Baby primrose (Primula forbesii) is a newly cultivated and valuable ornamental plant with great market potential for both indoor and landscape use. As a container plant, baby primrose has long, weak flower stalks that can easily lodge, resulting in poor-quality plants, especially during transportation. To control plant height and subsequently prevent flower peduncle lodging, we investigated the effects of two plant growth regulators (PGRs), chlormequat chloride (CCC) at 0, 250, 500, or 750 ppm and uniconazole (UNI) at 25, 50, or 75 ppm on growth, development, and flowering of two cultivars of baby primrose, Fragrant Luolan and Red Star. Plant growth regulators at the proposed concentrations were applied twice throughout the experiment. Both PGRs significantly suppressed plant height in both cultivars, with a 16% to 27% reduction by CCC and 50% to 59% by UNI compared with untreated plants. Among CCC-treated groups, plants were shortest when CCC was applied at 500 ppm; plant height was suppressed more when treated with UNI. In both cultivars, UNI significantly suppressed the first, second, and third peduncle lengths. Furthermore, CCC affected peduncle length, but to a lesser extent than UNI. Plant growth regulator applications generally had little effect on flower characteristics of baby primrose. Neither PGRs influenced the inflorescence number and flower size; however, PGRs did increase the number of floral whorls and suppressed pedicel length of ‘Red Star’. New leaf growth was suppressed by both PGRs. In addition, peduncle cell length and width were both significantly suppressed by PGR applications. We concluded that two foliar applications of UNI at 25 ppm comprised the most effective method of controlling baby primrose plant height while maintaining desirable flower traits at a relatively low production cost. Results of this study provide guidance for techniques that can be used to effectively control the plant height of potted baby primrose for commercial greenhouse production.
Mengzi Zhang, Jie Yang, Huitang Pan, and Brian J. Pearson
Robert F. Heyduck, Dawn VanLeeuwen, and Steven J. Guldan
We examined the effect of harvest schedule on the yield of ‘Red Russian’ kale (Brassica napus ssp. napus var. pabularia) grown during the winter in 16 × 32-ft high tunnels in northern New Mexico. We conducted the study for two growing seasons: 2013–14 and 2014–15. All plots were sown on 16 Oct. and harvested four times according to four harvest schedules: A) 8, 16, 20, and 24 weeks after sowing; B) 10, 17, 21, and 25 weeks after sowing; C) 12, 18, 22, and 26 weeks after sowing; and D) 14, 19, 23, and 27 weeks after sowing. The first harvest of each treatment was the greatest, averaging 216 g/ft2, compared with 88, 109, and 104 g/ft2 for harvests 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Season total yield of treatments B, C, and D (harvests beginning at 10, 12, and 14 weeks after sowing) yielded significantly more than treatment A, but only in year 2, when delayed growth resulted in very low yields for treatment A at harvest 1. Considering the entire 240-ft2 cropped area of the high tunnel, staggered harvests of 60 ft2 at a time can yield 2.6 to 17.5 kg per harvest or up to 124 kg over an entire season. Although we examined the yield of mature leaves, harvests could possibly begin earlier than in this study for “baby” kale or salad mixes, and the area harvested could be tailored to plant growth stage and market demand.
