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Open access

Suzanne O’Connell

This study evaluated the yield of eight miniature lettuce (Lactuca sativa) cultivars (i.e., mini-lettuce) grown under organically managed high tunnels compared with a field system during two spring seasons in Georgia. Mini-lettuce required an average of 36 to 40 days to harvest in both systems with a 86% to 97% marketability rate. The high tunnels provided a heat gain on the coldest days, decreased leaf wetness, and resulted in a lower daily light integral compared with the field. In 2015, mini-lettuce yields were similar between the high tunnel and field, but in 2016, yields were greater under the high tunnels. In 2016 only, there was a significant system by cultivar interaction for yield, suggesting that the high tunnels provided a yield increase for ‘Baby Green Oakleaf’ and ‘Spretnak’ mini-lettuce. Differences in the daily light integral between the high tunnels and field appeared to affect the accumulation of anthocyanins in red-pigmented mini-lettuce. Anthocyanin concentrations were 26% to 194% greater in mini-lettuce grown in the field compared with under high tunnels. The cultivar Rhazes had the greatest anthocyanin concentrations of all red-pigmented mini-lettuce evaluated but also lower yields.

Open access

Qiang Zhang, Minji Li, Beibei Zhou, Junke Zhang, and Qinping Wei

This study aimed to understand the effects of meteorological factors on the ‘Fuji’ apple quality in the Circum-Bohai and Loess Plateau apple production regions of China and to guide apple production based on local climate. Fruit samples of the ‘Fuji’ apple and meteorological data were investigated from 132 commercial ‘Fuji’ apple orchards covering 44 counties in the two aforementioned production regions (22 counties per region). The partial least-squares regression (PLSR) method was first used to screen major meteorological factors that greatly affected fruit quality; these were subsequently used to establish the regression equation of fruit quality attributes and major meteorological factors. Linear programming was used to estimate optimum meteorological factors for good apple quality. The results showed that in the Circum-Bohai production region, many meteorological factors (total annual precipitation, total precipitation from April to October, lowest temperature from April to October, sunshine percentage from April to October) were significantly higher than those in the Loess Plateau production region; however, the temperature difference between day and night from April to October was significantly smaller than that in the Loess Plateau production region. The soluble solids content and skin color area of apples from the Loess Plateau production region were significantly greater than those from the Circum-Bohai production region. The same fruit quality factor of ‘Fuji’ apple was affected by different meteorological factors in the two production regions. The monthly mean temperature and monthly highest temperature from April to October of the Circum-Bohai production region had relatively larger positive effect weights on fruit quality, whereas the total annual precipitation, monthly mean relative humidity from April to October, and total precipitation from April to October of the Loess Plateau production region had relatively larger positive effect weights on fruit quality. The major influencing meteorological factors of the fruit soluble solids content were total precipitation from April to October (X 7), mean annual temperature (X 1), and the monthly highest temperature from April to October (X 5) in the Circum-Bohai production region; however, it included the monthly mean temperature difference between day and night from April to October (X 6), total annual precipitation (X 2), and total precipitation from April to October (X 7) in the Loess Plateau production region. In the Circum-Bohai production region, the optimum meteorological factors for ‘Fuji’ fruit quality of vigorous apple orchards were the mean annual temperature (13.4 °C), total annual precipitation (981 mm), monthly mean temperature (16.8 to 22.4 °C), lowest temperature (11.9 °C), highest temperature (19.5 to 26.8 °C), temperature difference between day and night (12.3 °C), total precipitation (336–793 mm), relative humidity (55.7% to 70.7%), and sunshine percentage (42.3% to 46.1%) during the growing period (April–October). In the Loess Plateau production region, the optimum meteorological factors for ‘Fuji’ fruit quality of vigorous apple orchards were the mean annual temperature (5.5 to 11.6 °C), total annual precipitation (714 mm), monthly mean temperature (13.3 to 19.9 °C), lowest temperature (7.9 to 9.3 °C), highest temperature (19.6 to 27.3 °C), temperature difference between day and night (7.1 to 12.4 °C), total precipitation (338–511 mm), relative humidity (56.1% to 82.4%), and sunshine percentage (37.3% to 55.9%) during the growing period (April–October). The restrictive factors for high-quality ‘Fuji’ apples of the Circum-Bohai production region were the smaller monthly mean temperature difference between day and night, higher monthly mean lowest temperature, and larger monthly mean relative humidity during the growing period; however, those of the Loess Plateau production region were drought or less precipitation from November to March, lower monthly mean temperature, and higher monthly mean highest temperature during the growing period.

