Cost Benefit Analysis of Cabbage Grown on Plasticulture

The use of plastic mulch and drip irrigation for cabbage production increases plant population per area and reduces the irrigation requirement. Paranhos et al. (p. 699) compared the profitability of plasticulture and traditional bare ground with seepage irrigation systems for Florida cabbage production. The plasticulture system resulted in a significant increase in marketable yield and potential revenue, offsetting the higher pre-harvest costs and assuring a positive net return on investment over a range market prices. Yield may be reduced when weather conditions are less favorable for cabbage growth, making the plasticulture system less profitable between November and mid-December planting dates.

Central Leader Training Reduces Early Yields in Macadamia

Central leader training is recommended for young macadamia trees, but the benefits of such training have never been demonstrated. McFadyen et al. (p. 707) compared central leader training with minimally pruned trees using two macadamia varieties, one with an upright habit the other with a more spreading habit. For both varieties central leader training reduced early flowering and early yields relative to the minimally pruned trees. Minimally pruning young trees, to remove bad crotch angles, for the sake of structural stability, appears to be a better recommendation for industry.

Biochar for Vegetable Transplant Production

Due to the overwhelming use of sphagnum peat moss in growing mixes, much research is focused on environmentally friendly alternatives. Biochar, a product obtained through thermally decomposition of organic matter in a low-oxygen environment, could be a viable substitute. In a greenhouse study, Nair and Carpenter (p. 713) found that biochar can replace up to 40% (by weight) of sphagnum peat moss-based growing medium and serve as a sustainable alternative medium in vegetable transplant production. They report positive effects of biochar on transplants; however, 60% or more biochar in the growing medium detrimentally affected transplant diameter, dry weight, and height.

Economic Incentives to Plant Citrus Trees in Florida

The citrus industry of Florida, the largest in the U.S., is facing a major threat from the bacterial disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. HLB is linked with several negative consequences, including reduced citrus yields and increased production costs. New tree plantings have been below the rate needed to maintain the bearing tree inventory. Spreen and Zansler (p. 720) conducted an economic analysis of incentives proposed by both public and private sector entities. They found varying degrees of success in increasing the estimated internal rate of return on newly planted groves.

Black Walnut Varieties Resistant to Walnut Twig Beetle

Walnut twig beetle is spreading in the U.S. and is contributing to the death of tens of thousands of valuable trees. Hefty et al. (p. 727) screened black walnut and butternut varieties for differences in beetle reproduction using cut branches. Field and laboratory assays confirmed that butternut is a suitable host. Laboratory assays revealed that beetle reproduction in black walnut was less in ‘Sparrow’ than in ‘Schessler’. Further screening of the offspring from ‘Sparrow’ and ‘Schessler’ is warranted to find sources of resistance to walnut twig beetle.

Survival of Native and Ornamental Grasses in the Upper Midwes

Large native and ornamental grasses can be utilized in low-maintenance areas in the upper midwestern U.S. to improve aesthetics, for screening, and perhaps feedstock for biofuel production. However, they must be hardy enough to survive a low-input regime in zone 4a. Zuk et al. (p. 735) conducted a 3-year study on 15 tall grasses at test sites in Fargo and Mandan, ND. The grasses were watered to prevent stress during the first growing season, but did not receive any other care other than weed control. Silver banner grass and big bluestem showed the most potential.

Fern Leaf Lavender Irrigated with Saline Water

Fern leaf lavender is a small semi-evergreen perennial shrub native to southeastern Europe that is frequently used in landscapes due to its ability to adapt to salinity. García-Caparrós et al. (p. 742) report that fern leaf lavender exhibited no reduction in either the plant dry weight or water use efficiency when grown for 8 weeks in plastic containers with a sphagnum peat moss and perlite substrate (80:20 by volume) and irrigated with saline water (from 2 to 7.5 dS·m-1). However, plant nutrient uptake efficiency was affected and nutrient runoff increased under increasing salt treatments.

