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Young almond (Prunus amygdalus) orchards replanted where old orchards of stone fruits (Prunus sp.) have been removed are subject to physical, chemical, and biotic stressors. Among biotic challenges, for example, is almond/stone fruit replant disease (ARD; formally known as Prunus replant disease), which specifically suppresses the growth and yields of successive almond and other stone fruit plantings and is caused, in part, by a soil microbial complex. During four orchard trials representing different almond replant practices and scenarios in the San Joaquin Valley in California, we examined the impacts of phosphorus (P) fertilization on the growth of replanted almond. During all trials, P was applied to tree root zones just after replanting, and the impact was assessed according to trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) growth for 2 years. Expt. 1 was performed where a previous almond orchard was cleared using whole orchard recycling (i.e., the old orchard was “chipped” and then turned into the soil). The land was replanted without preplant soil fumigation. We tested separate fertilizer treatments based on various P, nitrogen, micronutrient, and “complete” formulations. Expt. 2 was also performed where an old almond orchard was recycled, but the soil was preplant-fumigated before replanting. Here, we tested only P fertilization. Expts. 3 and 4 were conducted where an old peach (Prunus persica) orchard was removed. Here, P and nitrogen fertilizer treatments were tested among additional factors, including preplant soil fumigation (Expts. 3, 4) and whole orchard recycling chips (Expt. 4). During all four trials, P fertilization (P at 2.2 to 2.6 oz/tree within a few weeks after planting) significantly increased TCSA growth. The growth benefit was nuanced, however, by almond cultivar, date of replanting, rootstock, and other site-specific factors. Although P fertilization did not match the benefit of preplant soil fumigation for the management of ARD, our data indicated that P fertilization can improve the growth of young almond orchards in diverse replant settings with or without preplant soil fumigation and should be considered by California almond producers as a general best management practice.

Open Access

Near infrared (NIR) spectroscopy can be applied to nondestructively assess soluble solids concentration (SSC) of ripening, physiologically mature ‘Geneva 3’ kiwiberries (Actinidia arguta). Spectrographic signatures were captured using a handheld NIR produce quality meter to build predictive models of internal fruit quality for ‘Geneva 3’ kiwiberries that had been held under cold storage (CS) conditions (0 to 1 °C, >90% relative humidity) as well as those not subjected to CS. The CS model, constructed using scans of 133 berries following 4 to 6 weeks in CS, predicts SSC using NIR wavelengths in the range of 729 to 975 nm. A total of 507 berries fresh from the vine were used to construct a predictive model for SSC of non-CS fruit using the same wavelength range. In each case, model predictive performance was investigated using split-half cross-validation, resulting in mean absolute error (MAE) values of 1.2% and 0.8% SSC for the CS and non-CS model, respectively. Each full model was then used to predict SSC of kiwiberries subjected to the alternative CS condition. The non-CS model maintained a low MAE (1.6% SSC) when applied to CS fruit, but the MAE of the CS model applied to non-CS fruit rose considerably (4.5% SSC). The performance of a combined model was tested against both CS and non-CS models, and a benefit to using tailored, CS-specific models was found, particularly in light of cross-seasonal results. As it has proven in many crops, NIR spectroscopy appears to be a promising tool for nondestructively assessing SSC in ‘Geneva 3’ kiwiberry fruit, with accuracy being enhanced by training models specific to postharvest regimes and/or defined ranges of SSC.

Open Access

Mutants are useful for determining the genes that underlie a given trait. This information is highly useful for developing molecular markers for breeding and is the foundational knowledge required for future genomic crop improvements. The dessert strawberry, Fragaria ×ananassa, is a valuable crop with high potential for increased use in controlled environment agriculture. The genome of the woodland strawberry Fragaria vesca is the dominant genome of the four diploid strawberry subgenomes that contribute to the octoploid F. ×ananassa genome. F. vesca is therefore a useful reference system for determining gene function and should be a useful source of gene diversity for breeding of F. ×ananassa. Chemical mutagenesis of the inbred F. vesca line H4 F7-3 resulted in one M2 line with a smaller stature overall and which produces flowers on very short peduncles close to the crown. This line was named short inflorescence (sin). The sin phenotype results from a single gene recessive mutation that is pleiotropic in that the mutation also affects internode lengths of runners as well as petiole elongation of sin plants. Microscopic characterization revealed that sin peduncles are most likely short because of a failure of cells to elongate. Inflorescences, runners, and petioles of sin plants were found to elongate in response to exogenous gibberellin, indicating that sin could be a gibberellin biosynthesis or transport mutant. A brief characterization of sin plants is presented to facilitate collaborative studies of the line.

Open Access

Northern bayberry [Morella (formerly Myrica) pensylvanica] is an attractive, adaptable, semievergreen, northeastern North American native shrub that is sought for landscaping but difficult to propagate clonally. The impact of timing (June, July, or August) and concentration of indole-3-butyric acid [IBA (0, 2000, 4000 or 8000 ppm)] on propagation by stem cuttings was evaluated for genotypes of northern bayberry including the female cultivars Bobzam (Bobbee™) and UConn Compact and an unnamed male. Medium formulation and cytokinin type were evaluated for micropropagation of ‘Bobzam’ and ‘UConn Compact’. Stem cuttings of ‘Bobzam’ and ‘UConn Compact’ rooted poorly (at ≤55% and ≤20%, respectively) at all timings and concentrations of IBA; however, rooting success of ≥85% was achieved for the unnamed male genotype when cuttings were taken in June. Micropropagation of ‘Bobzam’ was successful using Woody Plant medium with 4 mg·L−1 zeatin and explants taken from shoots that had expanded 12 to 18 cm on containerized stock plants. Initiated explants of ‘Bobzam’ required eight subcultures before they began to produce shoots consistently at a 2× multiplication rate and eventually reached a 3× multiplication rate. Micropropagation attempts using Murashige and Skoog medium, the cytokinins 6-benzylaminopurine, meta-topolin, and thidiazuron, or the cultivar ‘UConn Compact’ were unsuccessful. Microshoots of ‘Bobzam’ rooted at ≥80% either by in vitro prerooting or ex vitro rooting directly in trays. Rooted microcuttings easily acclimated to greenhouse conditions and grew rapidly when potted to 1.04-L containers and then into 5.68-L containers. The micropropagation protocol developed for ‘Bobzam’ can be used by propagators to expand production of this popular female cultivar.

