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Open access

Eric T. Stafne

Since late Mar. 2020, many universities halted normal operations due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Although extension uses many different techniques to educate consumers, it has been slow to grasp the power of social media. Faced with a dilemma of using digital methods instead of in-person field days, short courses, and workshops, Twitter was a viable alternative, especially for broad audience engagement. Tweet threads were posted on Twitter every Monday morning from 6 Apr. to 8 June 2020. Each thread consisted of 10 tweets. A hashtag #YardFruits was used to start the thread and for later reference. For the first nine threads only one fruit species was discussed per thread. The final thread consisted of single tweets of several species. Engagement percentage did not differ over time but did differ among the crop species. Tweets that did not include a photo received less engagement (2.7%) than those that did include a photo (4.7%). My Twitter account saw a 6.5% increase in followers during the series. Grape (Vitis sp.), passion fruit (Passiflora sp.), fig (Ficus carica), and pear (Pyrus communis) threads had the least engagement and were different from the Other Fruits thread. All other threads were similar. Extension educators can grow their influence by using well-targeted, focused tweets and tweet threads, especially those that use hashtags and photos.

Open access

Gurjit Singh, Shimat V. Joseph, and Brian Schwartz

The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda (J.E. Smith) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae), is an important pest of warm-season turfgrass species, including bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.). Bermudagrass is a popular turfgrass that is widely planted on golf courses, athletic grounds, and ornamental landscapes across the country and throughout the world. Spodoptera frugiperda infestation is often sporadic; however, when it does occur, damage can be severe. Host plant resistance against S. frugiperda can be a valuable tool for reducing or preventing the use of insecticides. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine resistance against S. frugiperda in a few promising bermudagrasses. Fourteen experimental bermudagrass genotypes plus two control cultivars, ‘Zeon’ zoysiagrass (resistant control) and ‘TifTuf’ bermudagrass (susceptible control), were evaluated against S. frugiperda to determine host plant resistance in the laboratory. The results showed that the resistant control, ‘Zeon’ zoysiagrass, was more resistant than the other genotypes to S. frugiperda larvae. To determine the response of the experimental lines to S. frugiperda as compared with that of the controls, three indices were developed based on survival, development, and overall susceptibility. According to the susceptibility index, ‘13-T-1032’, ‘T-822’, ‘11-T-510’, ‘12-T-192’, ‘11-T-56’, ‘09-T-31’, ‘11-T-483’, and ‘13-T-1067’ were the top-ranked bermudagrasses. Among these, the responses of ‘13-T-1032’, ‘T-822’, ‘11-T-510’, ‘11-T-56’, ‘09-T-31’, and ‘11-T-483’ were comparable to that of ‘TifTuf’, and antibiosis was the underlying mechanism of resistance. Additionally, larval length, head capsule width, and weight were negatively associated with the days of pupation and adult emergence and positively associated with pupal length, thorax width, and weight. These results will help refine future breeding and with investigations of resistance against the fall armyworm.

