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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Irradiating a ferric ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (FeEDTA)-containing commercially available soluble fertilizer with ultraviolet (UV) and blue radiation from high intensity discharge (HID) lamps caused the photooxidation of the FeEDTA complex, resulting in the loss of 98% of soluble iron. The loss of soluble iron coincided with the development of a precipitate that was mostly composed of iron. The effects of using an irradiated FeEDTA-containing fertilizer solution on plant growth and nutrition under commercial conditions were studied. Application of the irradiated fertilizer solutions to greenhouse grown tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum) resulted in lower levels of iron (6%) and zinc (9%), and higher levels of manganese (8%) and copper (25%) in leaf tissue compared to control plants that received a nonirradiated fertilizer solution. Leaf macronutrient levels (phosphorous, potassium, calcium, and magnesium), leaf dry weight, leaf number, and plant height was not affected by application of the irradiated fertilizer solution.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Irradiation of, ferric ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (FeEDTA, iron chelate)-containing commercial fertilizer solutions by fluorescent plus incandescent lamps resulted in the loss of both FeEDTA and soluble iron (Fe), and the formation of a yellow-tan precipitate that was mostly composed of Fe. The ratio of soluble Fe:manganese (Mn) was altered due to FeEDTA photodegradation from 2:1 in the nonirradiated solutions to 1:4 in the irradiated solutions, respectively. Storing fertilizer solutions in containers that were impervious to light prevented FeEDTA photodegradation.

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J.G. Williamson and E.P. Miller

Growth and yield of ‘Misty’ and ‘Star’ southern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum hybrid) plants that were grown in pine bark culture were evaluated under several rates of granular or liquid fertilizers. Granular fertilizer resulted in larger canopy volumes and slightly greater annual fruit yield than liquid fertilizer. In 2003 and 2004, canopy growth increased linearly as fertilizer rate increased up to the highest rate tested [81 g nitrogen (N), 11.8 g phosphorus (P), and 44.6 g potassium (K) per plant per year]. Similarly, a positive relationship was found for fruit yield and fertilizer rate during all 3 years. Berry yield was positively correlated with canopy size, and there was no relationship between fertilizer rate and berry yield per canopy volume, indicating that yield and canopy volume increased proportionally with increased fertilizer rate. Mean ‘Star’ berry weight was greater for granular fertilizer treatments than for liquid fertilizer treatments, but mean berry weight of ‘Misty’ was unaffected by fertilizer form. At the end of the experiment, visual examination of eight plants excavated by hand indicated that root systems of blueberry plants were primarily located in the pine bark layer with very few roots penetrating into the underlying soil. Limited water and nutrient holding capacities of pine bark, coupled with frequent irrigations to the shallow root systems in pine bark culture, probably resulted in considerable nutrient leaching and a high fertilizer requirement.

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Ben A. Faber, A. James Downer, Dirk Holstege, and Maren J. Mochizuki

Soil testing is an important component of a plant nutrient management program for farmers, home gardeners, and agricultural service personnel. Results from five commercially available colorimetric soil test kits were compared with standard laboratory analyses for pH, nitrate–nitrogen (NO3), phosphorus (P2O5), and potassium (K2O) content for Salinas clay loam soil with three cropping histories. The kits ranked in accuracy (frequency of match with analytical laboratory results) in the following sequence: La Motte Soil Test Kit, Rapitest, Quick Soiltest, Nitty-Gritty, and Soil Kit at 94%, 92%, 64%, 36%, and 33%. NO3 was most accurately determined by Rapitest and Quick Soiltest, P2O5 by Rapitest, and pH by La Motte Soil Test Kit. K2O was determined with equal accuracy by all but Soil Kit. The composition of the extractants may be an important factor affecting the accuracy of the test kit. For example, all kit extractants for K2O were composed of the same chemical and matched analytical laboratory results 82% of the time. By contrast, kits using an acid-based extractant for NO3 analysis more frequently matched the analytical laboratory results than kits using a zinc-based extractant (P ≤ 0.0001). La Motte Soil Test Kit had the largest range of pH measures, whereas Rapitest was relatively easy to use and interpret and is a practical choice for home gardeners or landscapers; both were more than 90% accurate for this soil type. Although an important limitation of commercial test kits is the approximate or categorical value of nutrient content (i.e., low, medium, high), accurate test kits can yield results quickly and economically for improved nutrient management.

