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Open access

Syuan-You Lin and Shinsuke Agehara

In subtropical climates, inadequate winter chill limits blackberry (Rubus L. subgenus Rubus Watson) production by causing poor and erratic floral budbreak. To compensate for a lack of chilling, bud dormancy-breaking agents must be developed for subtropical blackberry production. Our previous study showed that gibberellic acid (GA3) promotes budbreak in three blackberry cultivars but has potential negative side effects on floral development in ‘Natchez’. 6-benzyladenine (6-BA) is a synthetic cytokinin that can act as an antagonist of gibberellins during floral transition. The objectives of this study were to evaluate cultivar × exogenous GA3 interactions, characterize dose effects of exogenous GA3, and examine synergistic effects of GA3 and 6-BA. Three field experiments were conducted in west central Florida. All spray treatments were applied at the end of the chilling period. In the first experiment, ‘Natchez’, ‘Navaho’, and ‘Ouachita’ were treated with GA3 at 0 or 99 g·ha−1. Budbreak was promoted by exogenous GA3 in all three cultivars (0.9% to 4.5% vs. 42.9% to 69.4%), but yield responses varied considerably. Exogenous GA3 increased the yield of ‘Navaho’ and ‘Ouachita’ by 560% to 931%, whereas it induced flower abortion and caused a 15% yield reduction in ‘Natchez’. In the second experiment, ‘Natchez’ was treated with GA3 at 0, 25, 99, or 198 g·ha−1. Budbreak increased linearly with GA3, but yield decreased exponentially with GA3 because of dose-dependent flower abortion. In the third experiment, ‘Natchez’ was subjected to five treatments: 1) water control; 2) GA3 spray application; 3) 6-BA spray application; 4) combined spray application of GA3 and 6-BA; and 5) sequential spray application of 6-BA at 9 days after GA3 application. Application rates were 99 and 47 g·ha−1 for GA3 and 6-BA, respectively. Exogenous 6-BA suppressed GA3-induced flower abortion only to a limited extent. As a result, GA3-containing treatments caused 65% to 83% yield reductions compared with the control (2382 vs. 410–823 g/plant). These results demonstrate that GA3 is a highly effective bud dormancy-breaking agent for blackberry. However, the drawback of GA3 is cultivar-dependent flower abortion, which cannot be fully mitigated by 6-BA. The use of GA3 can be an important management practice for subtropical blackberry production, but its practical implementation must consider cultivar-dependent responses.

Open access

Ved Parkash and Sukhbir Singh

Salinity stress is among the major abiotic stresses prevailing in arid and semiarid areas such as the southern high plains of the United States. In these areas, both declining quality of groundwater and cultivation practices have resulted in increased accumulation of salts in the root zone. The occurrence of excessive salts in the root zone is detrimental for plant growth and economic yield. Recently, biochar has received a great consideration as a soil amendment to mitigate the detrimental impacts of salinity stress. However, the effectiveness of biochar to mitigate the salinity stress depends on the feedstock type, pyrolysis temperature and time, soil type and properties, and plant species. Therefore, a pot experiment in a greenhouse was conducted to 1) examine the effects of salinity stress on physiology, shoot and root growth, and yield of eggplant (Solanum melongena L.), and 2) evaluate the potential of hardwood biochar and softwood biochar to mitigate the damaging effects of salinity stress on eggplant. The experiment was conducted in a split-plot design with three salinity levels of irrigation water [S0 (control, 0.04 dS·m−1), S1 (2 dS·m−1), and S2 (4 dS·m−1)] as main-plot factor and three biochar treatments [B0 (control, non-biochar), Bh (hardwood biochar), and Bs (softwood biochar)] as subplot factor with four replications. Results showed that stomatal conductance (g S) and photosynthesis rate decreased significantly, while leaf temperature and electrolyte leakage increased significantly with increase in irrigation water salinity levels. Root growth (root length density and root surface area density), shoot growth (plant height, stem diameter, and leaf area), and yield of eggplant declined with increase in levels of salinity stress. Biochar application helped to enhance g S and photosynthesis rate, and to decrease leaf temperature and electrolyte leakage in leaf tissues of plants. This resulted in better root growth, shoot growth, and fruit yield of eggplant in treatments amended with biochar than non-biochar (control) treatment. There was no significant difference in the effect of two types of biochars (hardwood and softwood biochar) on physiology, root growth, shoot growth, and yield of eggplant. Therefore, it can be concluded that softwood and hardwood biochars could be used to minimize the detrimental impacts of salinity stress in eggplant.

