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Marsha Ann Bower, David H. Trinklein, and John M. Brown

Recent trends in greenhouse container production suggest using ebb and flow irrigation for water conservation and pollution control. A major problem in this system is management of soil borne pathogens. Some species of Trichoderma, a beneficial fungi, are known to control Pythium and Phytopthora in container production. This study investigates the potential of applying a Trichoderma conidial spore suspension in an ebb and flow irrigation system. Trichoderma conidia were collected from culture and placed in 101 l stock solution tanks at 10-2 and 10-4 colony forming units (CFU) per ml. Six inch container grown Dendranthema grandiflora `Delano', were irrigated as needed. To determine Trichoderma density in the root environment, soil samples were acquired from the container at 7 day intervals. Results showed that initial population densities of 10-4 CFU/ml were required to achieve adequate container populations to control disease after one irrigation. This study successfully demonstrated that Trichoderma could be dispersed through irrigation water into container plants in an ebb and flow system.

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Dennis R. Pittenger, David A. Shaw, and William E. Richie

We conducted an evaluation of three commercial weather-sensing irrigation controllers to determine the climatic data they use, how easy they are to set up and operate, and how closely their irrigation regimes match landscape irrigation needs established by previous field research. The devices virtually controlled an existing reference irrigation system and used its system performance data as required in their initial setup. Reference standard treatments for cool-season turfgrass, trees/shrubs and annual flowers were calculated using onsite, real-time reference evapotranspiration (ETo) data and plant factors developed primarily from previous research. The reference irrigation system applied the correct amount of water to an actual tall fescue turfgrass planting whose water needs served as the reference standard treatment comparison for the cool-season turfgrass treatment. Virtual applied water was recorded for other plant materials and it was compared to the corresponding calculated reference standard amount. Results show each controller adjusted its irrigation schedules through the year roughly in concert with weather and ETo changes, but the magnitudes of adjustments were not consistently in proportion to changes in ETo. No product produced highly accurate irrigation schedules consistently for every landscape setting when compared to research-based reference comparison treatments. Greater complexity and technicality of required setup information did not always result in more accurate, water-conserving irrigation schedules. Use of a weather-sensing controller does not assure landscape water conservation or acceptable landscape plant performance, and it does not eliminate human interaction in landscape irrigation management.

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Jinmin Fu, Jack Fry, and Bingru Huang

Deficit irrigation is increasingly used to conserve water, but its impact on turfgrass rooting has not been well documented. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of deficit irrigation on ‘Falcon II’ tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) root characteristics in the field using a minirhizotron imaging system. The experiment was conducted on a silt loam soil from the first week of June to mid-Sept. 2001 and 2002 using a mobile rainout shelter under which turf received applications of 20%, 60%, or 100% of actual evapotranspiration (ET) twice weekly. Neither soil water content (0 to 25 cm) nor tall fescue rooting between 4.1- and 50.1-cm depths was affected by irrigation at 60% compared with 100% ET. Despite consistently lower soil water content, tall fescue irrigated at 20% ET exhibited an increase in root parameters beginning in July or August. Tall fescue subjected to 20% ET irrigation had greater total root length and surface area on two of five monitoring dates in 2002 compared with that receiving 100% ET. Evaluation of tall fescue rooting by depth indicated that root proliferation at 20% ET was occurring between 8.7- and 36.3-cm depths. As evaluated under the conditions of this experiment, turfgrass managers using deficit irrigation as a water conservation strategy on tall fescue should not be concerned about a reduction in rooting deep in the soil profile, and irrigation at 20% ET may result in root growth enhancement.

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D.R. Pittenger, Donald R. Hodel, and David A. Shaw

Non-turf ground-covers occupy a significant portion of the landscape, and understanding their water requirements is important when water conservationism being practiced. Six groundcover species (Baccharis pilularis `Twin Peaks', Drosanthemum hispidum, Vinca major Gazania hybrid, Potentilla tabernaemontani and Hedera helix `Needlepoint') representing a range of observed water needs were evaluated under different levels of irrigation based on percentages of real-time reference evapotranspiration.

Treatments of 100%, 75%, 50% and 25% of ETO were applied during 1989 while treatments of 50%, 40%, 30% and 20% of ETO were applied during 1990. Plant performance ratings in the first year indicated that 50% of ETO was the minimum treatment which resulted in acceptable plan aesthetics for all species except for Drosanthemum which performed equally well at each treatment. Significant differences in performance did occur among and within species at the different treatments. Results from 1990 will reveal which species might maintain aesthetic appearance at irrigation levels between 50% and 20% of ETO. These results will be presented and discussed in terms of their significance to species selection and total landscape irrigation management.

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D.I. Leskovar, P. Perkins-Veazie, and A. Meiri

Water conservation strategies are being investigated for watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] production in the Winter Garden region of southwest Texas. Our objective was to determine how yield and fruit quality of a triploid (cv. Summer Sweet 5244) and hybrid (cv. Summer Flavor 710) watermelon were affected by irrigation based on evapotranspiration (ET) rates and timing of application during spring. Irrigation treatments included constant 1.0 and 0.5 ET, three with varying ET before or after fruit set, and one with cycles of 1.0 and 0.5 ET. Fruit quality characteristics were measured at the unripe, ripe, and overripe maturity stages. Water deficit before or after fruit set decreased yield and fruit number. Flesh color was not affected by irrigation at any maturity stage. Soluble solid content at the ripe stage increased only in triploids irrigated with constant 0.5 ET or with 0.5 ET applied after fruit set. Triploid plants exposed to frequent cycles of water deficit set more and smaller fruit than hybrids. These data suggest that triploid watermelon types may have a different acclimation response to drought stress than diploid hybrids.

