatic weed control. We evaluated the effects of acetic acid and d-limonene on growth of the invasive small floating species feathered mosquitofern (Azolla pinnata) and common salvinia (Salvinia minima), as well as on the native emergent wetland plants cattail (Typha latifolia) and gulf coast spikerush (Eleocharis cellulosa). Acetic acid and d-limonene (alone and in combination) were applied once as foliar treatments to healthy plants, which were grown for 8 weeks after treatment to allow for development of phytotoxicity symptoms. All experiments also included diquat dibromide at three concentrations as “industry-standard” treatments for comparison. A 0.22% concentration of diquat dibromide eliminated all vegetation of all species. Most single-product treatments provided good control of invasive feathered mosquitofern with acceptable levels of damage to native gulf coast spikerush, but only 15% and 20% d-limonene treatments were effective on invasive common salvinia and selective for native cattail. Some combinations of acetic acid and d-limonene provided acceptable control of both floating weeds and selectivity for gulf coast spikerush, but all mixes caused unacceptable levels of damage to cattail. Treating these small floating weeds with acetic acid and d-limonene instead of diquat dibromide would increase material costs by 15- to 27-fold. Although these natural products may be useful in some areas where synthetic herbicides are discouraged, they are unlikely to be affordable options for most resource managers.

Open access

Srijana Shrestha and Carol Miles

Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) production in the northern United States is limited due to the perceived barriers of a short growing season and relatively cool summer temperatures, yet recent studies have shown yield in northern regions can be greater than the national average when sweetpotatoes are grown with plastic mulch. A study was conducted in northwest Washington to evaluate the productivity of ‘Covington’ sweetpotato with polyethylene (PE) and soil-biodegradable (BDM) mulches and different in-row spacings (20, 30, and 38 cm) in 2019, and to test accessions resistant to wireworm (Agriotes sp. and Limonius sp.) in 2020. In 2019, slips were shipped from North Carolina, and after 4 days in transit, 60% to 70% died after transplanting in the field. By the end of the season, BDM deterioration reached 11% compared with 0.4% for PE mulch, but there were no differences due to mulch in plant establishment, growth, yield, or the proportion of storage roots damaged by wireworm. Total storage root yield was 22 t⋅ha−1 with PE mulch and 15 t⋅ha−1 with BDM. Percent canopy cover was greatest at 20-cm spacing later in the growing season, likely due to intermingling of vines from adjacent plants, whereas high percent canopy cover at 38-cm spacing was likely due to increased production of secondary vines per plant. Total yield was greatest with 20-cm plant spacing (20.4 t⋅ha−1), intermediate with 30-cm spacing (18.0 t⋅ha−1), and lowest with 38-cm spacing (17.0 t⋅ha−1). In contrast, the greatest number of storage roots per plant was produced with 38-cm plant spacing (3.4). There were more jumbo sweetpotatoes produced with PE mulch (3.4 t⋅ha−1) and with 30-cm spacing (3 t⋅ha−1), and the weight of U.S. No. 2 grade sweetpotatoes was greatest at 20-cm spacing (10.2 t⋅ha−1). Soil temperature was increased by 3 °C under the PE mulch and 2 °C under the BDM compared with bare ground. However, 98% of storage roots were observed to be severely damaged by wireworm in 2019, with more than 10 to 20 holes per storage root. For wireworm-resistant accessions in 2020, 16% of the storage roots were damaged by wireworm, with 1.7 to 4.0 holes per storage root. Total yield of accessions PI 666141 and 04-791 (45.5 t⋅ha−1 on average) was greater than the national average (24.7 t⋅ha−1). Overall, sweetpotatoes appear to be suitable for production in northwest Washington, but low yield in 2019 highlights the importance of healthy slips for successful production. Future research should evaluate cultivars with maximum adaptation to the region, techniques to reduce wireworm damage including genetic resistance, and the economics of producing sweetpotatoes in northern regions.

