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Identifying tomato genotypes that can thrive and produce abundantly under arid climatic conditions and addressing the growing food demand caused by population growth are pressing concerns for food security. This research aimed to assess the growth, physiological, phenological, fruit yield, and postharvest quality of tomato genotypes cultivated in an organic hydroponic system in Qatar, where abiotic stress conditions prevail. Ten different tomato genotypes were carefully evaluated, and comprehensive data regarding their growth and development were collected and analyzed. The performance of these tomato genotypes across all traits related to yield and quality showed significant variations. Notably, the ‘Velocity’ and ‘Sigma’ genotypes consistently exhibited robust vegetative growth and improved phenological characteristics compared with the other tomato cultivars. Specifically, ‘Velocity’ and ‘Sigma’ displayed increased leaf assimilation rates (35% and 32%), stomatal conductance (14% and 11%), and reduced transpiration loss (50% and 44%) compared with ‘SV4129TH’. These genotypes also showed lower electrolyte leakage (32% and 28%) and maintained higher intercellular CO2 concentrations. Furthermore, ‘Velocity’ exhibited an accelerated flowering pattern, with the first flowering occurring 4 days sooner and 50% flowering occurring 5 days sooner than that of ‘SV4129TH’. ‘Velocity’ also demonstrated superior fruit set (14%), pollen viability (24%), and fewer incidences of flower drops (36%) compared with ‘SV4129TH’. Notably, ‘Velocity’ outperformed ‘SV4129TH’ in terms of marketable fruit yields, with a 32% higher yield. In addition to its impressive yield, ‘Velocity’ exhibited superior postharvest quality, including firmness, Brix level, acidity, and color. Therefore, overall, ‘Velocity’ and ‘Sigma’ emerged as promising genotypes with strong abiotic stress tolerance capabilities. The correlation analysis of these traits provided valuable insights into the selection and breeding of genotypes that can withstand abiotic stress conditions, laying the foundation for effective comparisons and selections of genotypes suitable for organic hydroponic cultivation in stressful environments.

Open Access

The efficacy of the fungicide pydiflumetofen + difenoconazole (Postiva) was evaluated at varying application rates and intervals for the control of powdery mildew (Golovinomyces orontii, formerly Erysiphe polygoni) in bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Nikko Blue’). Container-grown hydrangeas were arranged in a completely randomized design with six single-plant replications. Experiments were done in 2022 and 2023 under both greenhouse and shade house conditions (56% shade). Powdery mildew in hydrangea was developed naturally. Pydiflumetofen + difenoconazole at 1.1, 1.6, and 2.2 ml·L−1 and a standard fungicide azoxystrobin + benzovindiflupyr (Mural) at 0.5 g·L−1 were sprayed to runoff on 2-, 4-, and 6-week intervals. Plants that were not treated with fungicide served as the control. Plants were evaluated weekly for disease severity (0% to 100% foliage affected) and defoliation (0% to 100% defoliation). The season-long area under the disease progress curve (AUDPC) and defoliation progress curve (AUDFC) were calculated for the evaluation period. The initial and final plant height and width were recorded, and height and width increase were determined. Pydiflumetofen + difenoconazole and azoxystrobin + benzovindiflupyr significantly reduced final disease severity, AUDPC, and defoliation both in the greenhouse and shade house compared with control plants. In both greenhouse trials and the 2022 shade house trial, AUDFC was reduced in all treatments compared with the control plants. However, AUDFC was not reduced by all treatments in the 2023 shade house trial. Pooled over application intervals, the low rate of pydiflumetofen + difenoconazole was as effective as the medium and high rates of pydiflumetofen + difenoconazole and azoxystrobin + benzovindiflupyr in reducing final powdery mildew severity and AUDPC both in the greenhouse and shade house in both 2022 and 2023. No significant differences between application intervals were noted in final disease severity and progress. Control of powdery mildew with fungicides failed to increase plant dimensions (i.e., plant height and width) compared with the no fungicide control. Because all application rates and intervals of pydiflumetofen + difenoconazole provided comparable powdery mildew disease control, it is suggested that using a low rate of pydiflumetofen + difenoconazole with the longest application interval (6 weeks) is the most cost-effective approach for managing powdery mildew in bigleaf hydrangeas.

Open Access

During California’s broad experiment with fig cultivation, Ira J. Condit became known as the “High Priest of the Fig.” Herein is a large set of fig attributes deemed agriculturally important by Ira J. Condit in his 1955 monograph. The attributes are divided into five categories and distributed across 717 cultivars. All data and software source code have been made available publicly on Figshare.

