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Christopher Lindsey, Gary Kling, and Mark Zampardo

UIPLANTS is a program developed under Microsoft Windows to help students in woody plant materials courses. Its many options include an encyclopedic format that displays 256-color high-resolution images of plant identification characteristics and ornamental features coupled with text, side by side image comparisons, “book markers” to return to selected screens, and a slide show that runs a display of images in a user-defined format. The system is being used to study how students learn information presented to them through computers and which program features are most effective in improving plant knowledge. Through computer logging of all student activity within the program and surveys given to the test groups, some basic usage patterns were derived. Students using the program with no incentive tended to use the program in a more comprehensive manner, switching back and forth between the slide show and encyclopedic entries with equal time spent in each. The comparison and “bookmark” features were used but less frequently. Half of the students, given an extra credit incentive based on time, followed this same usage pattern, but the other half simply used the slide show with minimal student–computer interaction.

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J.-L. Arsenault, S. Poulcur, C. Messier, and R. Guay

WinRHlZO™ is a new root measuring system (1993) based on an optical scanner instead of a video camera. Scanners produce high-quality images, free of illumination problems, over large areas (typically 11 × 17 inches). They are also extremely easy to use, and do not need to be recalibrated each time the optical set up or the resolution is changed. Different lighting systems are also available. WinRHlZO™ is an interactive system; the user can see on screen with color codes what the system is measuring and can make corrections if needed. WinRHlZO™ has the capacity to detect overlapping root parts and to compensate for them in the final results. It measures total length, projected area, surface area, and root length for different width intervals chosen by the user. The results are shown in a printable histogram placed above the image. The system also counts root tips and branching points. It is possible to verify the width at different points along the root by clicking them in the image. WinRHlZO™ can analyze whole images or different parts of them. It runs on IBM-compatible software under Microsoft Windows 3.1 or NT, and on Macintosh computers.

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J. Roger Harris, Jody Fanelli, and Paul Thrift

Description of early post-transplant root growth will help formulate best transplanting strategies for landscape trees. In this experiment, the dynamics of early root system regeneration of sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh. `Green Mountain') and northern red oak (Quercus rubra L.) were determined. Field-grown 4-year-old trees were transplanted bare-root into outdoor root observation containers (rhizotrons) in Oct. 1997, Nov. 1997, or Mar. 1998. All trees were grown in the rhizotrons until Oct. 1998 and then transplanted, with minimally disturbed rootballs, to field soil and grown for an additional two years. October-transplanted trees of both species began root regeneration earlier and regenerated more roots, as judged by accumulated root length on rhizotron windows, than Nov.- or March-transplanted trees. Median date for beginning root extension for sugar maples was 48, 22, and 0 days before budbreak for October-, November-, and Marchtransplanted trees, respectively. Median date for beginning root extension for northern red oak was 4, 21, and 14 days after budbreak for October-, November-, and Marchtransplanted trees, respectively. Height and trunk diameter growth were similar for all treatments within each species for 3 years after application of treatments. Early fall transplanting will result in earlier first season post-transplant root growth for sugar maple and northern red oak. Earlier post-transplant root growth will likely increase resistance to stress imposed by harsh landscape environments.

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Zhanao Deng and Brent K. Harbaugh