Horticultural Activity Program for Kindergarteners

A total of 336 children aged 5 to 7 years in public and private kindergartens and day care centers in South Korea participated in a 24-session horticultural activity program. This program included indoor and outdoor activities such as planting seeds, transplanting plants, making and applying eco-friendly fertilizer, watering, harvesting, using plants to make crafts, and cooking with produce. Park et al. (p. 754) found that emotional intelligence, prosocial behavior, and scientific investigation abilities and attitudes were significantly improved after the 24-session horticultural activity program. Satisfaction with the program was very high among children, teachers, and parents.

Measuring Tomato Seedling Vigor for Grafting and Other Operations

Seedling vigor is important for grafting, but standardized protocols are lacking. Hu et al. (p. 767) tracked the emergence and growth of 23 tomato varieties through 18 days after seeding. They then integrated four plant growth and two environmental variables in calculating seedling vigor scores; thereby estimating the efficiency with which varieties convert inputs into biomass in a repeatable fashion. The 23 varieties represented 18 rootstock and 5 scion types, and grafted plants were prepared using all 90 combinations. They found that vigor estimates obtained via this method were useful in grafting.

Influence of Gardening Activities on Health Problems

In the last quarter century, the epidemic of overweight and obese Americans has increased strikingly. This, in turn, has caused a substantial rise in the risk of cardiovascular diseases, specific forms of cancer, and other diseases. Etheredge et al. (p. 776) examined the influence of gardening activities on activity levels, body mass index, allergies, and reported overall health of gardeners and non-gardeners. They found non-gardeners were less physically active when compared to gardeners. Also, gardening may be being used as a distraction therapy, helping gardeners to cope with pain and remain active.

Factors Influencing the Benefits of School Gardening

Exploring the benefits that children can derive from school gardening and the factors influencing those benefits is new to the literature. Chang et al. (p. 783) found seven benefits of school gardening in Taiwan, and identified 20 factors that influence the benefits by using qualitative research methods from a sample of interviews with 43 elementary school students experienced in gardening. The findings help the researchers to realize the unique characteristics of gardening, highlight the distinctiveness, and increase the indispensability of gardening activities.

Higher Prices Will Induce Businesses to Adopt Irrigation Conservation

Boyer et al. (p. 793) showed that commercial businesses in an urban city were more likely to adopt outdoor irrigation conservation methods [e.g., smart irrigation systems (SMS), landscape irrigation audits (LIA)] when informed about future rate hikes. Newly established businesses and those with decision makers with more education were more likely to adopt LIA or SMS. However, at the current, relatively low water rates in Oklahoma City, irrigation savings in the water bill alone were not likely to induce adoption of conservation methods for landscape irrigation.

Spider Plant and Jade Plant Can Improve Indoor Humidity

Spider plant and jade plant are plants commonly used in interiorscapes. Because of their different photosynthetic pathways, spider plant contributes higher amounts of humidity to the environment during the day (15 g.h-1); jade plant does so at night (11 g.h-1). Kerschen et al. (p. 803) calculated that at 25% relative humidity, the spider plant leaf area necessary to change the relative humidity in a bright 22-m3 indoor room from 20% to a more-comfortable 30% was 32,300 cm2, which is about 25 plants in 4-inch-diameter pots or fewer, larger plants.

Best Substrate and Sowing Depth for Palm Seed Germination.

Yarey palm and buccaneer palm are imperiled plant species in the Dominican Republic. Horticulture is an important part of conservation efforts for these two species, but little is known about germination and early seedling growth. Murphy et al. (p. 811) tested various organic and inorganic substrates and surface or subsurface sowing. They found that standard organic potting substrates with higher water availability promoted the highest survival of seedlings. Difficulty in penetrating denser substrates by coarse palm roots often led to fatal drying of seedlings. Improved propagation can prevent further genetic bottlenecks while under protective cultivation.

Optimum Drying Temperature for Preserving Cucurbitacins

Plant materials used in environmentally friendly pesticides are dried prior to manufacturing the products. Shadung et al. (p. 816) studied the influence of drying temperature on the active ingredients (cucurbitacins) obtained from chopped fruit of wild cucumber and wild watermelon. Temperatures below 52 °C allowed the proliferation of fungal growth. Above this temperature, cucurbitacins declined gradually. For mass production of cucurbitacins, 52 °C was chosen as the appropriate drying temperature.

