Florida vegetable growers are facing high production costs due to high input costs, lower profitability, and competition from foreign markets. Multi/intercropping allows growers to increase the yields and profits per unit area by producing multiple crops on the same beds. Experiments determining the effects of intercropping and plant spacing was conducted in Fall 2018 and 2019 at Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Balm. Tomato and bell pepper were intercropped at low and high planting density on plastic-covered beds. Bell pepper shoot biomass was significantly (P < 0.001) reduced when intercropped with tomato, compared with monocropped bell pepper. However, tomato shoot biomass was significantly reduced when tomato plant density increased, but it was unaffected by bell pepper intercropping. Biomass of both crops was unaffected by relay cropping. Bell pepper yields when intercropped with tomato at low density (60 cm tomato-tomato and 38 cm pepper-pepper) had similar yields to bell pepper planted alone in low and high planting density. We concluded that bell pepper plants were more sensitive to interspecific competition, whereas tomato plants were more sensitive to intraspecific competition. Intercropping may be a viable option for growers at recommended plant densities used for monocrops. However, high plant density is not recommended.
Ravneet K. Sandhu, Nathan S. Boyd, Lincoln Zotarelli, Shinsuke Agehara, and Natalia Peres
Asmita Nagila, Brian J. Schutte, Soum Sanogo, and Omololu John Idowu
When applied before crop emergence, soil amendments with mustard seed meal (MSM) control some weeds and soilborne pathogens. MSM applications after crop emergence (herein “postemergence applications”) might be useful components of agricultural pest management programs, but research on postemergence applications of MSM is limited. The overall objective of this investigation was to develop a method for postemergence application of MSM that does not cause irrecoverable injury or yield loss in chile pepper (Capsicum annuum). To accomplish this objective, we conducted a sequence of studies that evaluated different MSM rates and application methods in the greenhouse and field. For the greenhouse study, we measured chile plant photosynthetic and growth responses to MSM applied postemergence on the soil surface or incorporated into soil. For the field study, we determined chile pepper fruit yield responses to MSM applied postemergence using a technique based on the method developed in greenhouse, and we confirmed that the MSM rates used in our study (4400 kg·ha−1 and 2200 kg·ha−1) inhibited the emergence of the weed Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) and the growth of the pathogen Phytophthora capsici, which are common problems in chile pepper production in New Mexico. Greenhouse study results indicated that MSM at 4400 kg·ha−1 spread on the soil surface caused irrecoverable injury to chile pepper plants; however, chile pepper plants were not permanently injured by the following three treatments: 1) MSM at 4400 kg·ha−1 incorporated into soil, 2) MSM at 2200 kg·ha−1 spread on the soil surface, and 3) MSM at 2200 kg·ha−1 incorporated into soil. For the field study, postemergence, soil-incorporated applications of MSM at 4400 kg·ha−1 suppressed emergence of Palmer amaranth by 89% and reduced mycelial growth of Phytophthora capsica by 96%. Soil-incorporated applications of MSM at 2200 kg·ha−1 suppressed emergence of Palmer amaranth by 41.5% and reduced mycelial growth of Phytophthora capsica by 71%. Postemergence soil-incorporated applications of MSM did not reduce chile pepper yield compared with the control. The results of this study indicated that MSM applied after crop emergence and incorporated into soil can be a component of pest management programs for chile pepper.
Mary Hockenberry Meyer, Cydnee Van Zeeland, and Katherine Brewer
Chinese silvergrass (Miscanthus sinensis) is native to East Asia and South Africa and has been grown as an ornamental in the United States for over 100 years. Chinese silvergrass is on the invasive species list for 12 states in the United States and is regulated for sale in New York state. It is often found along roadsides in middle-Atlantic states and Long Island, NY. In 2019 and 2020, we sowed chinese silvergrass seed harvested in Fall 2002 and Spring 2003 from several locations in North Carolina where it had naturalized and from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chaska, MN. The seed had been stored in a seed storage vault (4 °C) from 2002 to 2020. Germination in 2003 showed variation between 53% to 95% from 19 different individual plants. This same seed when resown in 2019 and 2020 had much lower germination that could be divided into three categories: no germination (five plants), germination of 1% or less (seven plants), and germination of more than 2% (seven plants). Results from this study show that seed viability may be a long-term problem in locations where chinese silvergrass has naturalized.
