Spotlight

in HortTechnology

Landscape Rose Performance in North-central Texas

Roses remain one of the most popular landscape plants, and while many disease and pest tolerant roses have been identified, many remain untested during the heat and drought of a north-central Texas summer. Harp et al. (p. 234) describe the performance of 60 roses during 2010 and 2011, likely the most severe heat wave and drought in north-central Texas history. They were able to identify roses with strong landscape performance, drought tolerance, and disease resistance, even under these difficult conditions. This study will help improve recommendations for local landscapers and gardeners and provide additional information for rose breeders.

Postharvest Behavior of Dudaim Melon

Little attention has been paid to the postharvest behavior of dudaim, a unique member of the edible melon family. Hatami et al. (p. 241) report that dudaim fruit can be harvested at different stages of maturity and then allowed to ripen at proper storage temperatures before consumption. Harvest at 21 days after anthesis (DAA) versus 28 DAA and storage at a non-chilling temperature such as 13 °C (versus 5 °C) were the optimal stage and temperature for storage.

Bermudagrass Suppression in Seashore Paspalum Turf

Seashore paspalum turf managers often struggle with infestations of bermudagrass. Lindsey et al. (p. 251) evaluated spray applications of the herbicides mesotrione, topramezone, metribuzin, and ethofumesate alone and in tank mixtures for bermudagrass suppression and seashore paspalum injury. They found the addition of metribuzin and/or ethofumesate to the tank mix safened (i.e., reduced turf discoloration) seashore paspalum to topramezone or mesotrione foliar bleaching. They also determined that the highest level of selective bermudagrass suppression with the lowest level of seashore paspalum injury was obtained with the three-way tank mix of topramezone + metribuzin + ethofumesate.

‘Barouni’ Perfect Pollinizer for ‘Manzanillo’ Olive

Estrada and Cuevas (p. 258) confirmed the strong self-incompatibility of ‘Manzanillo’ olive and its dependence on cross-pollination to attain good levels of fruit set in northern Mexico. They compared mono- and multivarietal orchards and found a differential response to open-pollination, (negative in monovarietal ‘Manzanillo’ orchards and positive in multivarietal orchards), likely due to the wind dissemination of cross-pollen from neighboring trees. Among varieties analyzed as potential cross pollinizers, Barouni showed better characteristics than Sevillano due to the full blooming overlap of Barouni with Manzanillo. Fruit weight and pulp/pit ratio also was improved under cross-pollination.

Methiozolin Sensitivity of Fine Fescue Species

Methiozolin herbicide is phytotoxic to fine fescues, but this problem has received limited investigation. Qu et al. (p. 265) investigated methiozolin injury on different fine fescue species. Significant reduction in germination of fine fescue was observed when methiozolin was applied before emergence for all tested application rates. It was less injurious when applied at 2 weeks after germination; although reduction in green percentage cover and biomass was observed for application rate greater or equal to 0.83 lb/acre. The ranking of sensitivity from high to low was: hard fescue, chewings fescue, and strong creeping red fescue.

Rooting Hardwood Floricane Blackberry Cuttings

Cuttings taken from hardwood blackberry floricanes could be used to produce miniature flowering and fruiting plants during off-peak season or in non-hardy climates. Debner et al. (p. 276) took one-node floricane cuttings of seven blackberry varieties and subjected them to various auxin treatments and rooting environments. Rooting success varied greatly among varieties. Lower auxin concentrations and the powder formulation generally produced more roots and had higher root ratings. However, overall success of cuttings was limited and hardwood cuttings are not currently recommended as a practice to produce miniature plants or for propagation.

Toxicity of Hydrogen Peroxide to Microgreens and Lettuce

Hydrogen peroxide is used to sanitize fertigation solutions in controlled-environment systems. Overhead irrigation from booms results in exposure of plant foliage to residual hydrogen peroxide. Eicher-Sodo et al. (p. 283) examined the frequency and severity of phytotoxic symptoms in the foliage of microgreen species and lettuce varieties after foliar spray with water containing different hydrogen peroxide concentrations, and determined concentration thresholds for phytotoxicity.

Farmer Perspectives on Growing in High Tunnels

Few studies have measured farmers’ perceptions of growing in high tunnels. Researchers Bruce et al. (p. 290) conducted interviews with 20 farmers in Indiana, finding that the higher labor and management requirements; increased complexity of scheduling crops, soil fertility, and disease management; and limited winter markets posed the greatest challenges for the operations. The most important opportunities were the ability to provide higher quality and longer shelf-life products, obtain higher prices and off-season income, and add new crops that complement existing marketing strategies. New high tunnel growers can use this information to get the most out of their investment.

