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Amy N. Wright, James A. Robbins, and Mengmeng Gu

An online survey was conducted to gain information about nursery management and production (NMP) course content and enrollment, attitudes regarding the use of multimedia resources in the classroom, and opinions about the use of virtual field trips to supplement or replace traditional field trips. Results reflected current organizational and curriculum changes within colleges of agriculture that have impacted traditional horticulture courses such as NMP and in many cases have resulted in the merging of NMP courses with other courses such as greenhouse or garden center management. The number of departments with “horticulture” in the department name was similar to the number of departments with “plant science” in the department name (and not “horticulture”). The five topics covered most frequently included container production, container substrates, fertility, field production, and pot-in-pot production. Most of the respondents indicated that the NMP course in their department included at least one field trip. The top criteria used for selecting field trip locations included type of nursery, distance, innovation, reputation, and the number of aspects that could be viewed. Accessibility and distance to nurseries were listed as primary limitations for providing comprehensive field trips. Most respondents currently use multimedia resources in courses other than NMP, and a majority of respondents indicated that multimedia resources such as DVDs or web-based videos would be valuable for supplementing instruction in NMP, particularly for aspects not observed during field trips.

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Jon T. Lindstrom, James Robbins, Gerald Klingaman, Scott Starr, and Janet Carlson

The Univ. of Arkansas initiated a statewide plant evaluation program in 1999. This trial will enable us to evaluate plants on a statewide basis, improve statewide marketing programs, and serve as a propagation source for nonpatented or non-trademarked material. Trees and shrubs will be evaluated for 5 years and herbaceous material for 3 years. Three test sites were established across the state, one in Fayetteville, Little Rock, and Hope, Ark. These sites correspond to the three USDA plant hardiness zones found in Arkansas (Zones 6, 7, and 8). A consistent planting protocol (e.g., distance between plants, irrigation system, bed width) is used at all three locations. Data collection consists of annual growth measurements and qualitative evaluations for factors such as time of flowering, length of flowering, and disease or insect problems. A standard protocol has been established for identifying future plants to be evaluated in the program. In the first year, 17 accessions were planted at each of the three different locations. Best plant growth on 15 of the 17 accessions occurred at the Little Rock site. This may be a reflection of the environment present at the sites in Hope and Fayetteville. Both of these sites are exposed, full-sun situations, whereas the Little Rock site receives some afternoon shade. Reception to this trial program has been favorable, with the Little Rock site gaining much attention from the Arkansas nursery industry.

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Jon T. Lindstrom, James A. Robbins, Gerald L. Klingaman, Scott Starr, and Janet Carson

The University of Arkansas established a new, replicated, woody ornamental plant evaluation program in 1999. Three sites were used across the state and these sites encompassed the three different USDA Plant Cold Hardiness Zones found in Arkansas, Zones 6, 7 and 8. In the first year, 17 different woody ornamental plants were established in the evaluation. Information obtained from performance in this evaluation will be used in Arkansas Select, a marketing program for customers and nurserymen in the state. Nonpatented and nontrademarked plant material will be made available for propagation purposes. Woody plants will be evaluated for 5 years and herbaceous perennials will be evaluated for 3 years.

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Mengmeng Gu, James A. Robbins, Curt R. Rom, and Hyun-Sug Choi

Net CO2 assimilation (A) of four birch genotypes (Betula nigra L. ‘Cully’, B. papyrifera Marsh., B. alleghaniensis Britton, and B. davurica Pall.) was studied under varied photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) and CO2 concentrations (CO2) as indicators to study their shade tolerance and potential for growth enhancement using CO2 enrichment. Effect of water-deficit stress on assimilation under varied PPFD and (CO2) was also investigated for B. papyrifera. The light saturation point at 350 ppm (CO2) for the four genotypes varied from 743 to 1576 μmol·m−2·s−1 photon, and the CO2 saturation point at 1300 μmol·m−2·s−1 photon varied from 767 to 1251 ppm. Light-saturated assimilation ranged from 10.4 μmol·m−2·s−1 in B. alleghaniensis to 13.1 μmol·m−2·s−1 in B. davurica. CO2-saturated A ranged from 18.8 μmol·m−2·s−1 in B. nigra ‘Cully’ to 33.3 μmol·m−2·s−1 in B. davurica. Water-deficit stress significantly reduced the light saturation point to 366 μmol photon m−2·s−1 but increased the CO2 saturation point in B. papyrifera. Carboxylation efficiency was reduced 46% and quantum efficiency was reduced 30% by water-deficit stress in B. papyrifera.

