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Water and nutrient management in Florida watermelon production

The loss of nutrients originating from fertilizer into bodies of water is an important environmental issue facing vegetable production areas in southern Florida. Fertilizer and moisture levels in plastic mulch beds affect nutrient availability to plants and nutrient leaching. Hendricks et al. (p. 328) evaluated three combinations of water and nutrient management practices for watermelon yield, fruit quality, and farm income. Higher fertilizer rates and soil moisture contents were associated with greater yield during one of the two growing seasons that experienced higher than average rainfall. Growers may need to apply higher fertilizer levels, particularly during wet years.


This paper is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Kent E. Cushman, Assistant Professor of vegetable horticulture, who passed away in Mar. 2007. Dr. Cushman's contributions to this paper were invaluable, and he played a pivotal role in its publication. Dr. Cushman was a dedicated scientist and will be missed as a professional colleague and friend.

Systemic activity of azadirachtin and imidacloprid against japanese beetles

Vitullo and Sadof (p. 316) report that two soil-applied insecticides, azadirachtin and imidacloprid, protected rose leaves from japanese beetle defoliation during a season with moderate japanese beetle activity. Repellency of azadirachtin began 14 d after treatment. When untreated roses had 20% of leaves defoliated, azadirachtin and imidacloprid kept defoliation to <8%. Flowers were unprotected by azadirachtin treatments. Imidacloprid provided reasonable control of blooms (<8%) when 30% of untreated blooms were damaged. Leaf and bloom damage was <2% on imidacloprid- and azadirachtin-treated plants receiving supplemental foliar applications of carbaryl every 2 weeks.

Biological control of spider mites is effective in bedding plant production

Using biological control strategies in bedding plant production is challenging because biocontrols, like the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis, are thought to be less effective and more costly to use than chemical controls. Holt et al. (p. 322) showed that using a sampling plan to determine the appropriate number of the predatory mites to release one time, as well as weekly release of predatory mites in numbers based on recommendations from their commercial supplier, were as effective as a foliar application of the miticide bifenazate for control of twospotted spider mite in mixed production of ivy geranium and impatiens.

Vermicompost as an extender of peat-based potting substrates

Concerns about future availability, environmental degradation, and higher prices have generated much interest in alternatives to sphagnum peat. Bachman and Metzger (p. 336) studied the effects of amending a commercial peat-based potting substrate with vermicompost or worm castings on the physical and chemical characteristics. Increasing the amount of vermicompost decreased substrate porosity and air volume, but increased water-holding capacity and uniformity of overall substrate particle size distribution. Increased vermicompost amendment resulted in higher levels of various nutrients, including a number of microelements. Use of vermicompost may reduce fertilization while significantly reducing peat consumption.

Organic mulch and herbicide combinations to control weeds in container-grown ornamentals

Samtani et al. (p. 289) researched the potential of organic mulches, rice hulls, leaf-waste pellets, and pine bark as herbicide carriers for the control of annual weeds in three container-grown woody ornamentals: ‘Goldflame’ spirea, ‘Hetz Midget’ american arborvitae, and ‘Snowmound’ nippon spirea. The organic carriers with oryzalin and diuron gave efficacy visual ratings equivalent to water as a carrier. In 2002, diuron phytotoxicity on ‘Hetz Midget’ american arborvitae was alleviated when diuron was applied with any of the three mulches as a carrier. ‘Goldflame’ spireas with increased shoot biomass were observed in pine bark treatments at certain harvest dates.

Media evaluated for western huckleberry and bilberry micropropagation

Huckleberry and bilberry species native to western North America have potential for commercial cultivation, but clonal materials have proven difficult to propagate with stem cuttings. Barney and Lopez (p. 279) evaluated full- and half-strength formulations of Murashige and Skoog (MS) and woody plant medium (WPM) for micropropagating cascade huckleberry, mountain huckleberry, and oval-leaved bilberry. Full-strength MS inhibited shoot and root development and reduced explant survival for all species by 18% to 63%, compared with the other media. Both WPM formulations proved suitable for the three species. Half-strength MS also provided acceptable survival and growth for cascade huckleberry and oval-leaved bilberry.

A nursery irrigation exercise that combines learning, research, and outreach

Undergraduate students have difficulty understanding quantitative aspects of crop water use. Picchioni et al. (p. 379) taught students how to obtain data on evapotranspiration (ET) from potted nursery plants during a 3-week laboratory exercise. Structured learning focused on assigned reading and basic instruction. Thereafter, students tracked ET of potted nursery crops, generated crop coefficients, organized data on a spreadsheet, and presented their findings to commercial nursery participants. This exercise was simple and inexpensive, and allowed students to fulfill the “holistic” mission of the university in addressing water supply issues in a semiarid region of the commercial nursery industry.

