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Open access

Yue Wen, Shu-chai Su, Ting-ting Jia, and Xiang-nan Wang

The periods of flower bud differentiation and fruit growth for Camellia oleifera overlap greatly affect the allocation of photoassimilates to flower buds and fruit, resulting in obvious alternate bearing. To export the cause and mitigate alternate bearing of Camellia oleifera, the allocation of photoassimilates to buds and fruit supplied by leaves at different node positions was studied by the addition of labeled 13CO2 during the slow fruit growth stage. The fate of 13C photoassimilated carbon was followed during four periods: slow fruit growth (4 hours and 10 days after 13C labeling); rapid growth (63 days after 13C labeling); oil conversion (129 days after 13C labeling); and maturation (159 days after 13C labeling). Photosynthetic parameters and leaf areas of the leaves shared a common pattern (fifth > third > first), and the order of photosynthetic parameters of different fruit growth stages was as follows: oil conversion > maturation > rapid growth > slow growth. The most intense competition between flower bud differentiation and fruit growth occurred during the oil conversion stage. Dry matter accumulation in different sinks occurred as follow: fruit > flower bud > leaf bud. Photoassimilates from the labeled first leaf were mainly translocated to the first flower bud, and the upper buds were always differentiated into flower buds. The photoassimilates from the labeled third leaf were distributed disproportionately to the third flower bud and fruit. They distributed more to the third flower bud, and the middle buds formed either flower or leaf buds. However, the photoassimilates from the labeled fifth leaf were primarily allocated to the fruit that bore on the first node of last year’s bearing shoot, and basal buds did not form flower buds. Based on our results, the basal leaves should be retained for a high yield in the current year, and the top leaves should be retained for a high yield in the following year. Our results have important implications for understanding the management of flower and fruit in C. oleifera. The thinning of fruit during the on-crop year can promote flower bud formation and increase the yield of C. oleifera crops in the following year. During the off-year, more fruit should be retained to maintain the fruit yield. The thinning of middle-upper buds could promote more photoassimilates allocate to the fruit.

Open access

Nathan J. Eylands, Michael R. Evans, and Angela M. Shaw

Various saponins have demonstrated allelochemical effects such as bactericidal impacts as well as antimycotic activity against some plant pathogenic fungi, thereby acting to benefit plant growth and development. A commercial saponin solution was evaluated for bactericidal effects against Escherichia coli and growth of lettuce (Lactuca sativa) in a hydroponic system. E. coli (P4, P13, and P68) inoculum at final concentration of 108 colony-forming units (cfu)/mL was added to 130 L of a fertilized solution recirculating in a nutrient film technique (NFT) system used to grow ‘Rex’ lettuce. After 5 weeks in the NFT system, E. coli populations were lowest in the inoculated treatment that did not contain any saponin addition (0.89 log cfu/mL) when compared with all other inoculated treatments (P < 0.001). The treatment containing 100 µg·mL−1 saponin extract had an E. coli population of 4.61 log cfu/mL after 5 weeks that was higher than treatments containing 25 µg·mL−1 or less (P < 0.0001). Thus, higher E. coli populations were observed at higher saponin concentrations. Plant growth was also inhibited by increasing saponin concentrations. Fresh and dry shoot weight were both higher in the inoculated and uninoculated treatments without the saponin addition after 5 weeks in the NFT system (P < 0.0001). Lettuce head diameter was smaller when exposed to saponin treatments with concentrations of 50 and 100 µg·mL−1 (P < 0.0001). Lettuce leaves were also tested for the potential of E. coli to travel systemically to the edible portions of the plant. No E. coli was found to travel in this manner. It was concluded that steroidal saponins extracted from mojave yucca (Yucca schidigera) are not an acceptable compound for use in mitigation of E. coli in hydroponic fertilizer solution due to its ineffectiveness as a bactericide and its negative impact on lettuce growth.

