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Production of common purslane with a high fatty acid content

Interest in cultivating common purslane as a food crop has grown since its identification as an exceptionally rich source of bioprotective substances considered essential for normal human growth, health promotion, and disease prevention. Cros et al. (p. 14) examined the effects of various substrates in a floating system on yield and fatty acid content of common purslane. Highest yields were obtained in plants grown in either peat or vermiculite (1800 to 2000 g·m−2), which far exceeded yields in coir or perlite. Plants grown in peat substrate had the highest total fatty acid content, mainly alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid.

Vegetable soybean varieties evaluated in the Mississippi Delta

The demand for vegetable soybean in the U.S. is increasing, but the crop is not widely grown. Zhang and Kyei-Boahen (p. 26) evaluated several soybean varieties in Mississippi. Generally, all varieties performed well, but fresh bean yields for the medium- to late-maturing varieties were higher than early maturing varieties. Early planting improved yield, and yields were generally higher on light soil than on heavy soil. Yields and estimated net returns are such that vegetable soybean could fit well into the existing cropping system and could be a viable alternative crop for growers in the Mississippi Delta.

Commercial storage trials using 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) on apples

Most studies investigating the effects of 1-MCP on apples have been conducted as small-scale research trials under ideal conditions. DeEll et al. (p. 46) evaluated the effects of commercial 1-MCP treatments on ‘Empire’ and ‘Delicious’ apples in commercial controlled-atmosphere storage for 12 months, as well as in commercial cold storage for 6 months. Commercial 1-MCP treatment effectively delayed ripening responses, thereby confirming the findings of small-scale research studies within laboratory settings. 1-MCP was found to have differential effects on apple quality and disorders, depending on variety and storage conditions.

Bell pepper variety performance under short variable growing seasons

Bell peppers are an important yet challenging crop to grow in northern New England. Hutton and Handley (p. 136) evaluated 27 pepper varieties over a 3-year period and found that most performed poorly in Maine. Although ‘Ace’ and ‘New Ace’ were consistently the top varieties for yield, fruit were undesirably small with thin walls. The results of this study clearly show the need for the development of pepper varieties better adapted to these growing conditions.

Picking a winning carrot for processing

Fifteen carrot varieties were evaluated for fall and spring production in field and laboratory studies in Oklahoma (Brandenberger et al., p. 133). Highest yields and root lengths occurred in fall. ‘C 8771’ and ‘Heritage’ yielded most in fall; ‘Bremen’ and ‘Neptune’ yielded most in spring. ‘PS 103397’ had the longest roots in fall; ‘Pipeline’ was longest in spring. Field color ratings indicate ‘Florida’, ‘Heritage’, ‘Kamaran’, and ‘C 8771’ had consistently less difference between core and cortex colors. The authors recommended the use in Oklahoma of ‘C 8771’ and ‘Kamaran’ for spring and fall production and ‘Heritage’ and ‘Florida’ for fall production.

Students obtain higher scores on plant identification quizzes when receiving live instruction

Teolis et al. (p. 120) evaluated student performance on quizzes that consisted of both live plant specimens and photographs, after receiving the same lesson on herbaceous plant identification through one of two modes of instruction: live or online. In two experiments, students receiving live instruction had higher scores than online students. Within each mode of instruction, students identified plants on the quiz from photographs equally well as from live plant specimens. Learning style preferences were obtained from surveys, and it was found that visual learners had higher quiz scores when receiving live instruction than online instruction.

Capillary wick irrigation provides similar fertilizer and water use efficiencies as other no-leach irrigation methods

Although it is well known that no-leach irrigation methods such as ebb-and-flow subirrigation conserve water and reduce fertilizer requirements during container production, this information is lacking for capillary wick irrigation. Results by Million et al. (p. 21) from growing azalea in 6.5-inch-diameter containers using three no-leach irrigation methods and four controlled-release fertilizer rates, indicate that capillary wick irrigation provides similar water use and fertilizer use efficiencies as periodic subirrigation and no-leach overhead irrigation.

Connecticut survey documents nursery and landscape industry preferences for solutions to invasive ornamental plants

Identification of economically and politically acceptable ways to reduce sales of invasive ornamental plants is needed. Gagliardi and Brand (p. 39) conducted a survey in 2005 and found that Connecticut nursery producers and landscapers are reasonably well informed about the invasive ornamental plant issue. In comparing different approaches to reducing the sale of invasive ornamental plants, respondents strongly supported marketing non-invasive alternative plants and the development of sterile forms of invasive ornamental plants. There was substantial opposition to taxation of invasive plant sales and bans of economically important invasive ornamentals, especially if exemptions were not included for non-invasive varieties.

Funding-cut lessons from New Zealand

In 2003, the Foundation for Research, Science, and Technology, the major purchaser of science for the New Zealand government, reduced support for traditional agricultural research. The decision potentially meant the end to New Zealand's capacity for research in soil science. Kirkham and Clothier (p. 9) report how partial funding was re-established. Public outcry from newspaper editorials and leading businessmen, along with effective leadership in the New Zealand science community, led to funding re-establishment. The near-loss of soil-science research in New Zealand has relevance for the U.S., because budgets for agricultural research are being severely reduced.

Gassing tomato fruit with ethylene does not effect the growth of surface-resident Salmonella bacteria

Recent outbreaks of food poisoning attributed to tomatoes have been linked to contamination with various serovars of the enterobacterium Salmonella enterica ssp. enterica. Mahovic et al. (p. 52) explored the possibility that storing fresh-market fruit in an ethylene-rich environment, such as used for ripening, may affect the growth of Salmonella. In a model flow-through system, treatment with up to 200 ppm ethylene for 3 d (the maximum recommended dose and storage time) had no significant effect on bacterial cell recovery, positive or negative, as compared to controls or as seen in previous studies.

