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Yahia Othman, Dawn VanLeeuwen, Richard Heerema, and Rolston St. Hilaire

Demand for New Mexico’s limited water resources coupled with periodic drought has increased the necessity for tree water status monitoring to guide irrigation scheduling of pecan (Carya illinoinensis) orchards. The objectives of this study were to assess the impact of water status developed during the flood irrigation dry-down cycles on photosynthesis (P n), and gas exchange [stomatal conductance (g S) to H2O (g H2O), transpiration (E), and intercellular CO2 (c i)] and to establish values of midday stem water potential (Ψsmd) that are needed to maintain P n and gas exchange of pecan. We conducted the study simultaneously on two southern New Mexico mature pecan orchards from 2011 through 2013. Flood irrigation as determined by grower practice was used on both orchards and P n, g H2O, E, and c i were assessed at Ψsmd of –0.4 to –2.0 MPa. Photosynthesis and gas exchange were higher in pecan trees shortly after irrigation than trees exhibiting water deficit near the end of a flood irrigation dry-down cycle. The decline in P n was markedly noticeable when Ψsmd dropped below –0.9 MPa. We attributed the reduction in P n mostly to stomatal limitation. The decline in P n and g H2O exceeded 50% when Ψsmd ranged from –1.5 to –2.0 MPa. For those reasons, we recommended that pecan orchards be maintained at Ψsmd higher than –0.90 MPa to prevent significant reductions in carbon assimilation and gas exchange.

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Mark E. Uchanski, Kulbhushan Grover, Dawn VanLeeuwen, and Ryan Goss

Experiential learning can be used as part of the undergraduate curriculum to provide real-world experience in the classroom. A hands-on hoop house construction project was integrated into an undergraduate general education plant science course at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces. The objectives were to provide students with hands-on experience in hoop house construction and data collection and interpretation, evaluate students’ perception about the educational value of the hoop house construction activity and delivery methods, and evaluate individual student’s perceptions about their participation in the group activity and group dynamics. Eighty-four students were enrolled in Spring 2013 semester. Students were surveyed in a follow-up laboratory 10 weeks after the hoop house construction activity for data collection and reflection. The survey tool assessed the impacts of class materials, laboratory materials, and the laboratory teaching assistants (TAs) on the students’ learning experience: perceptions of group work, their role within their groups, and their participation. Ninety percent and 95% of the students agreed or strongly agreed knowledge of basic techniques and practical application of hoop house construction, respectively, were obtained in the exercise. Eighty-five percent of student respondents indicated a gain in their appreciation for scientific data collection and interpretation through this exercise. Also, a majority (65%) of the students agreed this hands-on task improved their appreciation for group activities indicating experiential learning group work during scheduled class time could be a useful tool for team building and other learning experiences. Finally, more than 90% of the students found this activity overall beneficial. We conclude that integrating hoop house construction and data collection into an undergraduate general education plant science course can be an effective way to enhance student learning.

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Malik G. Al-Ajlouni, Dawn M. VanLeeuwen, and Rolston St. Hilaire

Linking an urban residential landscapes type to a specific landscape water budget is important to water resource management in a desert environment. Yet, no research that we are aware of has effectively associated a specific water budget with a quantitatively determined urban landscape type. The objective of this research was to determine whether a landscape water budget and residential urban landscape type could be related. We previously quantitatively classified urban residential landscapes in the desert environment of Las Cruces, NM, into hard-surface shade-structure, mulch, hard-surface, hard-surface-mulch, mulch tree, turf mulch, turf, tree mulch turf, and turf tree landscape types. In this study, we determined water budget, landscape coefficient, and the portion of the coverage of irrigated and nonirrigated elements for each landscape type. Landscape types in Las Cruces grouped into four distinct water budget groups: no-water, low-, moderate-, and high-water budget. Because of the heterogeneity of the coefficients for grass, plants, and water surfaces that constituted it, the landscape coefficient correlated weakly (r 2 = 0.3) with the water budget. Coverage of the irrigated elements correlated highly (r 2 = 0.95) with the water budget. Our results suggest that the coverage of irrigated elements in a desert urban landscape is a major driver of landscape water budgets.