Ruixiang Yan, Joshua B. Gurtler, James P. Mattheis, and Xuetong Fan
The objective of the study was to evaluate the effect of trichome (fuzz) removal on the efficacy of ultraviolet-C in inactivating Escherichia coli O157:H7 on peach fruit, and quality of peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch, cv. PF25] fruit as affected by fuzz removal and ultraviolet-C. Peach (cultivar PF25) fruit, with and without fuzz removal, were inoculated with a five-strain cocktail of E. coli O157:H7 and treated with ultraviolet-C at doses of 0, 221, and 442 mJ/cm2. Fuzz was rubbed off using damped cloths. Survival of E. coli populations was determined at days 1, 4, and 7 at 20 °C. To study fruit quality, noninoculated fruit with and without fuzz removal were treated with ultraviolet-C at the same doses. Results demonstrated that ultraviolet-C at 442 mJ/cm2 reduced the population of E. coli by 1.2 to 1.4 log colony-forming units (CFU)/fruit on peach with fuzz, and 0.9 to 1.1 log CFU/fruit on fruit without fuzz 1 day after ultraviolet-C treatment. However, E. coli populations of all samples were similar with additional storage time, resulting in no significant difference among the treatments after 7 days of storage at 20 °C. Ultraviolet-C at doses up to 442 mJ/cm2 did not have any significant effect on the surface color of peaches during 7 days of storage, although fruit with fuzz removal increased L*, hue, and chroma values. In addition, fuzz removal promoted the loss of firmness during storage. Furthermore, ultraviolet-C at 442 mJ/cm2 increased antioxidant capacity of peach skin with fuzz. Overall, our results suggested that fuzz removal had marginal effects on the efficacy of ultraviolet-C, and ultraviolet-C did not negatively affect the quality of peaches.
Nebahat Sari, Emily Silverman, Danny Reiland, and Todd C. Wehner
Cucurbit plants usually are sensitive to chilling and easily damaged. Although bottle gourds, which are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, are considered as fresh vegetables in some Asian countries, their main use in recent years is to be used as rootstocks in grafted watermelon cultivation. We tested 163 bottle gourd accessions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) genebank for cold tolerance in the early seedling stage. The experiment was conducted using controlled environment chambers with 3 chilling durations (36, 48, and 60 hours) at 4 °C. Chilling damage was rated 0 to 9 (0 = no damage, 1 to 2 = trace of damage, 3 to 4 = slight damage, 5 to 6 = moderate damage, 7 to 8 = advanced damage, 9 = plant totally dead). We rated damage separately for the cotyledons, true leaf, and growing point. Cold damage was higher at a chilling duration of 60 hours, and decreased at 48 and 36 hours. Most tolerant cultigens were PI 491272, PI 491280, PI 491281, PI 491286, and PI 491326. Most susceptible were PI 381845, PI 381846, PI 534556, PI 636137, and PI 668365.
Liang Zheng, Qi Zhang, Kexin Zheng, Shumei Zhao, Pingzhi Wang, Jieyu Cheng, Xuesong Zhang, and Xiaowen Chen
The application of diffuse light can potentially improve the homogeneity of light distribution and other microclimatic factors such as temperature inside greenhouses. In this study, diffuse light plastic films with different degrees of light diffuseness (20% and 29%) were used as the south roof cover of Chinese solar greenhouses to investigate the spatial distribution of microclimatic factors and their impacts on the growth and yield of tomato. The horizontal and vertical photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) distributions, air temperature distribution, and leaf temperature distribution inside the canopy, tomato leaf net photosynthesis (Pn), and fruit production during the growth period were determined. The results showed that diffuse light plastic film continuously improved the light distribution in the vertical and horizontal spaces of the crop canopy in terms of light interception and uniformity. A more diffuse light fraction also decreased the air and leaf temperatures of the middle canopy and upper canopy during the summer, thereby promoting the photosynthesis of the tomato plants. Pn of the middle and lower canopies with higher haze film were significantly greater than those with lower haze film (19.0% and 27.2%, respectively). The yields of higher stem density and lower stem density planted tomatoes in the 29% haze compartment were increased by 5.5% and 12.9% compared with 20% in the haze group, respectively. Diffuse light plastic films can improve the homogeneity of the canopy light distribution and increase crop production in Chinese solar greenhouses.