Open access

Shengrui Yao, Robert Heyduck, Steven Guldan, and Govinda Sapkota

Jujube cultivars have been imported into the United States for more than 100 years, but cultivar trials have been limited. To accurately recommend cultivars for each region, trials have to be conducted. We have set up jujube cultivar trials at the New Mexico State University (NMSU) Alcalde (2015, USDA hardiness zone 6a), Los Lunas (2015, 7a), and Leyendecker (2017, 8a) Centers with over 35 cultivars at each site with two replicates and a complete random block design. We reported the early performance of fresh-eating cultivars in 2019. Here we report the performance of 19 drying and multipurpose jujube cultivars. Between 40% and 100% of jujube trees produced a few fruit to more than 100 fruit in the planting year, depending on cultivar and location. Trees were more upright at Los Lunas than at Alcalde. ‘Kongfucui’ (KFC) was the most productive cultivar at Alcalde with 13.3 kg/tree in 2019, followed by ‘Chaoyang’, ‘Jinkuiwang’ (JKW), ‘Pitless’, and ‘Lang’. The yield at Los Lunas was lower than Alcalde for the first 3 years after planting; however, ‘Jinsi 2’, ‘Jinsi 4’, ‘Jixin’, ‘Sherwood’, ‘Sihong’, and ‘Xiangzao’ produced higher yields at Los Lunas than Alcalde in 2019. All cultivars produced higher yields and contained higher soluble solids at Leyendecker than Alcalde and Los Lunas at similar ages. ‘JKW’ was the most vigorous and productive cultivar at Leyendecker. ‘JKW’, ‘Xiangzao’, and ‘Lang’ produced more than 3.0 kg/tree in their second year after planting. ‘JKW’ yielded 12.3 kg/tree in its third year after planting. Among the three locations, drying cultivars are not recommended for commercial production at Alcalde. However, home gardeners can plant multipurpose and early-drying cultivars at Alcalde. Leyendecker produced the best dry fruit with larger fruit size, rich color, and meaty fruit; dry fruit quality was acceptable in most years at Los Lunas except 2019. We preliminarily recommend some drying and multipurpose cultivars for each location. As trees mature and produce more fruit, we will fine-tune the cultivar recommendations. We also discuss the jujube cultivar zoning information in New Mexico and fruit uses.

Open access

Ayoub Fathi-Najafabadi, Cristina Besada, Rebeca Gil, and Alejandra Salvador

Persimmon cultivation has significantly grown in the Mediterranean Region in recent years. The production concentrates mainly in three astringent cultivars: Kaki Tipo in Italy, Triumph in Israel, and Rojo Brillante in Spain. Therefore, the varietal range expansion is one of the current challenges for persimmon producers in this area. Moreover, the introduction of nonastringent persimmon cultivars is particularly interesting because they can be commercialized immediately after harvest without applying deastringency treatment before commercialization. This study evaluated the harvest period and the postharvest response of six Japanese nonastringent cultivars (Kanshu, Shinshu, Soshu, Suruga, Youhou, Izu). During two seasons, fruit from each cultivar were harvested at two maturity stages. Fruit quality (external color, firmness, and total soluble solids) was evaluated after harvest and after different commercial scenarios (domestic market: 7 days at 20 °C, market to European Union (EU): 5 days at 5 °C plus 5 days at 20 °C, and market to countries with cold-quarantine treatment requirements: 21 days at 0 °C plus 5 days at 20 °C). Cultivars Kanshu, Shinshu, Soshu, and Izu were identified as early cultivars, and Soshu was the earliest one, which reached commercial maturity at the beginning of September. These four cultivars showed good quality after simulating commercialization on domestic and EU markets. Cultivars Suruga and Youhou overlapped the current harvest window, but their low chilling injury sensitiveness is highlighted, so they are of special interest to be cold-stored at the end of the season to be commercialized in overseas markets.

Open access

Roy D. Flanagan III, Jayesh B. Samtani, Mikel Ann Manchester, Stephanie Romelczyk, Charles S. Johnson, Watson Lawrence, and Jeremy Pattison

Strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa) are one of the major high-value crops in North America. There is increasing interest in commercial strawberry production for local markets in Virginia and surrounding states, but information on the performance of newer cultivars is extremely limited. We tested 10 commercially available June-bearing cultivars [Benicia, Camarosa, Camino Real, Chandler, Strawberry Festival, Flavorfest, FL Radiance, Treasure, Sweet Charlie, and Winterstar™ (FL 05-107)] and two day-neutral cultivars (Albion and San Andreas) for their spring and summer fruiting capacity in Virginia production systems in a randomized, replicated study, at three on-farm locations. Data were collected on vegetative growth, yield performance, fruit quality, sweetness, and fruit diameter. Cultivars with the highest total yields averaged across all three locations were Benicia, Camino Real, Chandler, and Camarosa. ‘Camino Real’ had the highest marketable yield at all three locations, not significantly different from ‘Chandler’, and ‘Benicia’ and ‘Camarosa’ had the highest marketable yield at two of the three locations. ‘Flavorfest’ and ‘Sweet Charlie’ had the highest total soluble solids concentration for the harvest season. Overall, for all locations, ‘Benicia’ and ‘Camino Real’ had the largest fruit diameter, and ‘Strawberry Festival’ had the smallest fruit diameter.