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Marisa T. Potter, Richard J. Heerema, Jill Schroeder, Jamshid Ashigh, Dawn VanLeeuwen, and Cheryl Fiore

Pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] growers are advised to control orchard floor vegetation when establishing new orchards, but there is not a set recommendation for vegetation control in mature orchards. The objective of this study was to measure the effect of orchard floor vegetation on water and nitrogen (N) status of flood-irrigated mature pecan trees. Four treatments studied were: completely vegetated orchard floor, vegetation-free inner area directly under the tree canopy with vegetation in the outer area, completely vegetation-free, and vegetated inner area under the canopy with a vegetation-free outer area. Treatments were organized as a 2 × 2 factorial structure with inner and outer treatment factors, both with levels vegetated and vegetation-free. Soil moisture and tree midday stem water potential (MSWP) were measured during irrigation cycles to evaluate the development of water stress in the pecan trees. Soil moisture data showed a significant outer main effect when the soil in the entire orchard was the driest, that is, just before irrigation events. Areas with vegetation cover that were exposed to full sun were significantly drier than shaded vegetated areas and vegetation-free areas in the orchard floor. However, this was not correlated with differences in tree water status as indicated by MSWP. Leaf tissue and soil analyses showed no significant differences in N concentrations among treatments in either year. Treatments with orchard floor vegetation in the outer area had significantly higher yield efficiency and marginally significant improvements in percent kernel fill and number of nuts per kilogram. Our findings suggest that there may be more benefits to maintaining orchard floor vegetation in mature orchards than were previously acknowledged.

Open access

Sara Andrea Moran-Duran, Robert Paul Flynn, Richard Heerema, and Dawn VanLeeuwen

In recent years, nickel (Ni) deficiency symptoms has been observed in commercial pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch.] orchards in New Mexico. Nickel deficiency can cause a reduction in lignin formation, which could affect the risk for breakage on pecan tree shoots. Ni deficiency might furthermore disrupt ureide catabolism in pecan and, therefore, could negatively affect nitrogen (N) nutrition in the plant. The objective of this study was to identify the effects of Ni and N fertilizer applications, at two rates, on net photosynthesis (Pn), leaf greenness (SPAD), and branch lignin concentration in New Mexico’s nonbearing pecan trees. Sixty trees for year 2012 (Pawnee and Western cultivars) and 40 trees for year 2013 (Pawnee cultivar) were used at two New Mexico locations (Artesia and Las Cruces) to evaluate the effects of Ni and N on tree measures. Treatments were as follows: (1) High N plus Ni (+Ni); (2) Low N no Ni (−Ni); (3) High N −Ni; and (4) Low N +Ni. In 2012 and 2013, there was an increase in leaf greenness for each location and cultivar (tree group) through time (June to September). Photosynthesis measures in 2012 differed between tree group, time in the season, and N and Ni treatments. In 2013, Pn was influenced by tree group and time (P < 0.0001), but N and Ni interaction did not present a significant effect related to Ni benefits. Photosynthesis varied over time in 2012 and 2013, with an inconsistent pattern. In this study, Ni application at the high N rate had a negative effect on ‘Pawnee’ Pn early in the season at the Artesia site, but this application had a positive effect for ‘Western’ from Artesia at the low N level, also early in the season. Lignin content varied between tree groups only. The application of N and Ni did not affect lignin in pecan shoots. The results show an inconsistent pattern regarding the benefits of Ni on nonbearing pecan orchards for leaf greenness, Pn, and lignin content during the 2-year study. Future studies on Ni should focus on pecan trees exhibiting leaf Ni deficiency symptoms or on soils with less than 0.14 mg·kg−1 of DTPA extractable Ni, as well as the long-term effect of Ni on pecan growth and development to optimize the addition of Ni into an efficient fertilization program.

