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.
Triston Hooks, Genhua Niu, Joe Masabni, Youping Sun, and Girisha Ganjegunte
Jesse Puka-Beals and Greta Gamig
Direct seeding into strip-tilled zones (STZs) of living mulches may require weed suppression tactics for soil surfaces exposed within the STZ. Three surface mulch options (hydromulch, compost blanket, and a no-mulch control) were evaluated for their ability to suppress weeds and improve crop performance when applied in STZs seeded to carrot (Daucus carota). These STZs were located within one of five living mulch options [red clover (Trifolium pratense), white clover (Trifolium repens), perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), a weed-free control, and a weedy control]. From measurements spanning 2 years at two North Dakota locations, dry weed biomass was lower in STZs where hydromulch or compost blankets were applied compared with the no-mulch control (12, 13, and 82 g·m−2, respectively). The presence of a living mulch adjacent to the STZ reduced carrot root biomass by 49% to 84% compared with the weed-free control. Further research should 1) investigate methods for reducing yield loss from living mulches, and 2) develop biodegradable alternatives to plastic mulches.
Kaitlyn M. Orde and Rebecca Grube Sideman
Day-neutral (DN) strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) cultivars have potential to produce high yields in New England and greatly extend the period of regional strawberry production each year. However, DN strawberries have primarily been evaluated as an annual crop in cold climates; thus, winter hardiness and subsequent second-year spring yields are not well understood. Separate DN plantings were established as dormant bare-rooted plants in Durham, NH (U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 5b) in 2017 and 2018. During their first year of growth and fruit production, plants were grown under one of two cover treatments: a plastic-covered low tunnel or the traditional open field environment (open beds). In November, plants were covered with either straw much (Winter 2017–18) or rowcover (Winter 2018–19) for low-temperature protection during the winter months. In the spring of the second year when winter protection was removed, the same cover treatments (low tunnel or open bed) were re-administered to plants. Plant survival was affected by year and cultivar, with average survival rates of 82% and 98% in Spring 2018 and Spring 2019, respectively. Plant survival ranged from 34% (‘Monterey’) to 99% (‘Aromas’) in 2018, and 92% (‘Albion’) to 100% (‘San Andreas’ and ‘Seascape’) in 2019. Cultivar significantly affected total and marketable yields in both years, and marketable yields ranged from 35.8 to 167.3 g/plant in 2018 and 121.6 to 298.6 g/plant in 2019. The greatest marketable yields were produced by ‘Aromas’, ‘Cabrillo’, ‘San Andreas’, ‘Seascape’, and low-tunnel ‘Sweet Ann’. In 2019, ‘Cabrillo’, ‘San Andreas’, and ‘Seascape’ produced greater marketable yields during the 6-week second-year season than they had during the plants’ first year of fruit production the previous year, which spanned 18 weeks. Low tunnels hastened fruit ripening in the spring and result in earlier fruit harvests, and in 2019, marketable yields were significantly greater under low tunnels for the first 1 to 3 weeks, depending on cultivar. Total and marketable yields were unaffected by low tunnels in 2018, but were significantly greater under low tunnels in 2019. For cultivars in the 2019 experiment, the increase in marketable yield under low tunnels (compared with open beds) ranged from 92.3 to 166.5 g/plant, except for Sweet Ann, for which marketable yields were 256.6 g/plant greater under low tunnels than on open beds. Using a conservative direct market rate of $4.50/lb, the second-year spring yields produced in the present study had a direct market value of between $3899/ha and $95,647/ha, depending on cultivar and year. We demonstrate that it is not only possible to overwinter DN strawberry plants in northern New England, but that the second-year yield may even exceed first-year production. The results from the present study indicate great potential for profitability from an overwintered DN crop.
Kevin Laskowski and Emily Merewitz
Annual bluegrass (Poa annua var. reptans), when grown as a putting green species, is sensitive to winter injury such as ice cover. Inhibiting plant ethylene production could be a way to improve annual bluegrass tolerance of ice encasement. The goals of this study were to determine how winter conditions and ethylene regulatory treatments affect the antioxidant system, fatty acid composition, and apoplastic proteins of annual bluegrass plant tissues. Ethylene-promotive (1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid or ethephon) and ethylene inhibition treatments [aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG)] were applied to plants in the field during acclimation. Plant plugs were taken and subjected to low temperature (−4 °C) and ice-encasement treatments in growth chamber conditions. Antioxidant activities of ascorbate peroxidase (APX), peroxidase (POD), catalase (CAT), and superoxide dismutase (SOD) were measured along with malondialdehyde content (MDA) and apoplastic protein content in leaf and crown tissue. Saturated and unsaturated fatty acid contents were measured in leaf, crown, and root tissue. Higher unsaturated fatty acids are often associated with greater low-temperature tolerance. Compared with the untreated controls, ethephon-treated annual bluegrass had greater MDA contents, lower POD and SOD activity, and greater saturated and decreased unsaturated fatty acids. Ethylene inhibition treatments caused annual bluegrass to have less saturated fatty acid content and greater unsaturated fatty acid content, a greater content of apoplast proteins, and higher CAT activity when compared with the untreated controls. The activity of APX was greater in AVG-treated annual bluegrass than in controls. Ethylene may reduce physiological health overwinter, and inhibitory treatments may promote winter tolerance by promoting antioxidant activity, apoplast proteins, and the content of unsaturated fatty acids in plant tissues.
