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Open access

Rhuanito Soranz Ferrarezi and Donald S. Bailey

Basil (Ocimum sp.) is a fast-growing, high-value cash crop for aquaponics. Plant suitability evaluation in tropical conditions is critical to recommend new cultivars, increasing grower portfolio and minimizing the production risks associated with untested selections. Two trials were conducted to identify suitable basil cultivars for tropical outdoor aquaponics production using the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Commercial Aquaponics System in the U.S. Virgin islands. We evaluated five basil cultivars in Summer 2015 (Genovese, Lemon, Purple Ruffles, Red Rubin, and Spicy Globe), and seven cultivars in Fall 2015 (Cinnamon, Genovese, Lemon, Purple Ruffles, Red Rubin, Spicy Globe, and Thai). In both trials, 3-week-old seedlings were transplanted in net pots at a density of 1.5 plants/ft2 (16.15 plants/m2). The 6-inch portions and upper portions of the canopy were harvested as a salable product and the resultant material (leaves and stems) considered as total yield per square meter. In the summer, yield was higher in ‘Genovese’ (14.91 kg·m−2) and ‘Spicy Globe’ (13.99 kg·m−2); ‘Purple Ruffles’ resulted in the lowest yield (4.18 kg·m−2). Leaf anthocyanin was greater for the red cultivars Red Rubin [28.35 anthocyanin content index (ACI)] and Purple Ruffles (34.36 ACI) compared with the other cultivars. Chlorophyll content was the highest in ‘Genovese’ [48.59 chlorophyll content index (CCI)]. In the fall, ‘Cinnamon’ (6.60 kg·m−2), ‘Genovese’ (6.70 kg·m−2), and ‘Spicy Globe’ (6.35 kg·m−2) showed the highest yield and ‘Purple Ruffles’ the lowest (1.68 kg·m−2). Leaf anthocyanin differed in all cultivars, with the higher values in Purple Ruffles (80.5 ACI) and Red Rubin (36.5 ACI). Chlorophyll content was a response of plant growth and cultivar, with values increasing over time and ranging from 12.06 (Lemon) to 17.99 CCI (Cinnamon). Plant growth index (PGI) was higher than that of other cultivars in Genovese and Lemon on day 58 (summer), and higher in Cinnamon on day 87 (fall). Yield was greater during the summer, which was calculated from May to August, in comparison with the fall, calculated from September to November. Yield declined for the fourth harvest in the summer, indicating that growers may need to end production after the third harvest and replant the crop. The results of this experiment indicate that basil has potential as a specialty, short-season, and high-value crop in the UVI Commercial Aquaponics System. Of the cultivars tested, Genovese and Spicy Globe were the highest yielding cultivars within the environmental and geographical conditions of this study for two consecutive seasons (summer and fall).

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Jordan L. Hartman, Penelope Perkins-Veazie and Todd C. Wehner

Watermelon fruit [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb) Matsum & Nakai] is a natural source of phytonutrients, including lycopene, citrulline, and arginine. Two segregating, highly outcrossed North Carolina watermelon populations, NC High Yield (NCHYW) and NC Small Fruit (NCSFW), were evaluated for these traits and for indicators of ripeness (pH and soluble solids content). Parents tested in 2015 (NSF = 300, NHY = 300) were sampled for the above and offspring were tested in 2016 if the sampled fruit of the parents were of qualifying ripeness [soluble solids concentration (SSC) ≥8, pH 5.5–6.5], resulting in 251 families (NSF = 72, NHY = 175). Narrow-sense heritability was estimated in each of the populations using the methods of 1) parent-offspring regression and 2) variance of half-sibling family means. Heritability for citrulline in NCHYW was moderate in both parent-offspring and half-sibling estimations (38% and 43%), as was arginine (40% and 44%) and lycopene (46% and 47%, respectively). Estimates for these traits in NCSFW were considerably different, with parent-offspring and half-sibling estimations for citrulline (65% and 22%), arginine (9% and 20%), and lycopene (44% and 68%). In NCHYW, moderate phenotypic correlations were found between SSC and citrulline (0.40), arginine (0.40), their combination (0.45), and lycopene (0.30) all of which were significant, except lycopene. Lycopene was significantly and weakly correlated to citrulline (0.22), but was not correlated to arginine (0.06). Similar correlations were found in NCSFW; SSC was significantly correlated to citrulline (0.24), arginine (0.18), and their combination (0.23), whereas lycopene was slightly correlated to citrulline (0.15) and not significantly correlated to arginine. Based on these heritabilities and phenotypic correlations, tandem selection for high lycopene and citrulline content may be accomplished efficiently using progeny rows with minimal replication using the NCSFW population, whereas replication with multiple years, rows, and locations may be necessary for creating stable lines using the NCHYW population.

