Dragon fruit (Hylocereus sp. and Selenicereus sp.), also referred to as pitahaya or pitaya, is a member of the Cactaceae family and native to the tropical forest regions of southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Its fruit is becoming increasingly popular as consumers seek healthy and more diverse food products. The crop adapts to different ecological conditions ranging from very dry regions to wet ones receiving more than 3500 mm of rainfall per year. U.S. commercial production of dragon fruit occurs mainly in Florida, southern California, and Hawaii. As growers learn more about this crop and how productive it can be, the acreage planted is likely to increase. Twelve dragon fruit cultivars grown on an Oxisol soil were evaluated for 5 years under intensive management at Isabela, PR. There were significant differences in number and weight of fruit per hectare among years. Cultivars exhibited an increase in fruit number and yield from 2010 to 2013 and then leveled off or declined. There were significant differences among cultivars for number of fruit and yield per hectare. Cultivars N97-17 and N97-15 produced significantly more fruit averaging 74,908 fruit/ha. Significantly higher fruit yield was obtained by cultivars N97-17, N97-20, N97-22, and NOI-13 averaging 17,002 kg·ha−1. Cultivar Cosmic Charlie had the lowest fruit yield, averaging only 25.1 kg·ha−1. Individual fruit weight was significantly higher in cultivars N97-20 and NOI-13 with fruit weight averaging 346.3 g. Cultivars NOI-16, N97-18, and Cosmic Charlie had significantly higher fruit soluble solids than others, averaging 17.4%. Some of the cultivars used in this study have shown horticultural potential and may serve as new planting material for growers.
Ricardo Goenaga, Angel Marrero, and Delvis Pérez
Subhankar Mandal and Christopher S. Cramer
Fusarium basal rot (FBR) of onion, which is caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cepae (Hanzawa) Snyder & Hansen (FOC) results in a substantial loss of marketable bulbs worldwide. One of the main reasons for the lack of FBR-resistant short-day cultivars is the unreliable screening methods available for the mature bulb stage when significant economic damage occurs. The objective of this study was to develop an artificial inoculation method with better quantification of inoculum for an effective selection of FBR-resistant mature onion bulbs. Mature bulbs of seven New Mexican short-day onion cultivars, along with susceptible and tolerant controls, were selected and evaluated for FBR resistance using mycelial and conidial inoculation methods, respectively. Transversely cut basal plates of mature bulbs were inoculated artificially with mycelia or conidia (12 × 105 spores/mL in 2014 and 3 × 105 spores/mL in 2015 embedded in potato dextrose agar plug) of a virulent FOC isolate ‘CSC-515’. Mature bulb evaluation using a visual rating scale (1 = no disease; 9 = >70% basal plate infected) revealed a high degree of FBR severity and incidence irrespective of the genetic background of the cultivars, minimizing the chance of disease escape, which is a significant problem in field inoculation. An attempt to inoculate intact basal plates postharvest resulted in minimal disease development, suggesting that mechanical resistance was conferred by the dry outer layer of the basal plate. The high selection pressure conferred by the conidial inoculation method developed in this study can effectively screen FBR-resistant onion bulbs to replace an unreliable field screening. Concentrations of the conidia lower than 3 × 105 spores/mL are recommended to detect subtle genetic differences in FBR resistance among the onion cultivars and their selected population.
Xiaojing Duan, Zhonglong Zhu, Ziyang Sang, Faju Chen, and Luyi Ma
Jenny B. Ryals, Patricia R. Knight, and Eric T. Stafne
Production of passion fruit (Passiflora sp.) via cuttings is a way to eliminate genetic variation in the crop and also results in a faster establishment time. This could aid producers in increasing production efficiency while maintaining genetic lines. The objective of this research was to evaluate ease of rooting and determine the optimal auxin source for seven species of passion fruit. Semihardwood two-node cuttings were taken from the middle of the parent vine, and auxin treatments were applied to the basal end of the cutting. The cuttings were then stuck to a depth of 1 inch on 20 Aug. 2019. Treatments included three auxin sources and seven passion fruit species. Treatments were set up as a randomized complete block design blocking on species, with 10 single-plant replications per treatment. Data were collected 30 d after sticking cuttings and included percent rooted, total root number, average root length (of the three longest roots, measured in centimeters), root quality (0–5 scale, with 0 = dead and 5 = healthy, vigorous root system), root dry weight (measured in grams), and percent callus. Results showed that passion fruit cuttings receiving a hormone treatment had significantly positive effects on rooting responses, such as increased number, length, quality, and dry weight of roots. Blue passionflower (P. caerulea) was the only species in which hormone treatment did not increase rooting compared with the control. The use of hormone to aid in cutting propagation of passion fruit is recommended, depending on the species being propagated.