Nicola Dallabetta, Andrea Guerra, Jonathan Pasqualini, and Gennaro Fazio
In 2014, an intensive multileader apple rootstock orchard trial was established in Trento province, Northern Italy, using dwarf (‘M.9-T337’) and semidwarf rootstocks (‘G.935’, ‘G.969’, and ‘M.116’) and ‘Gala’, ‘Golden Delicious’, and ‘Fuji’ as the scion cultivars. Trees were trained to Biaxis (‘M.9-T337’) and Triaxis systems (‘G.935’, ‘G.969’, and ‘M.116’) with a tree density of 3175 trees and 2116 trees per hectare, respectively, and with a uniform axis (leader) density of 6348/ha. Comparisons across all training systems by cultivar system showed that after 6 years (2019), trees of ‘Fuji’ and ‘Golden Delicious’ on ‘M.116’ were the largest trees followed by ‘G.969’, ‘G.935’, and ‘M.9-T337’. With ‘Gala’, trees on ‘G.969’ were of similar size as trees on ‘M.116’ and ‘G.935’. Trees of ‘Fuji’ on ‘G.935’ produced the highest yield followed by ‘G.969’, ‘M.116’, and ‘M.9-T337’. For ‘Gala’, trees on ‘M.116’ produced similarly as the ‘M.9-T337’, whereas with ‘Golden Delicious’, ‘G.969’ and ‘G.935’ had higher yields than ‘M.9-T337’. When comparing production per ground surface area (hectare) ‘G935’ had higher yield than ‘M.9-T337’ for all the cultivars in this trial. In addition, yield efficiency of ‘Fuji’ trees on ‘G.935’ was similar or even higher than trees on ‘M.9-T337’. Rootstock did not affect fruit size with ‘Fuji’. For Gala, fruit from ‘G.969’ were significantly larger than those on ‘M.116’. ‘Golden Delicious’ on ‘G.969’ produced smaller fruit compared with those on ‘G.935’. Fruit from trees on ‘M.9-T337’ had the lowest percentage of red color with ‘Fuji’ and the highest with ‘Gala’. When yield and quality data were combined to produce marketable yield, rootstock had a dramatic effect on the cumulative gross crop value per hectare based on local farm gate values for each scion cultivar.
Brian J. Schutte, Adriana D. Sanchez, Leslie L. Beck, and Omololu John Idowu
This study evaluated false seedbeds, which are sequences of irrigation and tillage that eliminate weed seedlings before crop planting, to reduce requirements for hand hoeing in chile pepper (Capsicum annuum). To address this objective, a field study was conducted near Las Cruces, NM from July 2015 to Oct. 2016 (experimental run 1) and July 2016 to Oct. 2017 (experimental run 2). False seedbeds were designed to target weeds that typically emerge after chile pepper planting. This was done by implementing false seedbeds the summer before chile pepper seeding. During chile pepper seasons, data included repeated measures of weed seedling emergence, amounts of time required for individuals to hoe field sections (i.e., hoeing time), and yields of two chile products: early harvest of green fruit and late harvest of red fruit. Hoeing time and yield data were included in cost–benefit analyses that also incorporated expenses and revenues projected by crop budget models for the study region. Results indicated false seedbeds caused a 54% decrease in weed population density during the chile pepper season of experimental run 1; however, for experimental run 2, false seedbeds did not affect cumulative weed seedling emergence. For both experimental runs, false seedbeds reduced hoeing times, suggesting that false seedbeds affected hoeing by means other than reduced weed density. After accounting for costs for implementation, false seedbeds reduced hand hoeing costs by $262/acre to $440/acre. These reductions in hoeing costs coincided with improved profitability in all but one combination of year and product. Green fruit yield was lower in false seedbed plots in experimental run 1; however, false seedbeds did not affect green fruit yield in experimental run 2, or red fruit yield in both experimental runs. These results indicate that false seedbeds implemented the summer before planting are promising techniques for reducing labor requirements for weeding in chile pepper production.