Bleach promotes off-season flowering of longan trees

Observations of the flowering behavior of longan trees growing near temples in Taiwan following religious ceremonies celebrated with fireworks led to the discovery that chlorate induces off-season flowering of longan. The explosive nature of chlorate makes this chemical difficult to transport and store. Matsumoto et al. (p. 296) report that sodium chlorite and sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in bleach, promoted off-season flowering of longan trees in Hawaii. Flowering is due to decomposition of hypochlorite to chlorate in the bleach solution.

A simple and effective method for quantifying leaf variegation

Foliar variegation is an important trait of ornamental plants. Li et al. (p. 285) report a method for quantification of leaf variegation. Using a digital camera or a scanner, a leaf image was captured. Total pixels of the entire leaf area and of each colored area within the leaf were determined using Adobe Photoshop, and the percentage of each color's total pixel count relative to the total pixel count of the entire leaf were obtained. After the leaf area was recorded through a leaf area meter, the exact area of each color was calculated using the pixel percentages.

A new multimedia instrument for interactive greenhouse education

A Web-based instrument for greenhouse education was developed to facilitate student learning and comprehension of greenhouse production and environmental control among diverse geographies, climates, and business practices (Tignor et al., p. 397). The educational materials include 1) greenhouse videos in Arizona, Vermont, Ohio, and Florida that emphasize state-specific production, environmental control, labor, and marketing issues; 2) an interactive greenhouse environment simulator that allows users to model greenhouse environments based on climate data from each of the four video locations; and 3) a searchable digital repository containing hundreds of greenhouse images, videos, and lectures.

Petunia trials using class standards in performance evaluations

A performance evaluation system was established based on flower and growth habit classes to assess 121 petunia varieties in replicated trials (2000–2006) for plant quality and pest symptoms. One variety with the highest overall performance rating was selected in each class per trial as the standard for comparison to evaluate new varieties in future trials. This system eliminated the need to reevaluate previously tested varieties, thus decreasing the number of varieties required for evaluation each season. Outstanding petunia varieties for central Florida and similar climates in Asia, Europe, and Australia were recognized by Kelly et al. (p. 386).

A strip seeder for converting cool-season turf to warm-season grasses

The increased cost of maintaining cool-season grasses in the transition zone of turfgrass adaptation has increased interest in seeded, cold tolerant, warm-season turfgrasses. Fry et al. (p. 363) describe a strip seeder that can be used to convert cool-season turfgrass stands to seeded bermudagrass using up to 80% less seed and reduced herbicide inputs. Bermudagrass strip-seeded (2-inch wide strips, 15 inches apart) into an existing perennial ryegrass turf resulted in 80% bermudagrass coverage by the end of the second growing season. Minimal disturbance to the playing surface would also allow activities (e.g., golf) and revenue flow to continue during the establishment process.

Leaf area distribution of tomato plants as influenced by polyethylene mulch surface color

Various cultural practices and environmental factors have profound effects on crop development resulting in -modified overall canopy structure and appearance. Decoteau (p. 341) describes the influence of polyethylene mulch surface color on leaf area distribution of tomato. During early growth, tomato plants grown with white mulch had more axillary leaves than plants in black mulch. The effects of much surface color on leaf area distribution appear to be triggered by differences in the reflected light off of the plastic surface into the plant canopy. Mulch surface color effects on leaf area also affected early fruiting of tomato.

Market quality attributes of orange-fleshed, non-netted honeydew melon

Orange-fleshed honeydew fruit have superior food safety, food quality, and fruit marketability attributes compared to muskmelon fruit. However, little is known about the production market attributes and postharvest quality comparisons of the leading varieties. Lester et al. (p. 346) examined five genotypes (four varieties and one breeding line) harvested at full-slip, and compared after up to 24 d storage in air at 5 or 10 °C. Three of the five genotypes maintain superior sweetness and orange hue following storage. Orange-fleshed honeydew melons are a promising new melon type suitable as a substitute for orange-fleshed netted muskmelon, not only for food safety issues, but for overall quality.

Variety and mowing height are important factors in desert establishment of turf-type tall fescue

Turfgrass-type tall fescue (TTTF) has desirable attributes for a semiarid climate like southern New Mexico. However, data on culture and management of TTTF in hot, dry, desert conditions are limited. Ray et al. (p. 353) report first-year field responses of 15 TTTF varieties subjected to mowing heights of either 2 or 3 inches. For first-year establishment, their findings support the use of a mowing height of 2 inches combined with the selective planting of ‘Apache’, ‘Aztec’, and ‘Crossfire II’ over 27 other variety x mowing height treatment combinations tested in the study.

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