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Natalie R. Bumgarner, Mark A. Bennett, Peter P. Ling, Robert W. Mullen, and Matthew D. Kleinhenz

Low and high tunnels and root-zone heating systems are proven tools in horticultural production. However, impacts of their separate and combined application on crop yield, composition, and microclimates are underreported. We addressed these gaps in the literature by exposing lettuce (Lactuca sativa) to four microclimates established with low and high tunnels and root-zone heating during the spring and fall of 2 years in Wooster, OH. Red-leaved romaine lettuce cultivars Outredgeous and Flagship were direct-seeded into raised beds in both outdoor and high-tunnel settings in early October and late March and harvested multiple times over 4 weeks. Half of all plots in each setting were underlain by electric heating cables, and half were covered with 0.8-mil, clear, vented, low tunnels. A growing medium consisting of peat moss, compost, soil, and red clover (Trifolium pratense) hay was used, and all plots were overhead-irrigated. Soil and air temperatures were monitored throughout the experiments, which were repeated four times (2 seasons/year × 2 years). Here, we report primarily on treatment effects on crop yield and related variables. Root- and shoot-zone conditions and cultivar significantly affected leaf biomass in both settings (outdoor, high tunnel), while population was more often affected in the outdoor experiments. Microclimate main effects were more prevalent than cultivar effects or interactions. Leaf yield was greater in low-tunnel-covered and bottom-heated plots than in uncovered and unheated plots. We take these data as further evidence of the potential to alter lettuce yield through root- and shoot-zone microclimate modification, particularly in regions prone to dynamic seasonal and within-season temperature and light conditions. The data also suggest that the relative performance of low and high tunnels in the production of short-statured, quick-cycling crops during fall and spring be more thoroughly evaluated.

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Chris A. Martin, John M. Ruter, Robert W. Roberson, and William P. Sharp

Hydration and elemental absorption of two commercially-available polyacrylamide gels (A and B) were studied in response to a 24-hr soak time in Hoagland's solution concentrations of either 2X, 1X, 0.5X, 0.25X, 0.125X or 0X (deionized water). Elemental absorption of gel specimens was observed and analyzed within the gel matrix on a Philips CM12S STEM equipped with an EDAX 9800 plus EDS unit for micro x-ray analysis. Thick sections were cut on dry glass knives using an RMC MT6000 ultramicrotome. Surface analysis of bulk specimens was made with an AMR 1000A SEM plus PGT1000 EDS unit. Overall, gel hydration decreased quadratically as solution concentration increased linearly; however, hydration for gel A was generally greater than for gel B. Surface analysis of gel samples revealed the presence Ca, K, P, S, Fe, and Zn for both gels. An analysis within the matrix of gel B revealed the presence of Ca, K, P, S, Fe, and Zn; however, an analysis within the matrix of gel A revealed the presence of Zn, and Fe only. The increased absorptive capacity of gel A appeared to be coupled to reduced migration of salts into the gel matrix.

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Natalie R. Bumgarner, Mark A. Bennett, Peter P. Ling, Robert W. Mullen, and Matthew D. Kleinhenz

Low and high tunnels and root-zone heating systems are proven tools in horticultural production. However, impacts of their individual and combined application on crop yield, composition, and microclimates are under-reported. We set out to enhance the record of management strategy effects on abiotic environmental conditions and cropping variables in open field and high-tunnel settings. In each setting, raised bed plots were subsurface heated (underlain by electric heating cables), aerial covered (0.8-mil, clear, vented, low tunnels), subsurface heated and aerial covered, or unheated and uncovered (control). The study was repeated four times in spring and fall seasons across 3 years in Wooster, OH. Red-leaved romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa ‘Outredgeous’ and ‘Flagship’) was direct seeded in all plots in early October and late March and harvested after ≈4 weeks. Subsurface and aerial temperatures were monitored throughout the experiments. Here, we report primarily on treatment effects on crop microclimate conditions, including temperature and light, and related cropping variables. Subsurface and aerial temperatures varied consistently with plot microenvironment management. Relative to control plots, variability in shoot- and root-zone temperatures generally increased and decreased, respectively, with the addition of low tunnels and electric heating cables, regardless of setting. Still, the relative influence of aerial and soil temperature on crop biomass appeared to differ by setting; aerial temperature correlated most strongly with yield in the high tunnel, while the combination of aerial and root-zone temperature correlated most strongly with yield in the field. Growing degree day accumulation was least in control plots. And, the highest thermal energy to plant biomass conversion efficiency was recorded in the high tunnel. Comparing study-wide and historical climatic data collected in Wooster and other locations in the region suggests that results reported here may hold over a larger area and longer time frame in Wooster, OH.

