Dan Wang, Yang Yang, Fengyi Li, Sheng Zhou, Guiling Liu, Juan Yang, Wangbin Ye, and Ling Wang
Bryan K. Sales, David R. Bryla, Kristin M. Trippe, Carolyn F. Scagel, Bernadine C. Strik, and Dan M. Sullivan
Biochar, as a soil amendment, has been reported to improve plant growth by increasing soil moisture and retaining nutrients. In a previous 12-week greenhouse study with highbush blueberry (Vaccinium hybrid), we found that amending soil with biochar alone or in combination with bokashi (fermented wheat bran) increased plant growth relative to unamended soil. The biochar was produced from mixed conifer species during conversion of wood to energy. In the current study, we aimed to validate the greenhouse findings under field conditions in western Oregon. The specific objectives of this 2-year study were to determine the effect of amending soil with biochar or a combination of biochar and bokashi on growth and early fruit production during establishment of northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.). To achieve these objectives, we transplanted ‘Duke’ blueberry plants into soil that was either unamended or amended with biochar or 4:1 (v/v) mixtures of biochar and bokashi or biochar and douglas fir [Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] sawdust. Each amendment was either applied in the planting hole or incorporated into the row. A treatment with douglas fir sawdust incorporated into the row was also included and represented the industry standard for the region. Plants grown in soil amended with biochar (in the planting hole or row) had 40% to 74% greater total dry weight at the end of the first growing season and 70% to 82% greater fruit yield in the second season than those grown with no amendments or in soil amended with sawdust. However, leaf Mg concentrations were lower with biochar, suggesting it could limit Mg uptake in blueberry. Soil amended with sawdust, on the other hand, was higher in organic matter, microbial activity, and wet stable aggregates than the other soil treatments but resulted in lower leaf N concentrations during the second year after planting. Unlike in the greenhouse study, biochar had no effect on root colonization by mycorrhizal fungi, and there was no benefit to using biochar with bokashi. Adding 4 L of biochar to the planting hole was considerably more economical than applying it to the row and cost $1320/ha less than the industry standard of incorporating sawdust in the row. These findings indicate that biochar is a promising soil amendment for commercial production of highbush blueberry.
Kim S. Lewers and John M. Enns
Sarada Krishnan, Heather Kirk-Ballard, Esther McGinnis, and Lauren Garcia Chance
The retail gardening industry in the United States is expected to reach $50 billion by 2023, and it is a significant driver of the agricultural economy. To meet the corresponding demand for information, consumer horticulture (CH) professionals will need to develop innovative digital outreach, research-based solutions, a concerted recruitment of youth, and enhanced collaborations. To understand the current gaps in CH research and the extent of the involvement of public gardens in CH, surveys were conducted among the two groups, CH/extension researchers and staff of public gardens. The results of the surveys were presented at the virtual conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science on 12 Aug. 2020 during a workshop hosted by the Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardener Professional Interest Group. The workshop included four presentations, and two of those are discussed in this paper: 1) research gaps in CH and 2) bridging the divide between CH and public gardens. Among researchers, even though there was a general understanding of CH, there was a disconnect in participants’ perceptions of the roles of CH in the economy and recreation. The greatest knowledge gap was in basic horticultural practices. Regarding public garden professionals, there needs to be a concerted effort to educate them about CH so they can provide a consistent message to their audiences and the general public.
Michael Alden and James E. Faust
The effect of night length (NL) on the flower development of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) ‘Prestige Red’ was evaluated. Flower initiation occurred by subjecting plants to a 14-hour NL for 10 or 17 days, termed short-day (SD) treatments, and then transferring the plants to each of four NL treatments (11, 12, 13, or 14 hours) to observe the effects of NL on flower development. The plants grown continuously with the 14-h NL treatment were the control group. The timing of first color, visible bud, and anthesis were recorded during flower development, and bract and leaf data were collected at anthesis. Leaf number was unaffected by the SD or NL treatments, suggesting that flower initiation occurred during the 10-day SD treatment before the start of NL treatments; thus, the NL treatments only affected flower development. The timing of first color and visible bud were significantly delayed with the 10-day SD × 11-hour NL treatment relative to the 14-hour NL control; however, first color and visible bud were not delayed with the 17-day SD × 11-hour NL treatment. The 11-hour NL treatment resulted in fewer plants reaching anthesis, and these plants had fewer stem bracts and less bract color development compared with the 12-hour, 13-hour, and 14-hour NL treatments. Therefore, an 11-hour NL is suboptimal for flower development; nonetheless, significant development did occur. The 12-hour NL resulted in less color development than the 13-hour and 14-hour NL treatments in the lowest stem bract positions, but the plants had a commercially acceptable appearance. These results demonstrate that minimal differences in flower development occur with NL ≥12 hours, but that optimal development required NL ≥13 hours.
