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Sandra A. Balch, Cynthia B. McKenney, and Dick L. Auld

Oenothera biennis, common evening primrose, produces seeds that have a high oil content containing gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), a fatty acid of medicinal, and dietary importance. These plants are commonly found in sandy or gravelly soils and have the ability to tolerate hot, dry conditions. Plants containing economically important oils such as GLA are potential crops for arid environments with minimal irrigation. Many native species of evening primrose have not yet been evaluated for oil content. In this project, a systematic survey of native Onagraceae species was conducted in the Texas Panhandle and the Texas South Plains. Six species of Oenothera and two species of Calylophus were found. Locations were recorded with a Global Positioning System (GPS) to facilitate relocation and collection. Distribution maps were made for each species. The occurrence of species varied greatly from north to south, with the exception of one species that occurred throughout the area surveyed. Seeds were collected from each species and from various locations within the range of each species. Germination percentages were determined for each species and had a wide variation. Evaluation of the oil content of this native germplasm could possibly lead to development of new commercial sources of GLA.

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J.J. Ferguson and G.D. Israel

During Summer 1996, a disproportionate systematic sampling procedure was used to obtain an initial sample of 955 citrus growers from the mailing lists of extension agents in 27 counties. Of these, 451 usable responses were returned (67% response rate), providing an expected error of ± 4.3% with a 95% confidence interval. Surveyed growers obtained weather information during the 1995–96 winter from multiple sources, including the National Weather Service (NWS) (48%), commercial radio/TV (48%), Extension offices (18%), private meteorologists (9%), and other sources (10%). After the NWS discontinued agricultural freeze forecasts in Apr. 1996, growers indicated they would rely on commercial radio/TV (72%); private meteorologists (20%), and their County Extension Office (32%) for weather reports. When deciding which cold protection method to use, respondents adopted Extension (35%) and consultants' recommendations (30%), assessed the costs and benefits of cold protection (32%), and assessed risks based on grove history (38%). Cold protection methods used by percent respondents included: flooding groves (22%); grove heaters (2%); wind machines (2%); permanent overhead irrigation systems (2%); ground microsprinklers (76%); in-tree microsprinklers (18%); tree wraps (13%); and tree wraps or covers with microsprinklers (6%). Seventy-three percent of growers reported that their cold protection methods were very effective for a freeze with minimum temperatures of –2°C for at least 4 hr, with 12% and 3% reporting cold protection measures being very effective at –7 and –9°C, respectively.

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C. Richer-Leclerc and J.-A. Rioux

The “Réseau d'essais des plantes ligneuses ornementales du Québec” (REPLOQ) is a research project initiated in 1982 with the mandate to elaborate, develop, and coordinate a cooperative research project to evaluate the winter hardiness of ornamental plants. Systematic evaluation trials provided information on growth potential and hardiness of woody trees and shrubs evaluated over a 5-year period in the principal growing regions of Québec. Zonal range covered was 2 to 5b in the Canadian system. Adequate field testing is critical for new introductions and, since 1984, more than 400 species and cultivars have been introduced and eight evaluated in each climatic zone. Propagation methods, as well as their potential for ornamental purpose, were described. In the 1984 plantation, 30 ornamental species and cultivars were evaluated. Winter damage data observed on each plant during this period were analyzed by Clusters analysis and five groups of plants were determined. Trees, flowering shrubs, and foliage shrubs were discussed separately and winter damages of each group were submitted to “Correspondence analyses” to identify plant response to climatic conditions. Growth and production potentials were defined by SAS analysis. Hardiness zone of each species was detailed, established, or modified.

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Douglas A. Hopper and Kevin T. Cifelli

Growth predictions derived from data collected in controlled-environment chambers would be expected to differ from growth responses observed in variable greenhouse conditions. ROSESIM was developed as a dynamic plant growth model based on `Royalty' rose (Rosa hybrida L.) response to 15 unique treatment combinations of photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), day temperature (DT), and night temperature (NT) under constant growth chamber conditions. Regression coefficients for growth equations are read from an external ASCII file, thus permitting coefficients up to a full quadratic model form. Calibration coefficients (CC) were added to ROSESIM to enable predictions to be altered proportionally to permit improved prediction of specific growth characteristics. Numerator and denominator values for CC are adjustable for the first 10 days (initial) growth equations, subsequent growth until anthesis equations, and for the prediction of anthesis. Validation studies were used to set CC values; this enables the model based on growth in controlled environment chambers to be systematically calibrated on site to fit actual growth measured at a specific greenhouse location.

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James A. Duthie, James Shrefler, Warren Roberts, and Jonathan V. Edelson

In each of seven field experiments, density of watermelon (cultivar Sugar Baby) plants was varied over the range 1000-9000 plants/ha by varying the distance between plants in single-row, replicate plots. Per unit area, reproductive biomass and marketable yield each increased linearly with density. An upper limit on these response variables at high density was not detected in any experiment. The rate of increase per 1000 plants/ha ranged from 1.1 to 3.2 Mg·ha-1, for reproductive biomass, and from 0.5 to 1.1 Mg·ha-1, for marketable yield. The linear effect of density explained >90% of the increase in reproductive biomass in most experiments. The effect on marketable yield was more variable because the marketable fraction of reproductive biomass often was highly variable. In most experiments, the marketable fraction did not vary systematically with density. The linear rate of change in the marketable fraction with density did not exceed 3% per 1000 plants/ha on average in any experiment. Intraspecific competition intensified rapidly as density was increased in some experiments. Intensity of competition appeared to vary among environments.

