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Joseph Masabni, Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, and Priscilla Del Valle

Southern U.S. states such as Texas experience high temperatures and intense solar radiation during the summer production season. Use of shadecloth is common in Spain and other Mediterranean countries and is becoming popular with homeowners or small-acreage farmers in Texas. Little information is available on the applicability of using shadecloth on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and chili pepper (Capsicum annuum) in the warm climate of Texas. The effects of two shade nets differing in shading intensity on growth, chlorophyll fluorescence, and photosynthesis of ‘Celebrity’ tomato and ‘Sweet Banana’ chili pepper was investigated from May to Aug. 2014. Plants were grown in 50% shade, 70% shade, or full sun. Compared with the unshaded control, tomato grown in 50% shade had similar yield and shoot fresh and dry weight and less photochemical stress. The 50% shade reduced number and weight of unmarketable tomato fruit. Similar results were obtained with chili pepper except for lower numbers of marketable fruit. The 70% shade significantly reduced yield parameters of both tomato and chili pepper. Both 50% and 70% shadecloth reduced leaf temperatures of tomato and chili pepper with variable results in June and July. Growth index [(height + width 1 + width 2) ÷ 3] of tomato and chili pepper was the highest with 50% shade, the lowest with full sun, and intermediate with 70% shade. The maximum net photosynthetic rates (Pn) of tomato determined from a Pn to light response curve supported the results on growth and yield. However, the maximum Pn of chili pepper was higher in full sun treatment compared with 50% or 70% shade. The latter two were almost identical. This one growing season study indicated that shading at 50% benefits tomato and chili pepper production in west Texas by reducing heat stress; however, a shading percentage below 50% may be better.

Open access

Triston Hooks, Genhua Niu, Joe Masabni, Youping Sun, and Girisha Ganjegunte

Pomegranate is a drought-tolerant and salt-tolerant crop. Its fruits contain high levels of phytochemicals that have many health benefits. Pomegranate has the potential to be an alternative crop in areas where water availability is limited, such as west Texas. However, more than 500 pomegranate varieties are estimated to exist worldwide, and little is known about which varieties are suitable for growing in the west Texas region. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the field performance of 22 pomegranate varieties, specifically based on phenology, resistance to sunburn, fruit split, fruit rot (resistance was calculated by subtracting the percent incidence by 100), yield, fruit phytochemicals, and Brix over the course of 3 years from 2016 to 2018. Cold damage, caused by below-freezing temperatures encountered from Nov. 2018 to Feb. 2019, was also evaluated in Apr. 2019. Our results showed significant varietal differences in nearly all response variables measured, indicating that varietal selection is important for pomegranate production for specific regions, such as west Texas. Leaf budding ranged from 47 to 62 days in 2016, 41 to 54 days in 2017, and 49 to 60 days in 2018. Anthesis ranged from 87 to 119 days in 2016, 80 to 94 days in 2017, and 92 to 114 days in 2018. Fruit resistance to split was broad and ranged from 7.3% to 79.1% in 2017 and from 14.2% to 99.7% in 2018. Fruit sunburn resistance ranged from 14.0% to 64.6% in 2017 and from 28.3% to 90.0% in 2018. Fruit heart rot incidence was nominal for all varieties. Total phenolic compound contents of the pomegranate fruit juice ranged from 0.81 to 1.52 mg GAE/mL, and the total antioxidant capacity ranged from 3.44 to 6.81 mg TE/mL. The yield per tree ranged from 1.00 to 7.96 kg in 2017 and from 0.81 to 10.26 kg in 2018. Brix ranged from 12.5% to 17.4% in 2017 and from 13.9% to 18.4% in 2018. Early winter below-freezing temperatures caused different degrees of cold damage; however, 5 of 22 varieties that originated from Russia did not show any cold damage. Results of a hierarchical cluster analysis based on the means of the key response variables of yield and Brix indicated that four varieties (Al-Sirin-Nar, Russian 8, Ben Ivey, and Salavatski) were notable for having both high yield and high Brix.

Free access

Genhua Niu, Royal D. Heins, Arthur C. Cameron, and William H. Carlson

Flower size generally decreases as temperature increases. The objective of this research was to investigate during development when flowers of Campanula carpatica Jacq. `Blue Clips' and `Birch Hybrid' are sensitive to temperature by conducting two temperature-transfer experiments. In the first experiment, plants were grown initially at 20 °C and then transferred at visible bud to 14, 17, 20, 23, or 26 °C until flower. In the second experiment, plants were transferred from 14 to 26 °C or from 26 to 14 °C at 1, 3, or 5 weeks (`Blue Clips') or at 1, 2, or 3 weeks (`Birch Hybrid') after flower induction. Temperature before visible bud had little effect on final flower size for both species. For example, flower diameter of `Blue Clips' was similar among plants grown at constant 14 °C or grown at 20 °C initially and then transferred at visible bud to 14 or 17 °C. Similarly, flower diameter of plants grown at constant 26 °C was similar to those grown at 20 °C initially and then transferred at visible bud to 26 °C. Flower diameter in these species is correlated with the temperature after VB in the 14 to 26 °C and decreases linearly as the temperature after VB increases.