Open access

David Campbell, Ali Sarkhosh, Jeffrey K. Brecht, Jennifer L. Gillett-Kaufman, Oscar Liburd, Juan Carlos Melgar, and Danielle Treadwell

Fruit bagging is an acceptable cultural practice for organic production that provides a physical barrier to protect fruit. It can reduce pest and pathogen injury for a variety of fruit crops, but quality attributes have been inconsistent for peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] and other bagged fruit. A 2-year experiment on a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic-certified peach orchard in central Florida was conducted to analyze the effects of a commercially available paper bag designed for fruit protection and cardinal quadrant (north, south, east, and west sides) of the tree canopy on low-chill peach ‘TropicBeauty’ fruit quality. Protective bags appeared to delay fruit maturity. Flesh firmness and chlorophyll concentration of bagged fruit were 31% and 27% greater than unbagged fruit, respectively. Bagged fruit were protected as demonstrated with a reduction in mechanical injury by 95%, fruit fly injury by 450%, and scab-like lesions by 810%. Bagging reduced fruit brown rot (Monilinia fructicola) at harvest and 7 days after harvest; unbagged fruit were 2 and 3.5 times more likely to have rot at harvest and 7 days after harvest, respectively. Fruit bags did not affect yield, fruit size, total soluble solids, titratable acidity, pH, peel lightness, peel hue angle, or flesh color. Overall, canopy cardinal quadrant location had minimal effect on fruit quality or fruit injury. These results demonstrate that bagging peach fruit protects against various pests and diseases but has minimal effects on fruit quality. Broad adoption of this technology is highly dependent on available labor, market demands, and profitability but may be suitable for producers using direct-to-consumer market channels.

Open access

Ting Liao, Guobin Liu, Liqin Guo, Ye Wang, Yanwu Yao, and Jun Cao

As a native tree species with a strong adaptability, Platycladus orientalis is a species of choice for afforestation and landscaping in northern China. However, it develops mostly male cones and few female cones. In addition, its reproductive characteristics are not yet clear, which limits further breeding work. To systematically clarify the reproductive biology characteristic and fertilization mechanism of P. orientalis, the present study comprehensively investigated the process of micro and macro-sporogenesis in male and female cones from bud initiation to fertilization, and seed development. The specific time in each developmental stage, including bud initiation, microsporogenesis, megasporogenesis, and cone and seed development, was determined, and the abortive phenomenon during development was discovered in both male and female cones. In addition, this research showed that the microspore mother cells were dormant in winter at meiosis stage, and the male gametophyte started to develop when dormancy ended. The tapetum developed normally and belonged to the secretory type. The optimal treatment time for male and female cones transformation by artificial induction was from late June to mid-July. This finding provided a theoretical basis for hybridization, breeding, improvement of seed yield and quality, and artificial induction of male and female cone transformation in P. orientalis.

Open access

Kathryn Homa, William P. Barney, William P. Davis, Daniel Guerrero, Mary J. Berger, Jose L. Lopez, Christian A. Wyenandt, and James E. Simon

Fusarium wilt of basil (FOB), caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. basilici, is an economically damaging disease of field- and greenhouse-grown sweet basil. Growers have observed a resurgence of FOB and susceptibility in FOB-resistant cultivars. Because currently available chemical, biological, and cultural control methods are costly, unsustainable, ineffective, or challenging to implement, new strategies of FOB control are needed. Cold plasma is becoming an increasingly important experimental technology in the food and agricultural industry for pathogen decontamination. To understand the effect of cold plasma treatment on FOB incidence and severity, experiments were conducted by treating FOB mycelium, inoculated sweet basil seedlings, and seeds with various experimental cold plasma treatment devices, all using helium as a feed gas. Initial results indicated that while the cold plasma jet treatment did not result in a significant reduction in mean mycelial growth rate or virulence of the pathogen, direct cold plasma jet treatments on seedlings, as well as a cold plasma dielectric barrier discharge treatment on seeds, did exhibit varying efficacies against FOB. Control of FOB appeared to be strongly dependent on the exposure time to cold plasma. These findings can aid in the standardization of a cold plasma treatment for the commercial basil seed and transplant industry.

Open access

Virginia M. Moore and William F. Tracy

Corn earworm (Helicoverpa zea) is a destructive pest with limited management options in sweet corn (Zea mays) production. Increased husk extension and the presence of the C-glycosyl flavone maysin are two proposed mechanisms for improving corn earworm resistance in corn cultivars. A factorial mating design was conducted to test hybrid combinations of sweet corn inbreds with long husks and/or maysin to identify candidates for future cultivar development. The mating design had seven male parents, including three commercial sweet corn inbreds (Wh9261, We11401, and Wt1001) and four inbreds selected for maysin content (Maysin1, 2, 3, and 4), and five female parents, including two commercial sweet corn inbreds (Ia453su and Ia5125su) and three inbreds with long, thick, tight husks (A684su, A685su, and A686su). Hybrids were evaluated for ear length, husk length, maysin content, and corn earworm resistance at six environments in 2016 and 2017. Relationships between husk extension, maysin, and corn earworm resistance were inconsistent, but five inbreds produced hybrids with significantly lower corn earworm infestation and/or damage, demonstrating potential to confer resistance to the corn earworm.

