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Open access

Sarah Cato, Amanda McWhirt, and Lizzy Herrera

Misinformation relating to horticulture can spread quickly among laypersons. Although some misinformation may be harmless, such as the myth that bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) fruit can be either male or female, other misinformation is generated to sway consumer decisions. The demand from Cooperative Extension Service (CES) agents for support to combat the spread of horticultural misinformation, horticulture specialists at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service (UACES) created a “Horticulture Fact or Fiction” series of blog posts that targeted common horticulture myths with science-based explanations and used graphics interchange format (GIFs) to promote the blog posts on social media. The integrated social media campaign was shared on the authors’ UACES Horticulture social media accounts and by eight UACES agents during 2021. The effort reached 13,397 social media users, and the blog posts had a total of 45,544 pageviews. Although social media was not the major driver of traffic to the blog post series, GIF-based outreach on social media did direct more than 1000 additional users to the blog posts. Through this integrated approach of using social media and GIFs shared by both specialists and CES agents, we were able to connect a large number of stakeholders to research-based content, resulting in higher average traffic to our webpage-based blogs than the average UACES webpage. This type of integrated approach using multiple online means of communication including GIFs, blogs, and social media to create a toolkit of resources for CES agents may be useful for extension professionals targeting stakeholders online.

Open access

Catherine G. Campbell, Jorge Ruiz-Menjivar, and Alia DeLong

Florida, like much of the southeastern United States, is rapidly urbanizing. With this urbanization, there is an increasing interest in commercial urban agriculture (CUA) as an important sector for agriculture in the state. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Census of Agriculture does not report data about CUA operations, thus limiting the knowledge about the status of CUA operations regarding basic features such as farm size, operator demographics, production systems, sources of revenue, barriers to business operations and profitability, and future opportunities for development. Because previous research has found differences in urban farmers’ demographics and their perceptions of barriers and opportunities, the purpose of this research was to characterize CUA operations in Florida and to understand the urban farmers’ perceptions of the primary needs, barriers, and opportunities for developing CUA, as well as CUA operators’ informational needs and preferred informational formats. We performed a cluster analysis to identify salient groups of urban growers in Florida to identify subgroups based on shared characteristics that revealed three distinct groups of urban farmers with differing perceptions of barriers, opportunities, informational needs, and preferred informational formats.

Open access

Sofía Gómez and Celina Gómez

Biostimulant products have various reported benefits for plant production in the field or using hydroponic systems in protected structures. However, limited information is available describing their potential use for indoor farming applications. Considering that lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is one of the most popular crops produced in commercial indoor farms, the objective of this study was to compare growth and quality of lettuce grown indoors using nine biostimulant products derived from humic substances, amino acids, hydrolyzed proteins, or seaweed extracts. ‘Monte Carlo’, ‘Fairly’, and ‘Lalique’ lettuce were grown hydroponically for 30 to 33 days under a daily light integral, day/night temperature, relative humidity, and carbon dioxide concentration of ≈13 mol·m‒2·day‒1, 22/21 °C, 70%, and 800 µmol·mol‒1, respectively. There were no positive effects from using any of the biostimulant products evaluated in our study as growth (leaf area, leaf number, shoot diameter, and shoot and root dry weight), yield (shoot fresh weight), and quality (bolting, tipburn index, leaf color, and SPAD index) of treated plants were generally similar to those from the untreated control. Applications from one seaweed extract caused slight negative growth effects, possibly due to phytotoxicity. Cultivar differences showed that Fairly plants had the highest susceptibility to tipburn and bolting, and none of the biostimulant products countered these symptoms. Overall, the products evaluated provided marginal advantages for indoor hydroponic lettuce production.

Open access

Gerardo H. Nunez, Neil O. Anderson, Christopher S. Imler, Laura Irish, Chad T. Miller, and Mariana Neves da Silva

During the 2021 American Society for Horticultural Science annual conference, the Teaching Methods Professional Interest Group hosted the workshop “Going beyond Zoom: Tips and tricks for teaching horticulture online.” This workshop provided a forum for the dissemination of tools, materials, and approaches used to facilitate active learning in horticulture courses. Here we summarize the topics presented in the workshop as a resource for current and future horticulture instructors.