Caladium (Caladium ×hortulanum) leaves can be injured at air temperatures below 15.5 °C. This chilling sensitivity restricts the geographical use of caladiums in the landscape, and leads to higher fuel costs in greenhouse production of pot plants because warmer conditions have to be maintained. This study was conducted to develop procedures to evaluate differences among caladium cultivars for chilling sensitivity and to identify cultivars that might be resistant to chilling injury. The effects of two chilling temperatures (12.1 and 7.2 °C) and three durations (1, 3, and 5 days) on the severity of chilling injury were compared for three cultivars known to differ in their sensitivity to low temperatures. Exposure of detached mature leaves to 7.2 °C for 3 days allowed differentiation of cultivars' chilling sensitivity. Chilling injury appeared as dark necrotic patches at or near leaf tips and along margins, as early as 1 day after chilling. Chilling injury became more widespread over a 13-day period, and the best window for evaluating cultivar differences was 9 to 13 days after chilling. Significant differences in chilling sensitivity existed among 16 cultivars. Three cultivars, `Florida Red Ruffles', `Marie Moir', and `Miss Muffet', were resistant to chilling injury. These cultivars could serve as parents for caladium cold-tolerance breeding, and this breeding effort could result in reduced chilling injury in greenhouse production of potted plants, or in new cultivars for regions where chilling occurs during the growing season.

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Timothy K. Broschat

Royal palms [Roystonea regia (HBK.) O.F. Cook], coconut palms (Cocos nucifera L. `Malayan Dwarf'), queen palms [Syagrus romanzoffiana (Chamisso) Glassman], and pygmy date palms (Phoenix roebelenii O'Brien) were grown in a rhizotron to determine the patterns of root and shoot growth over a 2-year period. Roots and shoots of all four species of palms grew throughout the year, but both root and shoot growth rates were positively correlated with air and soil temperature for all but the pygmy date palms. Growth of primary roots in all four species was finite for these juvenile palms and lasted for only 5 weeks in royal palms, but ≈7 weeks in the other three species. Elongation of secondary roots lasted for only 9 weeks for coconut palms and less than half of that time for the other three species. Primary root growth rate varied from 16 mm·week-1 for coconut and pygmy date palms to 31 mm·week-1 for royal palms, while secondary root growth rates were close to 10 mm·week-1 for all species. About 25% of the total number of primary roots in these palms grew in contact with the rhizotron window, allowing the prediction of the total root number and length from the sample of roots visible in the rhizotron. Results indicated that there is no obvious season when palms should not be transplanted in southern Florida because of root inactivity.

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Charles S. Vavrina

The research reviewed here represents the majority of the information available on transplant age to date. When the results of these studies are distilled down to the “ideal” transplant age for setting of a specific crop, we generally arrive at the recommendations found in the 1962 edition of Knott's Handbook for Vegetable Growers. The conflicting results in the literature on transplant age may be due to the different environmental and cultural conditions that the plants were exposed to, both in the greenhouse and in the field. The studies did reveal that the transplant age window for certain crops might be wider than previously thought. Older transplants generally result in earlier yields while younger transplants will produce comparable yields, but take longer to do so. Our modern cultivars, improved production systems, and technical expertise enable us to produce high yields regardless of transplant age. The data, in general, support the view that if a vegetable grower requires resets after an catastrophic establishment failure (freeze, flood, etc.), they need not fear the older plants usually on hand at the transplant production facility.

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Matt Kelting, J. Roger Harris, Jody Fanelli, and Bonnie Appleton

Application of biostimulants, humate-based products marketed as aids to plant establishment, may increase early post-transplant root growth and water uptake of landscape trees. We tested three distinct types of biostimulants on root growth and sapflow of balled and burlapped red maple (Acer rubrum L. `Franksred') trees. Treatments included: humate, 1) as a wettable powder formulation, applied as a soil drench; 2) as a liquid formulation to which various purported root growth—promoting additives had been added, also applied as a soil drench; 3) as a dry granular formulation, applied as a topdress; and 4) a nontreated control. Root growth was monitored through single-tree rhizotrons, and sap flow was measured with a heat balance sapflow system. Roots were first observed in the rhizotron windows 38 days after planting. No biostimulant-treated trees had more root length than nontreated controls, and the two soil drench treatments had the lowest root length throughout the 20 weeks of post-transplant observation. All biostimulants increased sapflow.