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Runshi Xie, Bin Wu, Mengmeng Gu, Stacey R. Jones, James Robbins, Allen L. Szalanski, and Hongmin Qin

Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS; Acanthococcus lagerstroemiae Kuwana) is an invasive insect that was first discovered in the United States in 2004. The polyphagous feeding habit of CMBS has allowed it to infest a wide range of plant species beyond its primary host, Lagerstroemia. Using molecular approaches, we studied the genetic relationships between CMBS specimens and their hosts from different geographic locations. Naturally occurring CMBS infestations were confirmed on American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana L.), a native plant species in the United States, and spirea (Spiraea L.). The new infestation of CMBS found on Spiraea raises the alarm that other economically important crops in the Amygdaloideae subfamily (subfamily under Rosaceae) might be susceptible to CMBS attacks.

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Mengmeng Gu, Curt R. Rom, James A. Robbins, and Derrick M. Oosterhuis

Water was withheld from 2-year-old seedlings or rooted cuttings of four birch genotypes (Betula alleghaniensis Britton, B. davurica Pall., B. nigra L. ‘Cully’, and B. papyrifera Marsh.) until the combined weight of the container and plant decreased below 40% of its original value to induce plant predawn water potential between −1.5 MPa and −2.1 MPa, after which plants were supplied with a requisite amount of water to reach 40% of its original value for 5 weeks under controlled conditions to investigate changes in gas exchange, osmotic solutes, leaf abscission, and growth compared with well-watered (WW) plants. Observations indicated that three of the four genotypes (except B. papyrifera) expressed three stages of photosynthetic response during water deficit: 1) a stress stage, 2) an acclimation stage, and 3) an adapted (or tolerance) stage. The stages were characterized by decreasing, increasing, and stabilized Pnws/ww (net photosynthesis presented as a ratio of water-deficit stressed (WS) plants to WW plants), respectively. A strong relationship between Pn and g S observed in the WS plants of the four genotypes, suggested inhibition of Pn by stomatal closure. After exposure to water deficit for 5 weeks, Pnws/ww recovered to 70% of the initial value for B. alleghaniensis and B. nigra ‘Cully’ and 98% for B. davurica and B. papyrifera. WS plants had higher foliar concentrations of chlorophyll a and b (nmol/g) and potassium (%) than the WW plants. Increased levels of polyols (mg/g) were detected only in the WS plants of B. allegahaniensis. Increased levels of carbohydrates or organic acid under water deficit were not detected. A significant increase in leaf abscission in the WS plants of B. papyrifera compared with the other genotypes could be a morphological adaptation to water deficit conditions and facilitate recovery of Pnws/ww during the acclimation stage.

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Mengmeng Gu, Curt R. Rom, James A. Robbins, and Hyun-Sug Choi

The genus Betula consists of approximately 50 deciduous species throughout northern hemisphere. Net CO2 assimilation ([A]) of four birch taxa (Betula alleghaniensis Britton, B. davurica Pall., B. nigra L. `Heritage', and B. papyrifera Marsh.) was measured with a portable gas exchange system, CIRAS-I. Light was increased from 0 to 2000 μmol· m-2·s-1 at increments of 25, 50, 100, 250, 500, 750, 1000, 1250, 1500, 1750, 2000 μmol·m–2·s–1 to create an [A] light-response curve. CO2 concentration was gradually increased to 1100 ppm in increments 50, 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000, 1100 ppm to create an [A]-Ca (ambient CO2) curve. B. davurica had significantly higher potential A capacity than the other taxa under high CO2 conditions. Betula nigra `Heritage' had the highest carboxylation efficiency among four taxa. B. davurica and B. nigra `Heritage', had higher [A] when ambient CO2 is 0ppm. Betula davurica and B. nigra `Heritage', had higher light-saturated rate of gross [A] than B. alleghaniensis and B. papyrifera.