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Tongyin Li and Guihong Bi

Blueberry production in Mississippi (MS) is mainly rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium virgatum Ait.), which ripen in late May to June. Growing early-ripening southern highbush blueberries (SHBs) (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) presents an opportunity for early fruit production and increased market price for locally produced blueberries, yet faces the challenge of spring frost damage. One-year-old liners of 10 SHB cultivars were transplanted into 15-gallon plastic containers and placed in a high tunnel in Apr. 2015. Blueberry plants were fertilized with either a conventional or an organic fertilizer at comparable rates. Plants were evaluated for berry yield, timing of first berry harvest and peak harvest, single berry weight, and soluble solid content during the 2016 and 2017 growing seasons. The high tunnel increased monthly maximum temperature by 3.2 to 10.4 °C, monthly average temperature by 0.7 to 4.2 °C, and minimum monthly temperature for up to 3.0 °C compared with outdoor environment. Photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) at noon in the high tunnel ranged from 477 to 1411 µmol·m−2·s−1 and relative humidity ranged from 54.6% to 81.7% from Jan. 2016 to June 2017. SHBs in the high tunnel produced first berry harvest during the first week of April in both growing seasons. Total berry yield per plant ranged from 921 g to 2136 g in 2016 and from 1222 g to 2480 g in 2017. Compared with the organic fertilizer, conventional fertilizer increased berry yield in April and May, and total berry yield in 2016, but resulted in similar yield in 2017. Eight cultivars (Emerald, Farthing, Gupton, Meadowlark, Pearl, Rebel, Star, and Sweetcrisp) produced single berries that averaged more than 2 g per berry in 2016, compared with two cultivars (Gupton and Pearl) in 2017. Smaller berry size may have resulted from the generally increasing yield from 2016 to 2017. ‘Sweetcrisp’ produced berries with higher soluble solid content, 14.2% and 14.1% in 2016 and 2017, than the other nine cultivars. Container production of SHB cultivars in a high tunnel produced total berry yield equivalent to 6458 kg/ha in 2016 to 7500 kg/ha in 2017, advanced blueberry production by 4 to 5 weeks, and therefore may serve as a potential production system for early fruiting blueberries in Mississippi.

Open access

Mariano F. Galla, Bradley D. Hanson and Kassim Al-Khatib

Walnut (Juglans regia) and rice (Oryza sativa) are among the most important crops grown in the Sacramento Valley of California. Because rice herbicides are often applied by air, there are occasional allegations of rice herbicide drift onto walnut trees. This study was established to investigate bispyribac-sodium residues on walnut leaves after simulated drift treatments. The objectives were to determine whether bispyribac-sodium can generate visual symptoms on walnut trees without leaving detectable residues in leaf tissues and to evaluate the subsequent impacts on walnut yield. Two experiments were conducted in a 3-year-old walnut orchard. In the first experiment bispyribac-sodium was applied to walnut trees at 0.125%, 0.25%, 0.5%, and 1% of the normal use rate in rice (45 g·ha−1). In the second experiment, rates were 1%, 3%, 10%, and 100% of the normal use rate in rice. Bispyribac-sodium caused general leaf chlorosis and discrete yellow spotting on walnut leaves even at very low concentrations; symptoms were recorded on trees exposed to rates as low as 0.125% of the normal use rate in rice. However, based on high-performance liquid chromatography analysis, the lowest simulated drift treatment from which bispyribac-sodium could be detected 10 d after treatment was 1% of the rice use rate. In general, visual injury symptoms remained constant over time, or even worsened, whereas bispyribac-sodium residues decreased or became not detectable. There was no measurable impact on walnut yield from any of the simulated drift treatments in these experiments.