Devin L. Radosevich, Raymond A. Cloyd, and Nathan J. Herrick
The western flower thrips, Frankliniella occidentalis (Pergande) (Thysanoptera: Thripidae), is a major insect pest of greenhouse-grown horticultural crops. Western flower thrips causes direct and indirect damage by feeding on plant leaves, flowers, and fruits, and by transmitting viruses that can result in greenhouse producers experiencing substantial economic losses. Consequently, insecticides are used to suppress western flower thrips populations. However, issues associated with applying insecticides may affect the suppression of western flower thrips populations. Therefore, experiments were conducted under greenhouse conditions to determine the effects of the spray volume applied and application frequency on insecticide efficacy against western flower thrips adults located in transvaal daisy, Gerbera jamesonii, cut flowers. Four spray volumes (5.0, 10.0, 12.5, and 25.0 mL), two application frequencies (one or two spray applications), and three insecticides [spinosad (Conserve), chlorfenapyr (Pylon), and flonicamid (Aria)], each with a different mode of action, were tested. The insecticide treatments had the greatest effects on the mean percent mortality of western flower thrips adults regardless of spray volume or application frequency. However, in Expt. 3, the 5.0- and 10.0-mL spray volumes resulted in a higher mean percent mortality of western flower thrips adults than the 2.5-mL spray volume. Spinosad and chlorfenapyr resulted in a mean percent mortality of more than 72% for western flower thrips adults, whereas flonicamid resulted in mean percent mortality between 40% and 91%. Our study demonstrates that certain insecticides are more effective against western flower thrips adults located in transvaal daisy flowers than others, which will help greenhouse producers effectively manage western flower thrips populations.
Candi Ge, Chanjin Chung, Tracy A. Boyer, and Marco Palma
This study combines a discrete choice experiment and eye-tracking technology to investigate producers’ preferences for sod attributes including winterkill reduction, shade tolerance, drought tolerance, salinity tolerance, and maintenance cost reduction. Our study results show that sod producers valued drought tolerance the most, followed by shade tolerance, winterkill reduction, salinity tolerance, and lastly, a 10% maintenance cost reduction. Choice survey data revealed the existence of attribute non-attendance, i.e., respondents skipped some attributes, but statistical tests detected no clear evidence about the role of individuals’ attention changes on their willingness-to-accept estimates. Estimates using a scale heterogeneity multinomial logit model indicate an overall learning effect as respondents made choices in the survey. Producers’ willingness-to-accept were generally higher than consumers’ willingness-to-pay for the improved sod variety attributes, except for the drought tolerance attribute. However, the rankings for these attributes were the same between consumers and producers.
Samuel Doty, Ryan W. Dickson, and Michael Evans
Ornamental bedding plant operations transitioning to leafy greens and herb production must decide whether to invest in new hydroponic equipment or modify existing culture systems for edible crops. In addition, common practices used to increase space-use and production efficiencies during bedding plant production may be modified for hydroponic leafy greens and herbs, such as purchasing large seedlings for transplant. The objective of the first experiment was to evaluate plant growth in a modified and novel shallow aggregate ebb-and-flood (SAEF) system intended for bedding plant growers with an emphasis on comparing yield across four basil (Ocimum basilicum) cultivars grown in the SAEF system to those grown using the traditional nutrient film technique (NFT) and deep water culture (DWC) hydroponic systems. The second experiment objective was to evaluate basil seedling size and the time of transplant to NFT hydroponic systems to determine effects on the final yield. ‘Genovese’ basil seedlings were grown in trays with cell counts of 32, 50, 72, 105, and 162 cells with corresponding root volumes per plant of 98.1, 50.2, 38.5, 19.6, and 16.3 cm3, respectively. Seedlings were transplanted to NFT systems at 14, 21, and 28 days after sowing and were harvested at 35 days. In the first experiment, overall basil shoot fresh and dry weights per plant were intermediate in the SAEF system (90.4 and 8.3 g) compared with the DWC (102.6 and 9.1 g) and NFT (75.8 and 6.6 g) hydroponic systems. In the second experiment, final shoot fresh and dry weight per plant increased as seedling root volume increased from 16.3 cm3 [72.8 and 5.5 g (162-cell tray)] to 98.1 cm3 [148.5 and 12.2 g (32-cell tray)]. Transplanting seedlings at later dates decreased yield across tray size and root volume treatments. Differences in yield between culture systems may have resulted from differences in nutrient supply and availability for plant uptake. Transplant of large seedling plugs to hydroponic culture was not shown to increase space-use efficiency after transplant without compromising yield, likely because root zone factors limited growth during seedling production. Further investigation into maximizing plant growth during seedling production and evaluating the effects of seedling size and transplant practices are needed to determine the potential for increasing space-use and production efficiencies.