Open Access

Overwinter mustard cover crops incorporated into soil may suppress early-season weeds in chile pepper (Capsicum annuum). However, the potential for mustard cover crops to harbor beet leafhoppers (Circulifer tenellus) is a concern because beet leafhoppers transmit beet curly top virus to chile pepper. The objectives of this study were to determine the amounts of a biopesticidal compound (sinigrin) added to soil from ‘Caliente Rojo’ brown mustard (Brassica juncea) cover crops ended on three different days before beet leafhopper flights during spring and to determine the effects of the cover crop termination date on weed densities and hand-hoeing times for chile pepper. To address these objectives, a field study was conducted in southern New Mexico. In 2019–20, the cover crop was ended and incorporated into soil 45, 31, and 17 days before beet leafhopper flights. In 2020–21, cover crop termination occurred 36, 22, and 8 days before beet leafhopper flights. Treatments also included a no cover crop control. Cover crop biomass and sinigrin concentrations were determined at each termination. Chile pepper was seeded 28 days after the third termination date. Weed densities and hand-hoeing times were determined 28 and 56 days after chile pepper seeding. In 2019–20, the third termination (17 days before beet leafhopper flights) yielded the maximum cover crop biomass (820 g⋅m−2) and greatest sinigrin addition to soil (274 mmol⋅m−2). However, only the second termination (31 days before beet leafhopper flights) suppressed weeds in chile pepper. In 2020–21, the third termination (8 days before beet leafhopper flights) yielded the maximum cover crop biomass (591 g⋅m−2) and greatest sinigrin addition to soil (213 mmol⋅m−2), and it was the only treatment that suppressed weeds. No cover crop treatment reduced hand-hoeing times. These results indicate that overwinter mustard cover crops can be ended to evade beet leafhopper flights and suppress weeds in chile pepper.

Open Access

Boxwood blight is a significant threat to nurseries, garden centers, landscaping businesses, and homeowners, causing both financial and ecological damage. This fungal disease is primarily caused by two species, with Calonectria pseudonaviculata being the only reported casual species in the United States. The pathogen is spread by wind-driven rain, water splash, and contaminated plants, emphasizing the need for exclusion, sanitation protocols, cultural practices, and fungicides to manage its spread. Recently, efforts have shifted from containment to disease management, focusing on fungicide efficacy, diagnostic assays, and boxwood production analysis. Agricultural extension programs promote best practices to prevent disease introduction into nursery and landscape environments. Understanding consumer awareness and perceived risk regarding infestations is crucial as control measures evolve. In our Jul 2020 survey, which had 2795 completed responses from across the United States, we assessed consumer knowledge and opinions regarding boxwood shrubs and Boxwood light. The findings revealed demographic variations in awareness and opinions. Suburban residents were more aware of boxwood blight, whereas urban residents had a higher opinion of boxwood shrubs. From the tobit model, men were more likely to purchase boxwood compared with women despite knowing about blight, and Caucasians compared with non-Caucasians exhibited decreased liking for boxwood after seeing pictures of blight-infected plants. These insights can inform targeted communication strategies and assist consumers, vendors, and related industries in addressing the challenges posed by Boxwood blight. Further research into alternative plant preferences among consumers is also warranted for better development of boxwood blight management strategies.

Open Access

The primary objective of this work was to generate species-specific information about root architectural adaptations to simulated natural levels of arsenic (As) during the establishment phase and onset of storage root formation in sweetpotato. Cultivars Bayou Belle and Beauregard were grown on sand substrate and provided with 0.5X Hoagland’s nutrient solution with varying levels of As (0, 5, 10, or 15 mg⋅L−1). During the first experiment, entire root systems were sampled at 5, 10, and 15 days, corresponding to key adventitious root developmental stages. Compared with the untreated controls at 15 days, ‘Bayou Belle’ and ‘Beauregard’ provided with 15 mg⋅L−1 As showed respective increases in the following root architectural attributes: 168% and 130% in main root length; 168% and 98% in lateral root length; and 140% and 50% in lateral root density. A second experiment was performed to produce storage root samples at 50 days. Storage root length, width, and length/width ratio did not vary with As levels. The accumulation of As in storage roots increased with increasing As levels. The results support the hypothesis that natural As levels stimulate adventitious root development in sweetpotato in a cultivar-dependent manner. The observations are consistent with findings of other species that show similar growth stimulation at low As levels. This is the first report of sweetpotato root system architecture responses to experimental levels of As that are known to be present in agricultural soils. Standardization of experimental procedures and understanding of root system adaptations to natural levels of As could lead to a more systematic exploitation of genome-wide techniques and characterization of the molecular basis of reduced As uptake in plants.

Open Access