Open access

Luis O. Duque

Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) production in Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States has been increasing steadily. The performance of eight commercially available sweetpotato varieties and two unreleased accessions grown on raised beds and covered with black plastic mulch in Pennsylvania was evaluated. All varieties and accessions were evaluated in 2 successive years (2018 and 2019) at Rock Springs, PA. There were statistically significant differences in total marketable yield (TMY), but not in all yield components in both years. ‘Orleans’, ‘Beauregard’, ‘Averre’, and ‘Covington’ consistently produced high marketable yields and suitable U.S No.1 grade storage roots. ‘Bonita’ (tan skin/white flesh) and ‘Carolina Ruby’ [red skin/orange flesh (OF)] produced consistent yields in both years (range, 330–430 bushels/acre; 50-lb bushel). NC413 [purple skin (PS)/purple flesh (PF)] produced the lowest yield in 2018 and was discarded for future trials. In 2019, NCP13-0030 (PS/PF) produced good yields and shapes comparable to OF varieties. Overall total yields (TYs) measured in this study compared satisfactorily with average nationwide yields, with several varieties producing more than 500 bushels/acre.

Open access

Kristine M. Lang, Ajay Nair, and Alexander G. Litvin

The use of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) grafting is gaining traction across the United States, but small-scale growers face the challenge of creating optimum postgrafting healing conditions. The practice of blocking light for a period of 2 to 4 days while maintaining high humidity is commonly recommended for healing grafted tomato transplants; however, research is exploring alternatives to this practice. The present study investigated a low-input healing method for grafted tomato transplants with a specific focus on light and the use of propagation heat mats to regulate substrate and healing chamber air temperatures during the 7-day healing process. We hypothesized that 4 days of light exclusion and the use of propagation heat mats would improve grafted tomato transplant survival and growth. ‘Cherokee Purple’ was used as the scion and ‘RST-04-106-T’ was used as the rootstock. The whole plot factor was heat [propagation mats set at 80 °F (heat) or no propagation mat (no heat)] and the subplot factor was light exclusion (0, 4, or 6 days of dark). The highest survival rate among treatments was 97% in 0 days of dark with no heat treatment; survival decreased to 84% in 4 and 6 days of dark with no heat treatments. The plant survival rate was 96% with 0 days of dark and heat treatment; however, the survival rates were 63% and 45% for the 4- and 6-day dark treatments, respectively. The scion stem diameter was largest for transplants grown in 0 days of dark, but there was no difference in stem diameter due to heat treatments. There were no differences among scion or rootstock biomasses due to heat or light treatments. These results demonstrate that propagation mats set at 80 °F to regulate the substrate temperature were detrimental to grafted transplant survival under extended periods of light exclusion. However, this finding creates the basis to explore lower levels of substrate temperature modification. Our work also indicates that light exclusion may not be necessary for healing grafted tomato plants regardless of root-zone temperature treatments. Future work should examine the interactions of various substrate and air temperatures under full light conditions and their effects on grafted tomato transplant survival and growth. This work contributes to the ongoing research of how to optimize low-input healing methods that may be readily adopted by small-scale tomato growers.