Open access

Fulya Baysal-Gurel, Ravi Bika, Christina Jennings, Cristi Palmer, and Terri Simmons

Magnolia trees (Magnolia sp.) are a popular choice for consumers when choosing flowering woody plants for landscapes. Magnolia species grow in a wide variety of both temperate and tropical locations. Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) is one of the more popular magnolias due to its pleasing aesthetics: large showy flowers in a range of colors and evergreen foliage. However, magnolias can be affected by algal leaf spot. Algal leaf spot is caused by Cephaleuros virescens, which is a widespread plant parasitic green alga. There has been little research on how to treat algal leaf spot on magnolia plants. This study focuses on identifying effective biological- and chemical-based fungicides for the management of algal leaf spot disease of magnolia plants. Two experiments were conducted in a randomized complete block design with six replications per treatment and a total of 12 treatments, including a nontreated control. The first experiment (Expt. 1) was conducted in a shade house (56% shade) at McMinnville, TN, using southern magnolia plants. The second experiment (Expt. 2) was conducted at a commercial nursery in McMinnvillle, TN, in a field plot planted with ‘Jane’ magnolia (Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’ × Magnolia stellata ‘Rosea’). The algal leaf spot disease severity, disease progression, plant marketability and growth parameters were evaluated. In both experiments, all treatments reduced algal leaf spot disease severity and disease progress in comparison with the nontreated control. In Expt. 1, copper octanoate, copper oxychloride, chlorothalonil water-dispersible granules, chlorothalonil suspension concentrate, didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride, azoxystrobin + benzovindiflupyr, hydrogen peroxide + peroxyacetic acid, and mono- and di-potassium salts of phosphorus acid + hydrogen peroxide reduced the disease severity and disease progress the most and were not statistically different from one another. In Expt. 2, azoxystrobin + benzovindiflupyr, didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride, and copper oxychloride significantly reduced disease severity and disease progress (area under disease progress curve). Treatments had no deleterious effect on plant growth parameters such as height and width, and no phytotoxicity of applied treatments or defoliation was observed. Treated magnolia plants had better plant marketability compared with the nontreated control plants. The findings of this study will help growers to achieve better management of algal leaf spot disease on magnolia trees.

Open access

Bin Peng, Jianlan Xu, Zhixiang Cai, Binbin Zhang, Mingliang Yu, and Ruijuan Ma

Peach (Prunus persica) fruit emit more than 100 volatile organic compounds. Among these volatiles, γ-decalactone is the key compound that contributes to peach aroma. The final step in lactones biosynthesis is catalyzed by alcohol acyltransferases (AATs). In this study, five AAT genes were isolated in the peach genome, and the ways that these genes contribute toward the peach aroma were studied. The sequence analysis of the five AATs showed PpAAT4 and PpAAT5 are truncated genes, missing important residues such as HXXXD. The expressions of PpAATs were investigated to identify the roles in creating the peach aroma. The results indicated that only PpAAT1 is highly expressed during γ-decalactone formation. A functional survey of the five PpAATs, using the oleaginous yeast expression system, suggested that only PpAAT1 significantly increased the γ-decalactone content, whereas the other four PpAATs did not significantly alter the γ-decalactone content. Enzyme assays on PpAATs heterologously expressed and purified from Escherichia coli indicated that only PpAAT1 could catalyze the formation of γ-decalactone. All results indicated that PpAAT1 is a more efficient enzyme than the other four PpAATs during the γ-decalactone biosynthesis process in peach fruit. The results from this study should help improve peach fruit aroma.