Humberto Aguirre-Becerra, Juan Fernando García-Trejo, Cristina Vázquez-Hernández, Aurora Mariana Alvarado, Ana Angélica Feregrino-Pérez, Luis Miguel Contreras-Medina, and Ramón G. Guevara-Gonzalez
Light is an abiotic factor, and its quality, quantity, and photoperiod can be modulated to work as eustress inductors to regulate plant processes. It is known that red (R), blue (B), far-red (FR), and ultraviolet-A wavelengths can promote photomorphogenesis and secondary metabolite production in plants. Several ratios of R:B and the addition of end of-day FR, separately, have beneficial effects on plant development, whereas adding ultraviolet-A enhances the production of secondary metabolites such as phenols. However, the effects of extended photoperiods with a mixture of these four wavelengths and extra end-of-day FR have not been evaluated for plants of commercial interest. The objective of this study was to determine the effects on tomato seedlings (‘Saladette’, CORDOBA F1) of different overnight photoperiods using a fixed combination of R (625 nm), B (460 nm), FR (720 nm), and ultraviolet-A (410 nm). We expected increases in the production of specialized metabolites and the generation of beneficial changes in the seedling biomass and morphology. Four treatments involving overnight artificial light provided by a light-emitting diode (LED) module were established: TC (control), 0 h; T1, 4 hours; T2, 8 hours; and T3, 12 hours. All treatments were subjected to a 12-hour natural photoperiod and 12 hours of overnight artificial light. The experiment lasted 4 weeks, and plants were sampled every week for physical and phytochemical measurements. In general, seedlings subjected to 4-hour and 8-hour treatments presented better results than those subjected to the control and 12-hour overnight photoperiod treatments. Seedlings subjected to treatments with an 8-hour overnight photoperiod presented large accumulation of biomass in the stem rather than in the leaves because they had large stem dry weight, stem weight, and elongation and higher first, second, and third internode lengths; however, they had lower leaf area, leaf dry weight, and health index. Seedlings subjected to treatment with a 4-hour overnight photoperiod were visually bigger, with large leaf expansion, total length, stem weight, total weight, and specific leaf area; however, this treatment had a negative impact on the biomass accumulation, with lower leaf weight, stem dry weight, and health index. The 12-hour treatment had a negative impact on the leaf area, and thus the specific leaf area, of seedlings; however, the biomass accumulation was large, with higher leaf dry weight, total dry matter, and specific leaf area, but no difference in stem dry weight compared with the control. At the end of the experiment, the total phenolic content increased in all treatments compared with the control, but the flavonoid content decreased. Moreover, the antioxidant capacity was higher for T2 during the last 2 weeks of the experiment. Results are discussed according to the possibilities of using this light strategy for seedling production.
Soon Li Teh, Lisa Brutcher, Bonnie Schonberg, and Kate Evans
Fruit texture is a major target of apple (Malus domestica) breeding programs due to its influence on consumer preference. This multitrait feature is typically rated using sensory assessment, which is subjective and prone to biases. Instrumental measurements have predominantly targeted firmness of the outer region of fruit cortex using industry standard Magness–Taylor-type penetrometers, while other metrics remain largely unused. Additionally, there have been limited reports on correlating sensory attributes with instrumental metrics on many diverse apple selections. This report is the first to correlate multiyear historical fruit texture information of instrumental metrics and sensory assessment in an apple breeding program. Through 11 years of routine fruit quality evaluation at the Washington State University apple breeding program, physical textural data of 84,552 fruit acquired from computerized penetrometers were correlated with sensory assessment. Correlations among various instrumental metrics are high (0.63 ≤ r ≤ 1.00; P < 0.0001). In correlating instrumental outputs with sensory data, there is a significant correlation (r = 0.43; P < 0.0001) between the instrumental crispness value and sensory crispness. Additionally, instrumental hardness traits are significantly correlated (0.61 ≤ r ≤ 0.69; P < 0.0001) with sensory hardness. Outputs from two versions of computerized penetrometers were tested and shown to have no statistical differences. Overall, this report demonstrates potential use of instrumental metrics as firmness and crispness estimates for selecting apples of diverse backgrounds in a breeding program. However, in testing a large number and diversity of fruit, experimenters should perform data curation and account for lower limits/thresholds of the instrument.