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Marcin Nowicki, Edward E. Schilling, Sarah L. Boggess, Logan C. Houston, Matthew L. Huff, Margaret E. Staton, Jayne A. Lampley and Robert N. Trigiano

The genus Chrysogonum is native to the eastern United States. Three entities have been recognized—either as three varieties of Chrysogonum virginianum or as two species, one of them with two varieties. The current study suggests that a fourth entity should be recognized. Several forms of the complex are in commercial trade as ornamentals. As very limited molecular information on Chrysogonum is available, we developed a set of genic simple sequence repeat markers (eSSRs) from de novo transcriptome sequencing. We tested a set of 17 eSSRs on a collection of C. virginianum genomic DNA samples from the three botanical varieties, and a new putative type observed in Tennessee, dubbed “Ocoee-type” for its geographic origin. The polymerase chain reaction and capillary electrophoresis analyses with downstream population genetics tools verified the usefulness of the eSSRs. By applying this approach, we showed recognizable variation within Chrysogonum, although it did not correspond exactly to previous infraspecific classifications. Finally, as demonstrated for the commercial cultivar Pierre included in the study, the eSSRs can be used for enhancing the future breeding or hybridization efforts of this ornamental plant.

Open access

Yi-Chen Chen, Wei-Chun Chang, San-Tai Wang and Shu-I Lin

Grafting is widely used in the commercial production of cucurbits (Cucurbitaceae) and solanaceous (Solanaceae) vegetables, but seldom in the production of cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage (Brassica oleracea Capitata group). In our study, we developed a tube grafting method for cabbage using the ‘K-Y cross’ cabbage as the scion and ‘Tsuei Jin’ chinese kale (B. oleracea Alboglabra group) as the rootstock (K-Y/TJ), and then used the K-Y/TJ grafted seedlings to identify the best healing conditions. The examined healing conditions included temperature (15, 20, or 25 °C), relative humidity (RH; 75%, 85%, or 95%), and light intensity (high light intensity, 79 to 107 μmol·m–2·s–1; low light intensity, 38.6 to 58.8 μmol·m–2·s–1; or full darkness, 0 μmol·m–2·s–1). Considering all the healing conditions, the K-Y/TJ grafted seedlings healing at 20 °C, 95% RH, and high light intensity exhibited survival rates of up to 96.7% and overall superior seedling quality. ‘K-Y cross’ cabbages were then grafted onto chinese kale rootstocks, and the head traits of all grafted plants were comparable to those of nongrafted and/or self-grafted ‘K-Y cross’ plants. ‘K-Y cross’ plants grafted on ‘Jie Lan’ chinese kale rootstocks had greater ascorbic acid and total soluble solid (TSS) contents than nongrafted and self-grafted ‘K-Y cross’ plants. Overall, this research describes a successful tube grafting method and the optimal healing conditions for grafted cabbage seedlings, which can be used as a tool to improve head quality.

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Chad E. Finn, Bernadine C. Strik, Theodore A. Mackey, Patrick A. Jones, Nahla V. Bassil and Robert R. Martin

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Jongtae Lee, Byeonggyu Min, Heedae Kim, Juyeon Kim, Young-Seok Kwon and George E. Boyhan