Open access

James A. Schrader, Paul A. Domoto, Gail R. Nonnecke, and Diana R. Cochran

An accurate predictive model for estimating the timing of seasonal phenological stages of grape (Vitis L.) would be a valuable tool for crop management. Currently the most used index for predicting the phenological timing of fruit crops is growing degree days (GDD), but the predictive accuracy of the GDD index varies from season-to-season and is considered unsatisfactory for grapevines grown in the midwestern United States. We used the methods of multiple regression to analyze and model the effects of multiple factors on the number of days remaining until each of four phenological stages (budbreak, bloom, veraison, and harvest maturity) for five cold-climate wine grape cultivars (Frontenac, La Crescent, Marquette, Petit Ami, and St. Croix) grown in central Iowa. The factors (predictor variables) evaluated in models included cultivar, numerical day of the year (DOY), DOY of soil thaw or the previous phenological stage, photoperiod, GDD with a base temperature of 10 °C (GDD 10), soil degree days with a base temperature of 5 °C (SDD 5), and solar accumulation. Models were evaluated for predictive accuracy and goodness of fit by calculating the coefficient of determination (R 2), the corrected Akaike information criterion (AICc), and the Bayesian information criterion (BIC); testing for normal distribution of residuals; and comparing the actual number of days remaining until a phenological stage with the number of days predicted by models. The top-performing models from the training set were also tested for predictive accuracy on a validation dataset (a set of data not used to build the model), which consisted of environmental and phenological data recorded for one popular Midwest cultivar (Marquette) in 2019. At all four phenological stages, inclusion of multiple factors (cultivar and four to six additional factors) resulted in predictive models that were more accurate and consistent than models using cultivar and GDD 10 alone. Multifactor models generated from data of all five cultivars had high R 2 values of 0.996, 0.985, 0.985, and 0.869 for budbreak, bloom, veraison, and harvest, respectively, whereas R 2 values for models using only cultivar and GDD 10 were substantially lower (0.787, 0.904, 0.960, and 0.828, respectively). The average errors (differences from actual) for the top multifactor models were 0.70, 0.84, 1.77, and 3.80 days for budbreak, bloom, veraison, and harvest, respectively, and average errors for models that included only cultivar and GDD 10 were much larger (5.27, 2.24, 2.79, and 4.29 days, respectively). In the validation tests, average errors for budbreak, bloom, veraison, and harvest were 1.92, 1.31, 0.94, and 1.67 days, respectively, for the top multifactor models and 10.05, 2.54, 4.23, and 4.96 days, respectively, for models that included cultivar and GDD 10 only. Our results demonstrate the improved accuracy and utility of multifactor models for predicting the timing of phenological stages of cold-climate grape cultivars in the midwestern United States. Used together in succession, the models for budbreak, bloom, veraison, and harvest form a four-stage, multifactor calculator for improved prediction of phenological timing. Multifactor models of this type could be tailored for specific cultivars and growing regions to provide the most accurate predictions possible.

Open access

Yingchao Lin, Dejun Kong, Zhihong Wang, Yi Chen, Zhixiao Yang, Chun Wu, Hui Yang, and Lili Chen

Tobacco is traditionally an industrial crop that is used for manufacturing cigarettes. However, due to health concerns and global tobacco control movements, alternative uses of tobacco are urgently needed to support tobacco farmers and vendors. Tobacco is also an oilseed crop with an oil yield ranging from 30% to 40 of its dry weight. However, there is still no information on the effects of nitrogen application on tobacco seed yield and seed oil production. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of N fertilization (90, 120, 150, and 180 kg·ha−1 N) on the seed yield, oil content, fatty acid composition, and seed germination characteristics of tobacco plants at two locations. The results showed that applying increasing amounts of N to tobacco plants significantly increased their total seed yields and oil content. Nitrogen application also modified the fatty acid composition of the seed oil, as more unsaturated fatty acids were produced under the increasing N application rate treatments than under the control. Moreover, increasing the N application rate generally significantly increased the yields of individual fatty acids as well. Nevertheless, the increased seed oil content and altered fatty acid composition did not affect seed germination traits, as the seed germination potential and rate showed no obvious change among treatments or the control. The height and size of the tobacco plants also increased with the increasing N application rate, which would be beneficial for increasing biomass production for bioenergy. This study shows for the first time the feasibility of increasing the seed and oil yields and modifying the fatty acid composition of tobacco plants by increasing N addition.

Open access

Paweł Petelewicz, Paweł M. Orliński, Marco Schiavon, Manuel Mundo-Ocampo, J. Ole Becker, and James H. Baird

Golf courses in coastal regions of northern California are often faced with severe injury caused by pacific shoot-gall nematodes (Anguina pacificae) on their annual bluegrass (Poa annua) host in putting greens. For years, fenamiphos was used for mitigating disease outbreaks until its registration was withdrawn in 2008. An alternative product containing azadirachtin was intended for nematode suppression. Still, it required repeated applications throughout the year with questionable efficacy, making attempts to lessen the impact of the pathogen costly. This study evaluated fluopyram as a novel nematicide for control of pacific shoot-gall disease. Various application frequencies and rates were tested at several golf courses affected by the nematode. Results revealed that fluopyram applied once at 0.22 lb/acre reduced the number of new shoot-galls and improved annual bluegrass appearance for several months. Increased rates and application frequency occasionally improved the efficacy further. Although the visual quality of turf treated with this plant protection compound was tremendously enhanced, and the number of new shoot-galls was reduced, rarely a significant effect was observed on the population density of several soil-dwelling plant-parasitic nematodes, including pacific shoot-gall nematode. It is hypothesized that fluopyram did not move significantly past the thatch layer and into the soil. However, it effectively reduced the ability of pacific shoot-gall nematode juveniles to induce new shoot galls. Due to its long half-life, it likely protected against both new nematode infections and dissemination of pacific shoot-gall nematode when the shoot-galls decomposed.