Open access

Maxym Reva, Custodia Cano, Miguel-Angel Herrera, and Alberto Bago

Global climate change is increasing temperatures worldwide, which greatly affects all biological relationships. Plant and soil ecosystems are also suffering in this new scenario, especially in semi-arid areas where water resources are limited. Regarding agricultural crops, temperatures that increase dramatically negatively affect fruit production and quality, making it mandatory to find sustainable practices to cope with these new situations. Symbiotic microorganisms in general and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi in particular have been revealed as promising methods of alleviating stress that are respectful of the environment and soil equilibrium. In this work, we demonstrate the suitability of an ultra-pure, in vitro-issued arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculant for alleviating severe heat stress when applied to three important agricultural crops (tomato: Solanum lycopersicum L.; pepper: Capiscum annuum L.; cucumber: Cucumis sativus L.) under agronomic conditions. Inoculated plants had greatly improved endurance under heat stress because of increased vigor, productivity, and fruit quality. Considering the actual scenario of global climate change, our results shed a light of hope and indicate more sustainable cultivation practices adapted to global change.

Open access

Paul M. Lyrene

Vaccinium stamineum (deerberry) is a highly variable diploid species in section Polycodium. Deerberry is native on excessively drained sandy soils from southeastern Ontario, south through the Florida peninsula to Lake Okeechobee, west to eastern Texas and southeastern Kansas. The V. stamineum used in this study were tall plants (2–4 m) native in north Florida, with a plant architecture similar to rabbiteye blueberry (V. virgatum). Starting in 2013 with crosses between tetraploid highbush cultivars (section Cyanococcus) and colchicine-doubled V. stamineum, hundreds of F1 and thousands of later-generation seedlings were grown and evaluated in high-density field nurseries at Citra in North Florida. The populations studied included F1, F2, backcrosses to each parent species, and BC1 × BC1 seedlings. The goal of the study was to assess the feasibility of introgressing into highbush blueberry cultivars desirable traits from V. stamineum (drought tolerance, red-flesh berries, new flavor components, open flowers with short corolla cups and exserted anthers and stigmas) without introducing horticulturally problematic characteristics (bitter skin, berries that shatter when ripe, difficult vegetative propagation). Vigor averaged very low in F1 seedlings, higher in F2 seedlings and in seedlings from backcrosses to V. stamineum, and highest in seedlings from backcrosses to highbush. Most crosses yielded numerous plump seeds, but crosses to produce F1 hybrids yielded fewer than 10% as many seeds as highbush × highbush crosses. Most vegetative, flower, and fruit traits that differentiate highbush from V. stamineum were intermediate in F1 seedlings. Backcross seedlings more closely resembled the recurrent parent. Variability in morphological characters was high in every generation, giving much opportunity for selection. Some seedlings from backcrosses to highbush (≈5%) appeared to have the vigor, berry quality, and yield potential required in commercial cultivars. Producing highbush cultivars that strongly express a particular V. stamineum trait might best be accomplished by growing large, segregating F2 populations from which parents for backcrosses can be selected.

Open access

Annika E. Kohler and Roberto G. Lopez

Domestic production of culinary herbs continues to increase in the United States. Culinary herbs are primarily propagated by seed; however, some herbs have poor germination rates and slow growth. Thus, there are advantages of propagating herbs by vegetative stem-tip cuttings as they lead to true-to-type plants and a shortened production time. Previous research of ornamental young plants and finished culinary herbs have shown a reduction in rooting time and increases in plant quality with increases in the photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI). To our knowledge, little to no research has addressed how the DLI influences culinary herb liner quality. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to quantify morphological traits of five economically important culinary herbs when grown under DLIs ranging from 2.8 to 16.4 mol·m−2·d−1. Stem-tip cuttings of Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare var. hirtum), rosemary ‘Arp’ (Rosmarinus officinalis), sage ‘Extrakta’ (Salvia officinalis), spearmint ‘Spanish’ (Mentha spicata), and thyme ‘German Winter’ (Thymus vulgaris) were excised from stock plants and rooted under no shade or aluminum shading of 36%, 56%, or 76% to create a range of DLI treatments. After 9 days (spearmint) or 16 days (all other genera) of DLI treatments, the root, shoot, and total dry mass of all culinary herb liners generally increased by 105% to 449%, 52% to 142%, and 82% to 170%, respectively, as the DLI increased from 2.8 to 16.4 mol·m−2·d−1 or genus-specific DLI optimums. Stem length of oregano, spearmint, and thyme decreased by 37%, 28%, and 27%, respectively, as the DLI increased from 2.8 to 16.4 mol·m−2·d−1. However, stem length of rosemary and sage were unaffected by the DLI. The quality index of all genera was greatest at DLIs from 10.4 to 16.4 mol·m−2·d−1. Furthermore, all culinary herbs grown under a DLI of ≤6 mol·m−2·d−1 had low root and shoot dry mass accumulation; and oregano, spearmint, and thyme were generally taller. Therefore, DLIs between 10 to 12 mol·m−2·d−1 should be maintained during culinary herb propagation, because a DLI ≥16 mol·m−2·d−1 may be deleterious and energy inefficient if supplemental lighting use is increased.

