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Open access

Tian Gong, Xuelian Zhang, Jeffrey K. Brecht, Zachary E. Black, and Xin Zhao

Recently, so-called “vegetative” and “generative” rootstocks have been identified by seed companies as rootstock types that have different impacts on tomato scions. In this experiment of grafted grape tomato production in an organically managed high tunnel system, we characterized the effects of vegetative and generative rootstock cultivars on tomato yield components and fruit mineral contents. Grape tomato scions ‘BHN 1022’ (determinate) and ‘Sweet Hearts’ (indeterminate) were grafted onto ‘DR0141TX’ (vegetative), ‘Estamino’ (generative), and ‘Multifort’ (noncharacterized) rootstocks with self- and nongrafted scions as controls. Experiments were conducted twice with different transplanting dates (Expt. 1: 31 Jan. vs. Expt. 2: 9 Mar.) in 2018. No rootstock by scion interaction effects on whole-season fruit yield components were observed, indicating similar responses of determinate and indeterminate grape tomato scions to all rootstocks tested. For Expt. 1, the three rootstocks increased marketable fruit number, marketable yield, and total yield by 23.3%, 37.9%, and 34.4% on average, respectively, compared with the self- and nongrafted controls, primarily due to improved productivity during the peak and late harvest periods. For Expt. 2, the rootstocks did not significantly benefit any whole-season yield components. ‘DR0141TX’ and ‘Multifort’ increased stem diameter in both experiments, whereas ‘Estamino’ only increased stem diameter in Expt. 2 relative to the nongrafted controls. Consistent increase in aboveground dry biomass of rootstock treatments at crop termination in Expt. 1 corresponded to the greater yield of rootstock-grafted plants in that experiment. All rootstocks in both experiments consistently increased fruit P, K, Ca, Zn, and Fe contents on a dry weight basis at peak harvest regardless of the tomato scion used. Despite a relatively low level of root-knot nematode infestation, plants grafted with ‘DR0141TX’ or ‘Estamino’ tended to have lower root galling index ratings than scion controls and ‘Multifort’-grafted plants, which was more evident in Expt. 1. Given the different environmental conditions during the tomato production period between the two experiments conducted in high tunnels, our findings highlight the important influence of production environment on grafted tomato performance. This study on grafted grape tomatoes in high tunnel organic production systems also demonstrated that so-called “vegetative” and “generative” rootstocks had similar impacts on tomato scion yield components and fruit mineral contents.

Open access

Jacob H. Shreckhise, James S. Owen Jr., Alexander X. Niemiera, and James E. Altland

The amount of phosphorus (P) conventionally recommended and applied to container nursery crops commonly exceeds plant requirements, resulting in unused P leaching from containers and potentially contributing to surface water impairment. An experiment was replicated in the Middle Atlantic Coastal Plain (MACP) and Ridge and Valley ecoregions of Virginia to compare the effect of a low-P controlled-release fertilizer (CRF, 0.9% or 1.4% P depending on species) vs. a conventional CRF formulation (control, 1.7% P) on plant shoot growth, crop quality, and substrate nutrient concentrations of four species: ‘Natchez’ crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica × Lagerstroemia fauriei), ‘Roblec’ Encore azalea (Rhododendron hybrid), ‘Radrazz’ Knock Out rose (Rosa hybrid), and ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae (Thuja plicata × Thuja standishii). In both ecoregions, the low-P CRF resulted in 9% to 26% lower shoot dry weight in all four species compared with those given the conventional formulation, but quality ratings for two economically important species, ‘Radrazz’ Knock Out rose and ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae, were similar between treatments. When fertilized with the low-P CRF, ‘Roblec’ Encore azalea and ‘Natchez’ crape myrtle in both ecoregions, and ‘Green Giant’ arborvitae in the MACP ecoregion had ∼56% to 75% lower substrate pore-water P concentrations than those that received the control CRF. Nitrate-nitrogen (N) concentrations in substrate pore water at week 5 were more than six times greater in control-fertilized plants than in those that received a low-P CRF, which may have been a result of the greater urea-N content or the heterogeneous nature of the low-P CRFs. Lower water-extractable pore-water P and N indicate less environmental risk and potentially increased crop efficiency. Our results suggest low-P CRFs can be used to produce certain economically important ornamental nursery crops successfully without sacrificing quality; however, early adopters will need to evaluate the effect of low-P CRFs on crop quality of specific species before implementing on a large scale.

