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Open access

Lisa Tang, Sukhdeep Singh and Tripti Vashisth

In the past decade, FL citrus industry has been struck by Huanglongbing (HLB), a disease caused by the phloem-limited bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CLas). Besides tree decline, HLB causes a sharp increase in mature fruit drop before harvest, leading to a substantial reduction in citrus production. The aim of the study was to provide insights in HLB-associated mature fruit drop. For HLB-affected ‘Valencia’ and ‘Hamlin’ sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), trees exhibiting severe symptoms (“severe trees”) had a significantly higher rate of mature fruit drop compared with mildly symptomatic ones (“mild trees”). Interestingly, dropped fruit were smaller than those still attached to tree branches regardless of the symptom levels of trees; overall, fruit of severe trees were smaller than mild trees. The result suggests a negative effect of HLB on fruit growth that may lead to a high incidence to drop subsequently at maturity. This possibility is further supported by the difference in immature fruit size as early as 2 months after bloom between severe and mild trees. Although HLB-triggered phloem plugging due to callose deposition in citrus leaves, which results in disrupted carbohydrate transport, has been documented in literature, the results of the histological analysis demonstrated no consistent pattern of callose deposition in the mature fruit pedicel in relation to the drop incidence. Additionally, sugar concentration in juice was not significantly different between dropped and attached fruit, providing evidence that carbohydrate shortage is not the case for dropped fruit and thus not the predominant cause of HLB-associated mature fruit drop. Notably, the midday water potential was significantly lower for severe than mild trees during the preharvest period (2 weeks before harvest of the current crop) in late March, which was also the second week after full bloom of return flowering. This suggests that altered tree water status due to HLB might limit fruit growth during the initial stage of fruit development (immediately after flowering) and/or increase the incidence of mature fruit abscission, leading to elevated preharvest fruit drop. Together, the results suggest that in the presence of HLB, strategies to increase fruit size and minimize additional stresses (especially drought) for the trees may improve mature fruit retention.

Open access

Haley Rylander, Anusuya Rangarajan, Ryan M. Maher, Mark G. Hutton, Nicholas W. Rowley, Margaret T. McGrath and Zachary F. Sexton

Intensive tillage degrades soil structure, decreases soil organic matter, and can cause soil compaction and erosion over time. Organic vegetable farmers are often dependent on tillage to incorporate crop residue, control weeds, and prepare seedbeds. Black, impermeable, polyethylene tarps applied on the soil surface and removed at planting can help suppress weeds before planting and reduce farmers’ reliance on tillage. However, little is known about how black tarps affect planting conditions and how they can be used to advance reduced tillage production systems. This study investigated the effects of tarp use and tarp duration on the soil environment, surface cover crop residue, and weed suppression to assess the efficacy of using tarps to improve reduced- and no-till practices for organic vegetable production. Experiments were conducted at three sites in the northeastern United States (Freeville, NY; Riverhead, NY; and Monmouth, ME) for 2 years. Following the termination of an oat cover crop, tarps were applied over untilled soils and left in place for four time periods: untarped (control), 3 to 5 weeks (short), 6 to 8 weeks (mid), and 10 or more weeks (long) before two removal dates. Soil moisture and temperature, cover crop residue, soil inorganic nitrogen, weed seed survival, and weed percent cover were measured after tarp removal. Soil moisture and temperature were generally higher under tarps at the time of removal compared with untarped areas at 10% to 55% and 1 to 3 °C, respectively, but the effects were inconsistent. Tarps significantly increased soil nitrate concentrations by 2-times to 21-times with longer tarp durations, resulting in higher concentrations compared with untarped controls. Tarps did not affect the amount of soil covered by cover crop residue and had no consistent effects on weed seed survival of Amaranthus powellii S. Wats. or Chenopodium album L., two common annual weed species in the Northeast. Tarping for at least 3 weeks reduced the weed percent cover by 95% to 100% at the time of removal. Increasing tarp duration beyond 3 weeks did not affect any measures except soil nitrate concentrations. These results indicate that tarps can facilitate the use of reduced-till and no-till practices for organic vegetables by creating a nutrient-rich and moist soil environment free of emerged weeds before planting without soil disturbance.