Open access

Orlando F. Rodriguez Izaba, Wenjing Guan, and Ariana P. Torres

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is one of the most important vegetables produced and consumed in the United States. In the midwestern United States, a major obstacle to spring cucumber production is low soil temperatures during plant establishment. High tunnel is a popular tool for season extension of vegetable production. Low soil temperature is a challenge for cucumber production even inside high tunnels. Grafting is a cultural practice known to help control soilborne diseases and improve plants’ tolerance to abiotic stresses. Recent studies found that using grafted cucumber plants with cold-tolerant rootstocks greatly benefited early-season seedless cucumber production in high tunnels. The objective of this study was to analyze the economic feasibility of growing grafted cucumber in high tunnels. A comparison of partial costs and returns between growing grafted and nongrafted cucumbers in a high tunnel in Vincennes, IN, was conducted. Data were used to develop a partial budget analysis and sensitivity tests. Data included production costs, marketable yield, and price of cucumber through different market channels. This study provided a baseline reference for growers interested in grafting seedless cucumber and for high tunnel production. Although costs of grafted transplants were higher, their yield and potential revenue helped to offset the higher costs. Results indicated that grafting can help farmers increase net returns through the increasing yield of grafted plants. Results from the sensitivity analysis illustrated how the increased yield of grafted cucumbers offsets the extra cost incurred in the technique while providing a higher revenue. While actual production costs for individual farmers may vary, our findings suggested that grafting can be an economically feasible tool for high tunnel seedless cucumber production.

Open access

Metin Turan, Ertan Yildirim, Melek Ekinci, and Sanem Argin

Plant biostimulants are microorganisms (PGPR) and/or products obtained from different organic substances that positively affect plant growth and efficiency and reduce the negative effects of abiotic challenges. Effects of biostimulants on the plant growth, yield, mineral content, antioxidant enzyme activity, H2O2, malondialdehyde (MDA), sucrose, and proline contents of cherry tomato (Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme L.) grown in soils with two different characteristics were investigated during a pot study under greenhouse conditions. Soil I was a fertile routinely vegetable-cultivated soil. Soil II had high salinity, high CaCO3 content, and low organic matter content. Commercial biostimulant products Powhumus® (PH), Huminbio Microsense Seed® (SC), Huminbio Microsense Bio® (RE), and Fulvagra® (FU) were used as seed coatings and/or drench solutions. All biostimulant treatments improved the plant growth and yield compared with the control in both soils. All biostimulant applications were more effective in soil II than in soil I. RE was the most effective application for mineral content in soil I, whereas FU was the most effective in soil II. Antioxidant activity, H2O2, MDA, and proline contents were decreased in both soils when biostimulants were used compared with the control. Peroxide (POD) activity was greater with SC1 in soil II. The RE treatment increased the sucrose content in soil II. In conclusion, single and combined use of high-purity fulvic acid and PGPR had positive effects on the growth of cherry tomato in fertile soil and under stressed conditions.