Open access

Gilbert Miller

Delineating the depth and extent of the industrial hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) root zone assists with proper irrigation management and minimizes nutrient leaching. The objective of this 3-year field study was to measure root distribution and root length density of industrial hemp cultivars produced for cannabinoids grown under polyethylene mulch with drip irrigation. Root length density (RLD) was measured from 75-cm-deep soil cores obtained during vegetative growth, at early bloom, and at flower harvest. Cores were taken in-row and 15 cm to the side of each plant. In addition to root cores, the trench profile method was used during 2020 to observe in situ gross root architecture of a direct-seeded cannabinoid cultivar. RLD was significantly greater in the 0- to 30-cm soil depth and dropped dramatically below 30 cm; RLD was not significantly affected by cultivar. These findings suggest that the effective root zone depth for industrial hemp cultivars produced for cannabinoids is 0 to 30 cm and that the cultivars tested in this study do not differ in root system size or location.

Open access

Mohammed A. S. Alyafei, Abdullah Al Dakheel, Mohamed Almoosa, and Zienab F. R. Ahmed

Traditional pollination of date palms is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Hence, the objectives of this study were 1) to develop a rapid, efficient, and low-cost pollination method that results in an acceptable level of fruit set (FS) with smaller amount of pollen grains, and labor costs using a platform-mounted robotic (drone) supplemented with water-suspended pollen grains, and 2) to investigate the effect of this method on date palm FS percentage, pollination efficiency (PE), fruit retention, total yield, and fruit quality. Date palm cultivars Barhi, Lulu, and Khesab were pollinated using traditional hand pollination (HP), spray pollination (HS), and drone pollination (DS) with water-suspended pollen grains (3 g/L). The results revealed that DS had a significantly lower FS percentage than the HP and HS methods in the Lulu and Khesab cultivars, but the difference was not statistically significant in Barhi cultivar. Fruit PE was unaffected by any of the pollination methods in Barhi and Lulu cultivars, but in the Khesab cultivar, DS pollination had lower PE (0.81) than HS (0.94) and HP (0.99) methods. DS had significantly lower levels of fruit retention and bunch weight than other methods. DS significantly improved fruit physical quality at harvest in all cultivars compared with HP and HS methods. Nevertheless, fruit color, firmness, total soluble solids (TSS) %, acidity, pH, and vitamin C level were unaffected by any of the pollination methods. Although the DS method produced lower FS percentage and bunch weight, the obtained FS percentages were within the commercially acceptable range for all cultivars. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first field study to indicate the possibility of pollinating date palm using drones with water-suspended pollen grain. To validate the commercial application, more research is needed to justify the optimum time and duration of application, which may vary according to cultivar and region.

Open access

Gursewak Singh, William Patrick Wechter, Bhupinder Singh Farmaha, and Matthew Cutulle

Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is a preplant pest management technique that involves amending the soil with a labile carbon source, irrigating the soil to stimulate decomposition, and then covering the soil with polyethylene film (polyfilm) to limit gas exchange. During the ASD process, soil microorganisms shift from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism and release phytotoxic byproducts such as organic acids and gases. Although it has been shown that these phytotoxic by-products have a negative impact on weed survival, questions remain about whether commercial-level weed control can be achieved using ASD alone or in combination with other chemicals. Greenhouse and field studies were conducted to evaluate ASD with mustard (Brassica sp.) meal, molasses, and herbicide applications for yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus) control in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). The treatments in these studies included factorial of two carbon sources [mustard meal + molasses (MMM) or no carbon amendment], three herbicide treatments [halosulfuron applied preemergence (PRE), halosulfuron applied postemergence (POST), and no herbicide] and two polyfilm treatments (polyfilm cover or polyfilm uncover). In field trials two polyfilm cover treatments were punctured and nonpunctured. Soil treatments included molasses at 14,000 L·ha−1 and mustard meal at 2100 kg·ha−1. Halosulfuron was applied at a rate of 1 oz/acre for PRE or POST applications. Greater anaerobic conditions were achieved in polyfilm cover treatments amended with MMM. In greenhouse and field trials, the most effective treatments for reducing yellow nutsedge populations were ASD with MMM or combined with halosulfuron application (PRE- or POST-ASD), which delivered significantly higher weed control than all other treatments tested or controls. In field trials, ASD with MMM caused plant growth stunting 14 d after transplantation (DAT); however, plants recovered, and stunting or injury was often not observed at 42 DAT. These studies demonstrated that ASD using MMM can be an effective strategy for reducing yellow nutsedge populations; however, the more research is needed to ensure crop safety while using ASD technology.