Free access

Clare A. Bowen-O'Connor*, Rolston St. Hilaire, John Hubsten-berger, and Dawn VanLeeuwen

Bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum Nutt.) is indigenous to the southwestern United States. This species is not widely used in managed landscapes but the plant holds promise as a useful ornamental tree. Micropropagation might provide additional sources of selected genotypes for the nursery industry, but tissue culture has not been used successfully to propagate this species. We cultured double-node explants from greenhouse-grown, 2-year old seedlings of bigtooth maples that originated from Utah, Texas and New Mexico. Seedling height ranged from 15-90 cm. The shoot region was divided into three equal zones designated as terminal, intermediate and basal. Explants were selected from each of those zones. Explants were established on Murashige-Skoog (MS), Linsmaier-Skoog (LS), Woody Plant Medium (WPM) and Driver-Kuniyuki (DKW) tissue culture media. Shoot proliferation, area of the plate covered by callus and foliar pigment development (hue as determined by Royal Horticultural Society Color charts) were monitored for 17 weeks. Media affected shoot proliferation (P = 0.0042) but the zone of origin (P = 0.6664) of the explant did not. Callus area showed no significant difference among the four media and three zones (P = 0.2091) and averaged 3.60 centimeters2. After four subcultures, each lasting 30 days, explants on DKW media produced 10 shoots per explant. This media might hold promise for the micropropagation of bigtooth maple. Twenty-nine percent of all explants expressed foliar pigmentation, which ranged from red-purple to orange-red. Whether foliar pigment development in tissue culture correlates with expressed pigmentation in nature warrants further investigation.

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Junxin Huang, Robert Heyduck, Richard D. Richins, Dawn VanLeeuwen, Mary A. O’Connell, and Shengrui Yao

Vitamin C profiles of 46 jujube cultivars were assessed from 2012 to 2015, and fruit nutrient dynamics of 10 cultivars during maturation were examined from 25 Aug. to 7 Oct. 2014 at 2-week intervals at New Mexico State University’s Alcalde Sustainable Agriculture Science Center and Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center. This is the first report in the United States profiling Vitamin C in jujube cultivars. The vitamin C content of mature fruit of 45 (of 46) cultivars ranged from 225 to 530 mg/100 g fresh weight (FW) plus ‘Youzao’ having the highest content of 820 mg/100 g FW at early mature stage. In general, drying cultivars had higher vitamin C content than fresh-eating cultivars whereas ‘Jinsi’ series (multipurpose) had relatively higher vitamin C content than others (>400 mg/100 g FW). Fruit vitamin C and moisture content decreased significantly during the maturation process. The average vitamin C contents of nine cultivars at Alcalde decreased more than 40% based on FW from 25 Aug. to 7 Oct. To maximize the vitamin C benefit, the ideal stage to consume fresh-eating cultivars is the creamy stage. Titratable acidity and soluble solids increased significantly during maturation. In mature jujubes, the titratable acidity and soluble solids ranged between 0.27% to 0.46% and 27.2% to 33.7%, respectively. Glucose, fructose, and sucrose content also rose significantly during ripening. Mature fruits contained 31–82 mg/g FW glucose, 32–101 mg/g FW fructose, and 53–159 mg/g FW sucrose among the cultivars tested. Based on sucrose contents, cultivars can be divided into two groups, “high-sucrose” (more sucrose than glucose or fructose) and “low-sucrose” (less sucrose than glucose or fructose). ‘Dagua’, ‘Honeyjar’, ‘Lang’, ‘Li’, ‘Maya’, ‘Sugarcane’, and ‘Sherwood’ belong to the “high-sucrose” group. Total phenolic content and 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH)-reducing capacity in fruit decreased during maturation, and the total phenolic content of mature jujube was 12–16 mg gallic acid equivalent (GAE)/g dry weight (DW). For mature fruit, ‘Li’ and ‘Li-2’ had the highest DPPH-scavenging efficiency whereas ‘Sugarcane’, ‘So’, and ‘Lang’ had the lowest at Alcalde, NM.

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Malik G. Al-Ajlouni, Dawn M. VanLeeuwen, Michael N. DeMers, and Rolston St. Hilaire

The apparent heterogeneity of human-generated materials in residential urban landscapes sustains concerns that the quantitative classification of urban residential landscapes is impossible. The objective of this research was to develop a method to quantitatively classify urban residential landscapes in a desert environment. Using a purposive sampling procedure, we studied the landscapable area around each of 54 residential homes in Las Cruces, NM. All materials in the landscape were identified, measured, and categorized. Using 30% as the cutoff to indicate that a material was dominant in the landscape, we classified 93% of all landscapes into nine common landscape types. Mulch-dominant landscapes were the most common, and landscape types differed between front- and backyards. Shrubs did not feature prominently in any of the common landscape types. Our classification method clearly identifies multiple landscape types, and for the first time, provides quantitative evidence that landscape types are distributed differently in front- and backyard landscapes in the desert environment of Las Cruces. Information on common landscape types will be valuable to landscape horticulturists wanting to craft water conservation plans that are landscape specific if the common landscape type can be linked to a landscape water budget.

