Spotlight

Safety of Ground-harvested Apples in Hard Cider Production

Ground-harvested apples commonly are used in hard cider production, particularly in European systems. However, the recent U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule (21 CFR 112) has specific restrictions regarding use of fruit that has come in contact with the ground and is intended for human consumption. Ewing and Rasco (p. 698) describe how the regulations apply to fruit destined for cider production, and give recommendations to cider apple growers and cidermakers about how to safely comply with the rule.

Benefits and Challenges of Growing Berries in Tunnels

Strawberry and caneberries are crops that can be challenging to grow, but for which a strong market exists. Conner and Demchak (p. 706) interviewed 10 growers, and found that protected culture utilizing high tunnels and low tunnels brought a number of benefits to growers including improved yield and quality. However, challenges related to pest, weed, and nutrient management exist. One novel finding was that season extension created additional marketing opportunities. Interviewed growers cautioned of a learning curve and the need to start on a small scale and grow gradually. Future focus for research should include improved ventilation and mechanization.

Shipping Conditions Promote Stress in Geranium Liners

Floriculture product logistics remains an uncertain process in the floriculture supply chain. Shipping duration often is variable and dependent on weather, while air temperatures are easily influenced by environment. Jahnke et al. (p. 711) reported the air temperature and relative humidity of commercial liner shipments within the United States, and used simulated shipping to evaluate disease and leaf yellowing of geranium liners. Gray mold disease ratings increased as shipping duration increased. Leaf yellowing was reduced when air temperature remained a constant 15 °C during shipping.

Managing Anthracnose Canker of Cider Apple Trees

Canker excision followed by cauterization and/or fungicide application are used to manage anthracnose canker on cider apple trees in western Washington. In a 3-year study, Garton et al. (p. 728) found that cauterization caused significant injury to trees, that excised canker areas treated with 0.5% sodium hypochlorite or copper hydroxide increased up to four-fold in size, and that cankers treated with Bordeaux mixture did not increase in size compared to pre-treatment. Each year in all treatments, new cankers developed 13–15 weeks after treatment application, and diseased tissue was observed below the intact or excised cankers 15 months after treatment application.

Bud Break of Grapevines in Response to Photoperiod and Chilling

Many woody perennial species like grape require a period of low temperatures during dormancy referred to as “chilling”. A chilling requirement allows plants, especially those in temperate zones, to avoid damage during cold winter months. Bud break can be affected by factors other than temperature, such as photoperiod, after bud set. Rezazadeh and Stafne (p. 737) suggest that both chilling and photoperiod may be needed for induction of bud break and breaking dormancy in the three grape varieties examined.

Reliable Masculinization of Female Hemp

In dioecious hemp, feminized seeds that will produce only female plants are desirable for production of cannabidiol (CBD). Genetically female plants were masculinized to generate genetically female pollen. Lubell and Brand (p. 743) showed that three foliar sprays (7 days apart) of silver thiosulfate at 3 mM produced nearly all male flowers on female plants of four CBD hemp strains. Seed produced using female pollen to fertilize female plants yielded 100% female progeny.

In-store Promotions Help to Sell Native Grasses

Garden centers in Minnesota use large posters and plant tags to highlight the benefits of native grasses, with the goal of selling more native grasses and helping customers learn about them. Narem et al. (p. 748) found that viewing poster displays increased the likelihood of a customer to purchase a native grass. Additionally, if a consumer had previously purchased a native grass, they were more likely to purchase a native grass again. Consumers that expressed a greater willingness to purchase native grasses based upon their environmental benefits were more likely to purchase a native grass.

A Novel Seeder for Planting Small Seeds

Field planting of small-seeded herbs, underutilized vegetables (purslane), and insectary plants (sweet alyssum) at specific seeding rates can be difficult with raw seed. Brennan (p. 764) developed a simple, jab-type, hand seeder that plants raw seed when the force from a slide hammer dislodges a small amount of seed from vials with one or more holes. The seeder was evaluated for species with seed that ranged in size from about 6,000 to 300,000 seeds/oz. A video augments the paper and demonstrates how to make the seeder, how the slide hammer dispenses the seed, and how it operates in vegetable systems.

Urban Agriculture Survey of Korean Students

Lee et al. (p. 783) developed a 21-item questionnaire answered by 1268 Korean elementary school students. More than 73.7% of the students reported having an awareness of and need for urban agriculture, and 86.8% indicated their intention to participate. Preferred indoor activities were planting plants, flower arranging, and making crafts using plants. Harvesting, watering, and planting transplants were the preferred outdoor activities. Other preferred activities included playing with livestock, cooking with harvested crops, and feeding livestock. The results of this study can provide basic data for the practical development of urban agriculture programs for elementary school students.