Elisa Solis-Toapanta, Paul R. Fisher, and Celina Gómez
Interest in hydroponic home gardening has increased in recent years. However, research is lacking on minimum inputs required to consistently produce fresh produce using small-scale hydroponic systems for noncommercial purposes. Our objectives were to 1) evaluate the effect of biweekly nutrient solution replacements (W) vs. biweekly fertilizer addition without a nutrient solution replacement (W/O) on final growth, yield, and nutrient uptake of hydroponic tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plants grown in a greenhouse, and 2) characterize growth over time in a greenhouse or an indoor environment using W. For each environment, ‘Bush Goliath’ tomato plants were grown for 12 weeks in 6.5-gal hydroponic systems. The experiment was replicated twice over time. In the greenhouse, plants were exposed to the following day/night temperature, relative humidity (RH), and daily light integral (DLI) in 2018 (mean ± SD): 31 ± 6/22 ± 2 °C, 67% ± 8%, and 32.4 ± 7 mol·m‒2·d‒1; and in 2019: 28 ± 6/22 ± 3 °C, 68% ± 5%, and 27.7 ± 6 mol·m‒2·d‒1. For both experimental runs indoors, the day/night temperature, RH, and DLI were 21 ± 2 °C, 60% ± 4%, and 20 ± 2 mol·m‒2·d‒1 provided by broadband white light-emitting diode lamps. The W/O treatment resulted in a higher-than-desired electrical conductivity (EC) and total nutrient concentration by the end of the experiment. In addition, compared with the W treatment, W/O resulted in less leaf area, more shoot growth, less water uptake, and similar fruit number—but increased blossom-end-rot incidence, delayed fruit ripening, and lower fruit fresh weight. Nonetheless, the final concentration of all nutrients was almost completely depleted at week 12 under W, suggesting that the applied fertilizer concentration could be increased as fruiting occurs. Surprisingly, shoot biomass, leaf area, and leaf number followed a linear trend over time in both environments. Nonetheless, given the higher DLI and temperature, greenhouse-grown plants produced 4 to 5 kg more of fruit than those grown indoors, but fruit from plants grown indoors were unaffected by blossom-end-rot. Our findings indicate that recommendations for nutrient solution management strategies should consider specific crop needs, growing environments, and production goals by home gardeners.
Andre Luiz Biscaia Ribeiro da Silva, Joara Secchi Candian, Lincoln Zotarelli, Timothy Coolong, and Christian Christensen
Soil nitrogen (N) is easily leached in cabbage (Brassica oleracea var. capitata) production areas of southeastern United States characterized by sandy soils with low water-holding capacity. Soil N leaching in these areas is increased after rainfall events; consequently, growers increase the fertilizer N application to protect against N deficiencies and yield loss. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of three fertilizer N rates on yield and head quality for common cabbage cultivars used by Florida and Georgia growers during four cabbage growing seasons. Field experiments were conducted in Hastings, FL, in 2016 and 2017, and in Tifton, GA, in 2018 and 2019. A randomized complete block design was used with a split-plot design of fertilizer N rate and cabbage cultivar. Fertilizer N rate treatments consisted of the application of 170, 225, and 280 lb/acre N and were assigned as the main plot. Cabbage cultivars Bravo, Bronco, Bruno, Capture, Cheers, and Ramada were assigned as the sub-plots. Weather conditions were monitored during all growing seasons, and total, marketable, and unmarketable yields, as well as cabbage head polar and equatorial diameters, and core height and width were measured. In Florida, there was a significant interaction for growing season and fertilizer N rate. The Florida 2016 cabbage season experienced 10.5 inches of rainfall, and fertilizer N rates had no effect on cabbage yields. Total and marketable yield averaged 45,391 and 38,618 lb/acre among fertilizer N rates in 2016, respectively. Rainfall accumulated 2.1 inches during the 2017 study in Florida, which was less than the crop evapotranspiration. In response, total and marketable yield were higher for the applications of 225 lb/acre N (51,865 and 49,335 lb/acre, respectively) and 280 lb/acre N (54,564 and 52,219 lb/acre, respectively) compared with the application of 170 lb/acre N (47,929 and 43,710 lb/acre, respectively). In Georgia, there were no significant interactions between production season and fertilizer N rates. In addition, there were no significant main effects of season or fertilizer N rate. Rainfall events accumulated 20.9 and 7.8 inches during the 2018 and 2019 growing seasons, respectively. Total and marketable yields averaged 37,290 and 33,355 lb/acre, respectively for the two growing seasons in Georgia. Cabbage cultivar had no interaction with fertilizer N rate in any location. ‘Cheers’ (52,706 lb/acre) had the highest total yield in Florida, and ‘Ramada’ (38,462 lb/acre) and ‘Bronco’ (39,379 lb/acre) had the highest total yields in Georgia. In conclusion, the application of 225 lb/acre N was sufficient to sustain cabbage yields, but yields of the 170- and 225-lb/acre N treatments were not different when rainfall events exceeded crop evapotranspiration.
