Colored shade nets are known to alter the light quality and quantity and thus can influence plant growth and nutritional quality of crops. Lettuce (‘Lollo Antonet’ and ‘Green Forest’) and basil (‘Aroma-2’ and ‘Genovese’) were grown in ebb-and-flow hydroponic tables for 4 weeks. Colored shade nets of aluminet, black, pearl, and red with 50% shading intensity along with a control (no-shade) were used in this experiment. Data for plant growth and leaf quality attributes were collected at harvest time. The no-shade treatment showed increased shoot fresh and dry weight, sugar, and relative chlorophyll content in both lettuce and basil cultivars, whereas plant height and net photosynthesis rates were increased under aluminet, pearl, and red nets. In basil, calcium and sulfur were greatest under no-shade, whereas zinc and copper were greatest under aluminet. Zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, and manganese concentrations were greatest under no-shade in lettuce. The pearl-colored net increased leaf soluble solids content. No-shade produced the greatest starch values in basil, whereas pearl shade net produced the greatest starch in ‘Lollo Antonet’ in the fall. Light spectra varied with shade net resulting in 90%, 65%, 50%, 30%, and 70% of incident light occurring between 400 and 700 nm for no-shade, pearl, aluminet, black, and red shade nets, respectively. Overall, lettuce and basil plants under no-shade (daily light integral of 20 to 24 mol·m−2·d−1 and temperature of 26 to 30 °C) had increased plant growth and leaf quality in late spring and fall, compared with colored shade nets.
The citrus mealybug, Planococcus citri, is an insect pest of greenhouse-grown horticultural crops. Citrus mealybug causes plant damage when feeding on plant leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits, resulting in a substantial economic loss. Insecticides are applied to manage citrus mealybug populations in greenhouse production systems. Anecdotal information suggests that mixing entomopathogenic fungal-based insecticides with insect growth regulators may be effective for managing citrus mealybug populations under greenhouse conditions. Consequently, we conducted two experiments in a research greenhouse at Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS, USA) in 2023. The experiments were designed to determine the efficacy of three commercially available entomopathogenic fungal-based insecticides [Beauveria bassiana Strain GHA (BotaniGard®), B. bassiana strain PPRI 5339 (Velifer™) and Isaria fumosorosea Apopka Strain 97 (Ancora®)] when mixed with three insect growth regulators [azadirachtin (Azatin® O), novaluron (Pedestal®), and pyriproxyfen (Distance®)] on citrus mealybug feeding on coleus, Solenostemon scutellarioides, plants. The entomopathogenic fungal-based insecticides alone or when mixed with the insect growth regulators were not effective in managing citrus mealybug populations, with <20% mortality during each experiment. In addition, all coleus plants treated with the entomopathogenic fungal-based insecticides had a white, powdery residue on the leaves. Our study demonstrates that entomopathogenic fungal-based insecticides, even when mixed with insect growth regulators, are not effective in managing citrus mealybug populations in greenhouses, which is likely because the environmental conditions (temperature and relative humidity) are not optimal for conidial germination and hyphal infection to occur. Therefore, entomopathogenic fungal-based insecticides have limited use for managing insect pests in greenhouse production systems.
This article shares survey results provided by both consumers and growers regarding the University of Florida Biodiversity Certified Plants for the Rapidly Expanding Urban Landscape Market project conducted at the University of Florida (UF). The overall goal of this project was to develop and test a scientifically based, UF-trademarked process for the certification of high-quality, commercially available, wildlife-friendly plants for the green industry. The objectives of two surveys that targeted consumers and growers, respectively, were to assess consumer and grower attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors pertaining to wildlife-friendly plants and a proposed certification. The consumer survey results (n = 868) indicated that respondents (consumers) strongly agreed with purchasing wildlife-friendly plants, and that respondents would benefit from the proposed certification. The certification could help consumers gain a better understanding of which plants are wildlife-friendly at the point of purchase. Nearly half of consumers reported an inability to identify wildlife-friendly plants in the store, which hinders them from purchasing. The grower survey results (n = 75) indicated that respondents were willing to offer biodiversity-certified plants. More growers rated themselves as innovators (the most innovative category) in terms of adopting innovations than any other diffusion of innovations category (early adopter, early majority, later majority, hesitant, or none of these), although the perceived cost of obtaining the certification was seen as a potential barrier toward grower adoption of the certification. These findings indicate that the proposed certification would be successful with appropriate and tailored marketing materials for both growers and consumers.