Free access

Genhua Niu, Royal D. Heins, Arthur C. Cameron, and William H. Carlson

Campanula carpatica Jacq. `Blue Clips' plants were grown in a greenhouse under ambient (400 μmol·mol-1) and enriched (600 μmol·mol-1) CO2 concentrations, three daily light integrals (DLI; 4.2, 10.8, and 15.8 mol/m per day), and nine combinations of day and night temperatures created by moving plants every 12 h among three temperatures (15, 20, and 25 °C). Time to flower decreased as plant average daily temperature (ADT) increased. Flower diameter decreased linearly as ADT increased in the 15 to 25 °C range and was not related to the difference between day and night temperatures (DIF). Increasing DLI from 4.2 to 10.8 mol/m per day also increased flower diameter by 3 to 4 mm regardless of temperature, but no difference was observed between 10.8 and 15.8 mol/m per day. Carbon dioxide enrichment increased flower diameter by 2 to 3 mm. Number of flower buds and dry mass at high and medium DLI decreased as plant ADT increased. Plant height increased as DIF increased from ñ6 to 12 °C. Number of flower buds and dry mass were correlated closely with the ratio of DLI to daily thermal time using a base temperature of 0 °C.

Free access

Genhua Niu, Denise S. Rodriguez, Kevin Crosby, Daniel Leskovar, and John Jifon

Chile peppers are economically important crops in southern regions of the United States. Limited information is available on irrigation management with low-quality water or on salt-affected soils. The objective of this study was to determine the relative salt tolerance of 20 genotypes of chile peppers. In Expt. 1, seeds of selected pepper types (Anaheim, Ancho, Cayenne, Paprika, Jalapeño, Habanero, and Serrano) were germinated in potting mix and seedlings were grown in 2.6-L pots. Six weeks after sowing, salinity treatments were initiated by irrigating plants with nutrient solutions of different electrical conductivities (ECs): 1.4 (control), 3.0, or 6.0 dS·m−1. After 1 month of initiating treatments, shoots were harvested and dry weights were determined. All plants survived and no visual salt injury was observed regardless of pepper variety and treatment. There were no statistical differences between control and saline solution treatments in final height and shoot dry weight of Habanero 1, ‘Early Jalapeño’, ‘AZ-20’, ‘NuMex Joe E. Parker’, and ‘NuMex Sandia’. In Expt. 2, seeds of 20 genotypes were directly sown in 2.6-L containers filled with loamy sand. Saline water irrigation was initiated 37 days after sowing by irrigating plants either with saline (nutrient solution based, similar to Expt. 1) or nutrient solution (control). More than half the genotypes did not have 100% survival in the salinity treatment. Ancho 1, Ancho 2, Cayenne 1, ‘Early Jalapeño’, and ‘AZ-20’ had 100% survival regardless of salinity treatment. No plants of ‘TAM Mild Habanero’ survived when irrigated with saline water and less than half of the plants survived in the control. The relative tolerance of chile genotypes to salinity varied with substrate in some genotypes. From the combined results of the two experiments, the 20 pepper genotypes were ranked for salt tolerance based on seedling survival, visual quality, and growth. ‘Early Jalapeño’ and ‘AZ-20’ were relatively tolerant to salinity among the 20 genotypes, whereas ‘TAM Mild Habanero’ and ‘Ben Villalon’ were sensitive. Ancho 1, Ancho 2, Cayenne 1, and Cayenne 2 also had relatively high tolerance based on survival and visual quality, although shoot growth was reduced significantly.