Yuru Chang, Lorenzo Rossi, Lincoln Zotarelli, Bin Gao, and Ali Sarkhosh
Muscadine grape is a perennial crop that is highly responsive to local environmental factors and viticulture practices. Biochar is a promising soil amendment used to improve soil water and nutrient retention and promote plant growth. The present study aimed to assess the effects of different pinewood biochar rates on nutrient status and vegetative parameters of muscadine grape cv. Alachua grown on a nutrient-poor sandy soil, Ultisols (97.2% sand, 2.4% silt, and 0.4% clay), and mixed with five different rates (0%, 5%, 10%, 15%, and 20%) of biochar based on weight. Variations in soil moisture, temperature, and leaf greenness value [soil plant analysis development (SPAD) reading], net photosynthesis rate, and plant root and shoot dry weights were measured. In addition, the nutrient status of the soil, plant root, and shoot were determined. The results indicated that the higher rate of biochar could significantly (P < 0.05) improve soil moisture. Biochar can also decrease soil temperature, although there were no significant differences among treatments. Regarding the nutrient status, the biochar amendment increased the nutrient content of phosphorus (P), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), and calcium (Ca), as well as the soil organic matter content and cation exchange capacity. Higher nutrient contents in soil lead to increased P and Mg in both aboveground and belowground muscadine plant tissues and decreased nitrogen (N), iron (Fe), and copper (Cu) in the root part. There were no significant differences observed in SPAD values, net photosynthesis, or dry weights of the root and shoot. This study demonstrates that the addition of biochar may enhance the soil water and nutrient status as well as improve plant P and Mg uptake; however, it showed no significant differences in the physiological performance of muscadine grape plants.
Ryan Murphy, Duane McDowell, and Changbin Chen
Nadia A. Valverdi and Lee Kalcsits
‘Honeycrisp’ apple is susceptible to bitter pit, which is associated with fruit mineral nutrient composition. Rootstock genotypes can affect nutrient acquisition, distribution, and fruit yields, which all affect fruit nutrient composition and bitter pit susceptibility. However, the changes of these traits among different rootstock genotypes in response to abiotic stress under semiarid conditions are relatively unknown. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of different rootstocks and irrigation on nutrient uptake and partitioning with ‘Honeycrisp’ apple grown in an irrigated, semiarid environment. ‘Honeycrisp’ apple trees were grafted on four different rootstocks, Geneva 41 (‘G.41’), Geneva 890 (‘G.890’), M.9-T337 (‘M.9’), and Budagovsky 9 (‘B.9’), and these were planted at high density (3000 trees/ha). Irrigation was applied as either a water-limited treatment where volumetric soil water content was maintained near 50% field capacity (FC) and a well-watered control where soil water content was maintained near 100% FC. ‘G.890’, the most vigorous rootstock, had lower nitrogen and higher potassium content in leaves, while ‘B.9’, the least vigorous rootstock, had lower potassium and higher nitrogen content. Rootstock genotype did not affect calcium uptake. Interestingly, water-limited conditions increased the nutrient content in root and stems but not in leaves. Water-limited trees partitioned more nitrogen and calcium to roots, while well-watered trees in the control partitioned more nutrients to the stems. Fruit size was the largest for ‘G.890’ and smallest for ‘B.9’. Both ‘G.41’ and ‘G.890’ had higher bitter pit incidence, which was associated with higher potassium content in leaves and fruit. These results suggest that rootstock-induced vigor and irrigation can both contribute to nutrient imbalances in leaves and fruit that could affect the development of physiological disorders in ‘Honeycrisp’ apple.
Huimin Zhang, Hongguang Yan, Cuixiang Lu, Hui Lin, and Quan Li
Solid-state 1H-NMR and 13C-NMR spectroscopy were used to investigate the chemical components of sweet cherry tree leaves under rain-shelter cultivation (RS) and open-field cultivation (CK). The 1H-NMR spectral chemical shifts of RS and CK showed differences in height and integral value. The δ 1–3, δ 3–4, δ 4–6, and δ 6–10 regions were attributed to the hydrogen signals of aliphatic compounds, unsaturated carbohydrate compounds, and aromatic compounds, respectively. Among the four regions, the percentage of signal strength and the integral value of hydrogen signals of RS and CK were 34.25% and 28.34%, 11.64% and 12.26%, 26.71% and 31.06%, 27.4% and 28.34%, respectively. The 13C-NMR results showed that the CK sample had slightly stronger spectral lines and contained slightly more carbon atoms than the RS sample. Sweet cherry leaves contain aromatic and carboxyl carbons, mainly from carboxylic acids, esters, and amides. The alkyl carbons exhibited the lowest ratio, whereas the alkyl and alkoxy carbons were mainly derived from carbohydrates (cellulose, polysaccharides).
Grady H. Zuiderveen, Eric P. Burkhart, and Joshua D. Lambert
Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis L.) is a medicinal forest herb native to Appalachia. Its roots and rhizomes are used as an antimicrobial and for the treatment of intestinal ailments. Three alkaloids–berberine, hydrastine, and canadine–are recognized as the major bioactive constituents in goldenseal. One important postharvest processing step for goldenseal is drying; however, it is not known how drying temperature influences the concentrations of these alkaloids. In this study, pre-emergent (dormant) goldenseal samples were freeze-dried or air-dried at six different temperatures (26.7 to 54.4 °C) to determine the relationship between drying temperature and alkaloid content in the rhizome and roots. High performance liquid chromatography analysis showed that berberine and hydrastine levels were unaffected by drying temperature, while canadine levels decreased as temperature increased (0.55% w/w on average when samples were freeze-dried, down to 0.27% w/w on average when dried at 54.4 °C). While canadine is the least abundant alkaloid of the three, it is known to have key antibacterial properties. Developing a more standardized drying protocol for goldenseal could lead to a more predictable phytochemical profile.
