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Anita N. Azarenko, Annie Chozinski, Sarah F. McDonald*, Thomas A. Forge, and Timothy Righetti

Information about the use of alternative management practices (AOFMP) in perennial systems to manage soil biota and influence the uptake of nutrients is limited. The objectives of this study are to evaluate AOFMP on soil quality, focussing on soil biology, and on nitrogen uptake efficiency. Research plots are located in Lewis-Brown Farm (LB), Corvallis, OR (`Fuji' apple trees) and Mid-Columbia Ag. Research & Extension Cent. (HR), Hood River, OR (`Red Delicious' apple trees). Main plot treatments were weed control methods: herbicide or cultivation. Sub plot treatments were soil amendments: no amendment, bark mulch (BM), compost, and green vetch/barley mulch (VB). A split-plot completely randomized design with 3 replications was used. Depleted NH3 SO4 was applied to single-tree replicates at bud break in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Compost amended plots contained more fungivorous nematodes than other treatments, although this difference was not significant at LB. At both sites there was a significant interaction between main and sub plot treatments in the number of bacterivores. At LB, the interaction between main and sub plot treatments affected the number of enrichment opportunists and the F-ratio was affected by amendment. At HR, the structural index was also affected by amendment. Compost resulted in the most diverse populations. Soil respiration rates in compost and BM plots were consistently higher than in unamended and VB treated plots. Soil P, pH, and organic matter content were increased by compost amendment and bulk density was decreased. At HR mid-season leaves, fruit, and first year growth from compost treated plots contained the least nitrogen derived from fertilizer, followed by bark mulch. The highest nitrogen derived from fertilizer was in unamended plots.

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Esmaeil Fallahi and John K. Fellman

Effects of three times and five rates of urea application on productivity, tree growth, soil nitrate movement, nutrient partitioning, and postharvest fruit quality of `Redspur Delicious' apple on M.7 rootstock over several years were studied. Time of application did not have significant effects on most fruit quality factors or yield. However, significant differences were observed for quality and yield measurements among different quantities of N. Fruit firmness decreased with every increment in N increase. Trees with N at 0.045 kg/tree had lower yield and higher fruit firmness than those with higher quantities of N. Fruit weight and color decreased with each increment increase in the quantity of N. Trees with N at 0.045 and 0.18 kg/tree had significantly better (more red) color and lower fruit N and leaf N than those with higher quantities of N. Bud tissue nutrients were affected by quantity of N application. Fruit from trees with N at <0.18 kg/tree had lower soluble solids. High N increased fruit ethylene and respiration. Nitrogen application affected 2-methyl butyl acetate of fruit. Monitoring nitrate movement through the soil showed that application of N at >0.45 kg/tree, particularly in fall resulted in excess levels of nitrate, increasing the possibility of underground water contamination. Applying N at ≤0.32 kg/tree did not result in excess soil nitrate at 1.52-m depth.

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Philip L. Forsline, James R. McFerson, and Warren F. Lamboy

The USDA–ARS active collection of Malus includes over 2500 accessions maintained as field-grown trees at the Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU), Geneva, N.Y. Nearly 30% of this collection is presently cryopreserved as dormant buds at the National Seed Storage Laboratory, Fort Collins, Colo., as a backup security collection. Successful bud-grafting recovery rates (≥40%) after one to four years of cryogenic storage have been documented for over 675 of 750 accessions tested. However, current protocols dictate budwood collection at PGRU from late December through early March, when buds are thought to be optimally acclimated for desiccation and slow freezing to –30°C, our pretreatment for cryopreservation. This causes a processing bottleneck. Our observations suggest temporary storage of budwood at –4°C after field harvest is possible, but we had not tested this directly. Therefore, we collected budwood from four accessions representing different levels of cold tolerance on six dates from January to March, 1995. Dormant buds were processed for cryopreservation monthly after storage in sealed bags at –4°C for 1 to 6 months. Recovery rates ranged from 55% to 100%. Neither collection date nor length of storage at –4°C affected rate of recovery. These results suggest we can significantly increase the throughput and efficiency of our cryopreservation efforts, thereby enhancing management and security of the Malus collection.