Kristin E. Neill and Ryan N. Contreras
Vaccinium ovatum (evergreen huckleberry) is an evergreen shrub native to the Pacific Northwest. Evergreen huckleberry is diploid (2n = 2x = 24), but unreduced gametes have been reported that facilitated in interspecific tetraploids. To our knowledge, tetraploid forms of evergreen huckleberry have not previously been evaluated. There is interest in this species as a native, edible, evergreen landscape shrub, but it requires improvement of the fruit and plant qualities for an eventual cultivar release. To obtain variation in plant qualities, we induced polyploidy in a collection of plants in 2013. The purpose of this study was to assess the impacts of polyploidy on the fruit and plant qualities of V. ovatum. This fruit and plant quality study provides a contribution to the scientific knowledge base that is currently lacking for evergreen huckleberries. Plant qualities were determined by measuring plant height and width, obtained in Fall 2017. The fruit volume (mm3) and for soluble solids content (SSC, °Brix) were measured using a digital caliper and a digital refractometer, respectively. Measurements were taken on diploid, mixoploid, and tetraploid (2x, 2x + 4x, 4x) cytotypes, once in 2017, five times over 9 weeks in 2018, and three times over 9 weeks in 2019. Tetraploids had larger fruit than diploids in 2017 (P < 0.0001), suggesting there was a gigas effect from polyploidy in evergreen huckleberries. However, during 2018 and 2019, tetraploid fruit was smaller than that of diploid and mixoploid genotypes. Differences were observed in diploid fruit volume among all years (P < 0.0001) such that 2019 was largest and 2017 was smallest. It is unclear what led to this variation. In tetraploids, SSC was statistically significant among years (P = 0.0002) such that 2017 was highest and 2019 was lowest. Although our preliminary data suggested that induced polyploidy may result in larger fruit, this was not observed in subsequent years, and it does not appear that tetraploids necessarily will have larger or sweeter fruit. However, these tetraploids may facilitate crossing with other species at the tetraploid level as a means for improvement of various traits.
Juan Yang, Fengyi Li, Sheng Zhou, Lijuan Fan, and Ling Wang
Osama Mohawesh, Ammar Albalasmeh, Sanjit Deb, Sukhbir Singh, Catherine Simpson, Nour AlKafaween, and Atif Mahadeen
Colored shading nets have been increasingly studied in semi-arid crop production systems, primarily because of their ability to reduce solar radiation with the attendant reductions in air, plant, and soil temperatures. However, there is a paucity of research concerning the impact of colored shading nets on various crops grown under semi-arid environments, particularly the sweet pepper (Capsicum annum) production system. This study aimed to investigate the effects of three colored shading net treatments (i.e., white, green, and black shading nets with 50% shading intensity and control with unshaded conditions) on the growth and instantaneous water use efficiency (WUE) of sweet pepper. The results showed that all colored shading nets exhibited significantly lower daytime air temperatures and light intensity (22 to 28 °C and 9992 lx, respectively) compared with the control (32 to 37 °C and 24,973 lx, respectively). There were significant differences in sweet pepper growth performance among treatments, including plant height, shoot dry weight, leaf area, leaf chlorophyll content, and vitamin C in ripened fruit. The enhanced photosynthetic rates were observed in sweet pepper plants under the colored shading nets compared with control plants. WUE increased among the colored shading net treatments in the following order: control ≤ white < black < green. Overall, the application of green and black shading nets to sweet pepper production systems under semi-arid environments significantly enhanced plant growth responses and WUE.