Open access

Weiting Huang and Zhongming Fang

The proliferation and differentiation of rhizomes are crucial for the propagation of Cymbidium species. We systematically assessed the effects of different concentrations of 20 amino acids on the proliferation and differentiation of C. goeringii rhizomes. Rhizome proliferation rates were significantly higher in media with 2.0 mmol·L−1 cysteine, 0.5 mmol·L−1 arginine, 0.2 mmol·L−1 asparagine, 1.0 mmol·L−1 proline, and 0.5 mmol·L−1 lysine compared with those in the control. Additionally, 1.0 mmol·L−1 tyrosine, 0.5 mmol·L−1 asparagine, and 0.2 mmol·L−1 aspartate were beneficial for rhizome differentiation. Furthermore, two combinations of amino acids, 0.5 mmol·L−1 arginine + 1.0 mmol·L−1 proline and 0.5 mmol·L−1 arginine + 2.0 mmol·L−1 cysteine, resulted in proliferation rates of 3.05 and 3.01, respectively, after 60 days. The highest differentiation rate (5.39 after 60 days) was observed in media with 0.5 mmol·L−1 asparagine + 0.2 mmol·L−1 aspartate. This study demonstrated that certain combinations of amino acids can effectively promote the proliferation and differentiation of rhizomes during the rapid propagation of C. goeringii.

Open access

Guirong Li, Ran Quan, Chaohui Yan, Xiaojin Hou, and Huiling Hu

Grape (Vitis vinifera) is among the world’s most important fruit crops and is a commonly used woody plant for genomics and post-genomics research. NAC transcription factors play central roles in plant growth and development, floral organ morphogenesis, and responses to biological stress. It is therefore important to identify key transcription factors from grape and clarify their mechanisms of action to generate genetic resources for grape molecular improvement. Our research group previously cloned a NAC transcription factor from V. vinifera ‘Yatomi Rosa’ [drought and leaf roll gene 1 (DRL1)] and demonstrated that it caused dwarfing of tobacco (Nicotiana benthamiana) plants when overexpressed. In the present work, we demonstrate that overexpression of DRL1 in transgenic tobacco delays flowering time and markedly reduces pollen viability. Furthermore, crosses between male DRL1 transgenic tobacco and female wild-type tobacco exhibit substantially lower fruit set, fruit and seed weights, fruit and seed shape indices, and seed germination rates than selfed wild-type plants or crosses with a transgenic female parent. DLR1 overexpression strongly influences flowering time and reproduction in transgenic tobacco, primarily through its effects on pollen development. These results provide a foundation for further functional characterization of DLR1 in grape.

Open access

Sylvia Cherono, Charmaine Ntini, Misganaw Wassie, Mohammad Dulal Mollah, Mohammad A. Belal, Collins Ogutu, and Yuepeng Han

The protective role of melatonin in plants under abiotic stress has been reported, but little information is available on its mitigation effect on coffee (Coffea arabica) plants. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of exogenous application of 100 µM melatonin in coffee leaves under 3 months of drought stress treatment. Melatonin was found to alleviate the drought-induced damage in coffee through reducing the rate of chlorophyll degradation, electrolyte leakage, malonaldehyde content, and activating various antioxidant enzymes, such as catalase, guaiacol peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase. Melatonin application suppressed the expression of chlorophyll degradation gene PAO encoding pheophorbide a oxygenase, and upregulated the expression of photosynthetic gene RBCS2 encoding ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate oxygenase (Rubisco) protein, and a drought-related gene AREB encoding abscisic acid-responsive element binding protein. The photosynthetic efficiency of photosystem II under dark adaptation was also improved upon melatonin application in drought-stressed plants. Our results showed that both foliar spray and direct soil application of melatonin could improve drought tolerance by regulating photosynthetic efficiency and oxidative damage in C. arabica seedlings. This study provides insights in application of melatonin as a protective agent against drought stress in improvement of crop yields.

Open access

Michael Stein, Corina Serban, and Per McCord

Seeds of sweet cherry (Prunus avium) possess a strong endodormancy response that traditionally requires months of stratification before germination can occur. Accelerating artificial dormancy release could be an important aspect of improving progress in a sweet cherry breeding program by increasing the first season growth period. In this study, seeds were exogenously treated with ethephon, 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC), kinetin, hydrogen peroxide, and acidified nitrite to attempt to induce germination with reduced stratification times. Findings showed that ethephon, ACC, and hydrogen peroxide all significantly increase early seed germination rates. Stratification time had the largest effect on increasing germinations, with significantly higher germination percentages accompanying increased stratification times that plateaued at 3 months of stratification. Stratification is vital for proper seedling development because plants grown from seeds with no stratification are significantly shorter and have reduced internode lengths compared with seeds with 4 weeks of stratification.