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Charles F. Forney

Studies were conducted over three seasons to determine the relationship of temperature and humidity on the storage life of fresh cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton) fruit. Each year, cranberries harvested from four commercial bogs were stored at temperatures ranging from 0 to 10 °C in combination with relative humidities (RH) ranging from 75% to 98%. Fruit were stored under these conditions for up to 6 months and were evaluated monthly for marketability, decay, physiological breakdown, weight loss, and firmness immediately after removal and after an additional week at 20 °C. The percentage of marketable fruit declined substantially over time in all storage conditions with 41% to 57% becoming unmarketable after 2 months as a result of both decay and physiological breakdown. Relative humidity had a greater effect on fruit storage life than temperature and after 5 months, the amount of marketable fruit stored in high (98%) and medium (88%) RH was 71% and 31% less than that stored in low (75% to 82%) RH. Rates of fresh weight loss increased as RH in storage decreased and was 0.41%, 0.81%, and 0.86% per month in fruit stored in high, medium, and low RH, respectively. Fruit firmness was not significantly affected by RH. The effects of storage temperatures ranging from 0 to 7 °C on marketable fruit after 2 to 5 months of storage were not significant. Only fruit stored at 10 °C consistently had fewer marketable fruit when compared with fruit stored at lower temperatures. Storage temperature had no significant effect on decay incidence. However, physiological breakdown was greatest in fruit stored at 10 °C. Rates of fresh weight loss increased with storage temperature, ranging from 0.35% to 1.17% per month for fruit stored at 0 to 10 °C, respectively. Contrary to previous reports, no evidence of chilling injury was found in cranberry fruit stored at 0 °C. Results suggest that cranberry fruit should be stored at 0 to 7 °C and 75% to 82% RH to retain marketable fruit.

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P.V. Devi Prasad, P. Tai Chun, and S.D.P. Potluri

The Production of the cut flowers of Anthurium andreanum was in decline after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and the subsequent wide-spread problem of bacterial blight in Jamaica and the Caribbean. New methods of cultivation and new varieties were necessary for the development of the industry. In addition, with the destruction of coconut trees, the supply of commonly used coconut husk became difficult. The present work has focused on the development of alternative media to coconut husk and on the development of cultural and fertilizer practices that increase plant productivity and reduce incidence of disease. The variety Honduras was chosen for the study. A 3 × 3 latin square design was used to evaluate four media—coconut husk, brick chips, gravel, and basalt igneous rock—two methods of cultivation—pots and beds; at three levels of fertilizer—244, 448 and 896 kg N/ha per year. While the coconut husk was still the better medium, the other media have resulted only in about 15% decline in the marketable blooms. This was offset by the requirement for low maintenance and lower fertilizer rates in inorganic media compared to coconut husk. Pot culture proved to be better for management purposes as well as production for the same area of production, as density of the plants could be increased and the incidence of disease could be easily managed. These results will be discussed with emphasis on a simple cost–benefit analysis of various combinations of cultivation methods and practices for commercial cultivation of A. andreanum var. Honduras in the Caribbean.

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Jerry C. Leyte and Charles F. Forney

Forced-air cooling rates of highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) packaged in 6-oz (177-mL) or 1-pt (473-mL) clamshell containers were affected by positions of vent holes in corrugated flats. Most rapid cooling occurred in flats with vents across the top of the flat. Additional vents aligned in front of clamshells resulted in more rapid and uniform cooling than vents placed between clamshells. Vent holes in the bottom of flats had no effect on cooling rates. Clamshells cooled more slowly in the front of the pallet where cold air entered than in the back of the pallet where cold air exited. Fruit in 6-oz clamshells cooled faster than fruit in 1-pt clamshells.

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Shangchun Hu, Gail Hansen, and Paul Monaghan

Stormwater ponds are widely used in urban developments to control and clean stormwater and add aesthetic appeal to the landscape. This dual function of residential stormwater systems can create conditions at odds for the optimal performance of either function. This investigation sought to discover connections between aesthetics, plants, design, maintenance, and municipal codes as a means to improve water quality and stormwater pond appearance. To establish the connections between visual quality and environmental function, we conducted five focus groups, four interviews with landscape professionals, and reviewed regulatory codes for 46 municipalities. We concluded that homeowner preferences and the social influence of neighbors were closely linked to design, codes, and management issues. Insights gained include the shared social value of wildlife viewing and aesthetic preferences for diverse, but maintained shoreline planting.

