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Optimizing Planting Design for Neighborhood Ponds

Stormwater ponds are widely used in urban developments to control and clean stormwater and add aesthetic appeal to the landscape. This dual function of stormwater systems can create conditions at odds for the optimal performance of either function. Hu et al. (p. 310) conducted five focus groups, four interviews with landscape professionals, and regulatory code review for 46 municipalities to uncover alignments between visual quality and environmental function in stormwater ponds. Insights gained include the shared social value of wildlife viewing, the need to create wildlife habitat with shoreline plantings, and aesthetic preferences for diverse, but maintained shoreline planting.

Characterizing Tomato Rootstock Root System Morphology

Tomato growers are increasingly using grafting to enhance in-field production and reduce losses to soilborne disease. Suchoff et al. (p. 319) developed a screening method to differentiate and characterize root system morphology across 17 commercially available tomato rootstocks. They found ‘Beaufort’ rootstock had the thinnest average root system with the shortest total root length and largest specific root length. In contrast, ‘RST-106’ had the longest total root length, while ‘BHN-1088’ had the thickest average root diameter. Current and future studies will explore how these morphological differences impact field performance and adaptation to environmental stress conditions.

Amended Composted Green Waste as a Growing Medium

Peat is commonly used as growing media in soilless culture; however, decreasing availability and increasing prices of peat have resulted in the need for inexpensive organic alternatives. Zhang and Sun (p. 325) investigated the feasibility of composted green waste (CGW) as a peat substitute. To improve its characteristics for ornamental plant cultivation, the authors amended CGW with coir fibre (CF) and/or bamboo vinegar (BV). The optimal combination of 15% CF and 0.5% BV not only improved physical, chemical, and nutritional characteristics of CGW, but also enhanced the growth and performance of plants.

Optimum Nitrogen Application and Leaf Harvest of Beet

Consumption of beet leaves and roots has gained interest among consumers due to their nutritional value. Mampa et al. (p. 337) evaluated the effects of nitrogen application and leaf harvest percentage on the yield and quality of beet leaves and roots. Leaf and root yield increased with the application of 120 kg.ha-1 N. Beet growers can improve nutritional intake by harvesting 30% of leaves at 35 days after transplanting, and harvest all the remaining leaves at the end of growing season together with the roots without adversely impacting on root yield.

Protection of Georgia Peaches from Cold Damage

Drawing on centuries of accumulated experience, Georgia’s peach producers protect against cold damage in multiple ways. Simnitt et al. (p. 344) recount their findings from in-depth interviews with Georgia’s four largest peach growing operations accounting for 75% of production in the state. They found that growers employ for frost protection passive methods such as adjusting pruning intensity, and active methods such as wind machines. Growers demonstrated interest in continued research focused on improving effectiveness of frost protection strategies and the search for more economically feasible strategies.

Germination of Stonecrop after Cold Storage

Green roof construction is often constrained by the cost of labor to install plant material. Optimizing seed germination and establishment could significantly reduce installation cost. McDavid et al. (p. 354) compared the germination rates of four stonecrop species at two temperatures (70 and 90 °F) following cool (40 °F), dry storage of various lengths of time. They found that in late spring or early summer when temperatures are cooler, a seed mixture of any of the four species could be used. However, as summer progressed with its higher temperatures, fewer species could be recommended.

Consumer Perceptions of Aquaponic Systems

Aquaponics is an integrated system with both hydroponic plant production and aquaculture fish production. Short et al. (p. 358) report results and analysis from a survey of consumer perceptions and preferences for aquaponic-grown products. About one-third of respondents had previously heard of aquaponics. Upon learning more about the system through the survey, respondents tended to feel generally neutral or favorable to aquaponics. Price was an issue for many consumers, and many tended to believe that aquaponics could impact the environment in a positive way.

Influence of pH and Etridiazole on Pythium

Pythium root rot is a significant problem in ornamental crop production. Krasnow and Hausbeck (p. 367) found that isolates of three Pythium speciess from ornamental crops in Michigan were sensitive to etridiazole in vitro with EC50 values ranging from 0.10 to 5.03 µg·mL-1. Increasing the acidity of etridiazole-amended medium or solution reduced Pythium mycelial growth, sporangial formation, and zoospore cyst germination, greater than amended medium or solution near neutral pH. Adjusting the acidity of irrigation water in greenhouses that use ebb and flow and flood floor production systems and etridiazole may be beneficial in Pythium management.