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Timothy K. Broschat

Ixoras (Ixora L.) growing in calcareous sandy soils are highly susceptible to a reddish leaf spot disorder. Symptoms appear on the oldest leaves of a shoot and consist of irregular diffuse brownish-red blotches on slightly chlorotic leaves. Symptoms of K deficiency, P deficiency, and both K and P deficiency were induced in container-grown Ixora `Nora Grant' by withholding the appropriate element from the fertilization regime. Potassium-deficient ixoras showed sharply delimited necrotic spotting on the oldest leaves, were stunted in overall size, and retained fewer leaves per shoot than control plants. Phosphorus-deficient plants showed no spotting, but had uniformly brownish-red older leaves and olive-green younger foliage. Plants deficient in both elements displayed symptoms similar to those observed on landscape plants. Symptomatic experimental and landscape ixoras all had low foliar concentrations of both K and P.

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James M. Dangler and Salvadore J. Locascio

Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were grown on polyethylene-mulched beds of an Arrendondo fine sand during two seasons to evaluate the effects of trickle irrigation-applied N and/or K, percentages of trickle-applied nutrient(s) (50%, 75%, and 100%), and schedules of nutrient application (variable, 2% to 12.5% of total amount weekly, or constant, 8.3% of the total amount weekly) on the occurrence of fruit external and internal blotchy ripening and fruit mineral nutrient concentration. Trickle-applied fertilizer was injected into the irrigation water weekly during the first 12 weeks of each season. External and internal blotchy ripening were less severe with trickle-applied N supplied as N + K or N than with preplant-applied N. Trickle-applied N + K or N resulted in higher fruit concentrations of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg than with all preplant-applied N. Internal fruit quality improved slightly as the trickle-applied percentage of N and/or K increased from 50% to 100%, but significant differences in exterior quality were not obtained. Internal fruit quality was higher early in the season than late in the season during both years, but this response was not associated with fruit elemental concentration. The weekly schedule of nutrient injection had no significant effect on fruit quality or fruit elemental concentration. Highest yields of high-quality fruit were obtained with 50% trickle-applied N + K.

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James M. Dangler and Salvadore J. Locascio

Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were grown on polyethylene-mulched beds of an Arredondo fine sand during two seasons to evaluate the effects of trickle-applied N and/or K, percentages of trickle-applied N and K (50%, 75%, and 100%), and schedules of N and K application on fruit yield, and leaf and shoot N and K concentrations. The daily irrigation requirement, calculated at 47% of the water evaporated from a U.S. Weather Service Class A pan (Epan), was met by the application of 4.6 mm to 7.2 mm water/day. Fertilizer was injected weekly in a variable (2% to 12.5% of the total amount weekly) or constant (8.3% of the total amount weekly) schedule during the first 12 weeks of each season. Trickle-applied nutrients and trickle-applied percentage of nutrients interacted in their effects on early, midseason, and total marketable fruit yields. When N + K and N were trickle-applied, the mean early total marketable fruit yield decreased linearly from 25.3 t·ha-1 to 16.3 t·ha-1 as the trickle-applied percentage of nutrients increased from 50% to 100%; but when K was trickle-applied (100% preplant-applied N), yields were not affected by the trickle-applied percentage (mean 26.3 t·ha-1). The weekly schedule of N and K injection had no effect on fruit yield or other characteristics. Higher leaf N and K concentrations early in the season were obtained when the respective nutrient was 50% to 100% preplant-applied than when the respective nutrient was 75% to 100% trickle-applied; but late in the season, higher concentrations were obtained when the respective nutrient was trickle-applied. Higher yields, however, were associated with higher early season leaf N concentrations rather than with higher late-season leaf N or K concentrations.