Open access

Ravi Bika, Cristi Palmer, Lisa Alexander, and Fulya Baysal-Gurel

Botrytis cinerea is one of the problematic and notorious postharvest pathogens of bigleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) cut flowers. It causes flower blight, leaf blight, and stem rot, reducing the ornamental value (such as longevity, color, and texture) of flowers, ultimately making them unsalable. The objective of this study was to identify effective conventional fungicides and biorational products for botrytis blight management on bigleaf hydrangea cut flowers that can be easily and readily adopted by growers of ornamentals. Preventive preharvest whole-plant spray and postharvest dip treatment applications were used in this study. For the whole-plant spray applications, bigleaf hydrangea plants were sprayed with treatment solution 3 days before harvesting flowers. For the dip applications, cut flowers were dipped in treatment solutions after harvest. For both application types, flowers were inoculated with B. cinerea spores once treatment solutions dried. Flowers were stored in cold storage for 3 days and then displayed in conditions similar to retail stores. Botrytis blight disease severity, marketability of flower (postharvest vase life), phytotoxicity, and application residue were assessed in the study. Treatments showed variable efficacy in managing postharvest B. cinerea infection in bigleaf hydrangea cut flowers. Preventive preharvest whole-plant spray and postharvest dip applications of isofetamid and fluxapyroxad + pyraclostrobin significantly reduced the postharvest botrytis blight disease severity and area under disease progress curve (AUDPC) compared with the positive control (nontreated, inoculated with B. cinerea). When applied as a postharvest dip, the fungicide fludioxonil and biofungicide Aureobasidium pullulans strains DSM 14940 and DSM 14941 effectively lowered the disease severity and disease progress (AUDPC). These effective treatments also maintained a significantly longer postharvest vase life of bigleaf hydrangea cut flowers compared with the nontreated, inoculated control. The longer vase life may be attributed to lowered botrytis blight disease severity and the resultant proper physiological functioning of flowers.

Open access

Scott Neil White and Linshan Zhang

Hair fescue (Festuca filiformis) is a tuft-forming perennial grass that reduces yields in lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) fields. Nonbearing year foramsulfuron applications suppress hair fescue, but there is interest in increasing suppression through foramsulfuron use in conjunction with fall-applied herbicides. The objective of this research was to determine the main and interactive effects of fall-bearing year herbicide applications and spring-nonbearing year foramsulfuron applications on hair fescue. The experiment was a 5 × 2 factorial arrangement of fall-bearing year herbicide (none, terbacil, pronamide, glufosinate, dichlobenil) and spring-nonbearing year foramsulfuron application (0, 35 g·ha−1) arranged in a randomized complete block design at lowbush blueberry fields in Portapique and Stewiacke, Nova Scotia, Canada. Spring-nonbearing year foramsulfuron applications did not reduce total tuft density or consistently reduce flowering tuft density, flowering tuft inflorescence number, or flowering tuft seed production. Fall-bearing year pronamide applications reduced hair fescue density for the 2-year production cycle, although additional bearing year density reductions occurred when pronamide was followed by spring-nonbearing year foramsulfuron applications at Stewiacke. Fall-bearing year dichlobenil applications reduced total and flowering tuft density at each site, although reductions in flowering tuft inflorescence number and seed production were most consistent when followed by spring-nonbearing year foramsulfuron applications at Stewiacke. Suppression extended into the bearing year at each site, and dichlobenil should be examined further for hair fescue control. Fall-bearing year glufosinate applications reduced hair fescue total tuft density at each site and flowering tuft density and flowering tuft seed production at Stewiacke. Fall-bearing year glufosinate applications followed by spring-nonbearing year foramsulfuron applications also reduced nonbearing year flowering tuft inflorescence number and bearing year hair fescue seedling density at Stewiacke, indicating that this treatment may reduce hair fescue seedling recruitment at some sites. Fall-bearing year terbacil applications did not suppress hair fescue and are not recommended for hair fescue management in lowbush blueberry.

Open access

Mark K. Ehlenfeldt, Joseph Kawash, and James Polashock

There is ongoing interest in transferring new characteristics into commercial blueberry from other blueberry species. Vaccinium padifolium is a species distantly related to commercial blueberry that has traits of notable value to conventional blueberry development. Among these traits are upright structure, strong growth, abundant flowering and fruiting, superior self-fertility, fruit-cluster structure suited to mechanical harvesting, and repeat/continuous flowering. Previously produced F1 hybrids of V. padifolium × V. corymbosum were used in crosses with a variety of conventional blueberry selections to generate 13 backcross (BC1) families. The backcross families were evaluated under field conditions to determine their performance and to guide further use of this germplasm. The offspring varied considerably, but most families produced several individuals of acceptable commercial quality. The recovery of V. padifolium characteristics varied. Many plants bore evidence of V. padifolium plant structure, but none showed indications thus far of continuous or repeat flowering. The best selections from these families have been saved and will be intermated to generate the next cycle of this material. These clones will also be crossed to hybrid combinations of V. arctostaphylos and V. cylindraceum to further diversify and recombine this germplasm.