Magdalena Pancerz and James E. Altland
Stability of substrate pH in container-grown crops is important for proper nutrient management. The objective of this research was to determine the pH buffering capacity of pine bark substrates as a function of particle size and compare those results to sphagnum peat. The weight equivalent of 100 cm3 for fine, medium, and coarse pine bark and sphagnum peat, either as a whole or partitioned into several particle size ranges, was placed in a 250-mL glass jar and filled with 100 mL of an acid or base solution ranging from 0 to 50 meq·L−1 in 10 meq·L−1 increments. After 24 hours, pH was measured. An experiment was also conducted in the greenhouse. The weight equivalent of 500 cm3 of sphagnum peat, fine pine bark, or coarse pine bark was filled into 10-cm plastic pots and irrigated with one of the following: tap water or 10 meq·L−1 of HCl, NaOH, H2SO4, or KHCO3 and with or without a water soluble fertilizer. Substrate pH was determined 4 and 8 weeks after potting using the pour-through method. In all experiments, sphagnum peat had less buffering capacity than pine bark against pH changes from acidic solutions, whereas pine bark had less buffering capacity than sphagnum peat to pH changes from basic solutions. Substrate pH buffering in pine bark increased with decreasing particle size, whereas pH buffering in sphagnum peat was less responsive to particle size. These results will help growers and substrate manufacturers understand how substrate components contribute to pH management during crop production.
Christopher J. Currey, Vincent C. Metz, Nicholas J. Flax, Alex G. Litvin, and Brian E. Whipker
The objective of this research was to quantify the effects of phosphorous (P) concentrations on the growth, development, and tissue mineral nutrient concentrations of four popular culinary herbs commonly grown in containers. Seedlings of sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Italian Large Leaf’), dill (Anethum graveolens ‘Fernleaf’), parsley (Petroselinum crispum ‘Giant of Italy’), and sage (Salvia officinalis) were individually transplanted to 11.4-cm-diameter containers filled with soilless substrate comprising canadian sphagnum peatmoss and coarse perlite. Upon transplanting and throughout the experiment, seedlings were irrigated with solutions containing 0, 5, 10, 20, or 40 mg·L−1 P; all other macro- and micronutrient concentrations were the same across P concentrations. Plants were grown for 4 weeks in a greenhouse; after that time, data were collected. Relationships between height and width and P concentrations were nonlinear for all four species; height and width increased as P increased to more than 0 mg·L−1 until the species-specific maxima; after that time, no further increase occurred. The same trend was observed for the branch length of sweet basil and sage, and for internode length, leaf area, and shoot dry mass of all four species. Although visible P deficiency symptoms were observed for plants provided with 0 mg·L−1 P, there were no signs of P deficiency for plants provided with ≥5 mg·L−1 P, even though tissue P concentrations were below the recommended sufficiency ranges. As a result of this research, containerized sweet basil, dill, parsley, and sage can be provided with 5 to 10 mg·L−1 P during production to limit growth and produce plants without visible nutrient deficiency symptoms that are proportional to their containers.