Spotlight

in HortTechnology

Collaboration Opportunities for Consumer Horticulture

Consumer horticulture focuses on the growth and enjoyment of plants, gardens, and landscapes - specifically in ways connected to individual, community, and environmental benefits. Interestingly, this connection of plants, greenspace, and human health and well-being is an area of research interest for those in many fields outside horticulture. In their workshop manuscript, Bumgarner et al. (p. 769) present an overview of studies based in public health, urban planning, environmental psychology, and nutrition that provide opportunities for consumer horticulture scientists to collaborate. Their work encourages horticulturists to engage with these fields to augment the science and broaden our impact in our urbanizing world.

Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation Enhances Tomato Yield and Profit

Shi et al. (p. 777) evaluated the profitability of anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) in open-field, fresh-market tomato production in Florida. ASD had higher labor costs than chemical soil fumigation; however, the enhanced yield resulting from ASD using the half rate of amendments was enough to offset the increased costs, resulting in higher net return in two locations. In Immokalee, FL, half and full-rate treatments achieved additional net returns relative to fumigation of $630.38/acre and $2770.13/acre, respectively. The net return of full rate ASD was lower than that of fumigation in Citra, FL, due to conditions unrelated to soil treatments.

Flaming Machines for Vegetable Pre-plant Pest Management

Insect pests and herbicide-resistant weeds pose challenges to the pre-plant pest management strategies currently in use for leafy vegetable production in southern China. Guo et al. (p. 788) designed two flaming machines and conducted two field trials to evaluate their efficacies for the control of insect and weed pests. Using liquefied petroleum gas at 101 kg·ha−1, flaming machines showed equal or higher control effects on weeds and vegetable stubble than 900 g·ha−1 paraquat. Flaming machines also demonstrated good control of diamondback moth larvae and striped flea beetles.

Day-neutral Strawberry Production under Low Tunnels

Few strawberry growers in New England have adopted day-neutral varieties. In a 2-year study, Orde and Sideman (p. 795) compared the performance of eight day-neutral strawberry varieties on open beds and under low tunnels. Plants fruited for 18–20 weeks and marketable yields met or exceeded what growers reported harvesting from short-day plants. Varieties with the greatest marketable yield were Albion, Aromas, San Andreas, Monterey, and Sweet Ann. Low tunnels increased the percent marketable yield for all varieties in 2017 and most varieties in 2018. Runner emergence was also decreased under low tunnels for some varieties.

Optimum Amount of Silicon Amendment for Pumpkin

Instead of using fungicides to combat certain plant diseases or to improve soil fertility, silicon amendments have gained more popularity, especially among organic growers. Wollastonite, an OMRI-approved earth-mined mineral, has been shown to be a good source of silicon for plants. In greenhouse studies with pumpkin, Li et al. (p. 811) found that 6.25 tons/acre is the optimal application rate for reducing powdery mildew disease, increasing biomass yield, and adjusting soil pH. Wollastonite can be a good substitute material for limestone when liming, disease control, or both are needed.

Improving Seed Germination of Prairie Dropseed

Native grasses are low-maintenance plants and pollinator food for skipper butterflies, but often are difficult to propagate. Meyer and Narem (p. 830) compared six germination methods for prairie dropseed, and found the best results with cold (40 °F) dry storage followed by direct seeding into a commercial germination mix placed in a 75-°F greenhouse with intermittent mist and 16-hour daylength. Seed viability analysis from tetrazolium staining did not correspond to germination results.

Increasing the Shoot Density of Creeping Bentgrass

Creeping bentgrass is an economically important cool-season turfgrass commonly used on golf course putting greens. In this setting, the shoot density of creeping bentgrass can greatly affect how a golf ball rolls once struck by a golfer. Using branched-chain amino acids, Mertz et al. (p. 833) found that the shoot density of creeping bentgrass was increased compared to applications of mineral nutrition only. This method could be a valuable tool for golf course superintendents, especially in situations where creeping bentgrass struggles to maintain shoot density throughout the season.

Dogwood Production in Large Containers under Shade

Container-grown flowering dogwoods are commonly produced in full sun, yet unacceptable crop loss continues to be a major issue. In a 2-year study, Witcher et al. (p. 842) evaluated flowering dogwood growth in #7 and #15 containers under full sun and different durations of shade (2, 4, or 6 months). Plants grew larger in #15 containers and plant size increased with the duration of shade, yet powdery mildew was more severe under shade. Growers should consider producing flowering dogwood under shade for at least the first growing season to reduce transplant stress and maximize growth.

Survey of Fertilizer Policy in Florida

Florida counties and municipalities may draft individualized ordinances related to lawn and landscape fertilization. The adoption of these ordinances has yielded contention between scientists, environmentalists, industry professionals, and decision makers. Ryan et al. (p. 854) conducted a survey of Florida residents and decision makers to explore this issue. Decision makers were found more likely to trust landscape science and more likely to report fertilizing their own lawns. As 32% of residents accurately knew their local policy in contrast to 81% of decision makers, civic science initiatives may be significant in altering the dynamic between academics, residents, and decision makers.

Breaking Dormancy in African Juniper Seeds

The rapid seedling growth of african juniper makes it a useful species for desert reclamation and sustainable development of arid zones. In an effort to stimulate seed germination and seedling growth of african juniper, El-Nashar and Dewir (p. 874) tested the effects of different temperature (10, 15, and 20 °C) and plant growth regulator (PGR) treatments. Although separate treatments of temperature or PGR enhanced dormancy release compared to the control, they were less effective than combined treatments. Seed incubation at 20 °C with 20 mg·L-1 naphthalene acetic acid for 12 weeks induced the highest germination (91.70%).