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G. Schroeck, I.L. Goldman, and M.J. Havey

Since the 1930s, more than 130 inbred lines and 60 hybrid cultivars of onion have been released in the public sector in the United States. Other than breeder's reports from the period 1946-1965 and anecdotal information kept by onion workers, no systematic treatment of the pedigree of public onion germplasm releases has been developed. The objective of this research was to collect, characterize, and display the genetic relationships among more than 200 public onion germplasm sources used in the United States since 1931. Pedigree information revealed that most modern onion cultivars in the United States descend from a few open-pollinated populations brought to this country by immigrants. For example, selection in the open-pollinated populations Common Yellow and Silverskin by onion farmers in the eastern U.S. resulted in the formation of Yellow Globe Danvers, which was a precursor to virtually all Eastern storage onion germplasm in the U.S. Open-pollinated populations such Yellow Globe Danvers, Valencia, Sweet Spanish, Bermuda, and Grano formed the foundation germplasm for the first public U.S. onion breeding programs. Findings from this study suggest a relatively narrow germplasm base of public onion germplasm in the United States; however, this narrow pool coexists alongside significant gains through scientific breeding efforts, particularly during the past 75 years.

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Alan T. Bakalinsky, Hong Xu, Diane J. Wilson, and S. Arulsekar

A total of eight random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers were generated in a screen of 77 primers of 10-base length and were detected reproducibly among nine different grape (Vitis) rootstocks. Occasional failed amplifications could not be explained rationally nor easily corrected by systematic replacement of individual reaction components. In an effort to improve their reliability, the RAPD markers were cloned, their termini sequenced, and new sequence-specific primer pairs were synthesized based on addition of 10 to 14 bases to the 3' termini of the original 10-mers. Six pairs of the new primers were evaluated at their optimal and higher-than optimal annealing temperatures. One primer pair amplified a product the same size as the original RAPD marker in all rootstocks, resulting in loss of polymorphism. Post-amplification digestion with 7 different restriction endonucleases failed to reveal restriction site differences. Three primer pairs amplified an unexpected length variant in some accessions. Two other pairs of primers amplified a number of unexpected bands. Better approaches for exploiting the sequence differences that account for the RAPD phenomenon will be discussed.

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M.H. Maletta, W.P. Cowgill Jr., T. Manning, W. Tietjen, S.A. Johnston, and P. Nitzsche

Weather information has many applications in crop production practices, including disease forecasting. A variety of weather instruments are available for on-farm use, but associated costs and need for regular calibration and maintenance can limit actual use, especially by smaller growers. Subscription to an electronic meteorological service may be a viable alternative to on-site weather stations. In 1997 and 1998, hourly temperature, relative humidity and leaf wetness were monitored at six sites in a 400-m2 area of New Jersey with Field Monitor™ data loggers (Sensor Instruments, Inc.) and by subscription to SkyBit, Inc., an electronic meteorological service. There was close correspondence in temperature data from the two sources at all sites, the average seasonal difference ranging from 0 to 2 °F. Relative humidity data was variable between the two sources, the greatest variation occurring at low and high humidity, the ranges at which relative humidity sensors had been shown to be least accurate. Leaf wetness estimates from the two sources agreed at least two-thirds of the time. Data differences related to source were attributed to both systematic and random error. The usefulness of electronic weather data in crop production depends on how sensitive the particular weather-dependent applications (e.g., predictive disease and insect models) are to variation in the input data. The TOM-CAST early blight forecaster for tomatoes was not particularly sensitive to differences between SkyBit and Field Monitor leaf wetness estimates.

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Timothy J. Smalley and Frank B. Flanders

The Industry Liaison Committee of the American Society for Horticultural Science conducted a survey of the horticulture industry to systematically determine: 1) industry's perception of university training of recent graduates and 2) industry's perception of educational needs for future graduates. A Delphi survey was sent to experts in the fruit, ornamental, greenhouse, turf, and vegetable industry. The respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the level of competence of recent university graduates in personnel management and marketing. The lack of hands-on training in university courses was viewed as a major problem, but the respondents agreed that internships should provide university students with the necessary practical experience and universities should concentrate on the science of horticulture. The respondents indicated that business management and marketing expertise will be more important in the future than knowledge of production techniques; however, they would not be more likely to hire a business major instead of a horticulture major. The following areas of study were ranked for relative importance to be included in the university curriculum (from most important to least): communication skills, horticultural technology, business management, personnel management, plant nutrition and soil fertility, pest control, plant physiology, environmental awareness, plant physiology, plant pathology, accounting, and equipment use and maintenance. A second round of questioning for this Delphi survey is being conducted and results will be presented to verify preliminary results.

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Philipp W. Simon

Central Asia is the center of origin for many Allium species and a rich genetic source of wild relatives of onion and garlic. For this reason germplasm collections of cultivated Alliums have targeted the acquisition of seed and bulb samples from this region, and several plant expeditions from Asia, Europe, and North America have collected Allium germplasm in Central Asia. Central Asian Allium germplasm has been valuable both as raw materials for scientific research leading to published data, and as starting materials for genetic improvement of the crop. Utilizing this germplasm it has been possible to improve garlic so it can be bred like other seed-propagated crops. Several interspecific crosses have been made between onion and other Central Asian wild relatives and these crosses have yielded useful traits for onion improvement. Allium germplasm from this region has also been important in elucidating the systematics and origins of diversity in onion and garlic. By any of these measures, Central Asian Allium collections have been valuable. Challenges and successes in collecting, maintaining, evaluating, and using these collections remain.