Nitrogen Assessment in Apple Trees with a Chlorophyll Meter

Nitrogen is one of the main nutrients in apple trees. Because leaf nitrogen status not only reflects tree vigor but also affect fruit coloration, it is important for farmers to diagnose nitrogen nutrition status of apple trees during the growing period. Lee et al. (p. 300) investigated the potential of a chlorophyll meter as tool for effective field assessment of leaf nitrogen in apple orchards. Chlorophyll meter readings were strongly correlated with leaf nitrogen content throughout the growing period. Regression models revealed that the best time to predict leaf nitrogen was from late June to late July.

Use of a Chlorophyll Meter in Macadamia

Growers and researchers want faster and cheaper methods for determining leaf tissue nitrogen (N) concentrations in macadamia. Galanti et al. (p. 308) evaluated use a chlorophyll meter on two macadamia varieties at four sampling times. The April sampling period resulted in the strongest correlation between chlorophyll meter readings and leaf N concentration for ‘Kakea’ macadamia. The lowest correlations occurred in June for both macadamia varieties. The chlorophyll meter may be used for comparative studies on macadamia but is not recommended for fertility determination without further study, including more sample times and assessing other variables affecting its accuracy.

Hydrocooling Makes Blueberries Safer

Traditional methods for postharvest cooling of blueberries often include delays that compromise the microbiological safety and quality of the fruit. De et al. (p. 314) compared the efficacies of forced-air cooling versus hydrocooling without and with sanitizer in reducing Salmonella from inoculated southern highbush blueberries and assessed the effects of these methods on the quality and shelf life of the fruit. Forced-air cooling was slower and showed no effect on Salmonella reduction or quality of fruit. Hydrocooling provided faster cooling, and significantly reduced Salmonella from the inoculated fruit. Hydrocooling offered better maintenance of postharvest safety and quality of blueberries.

Winter-Grown Organic Spinach In High Tunnels

High tunnels can create an environment for growing cold hardy crops in winter. In a two-part study, Heyduck et al. (p. 320) examined the effect of sowing date and harvest schedule on the yield of spinach grown during the winter in high tunnels in northern New Mexico. Spinach seed were sown from October through December, and harvested repeatedly at intervals from 2 to 15 weeks. October sowing produced higher season-long yields, and growth periods between 9 and 13 weeks were the most productive. From 480 ft2 of growing space, between 6 and 23 lb fresh spinach was produced weekly.

Tomato Yield Increases with Grafting

The use of grafting to manage soilborne pathogens of tomato continues to rise in the U.S. Certain rootstocks can improve yield when grown in fields with low pathogen pressure or with no known history of soilborne disease. Suchoff et al. (p. 330) compared the yield response from non-grafted, bacterial wilt (BW)-susceptible ‘Red Mountain’ tomato to ‘Red Mountain’ grafted onto three BW-resistant rootstocks (‘Cheong Gang’, ‘RST-04-106T’, ‘Shield’) in fields with and without known BW infestation. Results indicated that yield benefits from grafting were due to disease resistance as no difference were observed in fields with no known history of BW.

Assessment of Cut Flower Industry Needs

With the revival of cut flower production in the U.S. and Canada, more information is needed to provide production and postharvest support to the industry. Completed surveys from 210 producers provided Loyola et al. (p. 338) with a detailed profile of the production, on-farm postharvest, transport and storage, and consumer issues for the top 31 cut flowers. The five most commonly grown specialty cut flowers were zinnia, peony, snapdragon, sunflower, and dahlia. The major overall production problems were insect management followed by crop timing and disease management. The major postharvest issues were temperature management and hydration/flower food management.

Japanese Spirea Are Moderately Sensitive to Salinity

Salt-tolerant ornamental plants are needed in urban landscapes in Utah and the Intermountain western U.S. Wang et al. (p. 367) evaluated the effect of irrigation water with low to moderate salinity levels on seven japanese spirea varieties. All varieties exhibited foliar damage when irrigated with saline solution at a moderate salinity level; however, differences existed among varieties. ‘Galen’ and ‘SMNSJMFP’ had less foliar salt damage, less reduction in shoot dry weight, and were relatively more salt-tolerant than ‘Minspi’, ‘NCSX1’, ‘NCSX2’, ‘Tracy’, or ‘Yan’.

Online Advertising in the Green Industry

Online marketing, such as social media and websites, can help businesses in the green industry to increase sales and build brand awareness. In a study of 1215 businesses, Torres et al. (p. 374) found that business owners of smaller operations were less likely to start using online advertising for promotion – maybe due to resource and time availability; but once they invested, they tended to dedicate a larger percentage of advertising to online methods when compared to larger businesses. These findings support the design and delivery of hands-on education programs to facilitate the adoption of online advertising.

Organic Watermelon Fruit Size Is Important for Total Yield

Individual fruit size has been shown to be correlated with total yield in conventional watermelon production. Boyhan et al. (p. 382) report that ‘Georgia Rattlesnake’, an heirloom variety, had the largest individual fruit size and yield, and that these data were correlated in their study (Pearson’s correlation P = 0.674) in which they applied organic production practices.

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