Minimum Light Requirements for Indoor Basil

Indoor gardening is gaining popularity among consumers interested in growing fresh food in limited spaces. However, results from studies evaluating plant growth under daily light integrals (DLI) below the recommended ranges for commercial production are rarely reported in the literature. Solis and Gómez (p. 880) found that basil plants grown under an increasing DLI from 4 to 10 mol·m–2·d–1 yield the same as those grown under a constant DLI of 8 mol·m–2·d–1. Morphological and developmental traits regulated by DLI during the initial stages of production are critical to maximize yield for indoor food gardening.

Herbicide Adsorption by Mulch and Impacts on Weed Control

In landscape beds, it is unknown how much herbicide is immediately adsorbed or intercepted by mulch or how efficacy would be affected if mulch levels were insufficient for weed control. Saha et al. (p. 889) report that pine straw was the only mulch type that did not significantly decrease the efficacy of applied herbicide. Only 34% of applied dimethenamid-P reached the soil surface, but more dimethenamid-P moved through pine bark than did pendimethalin (12%) or prodiamine (17%), which were adsorbed more strongly. Preemergence herbicides were strongly adsorbed to organic mulch.

South and Central American Cut Flower Industry Survey

The U.S. and Canada import most of their cut flowers from South and Central America, and information on the industries’ production and postharvest issues can guide researchers. Completed surveys from 51 producers in Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Guatemala, and Peru provided Loyola et al. (p. 898) with a detailed profile of production, on-farm postharvest, transport/storage, and consumer issues. The most commonly grown cut flowers were rose, carnation, chrysanthemum, alstroemeria, gerbera, and hydrangea. Major overall production problems were insect and disease management and crop timing. Major postharvest issues were temperature and hydration/flower food management, followed by botrytis.

Midwest Wine Grapes: Matching Variety with Climate

Schrader et al. (p. 906) characterized the winter hardiness and annual life cycles of 12 cold-climate northern hybrid grape varieties in central Iowa. Across 7 years that ranged from warmer than average to much colder than average, four varieties showed ample hardiness, five were moderately vulnerable to late winter or spring lows, and three were highly vulnerable to damage from cold temperatures. An itemized summary of the relative hardiness, vulnerabilities, and timing of phenological stages of the 12 varieties is provided to aid growers in selection and management of grape varieties for Iowa and areas with similar climate.

IPM Techniques for Summer Squash and Muskmelon

Developing integrated pest management (IPM) tools for cucurbit production shows promise in controlling pests, but understanding the impact multiple techniques can be challenging. Skidmore et al. (p. 923) present results from their study on tillage and row cover use in two common cucurbit crops, summer squash and muskmelon. They found that tillage type impacted yield, with greater marketable yields for both crops in production systems that implemented conventional tillage and plasticulture. Strip tillage reduced pest pressure, but yield reduction would hinder this method from being adopted. Row covers have inconsistent impacts on crop yields, but show potential for reducing pests.

Rejuvenation of Huanglongbing-affected Sweet Orange

Huanglongbing (HLB) is a serious threat to the Florida citrus industry. Early during HLB infection, affected trees undergo significant root loss, resulting in a root to shoot imbalance. Consequently, water and nutrient uptake decreases and the tree declines. Pruning is a horticultural technique commonly used to adjust root to shoot ratio. Vashisth and Livingston (p. 933) evaluated the use of pruning and types of fertilizers to rejuvenate HLB-affected trees. They found that severe pruning was not beneficial, as the trees suffered significant root loss, which exacerbated the problem. Light pruning combined with controlled-release fertilizer was beneficial in tree rejuvenation.

Remediation of Hydraulic Fluid Injury to Turfgrass

Turfgrass injury from hydraulic fluid leaks and spills can cause extensive damage to golf course playing surfaces. New fluid formulations are being developed to reduce these phytotoxic effects. Kaminski et al. (p. 941) evaluated petroleum-, vegetable-, and synthetic-based hydraulic fluids for injury to creeping bentgrass putting greens, and whether post-spill remediation practices could minimize injury. They found that scrubbed-in soap solution and water rinsing can rapidly increase turfgrass recovery from certain synthetic hydraulic fluids.

Black Leaf Streak Disease Resistance in Plantain

Plantain is an important cash crop and a staple for inhabitants in many parts of the world. Black leaf streak disease (BLSD) is responsible for significant losses to this crop due to the high susceptibility of the most economically important varieties. Without control, yields can be reduced by 80%. Goenaga et al. (p. 958) evaluated a BLSD-resistant variety (FHIA-21) versus a standard commercial variety with no BLSD tolerance (Maricongo), at two locations in Puerto Rico. ‘FHIA-21’ showed to have good resistance against BLSD and is a viable alternative to current commercial varieties.

Sweetpotato Variety Trials in Hawaii

In a series of field trials, Miyasaka et al. (p. 967) grew 12 sweetpotato varieties on Hawaii Island and evaluated storage roots for yield, resistance to insect pests, consumer acceptance, and quality. Variety LA 08-21p had the greatest marketable yield, which was almost six times greater than the commercial variety Okinawan, both purple-fleshed varieties with anthocyanins. However, LA 08-21p also had the highest damage due to sweetpotato weevil. The overall goal was to identify alternative varieties for farmers, as well as superior varieties to interbreed with commercial ones to improve yield, nutrition, and tolerance to insect pests under tropical conditions.

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