This study evaluated the effects of a nonwoven polypropylene (NPP) covering during overwintering with different mulch types and transplant times on bulb onion growth and yield of intermediate-day onions (Allium cepa L.) during the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 growing seasons. Field experiments were conducted using a split-split plot design with three replicates. Treatments included main plots containing different mulch types (transparent plastic mulch, black plastic mulch, or bare ground), subplots with different transplanting times (20 Oct., 5 Nov., and 20 Nov.), and sub-subplots containing two onion cultivars (Sunpower and Katamaru). NPP was used to cover all plots on 1 Dec., and it was removed on 28 Feb. Mean daily air temperatures during transplanting and root establishment were 2.6 °C higher during the 2015/2016 growing season compared with the 2016/2017 season. NPP covering on bare ground increased soil temperature by 2.1 °C compared with no treatment. Soil water potential with transparent and black mulches and NPP continued to be more than −10 kPa until early March. Number of leaves, and root and leaf weight were significantly greater during the 2015/2016 growing season than during the 2016/2017 growing season; there were also significantly greater for onion plants grown with transparent plastic mulch than for those grown with black plastic mulch or no mulch on 4 Apr. and 5 May. Marketable bulb yield was lower during 2015/2016 (32.0 Mg·ha−1) than during 2016/2017 (38.5 Mg·ha−1); this was due to the increased unmarketable bulb yield, with 33.2 Mg·ha−1 bolters and 3.9 Mg·ha−1 doubled bulbs during 2015/2016 compared with 3.9 Mg·ha−1 bolters and 0.3 Mg·ha−1 doubled bulbs during 2016/2017. Marketable bulb yield of ‘Katamaru’ (38.9 Mg·ha−1) was greater than that of ‘Sunpower’ (31.6 Mg·ha−1). Marketable bulb yield increased with later transplanting times, and onions grown with black plastic mulch achieved the highest bulb yield (43.0 Mg·ha−1), followed by transparent mulch (34.7 Mg·ha−1) and no mulch (28.0 Mg·ha−1). When the temperatures from early November to early December were similar to the 30-year average temperatures, marketable bulb yield could increase with the NPP covering, especially for onions grown with black plastic mulch or no mulch when transplanted from late October to early November.

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Ting Min, En-chao Liu, Jun Xie, Yang Yi, Li-mei Wang, You-wei Ai and Hong-xun Wang

Ethylene response factor (ERF) genes have been involved in responses to biotic and abiotic stress, including hypoxia and anaerobic stress. Vacuum packaging (a typical anaerobic stress) is an effective storage method used to delay browning of fresh-cut lotus root (Nelumbo nucifera). In model plants, ERF genes have been identified as responsive to hypoxia. Whether ERF is associated with browning of vacuum-packaged lotus root has not been studied. The effects of vacuum packaging on browning, phenolic content, the enzyme activity of phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), polyphenol oxidase (PPO), and peroxidase (POD), and PPO, PAL, POD, and ERF genes expression in fresh-cut lotus root were studied. Downregulation of NnPAL1, NnPPOA, and NnPOD2/3 attributable to vacuum packaging coincided with increased related enzyme activities and the degree of browning of fresh-cut lotus root. The expression patterns of NnERF4/5 were consistent with the changes in NnPAL1, NnPPOA, and NnPOD2/3 gene expression. It has been proposed that NnERF4/5 could have be important regulators of fresh-cut lotus root browning, and that the relationships of NnERF4/5 and NnPAL1, NnPPOA, and NnPOD2/3 should to be studied further.

Open access

Whitney J. Garton, Mark Mazzola, Travis R. Alexander and Carol A. Miles

Anthracnose canker, caused by Neofabraea malicorticis, threatens the sustainability of cider apple (Malus ×domestica) production in the maritime climate of western Washington. In the short-term, the disease reduces overall orchard productivity and in the long-term it reduces an orchard’s economic life span. The disease is difficult to manage using cultural practices, and information on fungicide efficacy is limited and contradictory. To address this situation, a 2-year study was conducted to evaluate efficacy of zinc (4.49 lb/acre), basic copper sulfate (2.49 lb/acre), captan (2.94 lb/acre), thiophanate-methyl (0.69 lb/acre), pyraclostrobin plus boscalid (0.38 lb/acre), and combinations of these fungicides to manage anthracnose canker infection in young cider apple trees cultivated in a maritime climate. Trees used in the first year of the study (2016) were found to be infected by anthracnose canker on receipt, so the first year was a measure of disease control and the second year (2017) was a measure of disease prevention. In 2016, when fungicide treatments were applied every 3 weeks from March through October, none of the treatments evaluated inhibited the development of new infections or the expansion of existing cankers (77% increase in canker size on average for all treatments). In 2017, when fungicide treatments were applied every 3 weeks from February through April, two to three new cankers were observed 3 weeks after final treatment application for all treatments. Results from this study demonstrate that the current fungicides recommended for control of anthracnose canker are not reliably effective in the orchard environment of northwest Washington. Future studies should assess the fungicides evaluated in this study applied in rotation with additional systemic fungicides.