Free access

Genhua Niu, Denise S. Rodriguez, Rosa Cabrera, John Jifon, Daniel Leskovar, and Kevin Crosby

High soil salinity often results in poor stand establishment, reduced plant growth, and reduced yield of many horticultural crops such as peppers (Capsicum annuum). We investigated the effects of soil salinity and soil type on seedling emergence and growth of four commercial peppers (‘NuMex Joe E. Parker’, ‘NuMex Nematador’, ‘NuMex Primavera’, and ‘Jupiter’) in greenhouse experiments. Seeds were sown in either a loamy sand or a silt loam soil in pots and irrigated with saline solutions at electrical conductivity of 0.9 (tap water), 3.0, or 6.0 dS·m−1 (Expt. 1) or at 0.0 [reverse osmosis (RO) water], 0.9, or 1.5 dS·m−1 (Expt. 2). No seedling emergence was observed in treatments irrigated with 3.0 or 6.0 dS·m−1 solutions. The salinity at the top soil layer increased linearly with time when subirrigated with tap and saline solutions in both soil types, whereas no substantial increase in soil salinity was found when subirrigated with RO water or overhead irrigation with tap water. Salt accumulation at the top soil layer was greater in loamy sand than in silt loam. Seedling emergence percent subirrigated with RO water ranged from 70% to 80% in loamy sand and 45% to 70% in silt loam, depending on pepper cultivars. When subirrigated with tap water and saline solutions, the emergence percent ranged from 0% to 60%, depending on pepper and soil types. In Expt. 3, seedlings were germinated in commercial potting mix and grown in 1.8-L pots containing commercial potting mix. Saline solution treatments of 1.4 (control, nutrient solution), 2.1, 2.9, 3.5, or 4.2 dS·m−1 were initiated when seedlings had 11 to 13 leaves. Five weeks after initiating saline water irrigation, the reduction in shoot dry weight was greater in ‘Jupiter’ and ‘NuMex Primavera’ as compared with ‘NuMex Joe E. Parker’ and ‘NuMex Nematador’, but the differences were small.

Open access

Ji Jhong Chen, Haifeng Xing, Asmita Paudel, Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, and Matthew Chappell

More than half of residential water in Utah is used for landscape irrigation. Reclaimed water has been used to irrigate urban landscapes to conserve municipal water. High salt levels in reclaimed water may pose osmotic stress and ion toxicity to salt-sensitive plants. Viburnums are commonly used landscape plants, but salinity tolerance of species and cultivars is unclear. The objective of this study was to characterize gas exchanges and mineral nutrition responses of 12 viburnum taxa subjected to salinity stress in a greenhouse study. Plants were irrigated with a nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.3 dS·m–1 or saline solution at an EC of 5.0 dS·m–1 or 10.0 dS·m–1. The net photosynthesis rate (Pn), stomatal conductance (g S), and transpiration rate (E) of all viburnum taxa, except for Viburnum ×burkwoodii and V. בNCVX1’, decreased to various degrees with increasing salinity levels. The Pn, g S, and E of V. ×burkwoodii and V. בNCVX1’ were unaffected by saline solutions of 5.0 dS·m–1 at the 4th and 9th week after treatment initiation, with the exception of the Pn of V. ×burkwoodii, which decreased at the 9th week. Leaf sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl) concentrations of all viburnum taxa increased as salinity levels increased. Viburnum ×burkwoodii had relatively low leaf Na+ and Cl when irrigated with saline solutions of 10.0 dS·m–1. Plant growth and gas exchange parameters, including visual score, plant height, Pn, g S, E, and water use efficiency (WUE) correlated negatively with leaf Na+ and Cl concentrations. The ratio of potassium (K+) to Na+ (K+/Na+) and ratio of calcium (Ca2+) to Na+ (Ca2+/Na+) decreased when salinity levels increased. Visual score, plant height, Pn, g S, E, and WUE correlated positively with the K+/Na+ and Ca2+/Na+ ratios. These results suggest excessive Na+ and Cl accumulation inhibited plant photosynthesis and growth, and affected K+ and Ca2+ uptake negatively.

Open access

Youping Sun, Ji Jhong Chen, Haifeng Xing, Asmita Paudel, Genhua Niu, and Matthew Chappell