Open access

Haley Rylander, Anusuya Rangarajan, Ryan M. Maher, Mark G. Hutton, Nicholas W. Rowley, Margaret T. McGrath and Zachary F. Sexton

Organic vegetable farmers rely on intensive tillage to control weeds, incorporate amendments and residues, and prepare seedbeds. Intensive tillage, however, can lead to a decrease in long-term soil health. Placing opaque plastic tarps on the soil surface weeks or months before planting can reduce weed pressure and may facilitate organic reduced tillage strategies, but few studies have documented tarp effects on crop productivity. The effect of tarp duration and tillage intensity on weeds and beet crop yields (cultivar Boro) was evaluated at three locations (Freeville, NY; Riverhead, NY; and Monmouth, ME), for two planting dates and over 2 years (2017 and 2018), resulting in a total of 10 experiments. Tarps were applied for three durations before projected planting dates: 1) 10+ weeks (long), 2) 6 to 8 weeks (mid), and 3) 3 to 5 weeks (short), then compared with an untarped control (none). Three levels of tillage intensity were applied after tarp removal: 1) 10 to 20 cm (conventional till), 2) 3 to 8 cm (reduced till), and 3) left undisturbed (no till), to understand interactions between tillage intensity and tarping. Tarp use of three or more weeks lowered weed biomass for several weeks after beet planting and at-harvest across most locations and years, but tarp duration beyond 3 weeks did not result in further reductions. Tarp use lowered at-harvest weed biomass and increased crop yield for reduced- and no-till systems with results similar to conventional-till. Tarping for 3 weeks could improve the viability of reduced- and no-till approaches for organic vegetable production.

Open access

Ariana Torres, Petrus Langenhoven and Bridget K. Behe

The domestic market for melons, Cucumis melo L., has not been well characterized. The 2011 cantaloupe-related foodborne illness outbreak reduced melon production by 32%, and per capita consumption of cantaloupe and honeydew melons has not recovered. Our objective was to profile and characterize consumer segments of individuals who purchased melons in the 3 months before the survey. Responses from 1718 participants were analyzed by consumption volume and subjected to cluster analysis based on importance of melon attributes. Heavy and moderate consumers preferred local melons over imported. The top four melon attributes were flavor, freshness, ripeness, and sweetness. As consumption increased, consumers placed more importance for their diets. The heaviest consumption group accounted for 22% of the market, and consumed nearly three times the melon servings per month compared with the moderate consumer, and nearly 10 times the servings of the light consumption group. Cluster analysis produced three distinct clusters. Cluster 1 was the most promelon in attitudes and consumption, as well as general health interest, craving sweet food, food pleasure, and variety seeking in foods. The largest segment was cluster 3 and was the ideal group for future targeting of marketing and advertising campaigns for increasing the melon market share with their intermediate consumption and promelon attitudes. Last, members of cluster 2 consumed the lowest amount of melons, spent the least on melons, and traveled the fewest number of miles to purchase them, relative to the other two segments.

Open access

Rebecca Grube Sideman

High tunnels can facilitate production of ripe colored bell peppers (Capsicum annuum) in locations with short growing seasons by extending the length of the growing season and protecting fruit from biotic and abiotic stressors. We grew 10 cultivars of bell pepper over 3 years in a high tunnel in Durham, NH. Yields of marketable colored fruit ranged from 1576 to 2285 g/plant in 2015, from 1194 to 1839 g/plant in 2016, and 1471 to 2358 g/plant in 2017. Significant differences in marketable yield among cultivars existed only in 2015 and 2017. Of the 10 cultivars evaluated, those developed for controlled environments produced greater marketable yields than those developed for production in the field or unheated tunnels (P < 0.0001). The seasonal production patterns were similar among cultivars in all 3 years: a single peak in production occurred between 159 and 175 days after seeding, followed by much lower but steady production until frost ended each growing season. Our results demonstrate that reasonable yields of colored bell peppers can be produced in high tunnels in locations with short growing seasons. We suggest that further work may be needed to identify optimal pruning and canopy management strategies to maximize yields and fruit quality.