Open access

Michael J. Bradshaw, Luis Quijada, Patrick C. Tobin, Uwe Braun, Cindy Newlander, Tom Potterfield, Élan R. Alford, Carlos Contreras, Allen Coombes, Swarnalatha Moparthi, Erin Buchholz, Daniel Murphy, Wade Enos, Amy Fields-Taylor, Anna Bower, and Donald H. Pfister

Botanical gardens have extensive spatial databases of their plant specimens; however, the fungi occurring in them are generally unstudied. Botanical gardens, with their great plant diversity, undoubtedly harbor a wide range of symbiotic fungi, including those that are plant-pathogenic. One such group of fungi is powdery mildews (Erysiphaceae). The powdery mildews are among the most prevalent and economically important plant pathogens in the world, with an estimated 906 species in 19 genera. They are known to infect more than 10,000 species of flowering plants and although some species occur across a range of hosts, many are associated with specific plants. Powdery mildews have undergone a long and dynamic coevolution with their host plants, resulting in co-speciation. Botanical gardens provide a living laboratory in which to study these fungi, leading to a wealth of undiscovered fungal diversity. Furthermore, monitoring pathogens in botanical gardens has led to important ecological findings related to the plant sciences and plant protection. Between 2018 and 2022, a collaborative citizen science project was established with 10 botanical gardens in the United States and Mexico. A total of more than 300 powdery mildew specimens were collected on 220 different host taxa. We sequenced the entire internal transcribed spacer (ITS) and large subunit (LSU) rDNA loci and phylogenetically and morphologically analyzed these collections revealing 130 species, of which 31 are likely unknown to science. This research highlights the importance of botanical gardens as a reservoir of fungal diversity. Future research will further elucidate the coevolutionary relationship between powdery mildews and their hosts and extend the current study to evaluate other plant pathogens and fungi in botanical gardens.

Open access

Juan Zhou, Xuetao Ma, Yaxin Zhao, Sijie Wang, Chen Lian, Jingran Lian, and Yan Ao

Open access

Qian-nan Diao, Yan-yan Cao, Hong Wang, Yong-ping Zhang, and Hai-bin Shen

The objective of the present study was to consider the regulatory role of exogenous nitric oxide (NO) supplementation in response to chilling stress impose alterations on different physiological parameters in melon seedlings. Melon seedlings were treated with sodium nitroprusside (SNP, an NO donor), hemoglobin (a NO scavenger), NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (an NO synthase inhibitor), and tungstate (a nitrite reductase inhibitor) under chilling stress conditions. The results showed that exogenous SNP improves the growth of melon seedlings under chilling stress conditions and ameliorates the harmful effects of chilling stress by increasing the levels of chlorophyll and soluble solutes, elevating the activity of sucrose phosphate synthase by enhancing the expression level of CmSPS. Moreover, exogenous NO significantly enhances the expression of genes and activities of antioxidant enzymes under chilling stress, resulting in lower reactive oxygen species accumulation. However, the protective effects of SNP are reversed by both NO scavenging and inhibition. Collectively, our results reveal that NO has the ability to ameliorate the harmful effects of chilling stress on melon seedlings by regulating carbohydrate metabolism and the antioxidant defense system.