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Biomechanical Analysis: A Tool to Reduce Worker Injuries

Horticultural workers often suffer musculoskeletal injuries. High musculoskeletal forces are correlated with increased risks of injury. By applying optical tracking equipment to individual workers, Shippen et al. (p. 746) provide new insights into the distribution and magnitude of loads generated in the human body during the task of digging. They observed higher loads among workers who demonstrated poor digging techniques versus those who demonstrated good techniques. They suggest that visual graphics and musculoskeletal modeling may be useful in developing training programs to reduce injuries in horticulture.

2017 National Floriculture Forum

The National Floriculture Forum (NFF) was held at Philadelphia in Mar. 2017. Participants representing nine universities, three horticultural companies, and two professional organizations attended the Philadelphia Flower Show, heard current/recent research reports from various speakers, and visited local industry/horticultural attractions. Miller et al. (p. 754) report that a primary focus of the meeting was to engage graduate students and younger industry professionals. Several members of the Youth Professionals Council met to discuss and outline strategies to attract more young people to the industry. The 2018 NFF will be held 1-4 Mar. at Mt. Dora, FL.

Light and Water Impact Rooting of Twinflower Cuttings

Twinflower is a sub-shrub native in New England, but it is not prevalent in the trade partly due to propagation problems. Foster et al. (p. 782) propagated stem cuttings at daily light integrals of 5.8 to 27.6 mol·m-2·d-1 and substrate water contents of 0.30 to 0.40 L·L-1. Twinflower produced the largest roots at an intermediate range of light and substrate moisture content. After root formation, cuttings benefited from the incorporation of 14-14-14 controlled-release fertilizer into substrates at a rate of 2.1 g·L-1. Native plant enthusiasts and growers may use these recommendations to improve twinflower propagation.

Gloxinia Nutrient Disorders Described

Diagnostic criteria for gloxinia nutrient disorders of are absent from current literature. Cockson et al. (p. 789) grew gloxinia plants in silica-sand culture to induce, characterize, and photograph symptoms of nutritional disorders. Symptoms of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and sulfur deficiencies, plus boron toxicity manifested earliest, indicating that these disorders may be more likely encountered by gloxinia growers. Unique symptoms were observed on plants grown in nitrogen-, potassium-, sulfur-, and iron-deficient, and boron-toxic conditions. Knowing which nutrient disorders develop first, coupled with species-specific symptomology will help gloxinia growers produce high-quality plants while avoiding fertility-related issues.

High-quality Biosolids Can Promote Healthy Plant Growth

Biosolids are a byproduct of water municipalities, but they vary greatly in quality. Advancements in the processing of this waste have improved the quality of biosolids, making them safer and unrestricted to use in most agricultural and landscape settings. Broderick and Evans (p. 794) compared the effectiveness of four rates of exceptional-quality, Grade A biosolids as a soil amendment for dianthus, kale, petunia, and swiss chard with conventional and slow-release fertilizers as controls. They report that biosolids can be used to promote plant growth that is comparable to conventional and slow-release fertilizers.

Poinsettia Varieties with Partial Resistance to Pythium Root Rot

Lookabaugh et al. (p. 805) evaluated 62 commercial poinsettia varieties for resistance to pythium root rot. Variety performance varied widely across propagator lines, bract color, response time, and plant vigor groupings. While no varieties were completely resistant, several varieties demonstrated partial resistance to pythium root rot. Interspecific hybrid varieties, including Luv U Pink, exhibited less severe root rot and above-ground symptoms when compared to conventional varieties. These results can be used to guide variety selections and management recommendations in facilities with known histories of disease.

Consumer Purchasing of Pollinator-friendly Plants

Certain pesticides are coming under scrutiny due to their impact on pollinators. Barriers to purchasing pollinator-friendly plants and the types of pollinators that consumers are trying to attract are less understood. Using an online survey of 1200 Connecticut consumers, Campbell et al. (p. 831) found that 47% of consumers with home landscapes purchased pollinator-friendly plants in order to attract pollinators. Barriers to purchasing pollinator-friendly plants included lack of labeling and high prices. Respondents most wanted to attract butterflies (78%), bees (59%), and hummingbirds (59%).