Ornamental Grasses Are Tolerant to Salinity

Ornamental grasses are popular in urban landscapes in Utah and the Intermountain West U.S. Salt-tolerant ornamental grasses are needed for use in landscapes irrigated with reclaimed water. Sun et al. (p. 799) evaluated the effect of irrigation water with elevated salinity levels on seven ornamental grass or grass-like species. All species showed a very strong tolerance to the salinity levels used in the 4-month experiment. Sand ryegrass, pink muhly grass, and fountain grass demonstrated acceptable visual quality and appear to be more suitable for landscapes where saline irrigation water is used.

Consumer Preferences for Rose Attributes

Consumer preferences often are not formally considered in rose breeding decisions. Using a web-based survey, Waliczek et al. (p. 807) found that consumers rated the attributes of disease resistance, flower fragrance, and the abundance of red and everblooming flowers as being the most important in purchasing decisions regarding shrub roses. The ideal height of the preferred rose shrubs was waist to shoulder-height. Differences among responses also were found among those who had more experience growing roses versus those who were general gardeners, as well as among respondents within different age groups. Results will help in target marketing of roses.

Physical Parameters Useful as Avocado Harvest Indices

‘Hass’ avocado fruit quality is highly associated with its harvest time. Sensory properties, shelf life, and cold chain resistance could be affected if growers do not harvest the fruit with objective parameters. Rodríguez et al. (p. 815) found that rainfall, fruit development time, and environmental temperature are highly related to the oil content of ‘Hass’ avocados. Furthermore, the color (L*, b*), volume, and fruit development time could be useful physical parameters to predict harvest indices (dry matter and oil content).

Fungicides Reduce Basil Downy Mildew Disease

Basil downy mildew is a destructive disease of sweet basil worldwide. Zhang et al. (p. 822) found that applications of multiple fungicides using various rates and sequences reduced downy mildew by 80% to 95% when applied weekly to the foliage of field-grown basil over the course of a summer season in Illinois. However, a previously untested fungicide product and two biocontrol agents were not effective in reducing downy mildew in tests on greenhouse-grown plants. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of new fungicide treatment combinations and sequences that have promise in reducing downy mildew on basil.

New Biofilm Does Not Improve Blueberry Fruit Quality

Fresh blueberry sales require high-quality, firm fruit that is appealing to consumers. Vance and Strik (p. 836) tested a new biofilm applied to the leaves and fruit of two commonly grown varieties (Elliott and Legacy) during ripening, to determine if it reduced skin splitting, increased firmness, or altered the appearance, sugars, skin toughness, or shelf-life of hand-harvested fruit. No changes in fruit quality or shelf-life for either variety were measured when different application timings and equipment were tested.

Flaming to Control Weeds in Bermudagrass

Flaming could be used as an alternative to chemical herbicides for controlling weeds in turfgrass. Martelloni et al. (p. 843) tested different doses of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in order to find the optimal flaming dose that avoids damage to ‘Patriot’ hybrid bermudagrass, but keeps the turf free of weeds during spring green-up. Three weeks after the last flaming, the highest LPG doses used exhibited the fewest weeds of small weight and a low percentage of weed cover, whereas the green turfgrass coverage was high.

A New Online Study Tool for Plant Propagation

Distance education enrollments have increased for the 14th straight year. More plant propagation lectures are offered online than ever before. Wilson et al. (p. 851) used Articulate Storyline software to develop nearly 250 interactive review questions for students to test their plant propagation knowledge online as the semester progresses. These are open access and cover the terms and concepts found in each of the 18 chapters of Hartmann and Kester’s Plant Propagation: Principles and Practices (9th ed.) textbook.

Ornamental Kale Grown in High Tunnels for Winter Bouquets

Demand for locally grown flowers is increasing, and utilizing high tunnels for flower production may help to supply these markets. O’Connell (p. 855) evaluated the effects of two fall planting dates and three varieties of ornamental kale on yield in Georgia across two fall/winter seasons. High tunnels provided favorable temperatures for crop growth from September through November. Ornamental kale flowers developed vibrant color contrasts from early to mid-December. Earlier planting dates resulted in longer stems and fewer days to harvest. Based on preliminary interviews with local florists, stem length standards require further understanding and potential optimization.

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