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.
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.
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.
Growers have been searching for alternative horticultural growing media components because of their desire to use sustainable resources. Biochar is a carbon-based material that has been evaluated for use as an alternative aggregate in peat-based soilless substrates. Additionally, silicon (Si) has been examined as a beneficial element to promote plant growth and plant quality in a variety of crops. However, there has been limited research regarding the interaction of biochar as an aggregate and Si in soilless substrates. This study aimed to determine the impact of Si and biochar on plant growth and nutrient uptake for greenhouse-cultivated hemp (Cannabis sativa L.). Hemp plants were grown in one of 12 different substrate blends: with two rates of calcium silicate (CaSiO3), two aggregate types of biochar (medium or coarse) or perlite, and aggregate percentages of 85% peat + 15% aggregate and 70% peat + 30% aggregate. The cannabinoid concentration, plant height, diameter, or total plant biomass were similar across all substrate blends after 12 weeks of growth. Additionally, the use of CaSiO3 as a Si substrate amendment increased Si foliar concentrations, and the addition of biochar to peat-based mixes did not limit the Si availability for plant uptake. However, Si substrate amendments did not impact plant height, diameter, or total plant biomass. This suggests that the biochar tested during this study is suitable in peat-based substrates for C. sativa ‘BaOx’ production at rates up to 30% (by volume) in peat-based substrates with CaSiO3 amendments.
Cercospora leaf spot (CLS), caused by the fungal pathogen Cercospora beticola, is the most destructive foliar disease of table beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) in Wisconsin, USA, and globally. Under conducive conditions, symptomatic lesions on the leaf expand and coalesce forming large necrotic areas that can ultimately lead to complete defoliation. This damage reduces productivity and threatens the ability to mechanically harvest. CLS damage also detracts from the visual appeal of fresh market bunched beets to such an extent that growers risk buyer rejection if CLS severity is observed to be greater than 5%. Fungicide use for CLS control is threatened by the emergence of resistant C. beticola strains, and the application of host resistance is constrained by limited knowledge of cultivar reaction to CLS in table beet. This study aimed to address the knowledge gaps of fungicide efficacy and cultivar reaction by conducting replicated field trials in multiple table beet growing environments across Wisconsin. Broad variation for resistance to CLS was observed among the 10 included cultivars. The mean area under disease progress curve (AUDPC) across environments for the most susceptible cultivar was 267% greater than the most resistant cultivar. Spearman correlations between environments for mean cultivar AUDPC value ranged from 0.71 to 0.99, revealing consistent cultivar CLS reactions across environments. Although susceptible cultivars surpassed 5% severity in all environments, the resistant cultivars remained below this threshold in six of the 10 environments. By comparison with resistant sugar beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) cultivars, however, all tested table beets appeared susceptible to CLS, highlighting the potential for a CLS breeding effort in table beet. Neither of the evaluated Organic Materials Review Institute–listed treatments were effective at limiting CLS disease progress, whereas both tested conventional fungicides significantly reduced disease severity over the nontreated plots. These findings may provide helpful guidance to table beet growers affected by CLS in Wisconsin and beyond.
We aimed to develop a more accurate transpiration model for cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) plants to optimize irrigation and nutrient usage in soilless greenhouse cultivation. Accurate modeling of transpiration in greenhouse-grown cucumbers is crucial for effective cultivation practices. Existing models have limitations that hinder their applicability. Therefore, this research focused on refining the modeling approach to address these limitations. To achieve this, a comprehensive methodology was employed. The actual transpiration rates of three cucumber plants were measured using a load cell, enabling crop fresh weight changes to be calculated. The transpiration model was developed by making specific corrections to the formula derived from the Penman-Monteith equation. In addition, the study investigated the relationship between transpiration rate and solar radiation (Rad) and vapor pressure deficit (VPD), identifying a nonlinear association between these variables. The transpiration model was adjusted to account for these nonlinear relationships and compensate for Rad and VPD. Comparative analysis between the actual and estimated transpiration rates demonstrated that the developed cucumber transpiration model reduced overestimation by 23.69%. Furthermore, the model exhibited higher coefficients of determination and root mean square error (RMSE) values than existing models, suggesting its superior accuracy in predicting transpiration rates. Implementing the transpiration model-based irrigation method demonstrated the potential for ∼21% nutrient savings compared with conventional irrigation practices. This finding highlights the practical applications of the developed model—accounting for a nonlinearity of Rad and VPD—in optimizing irrigation practices for greenhouse cucumber cultivation.
Spring freeze is among the problems threatening pecan bloom and production. Pecan tree height and structure make them difficult to protect from spring freezes. Some cultivars can compensate because the secondary buds can produce healthy flowers if the primary buds freeze. The mechanism that precipitates secondary budbreak is unknown. Our results show a correlation between successful secondary budbreak and 1-year-old shoot carbohydrate levels. ‘Kanza’ and ‘Pawnee’, with the higher secondary budburst, also had higher carbohydrate levels than ‘Maramec’. This suggests higher carbohydrate levels in the bud-bearing 1-year-old shoots promote successful secondary bud burst after spring freeze destruction of the primary buds.