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S. Shukla, B.J. Boman, R.C. Ebel, P.D. Roberts, and E.A. Hanlon

Despite efforts to optimize water and nutrient inputs to Florida's vegetable and fruit crops, the sandy soils, shallow water table, and tropical climate of Florida result in nutrient leaching losses that are unavoidable. Water quantity and quality management strategies that can reduce these nutrient losses from Florida's horticultural crops were reviewed and research needs for quantifying their effectiveness were identified. The water quantity management strategies included water table management for irrigation, drainage management, detention of runoff and drainage, and summer flooding. In addition to the expected water quality benefits of these practices, potential effects on crop production and farm economics were also discussed. Watershed-scale adoption of stormwater harvesting has the potential to not only reduce the nutrient loadings but also become a source of additional income for landowners through water trading. The water quality practices included structural and managerial practices (e.g., vegetative filter strips and ditch cleaning). Key research needs for reducing the unavoidable nutrient discharges included the development of a crop-specific drainage management tool; quantification of farm and watershed-scale benefits of stormwater detention and its reuse with regards to nutrient loadings, water supply, crop production, and farm income; enhancement of hydraulic efficiency of detention areas; and effects of summer flooding and ditch maintenance and cleaning on nutrient discharges.

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G.B. Cap, P.A. Roberts, I.J. Thomason, and T. Murashige

Genotypes of Lycopersicon peruvianum (L.) Mill. and L. peruvianum var. glandulosum (Rick), selected from accessions that possess resistance to Meloidogyne incognita [(Kofoid and White) Chitwood] at high soil temperature (30C), were used as male parents in crosses with L. esculentum (Mill.) susceptible cultivars UC82, Lukullus, Tropic, and male-sterile line ms-31, respectively. The incongruity barrier between the two plant species was overcome by embryo callus and embryo cloning techniques. Hybridity of the F, progeny obtained from each cross was confirmed by differences in leaf and flower morphology, plant growth habits, and by acid phosphatase isozyme phenotypes using polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. In greenhouse inoculation experiments, F1 plants were highly resistant to M. incognita in soil at 25 and 30C. These results confirmed the successful transfer and expression of heat-stable resistance to M. incognita from L. peruvianum to hybrids with L. esculentum as a preliminary step to introgressing additional root-knot nematode resistance into tomato.

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Peter A. Fuller, Dermot P. Coyne, Janies R. Steadman, and Robert F. Mumm

Abstract

Two field experiments were conducted to explore possible causes of inefficient selection for architectural avoidance of white mold disease reported in dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris L.). Near-isogenic breeding lines for maturity and plant growth habit were blended in 4 paired combinations (with 5 mixture levels/blend) to investigate their intrarow competitive influence on disease severity. Results from regressing the disease severity for each blend component on the mixture level showed the disease severity of an individual plant to be dependent upon its own maturity, as well as on the maturity of its neighbors. An increase in the proportion of late plants in the blend led to a significant and linear increase in their disease severity. A comparable decrease in disease severity was observed as the proportion of early plants in the blend was increased. Disease severity was not influenced by the proportion of indeterminate or determinate plants in the blend, regardless of maturity. The determinate growth habit, however, as well as early maturity, resulted in greater disease avoidance than the indeterminate growth habit or late maturity when grown in pure stands. In a 2nd experiment, 4 dry bean cultivars possessing different architectures were used to study the interrow influence of plant architecture on disease severity, incidence, and seed yield. Significant differences in disease severity and incidence observed between plots bordered by an upright genotype or a dense, prostrate genotype indicated that the level of disease in the test row was determined to a large extent by the architecture of adjacent rows. The failure to obtain an accurate assessment of a genotype's performance may account partially for the difficulty in selecting for architectural avoidance.

Open access

Thomas G. Byrne, Robert P. Doss, and A. T. Y. Tse

Abstract

Plants of the ‘Cara Mia’ rose (Rosa hybrida L.) grown at elevated day temperatures with long photoperiodic cycles or at reduced night temperature with short photoperiods differed in shoot growth rate, petal number, final stem length, and harvest date when compared to plants grown at suggested day and night temperatures. Node number remained nearly constant under all growing conditions. Plants of ‘Town Crier’ rose grown with a night temperature of 13°C (minimum) during the first 3 weeks following shoot removal produced flowering shoots of the same length in the same amount of time as did those grown at a minimum night temperature of 17°C throughout shoot development. Cooler night temperatures during the second 3-week period after shoot removal increased flower development time by four days but did not affect stem length. Results indicate that some rose cultivars can tolerate lower than normal night temperatures for a portion of the growing cycle without reduced growth and/or yield.