Open access

Kathina Toro-Vélez, Rosa Chávez-Jáuregui, Linda Wessel-Beaver, and Bryan Brunner

Consumption of staminate (male) flowers of squash and pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.) has generally been limited to summer squash (Cucurbita pepo), a species of temperate regions or highland tropical environments. In the lowland tropics of the Caribbean Basin, tropical pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) is better adapted and more widely grown. We evaluated flower production in Lajas, Puerto Rico, and postharvest attributes (shelf life, chemical and nutritional properties, sensory quality) of flowers of four tropical pumpkin and two summer squash cultivars. Tested cultivars varied slightly among experiments. Passive and active modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) were compared. For passive MAP, packages were sealed without further intervention. Under active MAP, packages were adjusted to 6% to 7% oxygen (O2) and 12% to 13% carbon dioxide (CO2) during sealing. Sensory quality of fresh and canned tropical pumpkin flowers was evaluated by panelists. Production ranged from 1.8 to 4.0 flowers/plant per day. Flower weight and length were up to 50% greater in tropical pumpkin compared with summer squash. Packaged flowers turned more orange but with less color saturation as they aged. In active MAP packages, decreases in O2, and increases in CO2 observed after 5 days were small or not significant compared with initially established atmospheres at day 0. Storage temperature generally had no effect on changes in O2 and CO2. Packaged flowers lost about 27% of their initial weight after 5 days. Type of MAP had no consistent effect on the appearance of packaged flowers. Storing flowers at 5 °C often improved appearance compared with storage at 10 °C. The rate of deterioration was slower in packaged flowers of tropical pumpkin compared with summer squash, but by day 6 the poor appearance of flowers of all cultivars made them unmarketable. Compared with fresh flowers, packaged flowers stored for 5 days exhibited a decrease in soluble solids, total acidity, ascorbic acid, antioxidant capacity, and total phenolics, and generally an increase in pH. Beta-carotene often increased in stored flowers although this varied by cultivar. Storage temperature and type of MAP had inconsistent effects on chemical attributes of stored flowers. Panelists rated fresh flowers as “like moderately” to “like very much” for texture, taste, and overall acceptability, whereas canned flowers were rated as “like moderately” for overall acceptability. Male flowers of tropical pumpkin are suitable for human consumption but deterioration after 5 days of storage limits their market potential unless better packaging methods are developed. Canned tropical pumpkin flowers may be an alternative to packaged flowers.

Open access

Xianping Guo, Yiwei Bian, Qizhen Qiu, Dongsheng Wang, Zhongying Wu, Zhenzhen Lv, Beijing Zhang, Qingnan Wu, and Hezhong Wang

Nanocrystal cellulose possesses a strong capability to chelate Fe due to its adsorptive properties. Iron deficiency chlorosis (IDC) is a mineral disorder that remarkably weakens pear photosynthesis, causing declines in plant yields and quality. Conventional methods for controlling IDC generally lack efficiency and overuse chemicals. Foliar application of nanocellulose (NC)-Fe chelate (NCFe) provides a new approach to remediate IDC in pear (Pyrus betulifolia). In this study, NC was prepared by acidic hydrolysis using 64 wt% H2SO4 at 45 °C for 45 minutes. NCFe was formulated based on the net charge density of NC and ferrous sulfate (FeSO4) solution. The nanoparticle properties were characterized by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), dynamic light scattering, and conductometry. Pyrus betulifolia seedlings were pre-etiolated in an improved Hoagland’s nutrient solution and treated with bicarbonate. Changes in chlorophyll content, active Fe content, and photosynthesis rate in NCFe-treated leaves were determined by SPAD values, spectrophotometry, and photosynthetic apparatus, respectively. Ferritin genes (PbFER) and pectin methylesterase genes (PbPME) were extracted from leaf tissue, and gene expression profiles were analyzed by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). The results showed that NCFe particles maintained a whisker-like morphology; the Z-average hydrodynamic diameter and zeta potential of NCFe measured by dynamic light scattering were 107.4 ± 3.0 nm and −9.7 ± 0.4 mV, respectively. When NCFe was prepared at a mixing ratio of 1:3000, the total chlorophyll content, active Fe content, and net photosynthetic rate of plant leaves were significantly enhanced by 23.8%, 65.9%, and 40.4% after 72 hours of treatment, respectively, compared with FeSO4 spraying. Importantly, NCFe treatment also significantly downregulated the expression of PbPME and upregulated the expression of PbFER, which are key genes regulating the active Fe content.

Open access

Roger Kubalek, David Granatstein, Doug Collins, and Carol Miles

Covering the soil surface with opaque plastic sheets to kill vegetation is referred to as tarping and is used by small-scale and organic growers to control weeds before planting crops. There are few published studies on tarping, and here we present a review of the literature in combination with observations from two on-farm case studies, one carried out in northern California and the other in northwestern Washington. An advantage of tarping is that it enables growers to control weeds without herbicides or tillage equipment, which can be cost-prohibitive for small-scale growers. Tarping is also suitable for no- or reduced-tillage systems, which is a primary goal for many small-scale and organic growers. Silage tarps that are 5 to 6 mils thick and black on one side and white on the other are most commonly used for tarping, are readily available new or used from some local agricultural suppliers or online, and can be reused for six or more seasons. Tarps are placed with the black side up to warm the soil, which encourages weed seed germination. When the soil is tilled and then tarped, a 3-week period with sufficient soil temperature and moisture is sufficient to kill emergent weeds in the top ≈1 inch of soil and provides a 95% to 100% weed-free surface at tarp removal. When a tarp is applied from autumn until spring to a plot that has established weeds, winter annual weeds can be controlled for several weeks after tarp removal, and then soil disturbance results in germination of additional weed seeds. For established perennial weeds, it may be necessary to extend the tarp application time to several months during critical weed growth phases or a full year to break the vegetative life cycle. Tarping does not reduce the weed seed bank, thus minimal soil disturbance after tarp removal is needed to maintain a reduced weed population during the cropping period.