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Geno A. Picchioni, Sharon A. Martinez, John G. Mexal, and Dawn M. VanLeeuwen

Commercial production of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch.] generates significant woody biomass from hedge prunings with little economic value. Value-added uses could aid pecan growers, and one possible use is wood chips for potting substrates to lessen dependence on peatmoss, thereby aiding greenhouse growers. We evaluated vegetative growth and leaf nutrient responses of ‘Carpino’ garden chrysanthemum (Dendranthema ×grandiflorum) over a 60-day period. Plants were grown in five pecan wood chip substrate levels that substituted 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of peatmoss by volume. Three water soluble fertilizer (WSF) rates—N at 0, 200, or 400 mg·L−1 (0–N, 200–N, and 400–N, respectively)—were applied with each irrigation and to each of the wood substitution treatments. The WSF and wood substitution treatments interacted strongly. In the presence of wood, (25−100% substitution levels), increasing WSF to 400–N increased cumulative evapotranspiration (ET), crop height, total leaf number and area, total leaf and stem dry weight, and leaf N and P concentrations. However, with 0% wood substitution, 400−N provided little or no such enhancements. With 25% to 50% wood substitution, root dry weight increased by 61% to 91% from 0–N to 200–N, which may be an adaptive response to nutrient-limiting conditions at 200–N. Appearance of a white rot fungal species in and atop pecan wood-supplemented substrate supports the likelihood that microbial activity was, at least in part, responsible for the nutrient limitations. High WSF at 400–N in combination with 25% pecan wood substitution maintained adequate fertility and shoot growth that was comparable to the conventional peat-only substrate at 200–N. With low to moderate amounts of pecan wood, further adjustments to WSF rate and irrigation volume would support sustainable fertigation practices, reduce dependence on peatmoss by greenhouse industry, and provide a value-added recycling option for pecan growers.

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Walter F. Ray, Geno A. Picchioni, Dawn M. VanLeeuwen, and Ryan M. Goss

Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) has desirable attributes as a cool-season turfgrass for the semiarid southwestern United States and the transition zone, but effects of cultural practices on newer cultivars within a desert climate are not adequately known. A field study was conducted between Sept. 1996 and Nov. 1997 to evaluate establishment of 15 turf-type tall fescue cultivars under two mowing heights (2 or 3 inches) and two different annual nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) application rates (N at 13.2 or 26.4 g·m−2, P at 0.9 or 1.8 g·m−2, and K at 11.0 or 22.0 g·m−2). The cultivars included ‘Amigo’, ‘Apache’, ‘Aztec’, ‘Bonanza’, ‘Chieftain’, ‘Cochise’, ‘Confederate’, ‘Coronado’, ‘Crossfire II’, ‘Falcon’, ‘Guardian’, ‘Kentucky 31’, ‘Leprechaun’, ‘Shortstop’, and ‘Virtue’. The fertilizer rate had no effect on turfgrass quality ratings throughout the establishment period, although overall quality was higher in Fall 1997 than during Spring and Summer 1997. The mowing height of 2 inches increased summer quality ratings of 11 of the 15 cultivars as compared with ratings under the 3-inch mowing height. The 2-inch mowing height improved fall quality ratings of seven of the 15 cultivars. No cultivars responded positively to the 3-inch mowing height. Consistently high summer through fall quality ratings were observed when ‘Apache’, ‘Aztec’, and ‘Crossfire II’ were mowed at the 2-inch height as compared with the other cultivar × mowing height treatment combinations. For turf-type tall fescue establishment in semiarid climates, findings support use of a 2-inch mowing height combined with the selective planting of ‘Apache’, ‘Aztec’, and ‘Crossfire II’ over other cultivar × mowing height combinations tested in the study.