Open access

Marlee A. Trandel, Penelope Perkins-Veazie, and Jonathan Schultheis

In triploid (seedless) watermelon [Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus (Thunb. Matsum. and Nakai)], hollow heart (HH) is a disorder that is expressed as a crack in the center of the fruit that expands to an open cavity. Although HH incidence and severity is part of a screening process for marketable watermelon fruit during cultigen evaluations, HH incidence is highly variable with growing season, even when the best cultural practices are used. Placental tissue firmness is also measured because firmness is related to the marketability of watermelon and may be related to HH. Genetic and environmental factors can influence watermelon HH development, including plant genetics, pollen amount and viability, pollinator activity, and temperature and rainfall fluctuations. We used seedless watermelon cultigen evaluation data collected over 3 years (2012–14) to determine the relationship between germplasm HH and tissue firmness. Transplanted watermelon representing 30 to 44 cultigens per year were grown at the Central Crops Research Station, Clayton, NC, and interplanted with pollenizers ‘Ace’ and/or ‘SP-6’. Harvested fruit were cut length-wise and rated for HH incidence and severity. Flesh firmness was determined by a handheld penetrometer at five locations in the flesh (stem end, top side, ground spot, blossom end, and heart). A common cultigen subset, consisting of 13 cultigens that were grown in all three experiments, was used for analysis of HH severity and incidence, and placental firmness. The presence of HH was negatively correlated with tissue firmness in both the large multiyear cultigen set (R 2 = −0.32; P = 0.0001) and the common cultigen set (R 2 = −0.78; P = 0.0001). Cultigens with lower watermelon tissue firmness values had higher HH incidence and severity. By using multiyear cultigen studies and logistic regression, we were able to detect trends for cultigen susceptibility to this highly variable disorder. Using logistic regression, the probability of HH development was highest for ‘Bold Ruler’, ‘Liberty’, and ‘Affirmed’, and lowest for ‘Maxima’ and ‘Captivation’. The identification of cultigens with a tendency for higher or lower rates of HH will be useful for further research of the causes of HH. Measurements of placental flesh firmness may be useful indicators of susceptible cultigens.

Open access

Arthur Villordon, Jeffrey C. Gregorie, and Don LaBonte

The primary objective of this work was to generate species-specific information about root architectural responses to variations in inorganic phosphate (Pi) availability at the onset of storage root formation among six sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) cultivars. Three Pi levels were used: 0 (low Pi); 0.17 (medium Pi); and 0.34 (high Pi) g/pot triple super phosphate (0N–46P–0K). The check cultivar ‘Bayou Belle’ (BB) consistently showed evidence of storage root formation at 15 days in adventitious roots (ARs) grown across three Pi levels and two planting dates (PDs). Storage root formation was also detected in ‘Orleans’ (OR) and ‘Beauregard’ (BX), but it was less consistent relative to BB. In general, BB had the lowest adventitious root (AR) number relative to the other cultivars, but the magnitudes of difference varied with Pi availability and PD. With the first PD, BX had a 45% higher AR number compared with BB in low Pi conditions; however, there were no differences in the second PD. Within cultivars, BX and Okinawa grown in low Pi showed combined 17% and 24% reductions in primary root length (PRL) relative to roots grown in high Pi. BB had a higher lateral root number (LRN) and lateral root density (LRD) across Pi levels, corroborating prior data regarding the association of these root architectural attributes with the onset of storage root formation. The experimental data support the hypothesis regarding the existence of genetic variation for Pi efficiency in sweetpotato and that some well-documented Pi-efficient root traits like high LRN and LRD are indirectly selected for in-breeding programs that focus on early storage root formation and stable yields across environments.

Open access

Richard P. Marini, Tara Auxt Baugher, Megan Muehlbauer, Sherif Sherif, Robert Crassweller, and James R. Schupp

‘Honeycrisp’ (Malus ×domestica) apples were harvested from a total of 17 mid-Atlantic orchards during 2018 and 2019 to verify a previously published bitter pit prediction model. As in the previous study, bitter pit incidence was associated with low calcium (Ca) levels and high ratios of nitrogen (N), potassium (K), and/or magnesium (Mg) to Ca in the fruit peel and excessive terminal shoot growth. The best two-variable model for predicting bitter pit developed with the 2018–19 data set contained boron (B) and the ratio of Mg to Ca (R 2 = 0.83), which is different from previous models developed with data from three individual years (2015–17). When used to predict the bitter pit incidence of the 2018–19 data, our previous best model containing the average shoot length (SL) and the ratio of N to Ca underestimated the incidence of bitter pit. The model is probably biased because one or more important variables related to bitter pit have not yet been identified. However, the model is accurate enough to identify orchards with a low incidence of bitter pit.