Open access

Rui Wang, Masahide Isozaki, Yasunaga Iwasaki, and Yukinari Muramatsu

Root-zone temperature (RZT) is closely related to nutrient transportation and biomass production. However, its influence on biomass production and dry matter distribution remains unknown, especially in year-long production greenhouses. We explore the potential of RZT as an environmental control method to promote spinach field production by quantifying the effects of RZT to increase spinach production. Three RZT treatments using a nutrient film technique (NFT) system quantified and evaluated the effects of spring, summer, and winter spinach cultivation. We investigated the growth characteristics, total aboveground dry matter, and fraction of dry matter distribution to the leaf and root (which corresponded with yield). The RZT effects on total aboveground dry matter varied with the average air temperature inside the greenhouse. The total aboveground dry matter correlated positively with RZT in optimal air temperature conditions (15–20 °C). The dry matter-to-leaves ratio of the spinach did not correlate significantly with RZT in suboptimal (5 °C < air temperature < 15 °C) or supraoptimal (20 °C < air temperature) conditions. Therefore, RZT can promote biomass accumulation. We suggest RZT provides a feasible method for controlling the dry matter distribution fraction. Further research into the functional role of RZT will support hydroponic growers in improving crop yield.

Open access

Avery Shikanai and Karla L. Gage

The impacts of weed interference on hemp (Cannabis sativa) yield are largely unstudied despite causing serious economic losses in most cropping systems. For high-cannabidiol (CBD) hemp, understanding the role of weed competition on CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content may help promote profitability and regulatory compliance. Therefore, we tested the effects of varying waterhemp [Amaranthus tuberculatus (zero, one, three, and five waterhemp plants per planting hole)] and hemp (zero or one hemp plants per planting hole) planting densities on total hemp yield, chemical composition, and aboveground waterhemp biomass in plasticulture. There was no significant total biomass or stripped floral biomass yield loss resulting from waterhemp competition, although unexpectedly high variation in hemp phenotypes likely limited the ability to detect subtle differences between treatments. Furthermore, there was no significant effect of competition treatment on total CBD, total THC, or measured terpene composition. However, waterhemp biomass was reduced significantly by competition from hemp in comparison with hemp-free treatments. Suppression of waterhemp by hemp and lack of significant yield loss suggest that hemp can be highly competitive and grown successfully without herbicides in certain circumstances.

Open access

Mohammed Elsayed El-Mahrouk, Mossad Khairy Maamoun, Yaser Hassan Dewir, Antar Nasr El-Banna, Hail Z. Rihan, Ahmed Salamh, Ahmed A. Al-Aizari, and Michael P. Fuller

Black cumin (Nigella sativa) is an important medicinal plant in the pharmacological industry. It is cultivated on a commercial scale, but its seeds have a slow, unsynchronized germination rate. Enhancing seed germination is crucial for improving the production of black cumin. The influence of presowing treatments [gibberellic acid (GA3), potassium nitrate, salicylic acid, and stratification at 4 °C] on seed germination was assessed. Seed germination was determined daily for 30 days, and germination parameters, including final germination percentage (FGP), corrected germination rate, number of days to reach 50% of FGP, and seedling length vigor index, were evaluated. Endogenous contents of GA3 and abscisic acid (ABA) in nonstratified and stratified seeds were estimated using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and seedling growth was determined in 45-day-old seedlings. All presowing treatments tended to boost early germination for the first 10 days compared with the control. Low concentrations of GA3 at 0.25 g·L−1 also increased FGP (80%) compared with the control group (65.55%). Stratification for 4 weeks provided the greatest FGP value at 95.56%, and stratification for 3 weeks proved to be the most effective treatment for optimal seedling growth. Sodium dodecyl sulphate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis patterns of stratified seeds revealed the alteration in intensities of 13 bands and the appearance of a new band (180 kDa) indicating a change in the synthesis of proteins during stratification. Moreover, stratification modulated the endogenous GA3 and ABA contents of black cumin seeds, which alleviated the physiological dormancy and resulted in high and synchronized seed germination.