Open Access

Tea (Camellia sinensis L.) is an important cash crop. In the context of climate change, analyzing the current distribution of tea trees and climate change environmental variables to predict the potential distribution area of tea trees in the future can help decision-makers make appropriate planting decisions and promote sustainable management. In this study, an optimized MaxEnt model was used to predict the limiting factors of tea tree growth and distribution under current and future climate change scenarios. The climate soil mixing model [area under the curve (AUC) = 0.934] performed excellently. The results showed that precipitation, temperature, slope, and soil factors all affected the distribution of suitable habitats for tea trees. Compared with the current distribution area of tea trees, under three shared socioeconomic pathways (SSP126, SSP245, and SSP585), the area of highly suitable habitats for tea trees will expand, especially in 2061–2080 and 2081–2100 years, and the suitable area will extend overall to the north of China, indicating that future climate change may create more new suitable habitats for tea production, especially in Shandong, Shaanxi, Guizhou, and Yunnan provinces. This study will provide important scientific insights for tea production decision-making, tea garden location selection, and future adaptation methods, and will help in the cultivation and transplantation of tea trees in the future.

Open Access

Consumers have become increasingly concerned about the environmental standards of industries from which they purchase products. Because consumers’ environmental concerns are increasingly becoming part of their purchasing decisions, industries have begun to restructure their business model to one that is more environmentally sustainable. Studies have indicated consumers’ actions and motivations for purchasing sustainable products vary based on consumer demographics. The main purpose of this study was to compare the differences in consumers’ perceptions and willingness to pay as they relate to retail floral providers’ sustainable and environmentally sound practices based on demographic traits. A total of 2172 people responded to an online survey. The sample used in this study was a random selection of individuals 18 years of age or older living in the United States. Survey responses were collected from 21 Dec 2022 to 27 Jan 2023. Data were analyzed using analyses of variance and post hoc tests as well as descriptive and frequency statistics. Results indicated there was a difference in the way respondents answered the survey questions based on demographics. Respondents 34 years of age or younger with college experience indicated the most willingness to make purchases and pay premiums from floral providers that incorporate sustainable attributes into their business model. Males indicated a stronger willingness to shop at a floral provider based on several of the environmental statements when compared with other genders. The results provide evidence of the value of the integration of sustainability practices into the business model of floral providers to make it more competitive.

Open Access

According to the 2021 Extension Master Gardener (EMG) National Summary, the EMG Volunteer Program had an estimated 84,700 volunteers throughout the United States. These volunteers helped communities garden and grow food, provided opportunities to engage in activities that improved physical and mental health, and worked on projects that addressed environmental issues. In total, these programs contributed 3.1 million hours of education to local communities and $88 million dollars in value to the public. However, the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges for the program, with many states implementing reduced requirements and increased flexibility for volunteers. The workshop “Dynamic Volunteer Engagement and Impactful Educational Outreach Taking Us Into the Next 50 Years of the EMG Program” at the 2022 ASHS conference discussed how to engage EMG volunteers despite the limitations of limited in-person contact. The workshop featured three Extension educators and EMG coordinators who shared their experiences and strategies for engaging volunteers during the pandemic. Topics discussed included engaging volunteers in local food systems and community gardens, engaging students in horticulture at an earlier age, and digital volunteer opportunities. Overall, the workshop provided valuable insights and facilitated discussions on how to adapt and continue the EMG program during challenging times.

Open Access
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Penstemons are a diverse group of flowering plants valued for their ability to enhance the visual appearance of urban landscapes. Penstemon barbatus (Cav.) Roth ‘Novapenblu’ (rock candy blue® penstemon) and Penstemon strictus Benth ‘Rocky Mountain’ (rocky mountain beardtongue) are widely used in landscapes, but their tolerance to soil salinity remains poorly understood. This study aimed to investigate the effects of salinity levels at electrical conductivities (ECs) of 1.0 (nutrient solution), 2.5, 5.0, 7.5, and 10.0 dS⋅m−1 on two penstemons (P. barbatus and P. strictus). Penstemons were irrigated with nutrient or saline solution for 8 weeks and various growth and physiological data were recorded before harvest. Salinity stress degraded the visual quality of penstemon species and led to a reduction in the growth rate and biomass production. Leaf burn and necrosis were observed in penstemons because of salinity stress. The visual score of P. barbatus and P. strictus decreased with increasing EC levels in the saline solution. When irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 7.5 dS⋅m−1, Penstemon barbatus and P. strictus had severe-to-moderate foliar salt damage with average visual scores of 1.7 and 2.5, respectively (0 = dead plant; 5 = excellent plant without any foliar damage). The two penstemon species had severe foliar salt damage or were dead when irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 10.0 dS⋅m−1. There were 87% and 92% decreases in the leaf area of P. barbatus and P. strictus, respectively, when irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 10.0 dS⋅m−1 compared with those in the control. Although not statistically significant, there were 7% to 18% decreases in shoot dry weight of P. barbatus when irrigated with saline solutions at ECs of 2.5 to 10.0 dS⋅m−1 compared with control. However, P. strictus displayed declines of 13% to 31% in shoot dry weight as the salinity levels of the irrigation solution increased. As the salinity levels increased, the net photosynthetic rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (gs ), and transpiration (E) rates decreased. Furthermore, sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl) contents of P. barbatus and P. strictus increased with the increase in salinity levels of the treatment solution. Consequently, P. barbatus and P. strictus demonstrated sensitivity to salinity stress at ECs of 7.5 and 10.0 dS⋅m−1. This study provides important insights for their effective utilization in landscaping practices within saline-prone areas.

Open Access