The use of polyethylene (PE) mulch causes environmental pollution where incomplete removal leaves fragments susceptible to escape to ecosystems, such as the ocean, where they can cause ecological harm. PE mulch is generally nonrecyclable due to contamination with soil and crop debris after use, leaving growers with few end-of-life options for used PE mulch. Research studies have shown that soil-biodegradable plastic mulch (BDM) is comparable to PE mulch in terms of performance, soil health, and overall economics and is preferred from an environmental perspective, but the adoption of BDM by producers is still low. Previous research has shown that the primary barriers to BDM adoption are insufficient knowledge about BDM, high purchase cost, and unpredictable breakdown of BDM in the soil. The high purchase cost of BDM compared with PE mulch is offset by the costs for PE mulch removal, transport, and disposal fees. This project was conducted to develop BDM training materials, to educate and assess BDM knowledge gained by extension personnel and other agricultural professionals through trainings and webinars, and to educate producers about BDM through hands-on experience. Thirty-six research and extension publication outputs from two previous US Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Research Initiative BDM projects were reviewed and transcribed into 45 new extension publications that included 11 slide presentations, 5 lecture slides, 10 fact sheets, and 3 videos. All the training materials are posted on a public university website. Professional development trainings were conducted at local, regional, national, and international levels to provide agricultural professionals the current, science-based information on BDM and resources for information. Survey results showed that at a local level, the greatest change of knowledge among participants was observed for “BDM use in organic production” (60%), and the lowest reported change of knowledge was observed for “limitations to PE mulch disposal” (19%). At a regional level, out of 58 participants, 23% to 35% of participants learned “a lot” and 35% to 51% learned “some new information” regarding BDM from the webinar. At the national level, out of 30 participants, 48% responded that they learned “a lot” and another 48% learned “some new information” on BDM from the training. Growers were trained about BDM via field days and on-farm demonstrations where five strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) growers volunteered to participate in BDM trials. The participant growers observed no difference in weed control and fruit yield between the PE mulch and the BDM. Growers expressed concerns about slow biodegradation of BDM after soil incorporation, potential impacts on soil biological activity, food safety concerns with BDM fragments and that BDM is not currently permitted for use in organic production.
Increased urban and suburban populations in the arid western United States have resulted in more water demand; however, water availability in the region has become limited because of inadequate precipitation. Recent droughts have led to restrictions on irrigating landscape plants. Garden rose (Rosa ×hybrida) is commonly used as flowering plants in residential landscapes, but its drought tolerance has not been widely studied. The objective of this study was to determine the impact of reduced irrigation frequency on visual quality, plant growth, and physiology of five garden rose cultivars, including ChewPatout (Oso Easy® Urban Legend®), Meibenbino (Petite Knock Out®), MEIRIFTDAY (Oso Easy® Double Pink), Overedclimb (Cherry Frost™), and Radbeauty (Sitting Pretty™). Twenty-four plants of each rose cultivar were established in a trial plot at Utah Agricultural Experiment Station Greenville Research Farm (North Logan, UT, USA) in Summer 2021. Plants were randomly assigned to one of three deficit irrigation treatments for which irrigation frequencies were calculated using 80% reference evapotranspiration (ETO) (high), 50% ETO (medium), and 20% ETO (low). The total volumes of irrigation water applied to each plant were 345.6, 172.8, and 43.2 L for the high, medium, and low irrigation frequencies, respectively, during the deficit irrigation trial from 12 May to 30 Sep 2022. Root zones were wetted more frequently as irrigation frequency increased from low to high irrigation frequencies. Decreased irrigation frequency increased the number of visibly wilted and damaged leaves on all rose cultivars. However, only ‘Meibenbino’ and ‘MEIRIFTDAY’ exhibited a reduction in overall appearance under decreased irrigation frequency. The relative growth indices of both ‘Meibenbino’ and ‘MEIRIFTDAY’ decreased by 6%, whereas the dry weights of their leaves decreased by 37% and 36%, respectively, as irrigation decreased from high to low frequencies. Roses in this study appeared to decrease stomatal conductance up to 51% when irrigation decreased from high to low frequencies, or when air temperature increased. ‘Meibenbino’ and ‘MEIRIFTDAY’ exhibited unacceptable overall appearance, growth reduction, and higher leaf–air temperature differences, and they were less tolerant to reduced irrigation. Although the ‘Radbeauty’ maintained plant growth under the reduced irrigation frequency, the large leaf size led to a more visibly wilted appearance and the potential for heat stress, thus impairing visual quality. ‘ChewPatout’ and ‘Overedclimb’ were most tolerant to deficit irrigation at 20% ETO and maintained plant growth with acceptable visual quality and lower leaf temperatures when they received one irrigation during the growing season.