Open access

Zhenxu Liang, Mingde Sun, Yang Wu, Jun Liu, Yanyan Zhao, Haiqing Tian, Ruirui Du, and Songzhong Liu

To understand the soil nutrient status of pear orchards in Beijing, we investigated their fertilization situation, including the fertilizer type, amount, and period. Furthermore, soil samples were collected at a depth of 0 to 40 cm to determine the contents of soil nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The status of nutrient profits and losses was analyzed. The results showed that 50% of the pear orchards received organic fertilizer as a single nutrient source, and 35.7% of the pear orchards received a combined application of organic fertilizer and chemical fertilizer. Most pear orchards received organic fertilizer in autumn, but the application of chemical fertilizer occurred mainly before germination and during fruit expansion. The average nutrient input to the investigated pear orchards was 569.6 kg/ha for N, 855.0 kg/ha for P2O5, and 448.1 kg/ha for K2O, and the corresponding proportion of organic fertilizer was 76.9%, 88.0%, and 85.8%, respectively. However, the pear orchards had surpluses of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, with average surplus amounts as high as 445.5, 794.3, and 321.4 kg/ha, respectively. Among all pear orchards surveyed, 93.33% faced environmental risks and 37.04% faced leaching risks. The average content of soil phosphorus was 2.23 times its critical value, and 64.29% of the studied pear orchards exceeded the critical value. Most pear orchards had surplus potassium, with 26.92% exceeding 500 kg/ha. This study provides a basis for soil improvement, high-quality production of fruits, and efficient utilization of pear orchards in Beijing.

Open access

Ya Li, Junhai Niu, Shisong Xu, Qingyun Leng, Guangsui Yang, Hernán Ariel López, and Shitao Xu

Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea spp.) belongs to the family Nyctaginaceae and is a native to tropical regions of South America (Roy, 2019). It has many ornamental horticultural advantages, including superabundant and recurring blooms, bright and colorful bracts, strong stress tolerance, and easy propagation and maintenance. Bougainvillea is among the most popular ornamental landscaping and potted plants in tropical and subtropical areas (Roy, 2019).

Bougainvillea have a short history (≈150 years) of domestication and cultivation outside their natural habitats (Ohri, 2013; Zadoo et al., 1975). Breeding practices in the world have given rise

Open access

Koichi Nomura, Eriko Wada, Masahiko Saito, Hiromi Yamasaki, Daisuke Yasutake, Tadashige Iwao, Ikunao Tada, Tomihiro Yamazaki, and Masaharu Kitano

In horticultural leafy vegetable production, continuously monitoring crop size indicators such as the leaf area index (LAI), leaf fresh weight (LFW), and leaf length (LL) is of practical value because these indicators are related to crop yields and harvest timing. The aim of this study was to develop a method that enables the continuous, automatic estimation of the LAI, LFW, and LL of a Chinese chive (Allium tuberosum) canopy by combining timelapse photography with allometric equations. LAI was estimated based on the gap fractions of nadir photographs (i.e., the fractions of nonleaf area), which were retrieved using the deep learning framework DeepLabv3+ with satisfactory accuracy (mean intersection over union, 0.71). This photographically estimated LAI (LAIphoto) corresponded well with the destructively measured LAI (LAIdest) (LAIphoto = 0.96LAIdest, R 2 = 0.87). LAIphoto was then used as the input of allometric regression equations relating LAIphoto with LFW and LL. A power function (y = axb) fit the observed LAIphoto–LFW and LAIphoto–LL relationships well (R 2 = 0.89 and 0.74, respectively). By combining nadir timelapse photography with the allometric equations, changes in the LFW and LL of a Chinese chive canopy were estimated successfully for a 9-month cultivation period. Our approach can replace time-consuming, labor-intensive manual measurements of these crop size indicators for Chinese chive and may be applicable to other crops with different parameter sets.

Open access

Jeff B. Million and Thomas H. Yeager

Fabric containers (FAB), due to their root-pruning properties, can be used as an alternative to conventional plastic containers (PLA) in container nurseries. Because sidewall evaporation in FAB has been shown to reduce container substrate temperatures, our objective was to determine if FAB would reduce the release rate of controlled-release fertilizer (CRF), resulting in less leachate loss of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) and greater CRF longevity. Dwarf Burford holly were grown in 36-cm-diameter (18-L substrate) FAB or PLA in a bark-peat substrate with incorporated CRF. Spray stake irrigation was routinely adjusted to a target leaching fraction of 25%. Maximum daily substrate temperature, measured 3 cm from southwest-facing container wall, averaged 6 °C lower in FAB than in PLA. For two 31-week experiments where leachate was continuously collected and sampled weekly, FAB reduced leachate N loss by 30% and P loss by 47% despite requiring 66% more irrigation water and collecting 31% more leachate than with PLA. FAB reduced average N loss from 114 to 78 kg·ha−1 and average P loss from 16.0 to 8.6 kg·ha−1. FAB increased plant size by 8% and shoot dry weight by 12% for one experiment but had no effect in the other. We concluded that compared with PLA, the use of FAB can decrease leachate loss of N and P but require considerably more irrigation water to offset water loss via sidewall evaporation.