Sudip Kunwar, Jude Grosser, Fred G. Gmitter Jr., William S. Castle, and Ute Albrecht
Most of the commercially important citrus scion cultivars are susceptible to Huanglongbing (HLB), which is the most devastating disease the citrus industry has ever faced. Because the rootstock can influence the performance of the scion in various ways, including disease and pest tolerance, use of superior rootstocks can assist citrus growers with minimizing the negative effects of HLB. The objective of this study was to assess rootstock effects on the horticultural performance and early production potential of ‘Hamlin’ sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) trees in commercial field settings under HLB-endemic conditions. Two field trials were conducted in different locations in Central and Southeast Florida. The trials were established in 2015 and included 32 diverse diploid and tetraploid rootstock cultivars and advanced selections. One trial was performed in Highlands County, FL, on a poorly drained flatwoods-type site. Another trial was performed in Polk County, FL, on a well-drained sandy Central Florida Ridge site. Horticultural traits including tree height, canopy volume, trunk diameter, canopy health, leaf nutrient content, yield, and fruit quality were assessed during the 2018–19 and 2019–20 production years. Significant differences were found among trees on different rootstocks for most of the measured traits, particularly tree vigor and productivity, but rootstock effects also varied by location. Rootstocks that induced large tree sizes, such as the diploid mandarin × trifoliate orange hybrids ‘X-639’, ‘C-54’, ‘C-57’, and ‘C-146’, also induced higher yield, but with lower yield efficiency. Most of the tetraploid rootstocks significantly reduced tree size, among which ‘Changsha+Benton’, ‘Green-3’, ‘Amb+Czo’, ‘UFR-3’, and ‘UFR-5’ induced high yield efficiency. Therefore, these rootstocks have the potential to be used in high-density plantings. However, trees on some of these small size-inducing rootstocks had a higher mortality rate and were more vulnerable to tropical force winds. This study provides important information for the selection of rootstocks with the greatest production potential in an HLB-endemic environment, especially during the early years of production.
Triston Hooks, Genhua Niu, Joe Masabni, Youping Sun, and Girisha Ganjegunte
Pomegranate is a drought-tolerant and salt-tolerant crop. Its fruits contain high levels of phytochemicals that have many health benefits. Pomegranate has the potential to be an alternative crop in areas where water availability is limited, such as west Texas. However, more than 500 pomegranate varieties are estimated to exist worldwide, and little is known about which varieties are suitable for growing in the west Texas region. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the field performance of 22 pomegranate varieties, specifically based on phenology, resistance to sunburn, fruit split, fruit rot (resistance was calculated by subtracting the percent incidence by 100), yield, fruit phytochemicals, and Brix over the course of 3 years from 2016 to 2018. Cold damage, caused by below-freezing temperatures encountered from Nov. 2018 to Feb. 2019, was also evaluated in Apr. 2019. Our results showed significant varietal differences in nearly all response variables measured, indicating that varietal selection is important for pomegranate production for specific regions, such as west Texas. Leaf budding ranged from 47 to 62 days in 2016, 41 to 54 days in 2017, and 49 to 60 days in 2018. Anthesis ranged from 87 to 119 days in 2016, 80 to 94 days in 2017, and 92 to 114 days in 2018. Fruit resistance to split was broad and ranged from 7.3% to 79.1% in 2017 and from 14.2% to 99.7% in 2018. Fruit sunburn resistance ranged from 14.0% to 64.6% in 2017 and from 28.3% to 90.0% in 2018. Fruit heart rot incidence was nominal for all varieties. Total phenolic compound contents of the pomegranate fruit juice ranged from 0.81 to 1.52 mg GAE/mL, and the total antioxidant capacity ranged from 3.44 to 6.81 mg TE/mL. The yield per tree ranged from 1.00 to 7.96 kg in 2017 and from 0.81 to 10.26 kg in 2018. Brix ranged from 12.5% to 17.4% in 2017 and from 13.9% to 18.4% in 2018. Early winter below-freezing temperatures caused different degrees of cold damage; however, 5 of 22 varieties that originated from Russia did not show any cold damage. Results of a hierarchical cluster analysis based on the means of the key response variables of yield and Brix indicated that four varieties (Al-Sirin-Nar, Russian 8, Ben Ivey, and Salavatski) were notable for having both high yield and high Brix.