Mothbean: A New Drought-tolerant Legume for U.S. Farmers

Efforts to introduce new food crops into U.S. agriculture are bearing fruit. A drought-tolerant legume from India, mothbean, was evaluated in Virginia for 3 years by Bhardwaj and Hamama (p. 820). Seed yields of 54 lines varied from 48 to 413 lb/acre, and produced seeds contained 22% protein, 0.17% calcium, 65 ppm iron, and 37 ppm zinc. These yields were from unimproved lines and could be increased via additional research. Mothbean has considerable potential for development as a new crop for production in the U.S.

Autonomous Mowers Save Energy and Improve Lawn Quality

Autonomous lawn mowers save time, reduce pollutants, and reduce human exposure to dust and allergens. Grossi et al. (p. 825) compared an autonomous mower with a gasoline-powered rotary mower on a tall fescue lawn under different N rates. The autonomous mower increased turf density, decreased leaf width, improved turf quality, and caused lower weed incidence compared to the rotary mower. The estimated primary energy consumption for the autonomous mower is about 4.80 kWh/week, compared to 12.60 kWh/week for rotary mowing. Based on these results, the use of autonomous mowers could be a promising alternative to traditional rotary mowers.

Fertilizer Nitrogen in an Onion-Tropical Pumpkin Rotation

Onion and tropical pumpkin are important crops grown in the southern semi-arid coast of Puerto Rico. Sotomayor-Ramírez et al. (p. 831) evaluated crop response and N uptake in an onion-pumpkin rotation. Onion did not respond to fertilizer-N up to 252 kg·ha-1 while pumpkin responded to 280 kg·ha-1. The benefit of increased income attainable with the highest fertilizer-N in tropical pumpkin may be offset by greater residual soil N in the lower part of the soil profile, and the potential for this N to have a negative environmental impact.

Agricultural Extension in China

Cheng et al. (p. 846) summarize the history, legislative background, and intricate network of five levels (national, provincial, county, municipal, and township) of the agricultural extension system in China. Challenges of the system include a complex and inefficient extension network, disconnection between the extension service and stakeholders’ needs, and a “two-boss” dilemma for most extension agencies. Financial incentives may be the main reason for recent successful developments in agricultural extension in China (e.g., “Forever Special Sci-tech Commissioners” in Zhejiang province).

Extension Users More Engaged in Water Conservation

Extension programs encourage adoption of landscape irrigation best management practices and technologies to protect water resources, and measuring impacts of these programs is challenging. Warner et al. (p. 852) compared characteristics of home irrigation users who have or have not engaged in Florida extension programs. While attitudes and perceived control over good irrigation practices were no different, extension users had stronger normative beliefs and were more engaged in water conservation behaviors. The biggest differences were found in complex behaviors. These findings demonstrate positive influences from extension, and reveal opportunities for educational programs to target non-participants and incorporate social norms strategies.

Ffa Career Development Events and Future University Enrollment

Williams et al. (p. 862) evaluated whether over 1400 former participants (1999-2012) in state-level FFA Floriculture and Nursery/Landscape Career Development Events (CDEs) pursued study at Kansas State University. Thirty-two percent did enroll; of these, 58% chose a major within the College of Agriculture and 19% majored in horticulture. Therefore, 3.5% of total horticulture CDE participants pursued horticulture as an academic major. Two indicators of future enrollment in the university’s horticulture program were participation in more than one horticulture CDE over time and/or participating in both horticulture CDEs. Exceling in CDE contests was not an indicator of future enrollment.

Spring and Fall Broccoli Variety Evaluations in Pennsylvania

In 2014-15, Sánchez et al. (p. 869) evaluated 18-19 broccoli varieties in spring and fall crops at three Pennsylvania locations to determine the best-yielding commercially available varieties. Most interactions between site, year, and variety were significant. However, the varieties evaluated were not different than Imperial (the standard used) for marketable yield, head diameter, and concentration of harvest within a site year. ‘Blue Wind’ was consistently the first variety harvested and ‘Avenger’ and ‘Emerald Jewel’ the last. These varieties may be good options for extending the growing season.

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