Spotlight

in HortTechnology
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Service-learning Projects Benefit Horticulture Students

Service-learning teaching strategies naturally fit into undergraduate horticulture and landscape design curricula. Waliczek and Zajicek (p. 934) incorporated service-learning projects into a landscape design course over multiple years. Survey findings from alumni and currently enrolled students found that, overall, students felt more positively about community involvement after the course when compared to feelings before the course. Alumni felt more positively about how well they learned course material compared to current students. Males and students with higher grade point averages rated their feelings regarding social impact after the course more positively when compared to females and lower grade point average students.

Shoot Pruning Has No Effect on Bacterial Leaf Spot in Tomato

Bacterial leaf spot in tomato is controlled by cultural practices such as exclusion of the pathogen from production areas, use of resistant varieties, and diligent application of copper-based bactericides. Field studies in Florida examined the effects of early shoot pruning on bacterial spot infection of tomato plants. Vallad and Santos (p. 847) concluded that light shoot pruning did not reduce bacterial spot severity and there was no effect on yields. Tomato growers could save up to $50/acre by eliminating pruning from their routine growing practices.

Consumers Evaluate Scab-resistant Apples

Kelley et al. (p. 885) asked 149 consumers to rate five scab-resistant apples and one non-resistant variety (‘Jonagold’), on appearance, aroma, texture, flavor, and overall liking on a nine-point scale (9 = like extremely, 1 = dislike extremely). Texture ratings of ‘Crimson Topaz’ and ‘Crimson Crisp’ were significantly higher than ‘Jonagold’ or NY 49, with mean ratings between “like slightly” and “like moderately.” For overall liking, ‘Crimson Crisp’ received ratings between “like slightly” (6) and “like moderately” (7), but was not significantly different from ‘Crimson Topaz’ and ‘GoldRush’. However, ‘Crimson Crisp’ was rated higher than ‘Jonagold’, NY 49, and ‘Sundance’.

Differing Attitudes toward Public Garden Programming

Two separate studies were conducted to better understand the viewpoints of arboreta and community members' attitudes toward public garden programming. Kelley et al. (p. 902) observed that the top three reasons that motivated members to join the arboretum's association included “benefits offered” (28.2%), followed by providing the “arboretum with financial support” (22.9%), and “to attend horticultural educational programs at a discounted rate” (22.6%). Arboreta member interest in garden programming activities differed from those of local community respondents in all categories except “outdoor concerts and live performances,” “wine tasting and tours,” and “painting and drawing.”

Sand Topdressing Improves Playability of Athletic Fields

Drain tile installation into a native-soil athletic field and subsequent sand topdressing applications are cost-effective alternatives to complete field renovation. However, if cumulative topdressing rates exceed root system development, surface stability may be compromised. Kowalewski et al. (p. 867) determined that a total topdressing depth of 1.0 inch (8.0 lb/ft2) applied over a 2-year period provided an optimum combination of turfgrass cover, shoot density, and divot resistance. Topdressing rates as thick as 4.0 inches accumulated over a 2-year period provided increased shoot density, but diminished surface shear strength.

Whiteflies Prefer Cucumber Seedlings Grown under Metal-halide Lamps

Shibuya et al. (p. 873) evaluated the preference of adult sweetpotato whiteflies (SPWF) to cucumber seedlings grown under fluorescent lamps (FL) or metal-halide lamps (ML). Pairs of cucumber seedlings, one grown under FL and the other under ML, were placed in cages with about 100 SPWF adults. There were significantly fewer SPWF adults on the FL seedlings (36%) than on the ML seedlings (64%) 24 h after release. The lower attractiveness of the FL seedlings was probably due to changes in morphological characteristics such as a leaf color and thickness resulting from high R:FR illumination of FL.

Fertilization Improves Cold Tolerance of Coconut Palms

Since palms are often grown in climates colder than those to which they are adapted, cold injury is a common problem. Broschat (p. 852) found that coconut palms fertilized four times per year with an 8N–0.9P–10K–4Mg plus micronutrients fertilizer suffered significantly less chilling injury during the winters of 2008–10 in southern Florida than those that received no fertilizer.

Controlling Height of Moth Orchids with Paclobutrazol

Some varieties of moth orchids develop tall inflorescences, which can pose shipping and handling difficulties for producers and consumers. Newton and Runkle (p. 892) determined the efficacy of paclobutrazol as a foliar spray to inhibit inflorescence elongation of three orchid hybrids. Applications when inflorescences were first visible were more effective than those after flower initiation. Late applications also reduced the distance between the first and second flower, which caused an undesirable bunching of the flowers. There was virtually no effect of paclobutrazol on flower or inflorescence number, flower size, or flowering time.

Hoophouse Profitability on Michigan Farms

Hoophouses (also called high tunnels) have the potential to enhance farm profitability in temperate climates by providing a means to continue sales beyond the limits of outdoor-only field production. Working with nine novice Michigan farmers, Conner et al. (p. 877) found a wide range of economic outcomes associated with using hoophouses for season extension. Net incomes over the study's 30-month time frame ranged from $351 to $14,771 with a mean of $6215, suggesting an average 2-year payoff of the structure. Good management, particularly timely record keeping, was suggested as the key to success.

Abscisic Acid Application Delays Drought-induced Wilting in Mums

Seven chrysanthemum varieties were sprayed with the active form of abscisic acid (s-ABA) at 500 mg·L−1. Water was completely withheld from treated and untreated plants. Waterland et al. (p. 896) observed that wilting was delayed in six of the treated varieties without the development of any negative side effects. The shelf life of treated garden mums was extended from 2 to 4 d over that of untreated plants. Once the plants were visibly wilted they were rewatered. All s-ABA treated plants recovered and were considered to be marketable, while untreated plants did not regain turgor or a salable appearance.

Rice Hulls Do Not Affect Plant Growth Retardant Drenches

Commercial potted plant production frequently requires some method of controlling plant height or size. Plant growth retardants (PGRs) are frequently used to inhibit stem elongation. Drenching growing substrate with a PGR solution offers uniform and long-lasting suppression of stem elongation. Parboiled rice hulls are an agricultural by-product and a newer organic component of soilless substrates. Currey et al. (p. 863) found that when calibrachoa and pansy were treated with PGR drenches, there were no differences between plants grown in substrates comprised of 80% sphagnum peat moss and 20% perlite or rice hulls given the same treatments.

Minimum Light Levels for Growing High-quality Coleus

In the northern U.S., light is often a limiting resource during spring greenhouse bedding plant production. Supplemental lighting can be costly and unsustainable, but it often is needed to grow high-quality plants. Garland et al. (p. 929) reported that highly variegated ‘Wizard Coral Sunrise’ and ‘Kong Red’ coleus may be grown under an average daily light integral (DLI) as low as 5.8 mol·m−2·d−1. However, plants had the greatest weight, leaf area, and branching when they were grown under at least 10 mol·m−2·d−1. These DLIs are attainable for growers in most regions of the U.S. without supplemental lighting.

Adolescent Involvement at Public Horticulture Institutions

Purcell et al. (p. 915) analyzed long-term programming (>7 days) at public horticulture institutions for youth ages 13-19 years. A survey was conducted of institutional members of the American Public Gardens Association, followed by several case studies and phone interviews. Seven institutional benefits emerged, the most notable being building relationships with new audiences, building interest in horticulture, and supporting the institution's mission. In addition, seven potential challenges were identified, the most notable being funding, staff time, and adolescent interest. Seven overarching strategies also emerged, highlighting the areas of high quality staff, curriculum, partnerships, youth decision-making, compensation, engaging activities, and evaluation.

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