Bin Wu, Runshi Xie, Gary W. Knox, Hongmin Qin, and Mengmeng Gu
Crapemyrtle bark scale [CMBS (Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae)], a newly emerged pest in the United States, has spread to 16 U.S. states and unexpectedly spread on a native species american beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) in Texas and Louisiana in 2016 since it was initially reported on crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia sp.) in Texas in 2004. The infestation of CMBS negatively impacted the flowering of crapemyrtles. We observed the infestation on the two most commercially available edible fig (Ficus carica) cultivars Beer’s Black and Chicago Hardy in a preliminary trial in 2018. To help estimate CMBS potential in aggravating risks to the ecosystem stability and the green industry, we conducted a host range and suitability test using ‘Bok Tower’ american beautyberry as a positive control with other eight beautyberry (Callicarpa) species [mexican beautyberry (C. acuminata), ‘Profusion’ bodinieri beautyberry (C. bodinieri), ‘Issai’ purple beautyberry (C. dichotoma), japanese beautyberry (C. japonica var. luxurians), ‘Alba’ white-fruited asian beautyberry (C. longissima), taiwan beautyberry (C. pilosissima), luanta beautyberry (C. randaiensis), and willow-leaf beautyberry (C. salicifolia)] and three fig (Ficus) species [creeping fig (F. pumila), roxburgh fig (F. auriculata), and waipahu fig (F. tikoua)] over 25 weeks. All the tested beautyberry species and waipahu fig sustainably supported the development and reproduction of nymphal CMBS and were confirmed as CMBS hosts. Furthermore, comparing with the control, mexican beautyberry, ‘Profusion’ bodinieri beautyberry, taiwan beautyberry, and willow-leaf beautyberry were significantly less suitable, while ‘Issai’ purple beautyberry, japanese beautyberry, ‘Alba’ white-fruited asian beautyberry, and luanta beautyberry were as suitable as ‘Bok Tower’ american beautyberry. Thus, when using beautyberries in landscapes, their different potential to host CMBS should be considered to minimize spreading CMBS through the native ecosystems.
Ryan W. Dickson, Kalyn M. Helms, Brian E. Jackson, Leala M. Machesney, and Jung Ae Lee
The first objective was to evaluate wood components for differences in nitrogen (N) immobilization and effects on substrate physical properties. The second objective was to evaluate peat substrates amended with pine wood components for effects on plant growth, shoot tissue N, and fertigation practices during production. Substrates consisted of a coarse sphagnum peat blended with four types of processed pine wood at rates of 15%, 30%, 45%, and 60% (by volume). For comparison, peat was also blended with an aged pine bark, perlite, and coconut coir. Nitrogen immobilization was measured for individual components, except perlite. Individual components and blended substrates were evaluated for particle size distribution, total air porosity, container capacity, and dry bulk density. In a greenhouse experiment, petunia (Petunia × hybrida Vilm.-Andr.) were grown in hanging basket containers with each substrate blend as well as 100% peat, which served as a nonblended control substrate, and fertilized at each irrigation with 200 mg·L−1 N. Blended component and blend percent interacted in effects on all measured substrate physical properties; however, physical properties of all substrate blends were considered adequate for horticultural purposes. In the laboratory, pine bark immobilized 9% of total N supplied, whereas the remaining pine wood components immobilized <5% of total N. In the greenhouse experiment, blend component influenced shoot growth and flowering, which were greatest for petunia grown in 100% peat. Increasing the blend percent of all components decreased shoot growth and flowering with all blended components. Blended substrates had minimal effects on number of fertigation events, and substrate treatments differed by a maximum of three fertigation events per container over a 56-d period. This study illustrates the challenges of measuring N immobilization because results from the laboratory were not consistent with plant performance in the greenhouse. Increasing blends of each substrate (including perlite) were also observed to interact with fertigation practices and therefore applied N, tissue N, shoot dry weight, and total N uptake. As a practical conclusion from this study, peat incorporated with 60% wood fiber increased the risk of reduced plant growth and N uptake, but this risk was lower as the blend percentage decreased. In addition, other analytical methods to test N immobilization, such as microbial respiration, should be further explored.