White Drupelet Disorder in Blackberry Varies with Environment

White drupelet disorder is a problem that occurs during ripening of blackberries. Although the berries with a few white drupelets taste fine, they are not pleasing to consumers and growers may lose income. Stafne et al. (p. 840) found that white drupelet disorder is a problem on blackberries growing in south Mississippi. They reported that up to 22% of berries can be affected under field conditions. Shading plants relieved the symptoms, as did more favorable weather conditions such as cooler temperatures and rainfall. Growers should consider reducing temperature and light intensity on developing berries to reduce white drupelet disorder.

Seed Treatment Improves Edamame Emergence

Domestic production of edamame, a specialty type of soybean for human consumption, continues to face several barriers, including poor crop emergence in some environments. Williams and Bradley (p. 846) showed that treating seeds for protection against certain soil pathogens improved crop emergence of 30 varieties. Seed treated with fludioxonil+mefenoxam at a rate currently registered for use on grain-type soybean not only emerged more completely than untreated seed, but also emerged more quickly.

Lettuce and Snapdragon Production under Colored Shades

Shade cloth is used to manipulate light spectra and induce specific plant responses of vegetables and ornamentals. Li et al. (p. 860) found that red, blue, and black shade cloth that rendered 50% shade increased plant growth indices of green-leaf ‘Two Star’ lettuce and red-leaf ‘New Red Fire’ lettuce compared to no shade. Colored shades increased cut stem length of snapdragon flowers, but delayed flowering by 1 week compared to no shade. Colored shade decreased human health-beneficial flavonoids, luteolin/quercetin glucuronide, and quercetin malonyl in leaves of both lettuce varieties, and cyaniding glucoside in red-leaf lettuce.

Interspecific Hybrid Rootstocks Increase Tomato Yield

Djidonou et al. (p. 868) found that using interspecific hybrid rootstocks to grow ‘Florida-47’ tomatoes under greenhouse conditions resulted in increases in average total and marketable fruit yields by 53% and 66%, respectively, compared with non-grafted and self-grafted tomato plants. The increases in marketable yield observed for ‘Beaufort’, ‘Maxifort’, and ‘Multifort’ rootstocks was largely attributed to greater numbers of fruit per plant. ‘RST-04-105’ produced higher average fruit weight. Increased total leaf area at first fruit harvest and enhanced accumulation of nitrogen, potassium, and calcium also were observed in grafted plants.

Exotic Specialty Cut Flowers Evaluated in Pakistan

Favorable agro-climatic conditions and cheaper, readily available human resources offer promising business opportunities for cut flower production in Punjab, Pakistan. Ahmad et al. (p. 878) report that the local cut flower industry, which currently is dominated by a few traditional flowers, could be diversified by introducing alternate species with high market demand. Among the tested species/varieties, ‘Guardian White’ and ‘Aurora Blue’ delphinium, ‘Cheerful White’ and ‘Lucinda Dark Rose Double’ stock, and ‘Appleblossom’ snapdragon produced high-quality stems with better productivity than local varieties, were appraised favorably by flower growers/retailers, and were best suited for diversification of the local cut flower industry.

Business/Marketing Practices of U.S. Landscape Service Firms

Landscaping and horticultural services comprise the largest sector in the green industry, but information about their business practices is sparse. Torres et al. (p. 884) showed that perennials, shade trees, deciduous shrubs, and flowering bedding plants accounted for half of all sales; most were sold in containers. Landscape businesses spent an average of 5.6% of sales on advertising, and most firms primarily used the Internet. Many large firms said that the ability to hire competent hourly employees was an important factor in business growth and management, but this held true for only for about half of the small- and medium-size landscape companies.

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