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HortIM™ – Peer Review of Horticulture Instructional Materials

Do you need to document the quality of scholarship in teaching, extension, or outreach instructional materials that you develop for promotion or tenure purposes? Do you need a source for a wide range of horticultural, science-based, peer-reviewed instructional materials to enhance your classroom instruction, laboratories, or in extension presentations and demonstrations? If you are looking to contribute or gain access to the latest horticulture instructional articles, bulletins, case studies, fact sheets, instructional videos, teaching modules, and laboratory exercises, then get started by reading Arnold et al. (p. 138) this launch perspective and visiting the new HortIM™ website (http://hortim.ashsmedia.org/)!

Landscape Weed Control Costs Tested in Florida

Organic mulch commonly is used in landscape planting beds to improve plant growth and reduce weed competition. There is limited information concerning maintenance costs associated with different mulch materials from a weed-control perspective. In a 12-month study conducted at two locations in Florida, Marble et al. (p. 199) found that using pine bark nuggets resulted in lower maintenance costs and weed pressure compared with pine straw when both were applied and maintained at 2-inch depths. The addition of herbicide (trifluralin + isoxaben) had little to no impact on weeding frequency or time when plots were mulched.

Tuff Particle Size Improves Lily Flower Quality

Limited information is available about the impact of substrate particle size on plant growth, nutrient content, and water availability in soilless media. Al-Ajlouni et al. (p. 223) used five grades of granulated volcanic material (tuff) for lily production. Tuff grades were 0 to 2, 0 to 4, 0 to 8, 2 to 4, and 4 to 8 mm. The use of 0 to 4-mm tuff resulted in optimal and consistent flower quality, and holds promise for improving growth and flower quality of lilies grown under soilless culture.

School Garden Utilization and Sustainability

Educators from a tri-county area within South Carolina received gardens as part of a pilot farm-to-school initiative designed to improve health and academic outcomes among youth enrolled in Title I schools across the state. Educators completed online surveys that assessed garden utilization over a 3-year time period as well as long-term garden sustainability. Taylor et al. (p. 228) found that most educators maintained their gardens for over 1 year (1 year marks a typical failure point for school gardens), and that most educators used their gardens during the school day to teach math, science, and nutrition concepts in particular.

Sulfur Sensitivity of Northern Grapevine Varieties

To maintain the effectiveness of powdery mildew control in vineyards, a regiment using diverse control methods is recommended. However, many varieties grown in northern continental regions have little documentation regarding particular sensitivities. Koycu et al. (p. 235) conducted a comparison of micronized sulfur susceptibility in northern grapevine varieties over two seasons (2013 and 2014) at two application rates (2.4 and 4.8 lb/acre a.i.). Sensitivities were identified in ‘Bluebell’, ‘Baltica’, ‘Sabrevois’ and ‘King of the North’; while ‘Alpenglow’, ‘ES 12-6-18’, ‘Frontenac’, ‘Frontenac Gris’, ‘La Crescent’, ‘Marquette’, ‘Somerset Seedless’, ‘St. Croix’, and ‘Valiant’ were found to be tolerant at the applied rates.

Harvest-assist Unit Can Benefit Apple Growers

Orchard platforms improve labor efficiency, decrease occupational injuries, and reduce worker strength requirements for orchard activities. The development of a platform-mounted harvest-assist device further improves harvest efficiency. Zhang and Heinemann (p. 240) conducted an economic evaluation of a harvest-assist device. The analysis compared the platform-mounted unit with conventional harvest by assessing changes in apple harvest efficiency, occupational injuries, work productivity in training, pruning, and thinning, and ladder purchases. They report that the platform had a positive financial benefit for apple orchards larger than 18.8 acres, and may provide benefit for orchards larger than 10.4 acres depending on yield.

Establishment Techniques and Rootstocks in ‘Chambourcin’ Grape

Vineyard establishment techniques and the use of rootstocks in ‘Chambourcin’ grape have been poorly studied in the midwestern U.S. Thomas et al. (p. 248) examined the benefits of trunk protection devices and an early training method that produces additional leaf area, combined with use of ‘Couderc 3309’ rootstock. While they were able to produce up to 42% additional first-year leaf area with one establishment technique, the long-term benefits of this additional photosynthetic capacity were negligible. Although the advantages of grafting ‘Chambourcin’ to rootstocks in this setting were not immediately evident, differences in vine morphology and fruit yields were noted.

Learning Preferences of Latino Specialty Crop Growers

University extension horticulturists have an opportunity to provide significant support for a promising next generation of Hispanic/Latino specialty crop producers through relevant, interactive educational programming. In surveys and interviews conducted by Baugher et al. (p. 263), Latino growers suggested engagement might be improved by the use of social media in Spanish, holding educational programs specifically for Latino farmers, and holding educational events at the farms of Latino growers. Survey participants preferred a variety of bilingual, educational formats, including on-farm demonstrations and study circles, tours of other growers’ farms, self-paced on-line courses and videos, and hands-on workshops.

Efficacy of a Summer Academy on Student Recruitment

Student populations in horticulture departments have steadily decreased. In a recent ASHS survey, 28% of respondents believed that providing hands-on opportunities was a way that industry could help motivate high school students to become interested in horticulture. Camp TURF is a 2-week horticulture career exploration academy at Oklahoma State University, giving hands-on opportunities to 25 high school students per summer. Analysis by Mitchell and Moss (p. 269) of pre- and post-assessments at Camp TURF showed significant changes in college readiness and familiarity with horticulture careers, but did not necessarily increase interest in particular horticulture and landscape architecture careers.

Yield and Consumer Acceptability of ‘Evangeline’ Sweetpotato

Barkley et al. (p. 281) report that ‘Evangeline’ sweetpotato produced acceptable yield compared to ‘Bayou Belle’, ‘Beauregard’, ‘Bonita’, ‘Covington’, ‘NC05-198’, and ‘Orleans’. Microwave and oven-baked ‘Evangeline’ and ‘Covington’ roots were analyzed for chemical and physical properties and consumer acceptance. ‘Evangeline’ had higher fructose and glucose, with similar levels of sucrose and maltose to ‘Covington’. Consumers indicated no difference between varieties in their “just about right” moisture level, texture, and flavor ratings, but showed preference for ‘Evangeline’ flesh color over ‘Covington’. Consumers preferred oven-baked over microwaved sweetpotato (regardless of variety) and indicated that Evangeline is as acceptable as Covington.

Performance of Yellow-flowering Magnolias in USDA Zone 6b

Over 30 yellow-flowering magnolia varieties were evaluated for flower color, bloom duration, and growth rate in USDA Hardiness Zone 6b. Fare (p. 291) reported all varieties had yellow blooms; however, color ranged from light pink with some yellow coloration, creamy yellow to dark yellow. Time of flowering is critical for plants due to early spring frosts (and freezes), and may be the deciding factor of the popularity of many yellow-flowered varieties. In this evaluation, the varieties that flowered after the threat of spring frosts also leafed-out during the flowering period, which concealed the floral display.

Season Impacts the Yield of Yellow and Zucchini Squash

In a 2-year variety trial covering four seasons and 19 varieties of yellow and zucchini squash, Coolong (p. 296) found that even without virus or disease pressure, yields of both yellow and zucchini squash were more than 30% lower in the fall than in the spring, despite similar numbers of harvests. The consistency of these findings over 2 years suggests that yield estimates need to be amended for spring- and fall-planted summer squash in Georgia, and potentially for similar growing regions in the southeastern U.S.

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