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Susan L.F. Meyer, Inga A. Zasada, Mario Tenuta, and Daniel P. Roberts

The biosolid soil amendment N-Viro Soil (NVS) and a Streptomyces isolate (S 99-60) were tested for effects on root-knot nematode [RKN (Meloidogyne incognita)] egg populations on cantaloupe (Cucumis melo). Application of 3% NVS (dry weight amendment/dry weight soil) in the soil mixture resulted in significant (P ≤ 0.01) suppression of RKN egg numbers on cantaloupe roots compared to all other treatments, including 1% NVS and untreated controls. Ammonia accumulation was higher with the 3% NVS amendment than with any other treatment. Adjustment of soil pH with calcium hydroxide [Ca(OH)2] to the same levels that resulted from NVS amendment did not suppress nematode populations. When cultured in yeast-malt extract broth and particularly in nutrient broth, S 99-60 was capable of producing a compound(s) that reduced RKN egg hatch and activity of second-stage juveniles. However, when this isolate was applied to soil and to seedling roots, no suppression of RKN egg populations was observed on cantaloupe roots. Combining S 99-60 with NVS or Ca(OH)2 did not result in enhanced nematode suppression compared to treatments applied individually. The results indicated that NVS application was effective at suppressing RKN populations through the accumulation of ammonia to levels lethal to the nematode in soil.

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Jinhe Bai, Elizabeth A. Baldwin, Robert C. Soliva Fortuny, James P. Mattheis, Roger Stanley, Conrad Perera, and Jeffrey K. Brecht

`Gala' apples [Malus silvestris (L.) var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf.] were treated with ethanol vapor (5 mL·kg-1 fruit for 24 hours at 25 °C), heat (4 days at 38 °C and >98% RH), or 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP; 1 or 0.625 μL·L-1 for 18 hours at 20 °C) before processing into slices, then dipped in anti-browning solutions or coatings, drained, and packaged in perforated polyethylene bags. Residual effects of pretreatments on fresh-cut slice physiological and quality attributes were investigated during storage for up to 19 days at 5.5 °C. Ethylene production was reduced by ethanol, heat, and 1-MCP pretreatments, while ethanol and heat also reduced slice respiration. Heat and 1-MCP pretreatments inhibited slice texture changes, while ethanol had no effect on instrumental texture measurements but reduced sensory firmness. Ethanol pretreatment increased the contents of ethanol and ethyl esters in slices but reduced acidity, while heat reduced both acidity and aroma volatile levels. Both ethanol and heat pretreatments led to lower sensory scores for apple flavor and ethanol-pretreated slices also received higher scores for altered flavor, although all scores were in the acceptable range. Slice acidity was best maintained by 1-MCP pretreatment. Shelf life based on appearance was 15 to 16 days for ethanol-pretreated slices and 12 days for heat-pretreated slices compared to that of control, which was 8 to 9 days, while 1-MCP pretreatment promoted decay development on the cut surface, which reduced the shelf life to 7 to 8 days. Obvious separations were determined between ethanol- and heat-pretreated slices and untreated control by canonical discriminant analysis of headspace volatile levels determined by GC and electronic nose. Therefore, pretreatments with ethanol and heat are very effective for prolonging visual shelf life at the expense of aroma quality.

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Andrew M. Birmingham, Eric A. Buzby, Donte L. Davis, Eric R. Benson, James L. Glancey, Wallace G. Pill, Thomas A. Evans, Robert P. Mulrooney, and Michael W. Olszewski

A mechanical planter was developed to sow seed of baby lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) in small plots. The mechanical seeder allowed small plots to be quickly and consistently seeded at a fixed spacing. Seeds were manually spread along a 10-ft (3.0 m) base plate containing 50 holes of slightly larger diameter than the seed length and at the desired seed spacing [2.4 inches (6 cm)]. Once all the holes were filled, a slider plate below the base plate containing holes of the same diameter and spacing, but which were slightly offset, was slid horizontally so that the holes of the base and slider plates aligned and the seeds dropped to the bottom of the furrow. Compared to manual planting, the mechanical planter increased the precision of seed placement and reduced the time needed to plant 50 seeds. The planter was easy to use and transport, and was inexpensive.