Robert E. Paull and Gail Uruu
Moringa (Moringa oleifera), also known as the pot herb drumstick or horseradish leaves, requires irradiation treatment for insect disinfestation before shipping to the west coast of the United States from Hawai’i. This irradiation treatment as well as packing and air shipment leads to leaflet abscission. To minimize this abscission, the shipper had been including frozen gel packs in the shipping carton. However, these packs are heavy and lead to chilling injury on the leaflets and the development of mold on the leaves adjacent to the gel pack. Holding and shipping the product at 12 °C negated the need for the frozen gel packs. Inclusion of a sachet of 1-methylcyclopropene in the carton significantly reduced leaflet abscission. Further reduction was obtained by the inclusion of an ethylene absorption sachet, thus helping to maintain the overall product quality and marketability.
Maria Gannett, Natalie Bray, Joellen Lampman, Jennifer Lerner, Kathy Murray, Victoria Wallace, Tamson Yeh, Mark Slavens, Grant L. Thompson, and Jenny Kao-Kniffin
Because of public concern about exposing children to pesticides, legislation restricting its use on school playing fields has increased. One way to manage weeds without chemical herbicides is overseeding or the practice of repetitively seeding with a rapidly germinating turfgrass species. Overseeding for broadleaf weed control was tested on eight fields in Central New York (CNY) for three seasons and 40 fields across the northeastern United States for two seasons. Half of each field was treated each season by overseeding Lolium perenne L. (perennial ryegrass) three to five times each season for a total of 731 kg seed/ha (15 lb per 1000 ft2). Changes in the percent broadleaf weeds, grass, bare ground, soil moisture, Dark Green Color Index (DGCI) of grass cover, depth to soil compaction, and shear strength were measured after each treatment. The percent broadleaf weeds decreased and the percent grass cover increased due to overseeding in the Northeast fields, but not in CNY fields. Depth to compaction, percent soil moisture, and shear strength varied over time in the Northeast fields, and the percent bare ground, DGCI, and soil moisture varied over time in CNY fields. DGCI in the Northeast and soil compaction in CNY were affected by the interaction of overseeding × time. Although overseeding can be a beneficial weed management tool and affect other turf and soil traits in an integrated turf management program, monitoring environmental conditions and supporting field maintenance routines are critical weed management strategies for maintaining healthy turfgrass.
Margarita Pérez-Jiménez, Alfonso Guevara-Gázquez, Antonio Carrillo-Navarro, and José Cos-Terrer
The effects of carbon source and concentration and of seedcoat were tested on the in vitro germination of peach seeds derived from crosses performed in the field. Seeds were extracted from the fruit and cultured in Woody Plant Medium (WPM) supplemented with sucrose, glucose, or sorbitol at concentrations of 15, 30, and 45 g·L−1. The percentage of germination as well as the root and hypocotyl lengths were measured after the stratification process and before acclimatization. Seedcoat did not have any influence on seed germination in any tested media and genotype. Glucose at a concentration of 15 g·L−1 and sucrose at 15, 30, and 45 g·L−1 resulted in greater stem seedling growth. The root developed the most when seeds were cultured in media with 15 or 30 g·L−1 of sucrose.
Jonathan D. Mahoney and Mark H. Brand
Intergeneric hybridization between Aronia and Pyrus may provide a pathway for developing novel fruit types with larger, sweeter fruits, while maintaining the high levels of biologically health-promoting compounds present in Aronia fruits. Here we describe a deleterious genetic incompatibility, known as hybrid necrosis or hybrid lethality, that occurs in intergeneric F1 hybrids of Aronia melanocarpa x Pyrus communis and ×Sorbaronia dippelii x Pyrus communis. Pollination experiments revealed that maternal A. melanocarpa and ×S. dippelii pistils are compatible with pollen from P. communis. Controlled pollinations using different mating combinations resulted in varying levels of fruit and seed set. Because every combination produced at least some viable seeds, prezygotic incompatibility does not appear to be present. We attempted to recover putative intergeneric progeny via either in vitro germination or in vitro shoot organogenesis from cotyledons. Progeny of putative hybrids from A. melanocarpa x P. communis only survived for a maximum of 14 days before succumbing to hybrid lethality. Regeneration of ×S. dippelii x P. communis was successful for two seedlings that have been maintained for an extended time in tissue culture. These two seedlings have leaf morphologies intermediate between the two parental genotypes. We also confirmed their hybrid status by using AFLPs and flow cytometry. Putative intergeneric hybrids were grown out ex vitro before showing symptoms of hybrid necrosis and dying after 3 months. Eventually micrografts failed, ultimately showing the same symptoms of hybrid necrosis. These results show that intergeneric hybridization is possible between Aronia and related genera in the Rosaceae, but there are postzygotic barriers to hybridity that can prevent the normal growth and development of the progeny.