William D. Afton, Kathryn K. Fontenot, Jeff S. Kuehny, and Carl E. Motsenbocker
Forty-five cultivars of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) were field-grown using best management practices at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter) Botanic Gardens in Baton Rouge during the Fall 2011 and Fall 2012 seasons. Recommended cultivars were selected for commercial production in Louisiana based on fresh weight and lettuce size (width and height). Nitrate (NO3 –) concentration was analyzed for each cultivar, as lettuces are known to accumulate and concentrate NO3 –, and were then compared with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) oral reference dose (RfD—the EPA’s maximum acceptable oral dose of a toxic substance) of 1.6 mg NO3-nitrogen (N) per kilogram body weight per day. Recommended butterhead cultivars were Caliente and Harmony (21.6 and 13.9 ppm NO3 – , respectively); recommended green-leaf cultivars were Salad Bowl and Tango (10.6 and 4.6 ppm NO3 –, respectively); recommended red-leaf cultivars were Red Salad Bowl, Red Sails, and New Red Fire (15.2, 15.4, and 24.0 ppm NO3 –, respectively). The only recommended romaine cultivar was Green Towers (11.2 ppm NO3 –), and recommended crisphead cultivars included Raider and Ithaca (17.6 and 14.9 ppm NO3 –, respectively). Of the highest yielding cultivars, New Red Fire accumulated the greatest NO3 – concentration: 24.0 ppm in both years 1 and 2. The NO3 – concentration is less than the levels of concern for both men and women 20 to 74 years old, 3.9% of the RfD for men and 4.59% of the RfD for women.
Tamara Wynne and Dale Devitt
Irrigation in arid urban landscapes can use significant amounts of water. Water conservation must be based on plant species and the ability to meet plant water requirements while minimizing overirrigation. However, actual evapotranspiration (ET) estimates for landscape trees and turfgrass in arid environments are poorly documented, especially direct comparisons to assess potential trade-offs. We conducted research to quantify ET of 10 common landscape tree species grown in southern Nevada and compared these values with the ET of both a warm season and cool season turfgrass species. The trees were grown in a plot with a high-density planting (256 trees/ha). A complete morphological assessment was made on each tree, and monitoring of plant water status was conducted monthly. ET was quantified with a hydrologic balance approach, irrigating based on the previous week’s ET to eliminate a drainage component. Transpiration was estimated with sap-flow sensors, and evaporation was estimated by difference. Although ET in liters revealed no statistical difference based on species, there were many significant differences in tree morphological parameters (P < 0.05), such as found with basal canopy area. When ET was converted to centimeters based on standardizing the ET on a basal canopy area basis, statistically higher ET values (P < 0.05) were generated for three of the trees (Lagerstroemia indica, Gleditsia tricanthos, and Fraxinus velutina ‘Modesto’). A clear separation of all tree ET values (lower ET) with turfgrass ET occurred (P < 0.001), with the exception of L. indica. Backward regression analysis revealed that all morphological and physiological parameters were eliminated with the exception of percent cover in predicting ET (cm, R 2 = 0.88, P < 0.001). In addition, a highly curvilinear relationship existed between decreasing percent tree cover and ET on a basal canopy area basis (R 2 = 0.96, P < 0.001), revealing that smaller trees located within the plot had significantly higher ET (centimeters). Tree-to-grass water use ratios demonstrated that all species except L. indica had ratios significantly below 1.0, indicating that on the basis of this study, landscapes dominated by mature trees irrigated at ET would have lower water use rates than similar areas planted to turfgrass, with the exception of the smaller L. indica. The results suggest that the smaller trees within the higher planting density plot were partially released from a negative feedback on transpiration that occurred in the larger trees based on reduced canopy atmospheric coupling.