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Robert E. Call

The San Pedro River has been impacted by continued growth of Fort Huachuca Military Base. The San Pedro River, a riparian-migratory area, has had continuous water flow but now has intermittent water flow. The cause is cones of depression in the aquifer due to domestic well pumping. The aquifer is recharge with water from the river. Cooperative Extension has implemented Resource Conservation Audits for landowners in the lower San Pedro Valley. Also, outdoor classrooms are being constructed at three schools to educate children and community members. The goal of these programs is to educate landowners on water conservation through the use of native and adapted drought-tolerant plants, xeriscaping, irrigation efficiency, water harvesting, soil erosion, and composting. Site visits help landowners identify opportunities to reduce water use. Research-based informational brochures have been produced so landowners can plan and implement water-saving techniques on their properties. This program has been implemented using six members of the Border Volunteer Corp., part of Americorp program.

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Glenn D. Israel, Janice O. Easton, and Gary W. Knox

The Florida Cooperative Extension Service (FCES) teaches residents the importance of proper landscaping practices. FCES offers several educational programs that teach residents how to integrate energy and water conservation, pest management, and waste recycling practices into their home landscapes. In 1997, extension staff and volunteers planned and conducted environmental landscape management (ELM) programs resulting in >800,000 customer contacts. A survey was conducted to measure the adoption of recommended best management practices by program participants and nonparticipants. Results show that, of 39 practices examined, Master Gardener trainees increased the number of practices used by an average of 7.3, while educational seminar and publications-only participants increased by an average of 4.5 and 2.8 practices, respectively. Nonparticipants showed essentially no change. When practices are examined one at a time, the Master Gardeners made statistically significant increases in 28 of the 39 recommended practices. Educational seminar and publications-only participants made similar gains in 31 and 6 practices, respectively, and the nonparticipant comparison group made significant increases in 2 practices and decreases in 8. The results suggest that the publications-only strategy for delivering information to homeowners is less effective than strategies combining educational seminars or intensive training with relevant publications.

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Jason J. Griffin, William R. Reid, and Dale Bremer

Successful establishment and growth of newly planted trees in the landscape is dependent on many factors. Weed pressure and water conservation are typically achieved with either organic mulches or chemical herbicides applied over the root ball of the newly planted tree. In the landscape, eliminating turfgrass from the root zone of trees may be more complicated than resource competition. Studies have shown that tall fescue (Festucaarundinaceae Schreb.) has allelopathic properties on pecan trees [Caryaillinoiensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch]. Well-manicured tall fescue turf in the landscape may have negative effects on the establishment and growth of landscape trees as well. A study was designed to examine the effects of popular turfgrasses on the growth of newly planted pecan and redbud (Cerciscanadensis L.). Results demonstrate that the presence of turfgrass over the root zone of trees negatively impacts tree growth. Through two growing seasons, every growth parameter measured on redbuds (caliper, height, shoot growth, shoot dry weight, root dry weight, leaf area, and leaf weight) was significantly reduced by the presence of turf. However, the warm season bermudagrass [Cynodondactylon (L.) Pers.] was less inhibitied than the cool season grasses. The affects of turfgrass on pecan growth was less significant; however, caliper, leaf area, and root dry weight were significantly reduced when grown with turf.

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Tzu-Bin Huang and Karen E. Koch

Transpiration, respiration, dry weight gain, and water accumulation were measured to quantify the total carbon balance, total water utilization, carbohydrate cost for fruit growth, and water use efficiency in developing fruit of grapefruit (Citrus paradisi Macf). Rate of net carbon loss and net water loss (mg g-1FW hr-1) both decreased during fruit development. On a whole fruit basis, total carbon demand was reduced during the period of peak expansion, then increased rapidly during fruit maturation. In contrast, whole fruit rates of water loss and water utilization (loss plus accumulation) peaked at about 100 days after anthesis, then decreased toward fruit maturation. Carbohydrate cost for fruit growth was greatest (3.49 g sucrose g-1DW) at the early stage of fruit development (immediately following anthesis), whereas water use efficiency peaked (193 mg DM g-1 H2O) at the final stage of fruit development. The thickness of albedo and pectin content in fruit may contribute to the observed water conservation. Total estimated carbon cost of grapefruit development indicates approximately 120 g of sucrose would be necessary for production of a 450 g fruit (77 g DW) at 22 C.

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Cathleen A. Peterson, L. Brooke McDowell, and Chris A. Martin

Heightened awareness of ecological concerns have prompted many municipalities to promote water conservation through landscape design. In central Arizona, urban residential landscapes containing desert-adapted plant species are termed xeriscapes, while those containing temperate or tropical species and turf are termed mesoscapes. Research was conducted to ascertain landscape plant species diversity, tree, shrub, and ground cover frequency; landscape canopy area coverage; and monthly irrigation application volumes for xeric and mesic urban residential landscapes. The residential urban landscapes were located in Tempe and Phoenix, Ariz., and all were installed initially between 1985 and 1995. Although species composition of xeric and mesic landscapes was generally dissimilar, both landscape types had comparable species diversity. Mesoscapes had significantly more trees and shrubs and about 2.3 times more canopy area coverage per landscaped area than xeriscapes. Monthly irrigation application volumes per landscaped surface area were higher for xeriscapes. Even though human preference for xeric landscape plants may be ecological in principle, use of desert-adapted species in central Arizona urban residential landscape settings might not result in less landscape water use compared with mesic landscapes.