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Jill A. Montgomery, Ray A. Bressan, and Cary A. Mitchell

Obtaining uniform mechano-dwarfing of Arabidopsis thaliana (L.) Heynh. seedlings within dense plantings is problematic. Alternative forms of mechano-stimulation were applied to seedlings in effort to obtain uniform growth reduction compared with undisturbed controls in both greenhouse and controlled growth environments. Arabidopsis grown under low photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) artificial light grew upright with limited leaf expansion, which enhanced mechano-responsiveness compared to that of rosette-growing plants under filtered sunlight or high PPF artificial light. Hypocotyls of seedlings grown at PPFs >60 μmol·m-2·s-1 elongated less and had 6% less sensitivity to mechanical stress than seedlings grown at PPFs <60 μmol·m-2·s-1. Fluorescent lamps alone (F) or fluorescent plus incandescent (F+I) lamps were compared for seedling responses to mechanical stress. Under F lighting, hypocotyl elongation was reduced 25% to 40% by twice-daily brush or plate treatments, and brushed seedlings exhibited more growth reduction than did plate treatments. Seedlings grown under F+I lamps exhibited similar stress-induced growth reduction compared to seedlings grown under F only, but stressed F+I seedlings lodged to a greater extent due to excessive hypocotyl elongation. Temperature-response studies using standardized F-only lighting indicated increased hypocotyl elongation but decreased leaf expansion, and decreased mechano-responsivity to brushing over the temperature range from 20 to 28 °C. Daylength studies indicated similar degrees of mechano-inhibition of hypocotyl elongation over the daylength range of 12, 16, 20, and 24 hours, whereas fresh weight of stressed seedling shoots declined compared to controls. A combination of environmental growth parameters that give repeatable, visual mechanical dwarfing of Arabidopsis include low-PPF fluorescent lighting from 55 to 60 μmol·m-2·s-1, ambient temperatures from 22 to 25 °C, and twice-daily brush treatments.

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Patricia Newton Myers and Cary A. Mitchell

A copolymer acrylamide acrylate gel was investigated as the sole root matrix for dark-grown seedlings of soybean (Glycine max Merr. `Century 84'). Increasing Ca2+ in the hydrating solution of the hydrogel from 1 to 10 mm decreased its water-holding capacity from 97 to 46 mL·g-1, yet water potential of the medium remained high, sufficient for normal plant growth at all Ca2+ concentrations tested. Elongation rate of dark-grown soybean seedlings over a 54-hour period was 0.9, 1.5, and 1.8 mm·h-1 with 1.0, 2.5, or 5.0 mm Ca2+, respectively, but did not increase with further increases in Ca2+ concentration. Further study revealed that Na+ was released from the hydrogel medium and was taken up by the seedlings as Ca2+ increased in the medium. In dry hypocotyl tissue, sodium content correlated negatively with calcium content. Despite the presence of Na+ in the hydrogel, seedling growth was normal when adequate Ca2+ was added in the hydrating solution. Acrylamide hydrogels hold good potential as a sole growth matrix for short-term experiments with dark-grown seedlings without irrigation.

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Antonio Figueira and Jules Janick

In vitro culture of axillary cotyledonary shoots of Theobroma cacao L. (cacao) under increasing CO2 concentration from ambient to 24,000 ppm (culture tube levels) significantly increased total shoot elongation, number of leaves, leaf area per explant, and shoot dry and fresh weight. Although light was necessary for the CO2 response, the effect of various photon fluxes was not significant for the measured growth parameters. Net photosynthesis estimated on the basis of CO2 depletion in culture tubes increased 3.5 times from 463 to 2639 ppm CO2, and increased 1.5 times from 2639 to 14,849 ppm CO2, but declined from 14,849 to 24,015 ppm CO2. Ethylene concentration in culture vessels increased under enriched CO2 conditions. Depletion of nutrients (fructose, K, Ca, Mg, and P) from the medium was increased under enriched CO2 conditions.