Foliar diseases of pumpkin controlled regardless of fungicide combination or time of application

Growers often must decide when to begin application of fungicides and which products to add to the spray mixture. There are many products that claim improved disease control when mixed with fungicides. Cushman et al. (p. 56) compared six fungicide/spray combinations applied according to “low” or “high” input approaches. Low input fungicide applications began when disease first became evident on the pumpkin foliage. High input fungicide applications began soon after plant emergence. All fungicide treatments significantly increased yield and reduced powdery and downy mildew diseases compared to the untreated control. There were few significant differences between “low” or “high” approaches.

Simultaneous application of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium increases growth and total polyphenols in bush tea

Combined applications of 300 kg·ha−1 nitrogen (N300), 300 kg·ha−1 phosphorus (P300), and 200 kg·ha−1 potassium (K200) doubled the growth and total polyphenol concentrations of bush tea in comparison with single applications of N300, P300, or K200 (Mudau et al., p. 107). Combined treatments increased fresh and dry shoot weight, number of leaves, and leaf area. Plants that received a combination of N300, P300, and K200 always had the highest concentration of shoot tissue N, P, and K and the lowest concentration of root tissue N, P, and K, which may be correlated with increased vegetative growth and increased total polyphenol concentrations of bush tea.

Evaluating herbicides for field-grown cannas

Weed control in field-grown ornamentals is difficult due to insufficient numbers of registered herbicides. Palmer amaranth and nutsedge compete with canna growth and yield. Nutsedge tubers infest cannas rhizomes, requiring laborers to remove them by hand to prevent spread. Wallace and Hodges (p. 102) examined selected herbicides for crop injury potential, weed control, and control of nutsedge rhizome infestation. Most herbicides tested caused little injury to the cannas. Palmer amaranth control was adequate; however, most herbicides failed to control nutsedge. Nutsedge control was improved when halosulfuron was applied as an early post-directed spray.

Attitudes and perceptions of participants in a study-abroad course

Many institutions of higher education realize the need for students to become global citizens, and most require course work to help students achieve this goal. VanDerZanden et al. (p. 128) evaluated attitudes and perceptions of student participants in an international horticulture travel course at Iowa State University. The course consisted of a pre-trip preparatory class and a study-abroad experience. Responses indicate that both components of the course helped participants achieve the course learning outcomes of: 1) an awareness and understanding of cultural diversity within our own nation and around the world; and 2) developing a global perspective on agricultural and related issues.

New cultivation tools can reduce labor requirements in strawberry production

Managing weeds in matted-row strawberries is perhaps the greatest challenge for growers as it requires significant labor input. Weed management is particularly critical in the planting year when weeds can have their greatest impact and when herbicide availability is limited. Kelly et al. (p. 87) evaluated several new cultivation tools designed for vegetables. Compared to conventional methods, a finger weeder provided the best in-row weed control. A brush hoe provided good weed suppression both within and between rows without supplemental herbicide use. Both implements can reduce labor and herbicide inputs in first-year strawberry plantings.

Bioregulator applications increase return bloom in apple

Many important apple varieties may develop biennial bearing cycles. McArtney et al. (p. 32) report that naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) or ethephon treatments in the heavy cropping year of a biennial bearing cycle increased return bloom. Four biweekly applications of NAA during June and July were as effective as four weekly applications immediately prior to harvest. The positive effects of NAA or ethephon treatments on return bloom were reduced when bloom or initial fruit set was heavy in the year of treatment.

Posting Agricultural Experiment Station research online: attitudes of administrators and faculty

The World Wide Web has enormous potential for disseminating greater kinds of Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) research in more ways to a broader audience with a stake in agricultural science and its impacts. A survey by Kjelgren (p. 95) found most AES-supported faculty were interested in posting research information online, but only a third were actually doing so, and AES directors were more encouraging than department heads. A cross-disciplinary technical communicator, acting in a role similar to a statistical consultant, can help interested but uninvolved faculty in posting and interpreting their AES research online; but leadership from AES directors will be required.

Soil fumigants to replace methyl bromide for weed control in ornamentals

Producers of herbaceous ornamentals need replacements for methyl bromide, which is being phased out as a soil fumigant. Uhlig et al. (p. 111) compared four fumigants in various combinations to methyl bromide for weed control and crop tolerance. Iodomethane, 1,3 dichloropropene, metham sodium, and dazomet provided good weed control and were safe on cushion spurge, globe thistle, common lavender, hosta, silvermound artemisia, shasta daisy, and thread leaf coreopsis. All of these fumigants appear to be acceptable replacements for methyl bromide for weed control in nurseries.

Landscape architects increase use of native plants

A survey of landscape architects in the southeastern U.S. found that landscape architects have increased the use of native plants in their designs (Brzuszek et al., p. 78). The increased use of native plants was not solely for conservation purposes. Natives were reported to be better suited for difficult or unique sites. The largest problem encountered was a lack of availability of native plants from suppliers, especially plants in larger sizes. These findings indicate great potential for expansion in the production and marketing of native plant species.

Salmonella not a concern for laser-etched tomatoes

Price Look-Up (PLU) stickers have been an industry standard for labeling fresh fruit and vegetables. Disadvantages of PLU stickers include the sticky residue left on produce surfaces, surface damage during sticker removal, and the potential for detachment. One alternative is etching an alphanumeric code directly on the produce surface using a laser-etching device. The code produced by the laser is permanent and requires no adhesive. Yuk et al. (p. 67) examined the possibility that the etching could provide a portal for entry for the pathogen Salmonella. Results showed no greater risk of Salmonella infiltration when laser-etched tomatoes were compared to tomatoes with intact surfaces.

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