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Matthew Arrington and Lisa Wasko DeVetter

Fruit set in northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) can be low under certain climatic conditions, contributing to reduced yields in northwestern Washington. The mechanisms influencing fruit set are complex, but reduced fruit set may be associated with inadequate nutrient availability during critical stages of flowering, ovule fertilization, and initial fruit development. Calcium (Ca) and boron (B) are of particular interest for reproductive developmental processes and are frequently applied annually by growers in the Pacific Northwest region because of the perception that these nutrients enhance fruit set and corresponding yields. Evaluation of commonly applied products containing these nutrients and their effects on fruit set and yield are of specific importance to justify the application of these nutrients. To address this, commercially available fertilizers containing Ca and B were applied to ‘Draper’ and ‘Bluecrop’ blueberry as foliar sprays, either alone or in combination, during the 2015 and 2016 growing seasons in northwestern Washington. Treatments included calcium chloride (750 and 1500 ppm Ca), calcium sulfate (150 ppm Ca), and tetra borate (125 and 250 ppm B) foliar sprays, repeated six times per season every 7–10 days from early pink bud through petal fall. No significant increases were observed for fruit set, estimated yield, and fruit quality (firmness and berry weight) across the treatments. Increased concentrations of B were observed in leaf tissues in 2015 and 2016, and to a lesser extent fruit tissues. Calcium remained unchanged regardless of treatment and tissue type. Under the conditions of this study, foliar applications of Ca and B did not lead to increased fruit set or yield. This research suggests that other approaches should be explored to increase fruit set and corresponding yields of highbush blueberry grown in northwest Washington.

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Jeffrey G. Williamson and Jonathan H. Crane

A wide variety of temperate, subtropical, and tropical fruit crops are grown commercially in Florida. Farm size ranges from large commercial operations exceeding 100 acres to small 1- or 2-acre “estate” farms. Irrigation and fertilization practices vary widely with crop, soil type, and management philosophy. However, many growers are adopting practices such as microirrigation, fertigation, and other technologies, which, if properly used, should reduce water and fertilizer inputs and minimize leaching and runoff of fertilizers and pesticides. Although fertilizer and irrigation recommendations exist for major crops such as avocado (Persea americana), mango (Mangifera indica), and blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), there is little research-based information specific to Florida for many minor crops, including muscadine (Vitis rodundifolia), blackberry (Rubus spp.), sapodilla (Manilkara zapota), guava (Psidium guajava), papaya (Carica papaya), and others. Even where recommendations exist, refinement of irrigation and fertilization practices is needed because of changes in technology.

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Fan-Hsuan Yang, Lisa W. DeVetter, Bernadine C. Strik, and David R. Bryla

Accumulation of calcium (Ca) in fruit is largely caused by transpiration and varies depending on the concentration of Ca in the xylem fluid. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the relationship between fruit stomatal functioning and Ca accumulation during different stages of development in northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.). Stomata were scarce on the berries and were concentrated primarily on the distal end near the calyx. The density of the stomata was greatest at petal fall, averaging 5 to 108 stomata/mm2 from the proximal end (pedicel end) to the distal end of the berries. Stomata were wide-open at the early green stage of berry development and had a slight deposit of wax along the guard cells. As the berries expanded during the initial period of rapid growth (stage I), most of the stomata remained near the distal segment of the berries; by the late green stage, almost none was found in the middle and proximal segments. The majority of these stomata were completely covered with wax when the berries began to change color and ripen (stage II and stage III). Stomatal conductance (g S) of the berries averaged 45 mmol·m−2·s−1 at petal fall and rapidly declined as the fruit developed. By the fruit coloring stage, conductance was low and remained less than 15 mmol·m−2·s−1 throughout the ripening period. In four cultivars, including Duke, Bluecrop, Aurora, and Elliott, Ca uptake in the berries increased rapidly during the early green stage; however, it slowed considerably between the late green and fruit coloring stages and stopped completely during fruit ripening. The results of this study strongly suggested that practices used to increase the Ca content of blueberries, such as the application of foliar fertilizers, should be performed early in the season during the first few weeks after flowering.