Open access

Ran Chen, Weitao Jiang, Haiyan Wang, Fengbing Pan, Hai Fan, Xuesen Chen, Xiang Shen, Chengmiao Yin, and Zhiquan Mao

Apple replant disease (ARD) has been reported in all major fruit-growing regions of the world and is often caused by biotic factors (pathogen fungi) and abiotic factors (phenolic compounds). Soil chemical fumigation can kill soil pathogenic fungi; however, the traditionally used fumigant methyl bromide has been banned because of its ozone-depleting effects. There is thus a need to identify greener fumigant candidates. We characterized the effects of different fumigants on the replanted soil environment and the growth characteristics of Malus hupehensis Rehd. seedlings. All five experimental treatments [treatment 1 (T1), metham-sodium; treatment 2 (T2), dazomet; treatment 3 (T3), calcium cyanamide; treatment 4 (T4), 1,3-dichloropropene; and treatment 5 (T5), methyl bromide] promoted significantly the biomass, root growth, and root respiration rate of M. hupehensis seedlings and the ammonium nitrogen (NH4 +-N) and nitrate nitrogen (NO3 -N) contents of replanted soil. Metham sodium (T1) and dazomet (T2) had stronger effects compared with 1,3-dichloropropene (T4) and calcium cyanamide (T3). At 172 days after T1, the height, root length, and root respiration rate of Malus hupehensis Rehd. seedlings, and the NH4 +-N and NO3 -N contents of replanted soil increased by 91.64%, 97.67%, 69.78%, 81.98%, and 27.44%, respectively, compared with the control. Thus, dazomet and metham sodium were determined to be the optimal fumigants for use in practical applications.

Open access

Fan-Hsuan Yang, David R. Bryla, and R. Troy Peters

Heat-related fruit damage is a prevalent issue in northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) in various growing regions, including the northwestern United States. To help address the issue, we developed a simple climatological model to predict blueberry fruit temperatures based on local weather data and to simulate the effects of using over-canopy sprinklers for cooling the fruit. Predictions of fruit temperature on sunny days correlated strongly with the actual values (R 2 = 0.91) and had a root mean-square error of ≈2 °C. Among the parameters tested, ambient air temperature and light intensity had the greatest impact on fruit temperature, whereas wind speed and fruit size had less impact, and relative humidity had no impact. Cooling efficiency was estimated successfully under different sprinkler cooling intervals by incorporating a water application factor that was calculated based on the amount of water applied and the time required for water to evaporate from the fruit surface between the intervals. The results indicate that water temperature and nozzle flow rate affected the extent to which cooling with sprinklers reduced fruit temperature. However, prolonging the runtime of the sprinklers did not guarantee lower temperatures during cooling, because cooling efficiency declined as the temperature of the fruit approached the temperature of the irrigation water. Users could incorporate the model into weather forecast programs to predict the incidence of heat damage and could use it to make cooling decisions in commercial blueberry fields.

Open access

Ze-yuan Mi, Ding-hao Lv, Guang-hui Jiang, Jun-feng Niu, Shi-qiang Wang, and Zhe-zhi Wang

Bletilla striata (Thunb. ex A. Murray) Rchb. f., a species of perennial herb of orchidaceae that has remarkable effects and high economic value, has been intensively studied by many scholars. Although this herb has many seeds, the germination rate is exceptionally low, which leads to decreased germplasm resources and increased market demand every year. To solve this problem, this study examined the aseptic germination system and the direct seeding technology system. On Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium, 2.0 mg/L 6-benzylaminopurine (6-BA) and 1.0 mg/L naphthylacetic acid (NAA) were added before seed germination, and 70 g/L banana juice and 0.5 mg/L NAA were added when rooting. Then, the seedlings were transplanted to a mixed substrate of humus, river sand, and bark (volume ratio of 3:1:1). The direct seeding system consists of substrate treatment, sowing, seedling raising, seedling growth, and transplanting. Turfy soil, Huangjiang residue, and river sand were selected as the substrate. The results revealed that the germination rate was increased to 91.8%, whereas the plantlet regeneration was increased to 82.0%. After 180 days of cultivation, the plants could be transplanted as finished seedlings. The establishment of B. striata seedling system provides a safe, rapid, reliable production technology route for industrial development.