Three Novel Native Shrubs Pass the Nursery Production Test

Lubell and Gardner (p. 375) evaluated softwood stem cutting propagation for sweetbells and hobblebush, and growth in trade #1 containers under 0%, 40%, or 70% shade for sweetbells, hobblebush, and american fly honeysuckle. Of the three species, sweetbells may be the easiest for growers to adopt, because it rooted at 88% success without the use of exogenous auxin and could be grown in full sun. Hobblebush cuttings treated with 1000, 3000, or 8000 ppm indole-3-butyric acid in talc rooted at 70%. Market quality plants of hobblebush and american fly honeysuckle were grown using 40% shade during production.

Bermudagrass Establishment in the Southern U.S.

Hybrid bermudagrass is frequently grown for turf situations across the southern U.S. However, very little is known about how planting and nitrogen rates affect establishment, especially with newer varieties. Munshaw et al. (p. 382) conducted a study at four locations across the southern U.S. to determine optimum sprigging and N rates during establishment of ‘Latitude 36’ hybrid bermudagrass to minimize time to full surface cover. The authors determined that increasing sprigging rate rather than N rate should be considered to speed establishment.

BMP Use by Virginia Nursery and Greenhouse Growers

Best management practices (BMPs) are nursery and greenhouse production practices aimed at preventing or reducing fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals from entering surface or ground waters. A survey of Virginia nursery and greenhouse growers (Mack et al., p. 386), focusing on irrigation and fertilization methods, was conducted to determine the most frequently used BMPs and the reason for BMP selection. The most frequently used BMPs included 1) irrigation methodology and scheduling to optimize irrigation efficiency, 2) implementing integrated pest management tactics, and 3) use of controlled-release fertilizers. The most cited reasons for BMP use was environmental protection and resource savings.

Colorants Enhance Winter Color of Warm-season Turfgrasses

Buffalograss and zoysiagrass are warm-season turfgrass species that requires less water and fewer cultural inputs than cool-season grasses, but an extended period of brown color during winter dormancy in the transition zone makes them less attractive for use. Braun et al. (p. 393) evaluated three colorants applied at two volumes, once or sequentially, to dormant buffalograss and dormant zoysiagrass. Winter color of buffalograss and zoysiagrass can be enhanced by colorant application, and a longer period of acceptable color can be achieved by applying at a higher volume or by including a sequential mid-winter treatment.

Iris Green Period Characteristics and Foliar Cold Tolerance

In a 2-year field study, Li et al. (p. 399) found that iris species/varieties and air temperatures had considerable influence on the duration of the green period in the Yangtze Delta of China. Both evergreen and deciduous iris phenotypes exist with three different leaf shapes, among which the average green period of fan-shaped leaf iris species and varieties was the longest. Since there was no significant relationship between green period during this period and leaf lethal temperature, new varieties with long green periods may be achieved without a simultaneous loss of cold tolerance in iris.

Cherry Cuticle Supplement Influences Fruit Quality

Growers treat sweet cherries with a cuticle supplement (Parka+™) prior to harvest in order to avoid economic losses due to splitting of fruit due to rainfall. When rainfall did not occur, Cliff et al. (p. 416) found that the flavor (sweetness, tartness, cherry flavor) of treated fruit remained unaffected. Fruit had lower instrumental firmness (0.53 N) and lower sensory firmness, but higher juiciness and less pitting. There also was a substantial reduction in stem-pull force, resulting in a higher incidence of stem detachment in harvested Skeena™ cherries.

Perceived Benefits Influence Landscape Best Practices

Warner et al. (p. 424) measured the value residents placed on eight residential landscape benefits (aesthetic, environmental, food, habitat, well-being, monetary, social, health, and comfort) and explored how they related to landscape management best practices. The most valued benefit was aesthetics, but aesthetics did not relate strongly to landscape practices. People who valued habitat were most likely to use irrigation conservation practices while those who valued environmental benefits were most likely to fertilize appropriately. Extension programs should focus on habitat benefits to encourage irrigation best practices and environmental benefits to encourage fertilizer best practices while emphasizing compatibility with aesthetics.

Characteristics of Specialty Cider Apple Varieties

Hard apple cider continues to grow in production and sales in the U.S., but there is little information on the characteristics of specialty cider apple varieties grown in the U.S. In this 16-year study, Miles et al. (p. 431) evaluated commercially relevant traits of 18 apple varieties commonly used for cider. Based on juice characteristics, classification of three varieties differed from their historical classification in England. Three varieties were consistent in productivity and produced high levels of tannin (very important for cider makers), while two varieties were strongly consistent in productivity, but did not produce high levels of tannin.

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