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Thomas Björkman

Buckwheat has historically been used to suppress weeds and improve soil condition, but many of the tricks to success have been lost to history. Buckwheat is inexpensive and particularly effective in short windows between crops. We are documenting the techniques of existing experts and complementing that with research. We surveyed northeastern vegetable and strawberry growers to identify what information they need in order to feel confident that they could succeed with a buckwheat cover crop. Top questions include seed availability, types of weeds controlled, relation to other cover crops, volunteer management, and herbicide tolerance. One question tested experimentally was how to establish a full stand with minimum cost. We tested the minimum tillage requirement following pea harvest. No-till resulted in good emergence but slow growth, and dominance by weeds. Disk incorporating the pea residue resulted in excellent growth, which was not further enhanced by chisel plowing before disking. Buckwheat seedlings are intolerant of waterlogging, so deeper tillage may be important in wet years. Sowing buckwheat immediately after tillage resulted in emergence of 35%, leaving gaps large enough for weeds to grow. Waiting 1 week gave an 80% stand and complete weed suppression. Waiting 2 weeks also gave an 80% stand, but weed growth was advanced enough that weed suppression was incomplete. Therefore, a buckwheat cover crop following early vegetables requires light tillage to permit root growth, and up to a week of decomposition. If those provisions are made, complete weed suppression is obtainable.

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C.R. Unrath, J.D. Obermiller, A. Green, and S.J. McArtney

The variation in natural fruit drop of ‘Scarletspur Delicious’/‘M.7’ (M.7) apple (Malus ×domestica) trees in a commercial orchard over a period of 11 consecutive years was visualized using box and whisker plots. Delaying harvest until 1 week after the normal harvest date resulted in fruit drop ranging from 2% to 33% depending on the year. The effects of aminoethoxyvinlyglycine (AVG) and naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) on fruit drop and fruit firmness at normal and delayed harvests was monitored each year. AVG and NAA programs tended to mitigate fruit drop most effectively in years when natural fruit drop was heavy. AVG delayed the loss of fruit firmness, whereas a preload NAA program delayed firmness loss in fruit that were harvested 3 weeks after the normal harvest date only. A standard NAA program for drop control did not accelerate softening of ‘Scarletspur Delicious’ during the first 3 weeks after the normal harvest date. Growers should closely monitor fruit maturity and stem loosening during the harvest window each year to minimize the risk of major losses due to fruit drop. When timely harvest is not possible, perhaps due to unforeseen weather events or constraints in labor availability, or poor management, then use of harvest management aids such as AVG or NAA becomes critical on cultivars prone to fruit drop.

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Michael B. Thomas, Jonathan H. Crane, James J. Ferguson, Howard W. Beck, and Joseph W. Noling

The TFRUIT·Xpert and CIT·Xpert computerbased diagnostic programs can quickly assist commercial producers, extension agents, and homeowners in the diagnosis of diseases, insect pest problems and physiological disorders. The CIT·Xpert system focuses on citrus (Citrus spp.), whereas the TFRUIT·Xpert system focuses on avocado (Persea americana Mill.), carambola (Averrhoa carambola L.), lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.), mango (Mangifera indica L.), papaya (Carica papaya L.), and `Tahiti' lime (Citrus latifolia Tan.). The systems were developed in cooperation with research and extension specialists with expertise in the area of diagnosing diseases, disorders, and pest problems of citrus and tropical fruit. The systems' methodology reproduces the diagnostic reasoning process of these experts. Reviews of extension and research literature and 35-mm color slide images were completed to obtain representative information and slide images illustrative of diseases, disorders, and pest problems specific to Florida. The diagnostic programs operate under Microsoft-Windows. Full-screen color images are linked to symptoms (87 for CIT·Xpert and 167 for TFRUIT·Xpert) of diseases, disorders, and insect pest problems of citrus and tropical fruit, respectively. Users can also refer to summary documents and retrieve management information from the Univ. of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension publications through hypertext links. The programs are available separately on CD-ROM and each contains over 150 digital color images of symptoms.