Viburnums are widely used in gardens and landscapes throughout the United States. Although salinity tolerance varies among plant species, research-based information is limited on the relative salt tolerance of viburnum species. The morphological and growth responses of 12 viburnum taxa to saline solution irrigation were evaluated under greenhouse conditions. Viburnum taxa included Viburnum ×burkwoodii, V. cassinoides ‘SMNVCDD’, V. dentatum ‘Christom’, V. dentatum var. deamii ‘SMVDLS’, V. dilatatum ‘Henneke’, V. בNCVX1’, V. nudum ‘Bulk’, V. opulus ‘Roseum’, V. plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Summer Snowflake’, V. pragense ‘Decker’, V. ×rhytidophylloides ‘Redell’, and V. trilobum. A nutrient solution at an electrical conductivity (EC) of 1.3 dS·m−1 (control) or saline solutions at ECs of 5.0 and 10.0 dS·m−1 were applied eight times over a 9-week period. Growth, visual quality, and morphological characteristics were quantified at the 4th week and 8th–9th week to assess the impact of salinity stress on the viburnum taxa. Saline solution irrigation imposed detrimental salinity stress on viburnum plant growth and visual quality, and the degree of salt damage was dependent on the salinity levels of irrigation solution and the length of exposure to salinity stress as well as viburnum taxa. Viburnum ×burkwoodii and V. בNCVX1’ had little foliar salt damage during the entire experiment, except those irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 10.0 dS·m−1 exhibited slight to moderate foliar salt damage at the eighth week. Viburnum dilatatum ‘Henneke’, V. plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Summer Snowflake’, and V. trilobum irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 5.0 dS·m−1 had slight and severe foliar salt damage at the 4th and 8th week, respectively. Plants irrigated with saline solution at an EC of 10.0 dS·m−1 exhibited severe foliar salt damage at the 4th week, and all died by the 8th week. Other viburnum taxa also showed various foliar salt damage, especially at an EC of 10.0 dS·m−1. The shoot dry weights of V. ×burkwoodii and V. בNCVX1’ irrigated with saline solution at ECs of 5.0 and 10.0 dS·m−1 were similar to those in the control at both harvest dates. However, the shoot dry weight of other tested viburnum taxa decreased to some extent at the 9th week. A cluster analysis concluded that V. ×burkwoodii and V. בNCVX1’ were considered the most salt-tolerant viburnum taxa, whereas V. dilatatum ‘Henneke’, V. plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Summer Snowflake’, and V. trilobum were sensitive to salinity levels used in this study. This research may guide the green industry to choose relatively tolerant viburnum taxa for landscape use and nursery production where low-quality water is used for irrigation.

Free access

Raul I. Cabrera, L. Rahman, Genhua Niu, Cynthia McKenney, and Wayne Mackay

In this preliminary study, we evaluated the salinity tolerance of selected herbaceous perennials. Liners of Rudbeckia hirta `Becky Orange', Phlox paniculata `John Fanick', Coreopsis grandiflora `Early Sunrise', Lantana ×hybrida `New Gold' and Cuphea hyssopifolia `Allyson' were transplanted to 4-gal plastic containers filled with peat moss: pine bark: sand (3:1:1) medium amended with dolomite, Micromax and Osmocote 18-6-12 (at 2, 0.6, and 6 kg·m3, respectively). The plants were irrigated for 14 weeks with tap water containing 0, 1.5, 3, 6, 12, and 24 mM of NaCl: CaCl2 salt mixture (2:1 molar ratio). Increasing salt stress had differential effects on plant growth and quality, with Rudbeckia and Phlox being the most adversely affected even by the lowest salt treatment of 1.5 mM, with dry weight reductions of ∼25% compared to the controls. Conversely, Lantana and Cuphea tolerated extremely well salinity up to 12 mM, where dry weight reductions were less than 10% of the nonsalinized controls. The Lantana and Cuphea plants also presented the lowest leaf Cl accumulation with increasing salinity, whereas Coreopsis showed the highest Cl accumulations at any salinity level. Plots of leaf Cl concentration against dry weights showed steeply declining relationships for Rudbeckia and Phlox plants, confirming our observations and assessment that these species are to be considered salt-sensitive. Leaf Na accumulation is currently being analyzed.

Free access

Genhua Niu, Denise S. Rodriguez, Raul I. Cabrera, Cynthia McKenney, and Wayne Mackay

Relatively little work has been done to determine the water requirements of ornamental plants. To meet this need, five woody ornamental species including Abelia grandiflora `Edward Goucher', Buddleia davidii `Burgundy', Ilex vomitoria `Pride of Houston', Euonymus japonica, and Nerium oleander `Hardy Pink' were investigated to determine their water use and crop coefficients. Parallel experiments were conducted by growing the shrubs both in 56-L (15 gal) drainage lysimeters and in aboveground 10-L containers. Water use per plant, crop coefficients, and overall growth parameters differed by species and culture system. Of the five species tested, Buddleia and Nerium had higher water use per plant in the lysimeters than in the containers. There was no significant difference in water use per plant for Abelia, Euonymus, and Ilex between the two culture systems. Crop coefficients and growth indices of Abelia, Euonymus, and Ilex were statistically similar between the two systems. The growth index of Buddleia and Nerium was much higher in the lysimeters than in the containers. Abelia and Euonymus had more growth in the containers than in the lysimeters while Ilex had slightly larger leaf area in the lysimeters than in the containers. The culture system did not affect the water use per unit leaf area of all species. Therefore, our results indicated that by quantifying the leaf area, the plant water use in the two culture systems is convertible.