Open access

Chengyan Yue, Zata Vickers, Jingjing Wang, Neil O. Anderson, Lauren Wisdorf, Jenna Brady, Michele Schermann, Nicholas Phelps and Paul Venturelli

The present study systematically investigated the effects of warehouse and greenhouse aquaponic growing conditions on consumer acceptability of different basil cultivars. A total of 105 consumers rated their liking of three basil cultivars (Nufar, Genovese, and Eleonora), each grown in three conditions (aquaponically in a greenhouse, aquaponically in a warehouse, both with Cyprinus carpio, Koi fish, and grown in soilless medium). We used linear random effect models to investigate consumer preferences for attributes of basil plants grown in different environments by controlling for individual-specific random effects. Participants generally liked the soilless medium–grown and greenhouse aquaponically grown basil plants more than the warehouse aquaponically grown plants. The soilless medium–grown basil had the highest appearance liking and flavor intensity, followed by the greenhouse aquaponic grown and then by the warehouse aquaponic grown. Aquaponically grown cultivars were rated less bitter than soilless medium–grown cultivars.

Open access

Jesús Gallegos, Juan E. Álvaro and Miguel Urrestarazu

The response of root growth in containers has been studied in recent decades. The objective was to evaluate the effect of four types of containers on root and shoot growth. The containers were two shapes, round and square, and in some containers, internal vertical walls (IVWs) were placed that increased the internal container surface area with two substrates: perlite and coir fiber. Seedlings of cucumber, pepper, and tomato were transplanted. Two experiments were performed: vegetative growth and drought stress by partial decapitation and a period without fertigation. After decapitation, preexisting and new leaf area, dry biomass or the leaves, and stem were measured. The results revealed that the type of container had no effect, nor were there significant differences between substrates. The containers with IVWs exhibited an increase in biomass and the root surface. The total contact surface with the substrate of the four container types was closely related to the recorded plant growth. Thus, IVWs not only decrease mechanical problems of roots by preventing spiralling but also favor the production of biomass in vegetable plants and substantially increase the root, enabling the plants to manage water deficit and potentially improve posttransplant stress.

Open access

Job Teixeira de Oliveira, Rubens Alves de Oliveira, Fernando França da Cunha, Isabela da Silva Ribeiro, Lucas Allan Almeida Oliveira and Paulo Eduardo Teodoro

The objective of this work was to investigate the direct and indirect relationships of morphological variables on garlic bulb yield. The primary components of garlic bulb yield, including clove mass, number of cloves per bulb, and bulb diameter and bulb length, are the variables that affect garlic bulb yield directly. Leaf length and growth of a secondary bulb had a negative correlation to garlic bulb yield. Growth of a secondary bulb also had a negative correlation with the number of cloves per bulb and root dry mass. Irrigation with the deficit, applied at the stage of bulb formation, had a positive correlation with garlic yield and a slightly negative correlation with total plant mass, bulb length, and secondary bulb growth.

Open access

Seth D. Wannemuehler, Chengyan Yue, Wendy K. Hoashi-Erhardt, R. Karina Gallardo and Vicki McCracken

DNA-informed breeding techniques allow breeders to examine individual plants before costly field trials. Previous studies with tree fruits such as apple (Malus ×domestica) and peach (Prunus persica) have identified cost-effective implementation of DNA-informed techniques. However, it is unclear whether breeding programs for herbaceous perennials with 1- to 2-year juvenile phases benefit economically from these techniques. In this study, a cost-benefit analysis examining marker-assisted selection (MAS) in a Pacific northwest U.S. strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) breeding program was conducted to elucidate the effectiveness of DNA-informed breeding in perennial crops and explore the capabilities of a decision support tool. Procedures and associated costs were identified to create simulations of the breeding program. Simulations compared a conventional breeding program to a breeding program using MAS with low (12.5%), medium (25%), and high (50%) removal rates, and examined different scenarios where MAS had diminishing power to remove individuals as selections reenter the breeding cycle as parent material. We found that MAS application under current costs was not cost-effective in the modeled strawberry program when applied at the greenhouse stage, but cost-effectiveness was observed when MAS was applied at the end of the seedling trials before clonal trials with a removal rate of 12.5%.

Open access

Chunxian Chen and William R. Okie