Citrus greening, or huanglongbing (HLB), caused by the phloem-limited bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (CaLas), threatens the global citrus industry. Field observations have demonstrated that some citrus cultivars are more tolerant to the CaLas pathogen than others. ‘Parson Brown’ is an early maturing sweet orange variety that has consistently exhibited minimal leaf and fruit drop in the field compared with the ‘Hamlin’ sweet orange under similar conditions. This study aimed to understand performance of the ‘Parson Brown’ cultivar in several locations across the citrus production regions of Florida. Results indicated that the CaLas bacterial titer in both cultivars were similar with the quantitative polymerase chain reaction cycle threshold values ranging between 24.99 and 28.61 in ‘Hamlin’ and between 25.48 and 30.89 in ‘Parson Brown’. Leaves from the ‘Parson Brown’ trees however demonstrated higher chlorophyll content and total phenolic compounds in most of the locations. We also detected higher relative expression of CsPR1 and CsPR2 transcripts in ‘Parson Brown’ leaves in the first sampling period (March) and the fourth period (November). Additionally, Phloem protein 2 transcripts were downregulated in ‘Parson Brown’ leaves compared with ‘Hamlin’ at all locations. The ‘Hamlin’ juice had higher acidity, whereas ‘Parson Brown’ juice demonstrated a higher Brix to acidity ratio and juice color. The oil content in the juice ranged between 0.020% and 0.042%, and there was variation in the oil content between the locations, which could indicate clonal differences. ‘Parson Brown’ juice however contained higher limonin and nomilin content than ‘Hamlin’ juice in most of the locations. Taken together, the current results confirmed the enhanced tolerance of ‘Parson Brown’ trees to HLB when compared with ‘Hamlin’ in all sampled locations.
Dahlias (Dahlia ×hybrida) are a popular cut flower for local production in the northeastern United States. However, there are more than 20,000 cultivars to choose from, and the suitability of these cultivars as cut flowers varies regionally. Fourteen dahlia cultivars were grown in Orono, ME, USA: Blizzard, Burlesca, Café au Lait, Café au Lait Rose, Clearview Daniel, Cornel, Cornel Bronze, Ivanetti, Lollipop, Neon Splendor, Rock Run Ashley, Sunspot, Tanjoh, and Tempest. These cultivars were selected after interviews with local dahlia growers. These cultivars all produced similar numbers of flowers, but they differed in the time to form flowers, stem length, and stem diameter. ‘Rock Run Ashley’ was the earliest to begin flowering, at 35 days earlier than ‘Tempest’ and ‘Café au Lait’, which flowered last. ‘Blizzard’ and ‘Tempest’ had the longest stems and ‘Lollipop’ had the shortest stems. Growers may want to choose ‘Rock Run Ashley’ if they need flowers earlier in the season, or ‘Blizzard’ or ‘Tempest’ if a longer stem length is desired. During a second study, we harvested field-grown flowers of ‘Burlesca’, ‘Cornel’, and ‘Ivanetti’ and treated them with deionized water or one of two commercial holding solutions. Holding solutions did not extend the vase life of ‘Burlesca’ or ‘Ivanetti’, but they increased the vase life of ‘Cornel’ by 4 or 5 days.