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Stan C. Hokanson, Phil L. Forsline, James R. McFerson, Warren F. Lamboy, Herb S. Aldwinckle, and Aimak D. Djangaliev

Malus sieversii, the main progenitor of domesticated apple, is native to areas in Central Asia. To better represent Malus wild germplasm in the USDA–ARS germplasm collections, maintained in Geneva, N.Y., a cooperative project was initiated with the Republic if Kazakhstan to collect and assess that country's wild populations of M. sieversii and to develop more secure in situ reserves to complement ex situ holdings in the United States and Kazakhstan. To date, four exploration trips to the region have included participants from the United States, Kazakhstan, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa. Four Kazkh scientists have toured USDA–ARS sites, exchanged information, and collected germplasm in the United States greenhouse screens of 1600 have revealed potentially new sources of resistance to apple scab, cedar apple rust, and fire blight. An isozyme analysis of maternal half-sib families from four regions suggests the populations of M. sieversii collected represent a single panmictic population, with over 85% of total genetic variation due to differences among families. The most recent collections in 1995 were directed towards more ecologically diverse regions, including a site (Tarbagatai) at the most northern limit for M. sieversii equivalent to northern Minnesota in the United States. Some trees in this region produced fruit nearly 70 mm in diameter with excellent aroma, firmness, and color. This germplasm is being systematically characterized for horticultural traits, pest and disease resistance, and molecular markers.

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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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Margaret Balbach

Introductory Horticulture at Illinois State University is approved for inclusion in the University Studies Program. This program is comprised of courses whose content is considered of general importance to the educated layperson, rather than to the specialist in the field. Departments may use the University Studies Program as a means of attracting students to the field. This has been done with fair success with Introductory Horticulture. Because the course must provide personal enrichment, be broad in scope, offer a systematic design for further learning, and assure a breadth of knowledge and understanding, this course has been designed to focus on the economies of the various horticultural industries, how they are related to the socioeconomic history of the various regions of the country and how the marketing of horticultural products and enterprises affects the personal life of individuals. Acceptance of this approach has been two-fold: first: student evaluations are positive, a steady enrollment has been maintained, and the course has steadily provided 10% to 15% of new Horticulture students, and second: the University Studies review committee has twice affirmed the “tenure” of Introductory Horticulture in spite of increasingly stringent guidelines that discourage many traditional science courses.

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Xiaoming Wang, Yongxin Li, Huijie Zeng, Neng Cai, Zhongquan Qiao, Xiangying Wang, and Jianjun Chen

Weigela florida (Bunge) A. DC. is a popular flowering shrub adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions. Efficient methods for micropropagation of this species have not been well developed. The present study established a protocol for in vitro shoot culture of W. florida ‘Tango’ after a systematic evaluation of different culture media, cytokinins, and auxins on axillary shoot induction. Single-node stems were cultured on Driver and Kuniyuki Walnut (DKW) medium for initial production of axillary shoots. The shoots were used as explants and cultured on DKW medium supplemented with 8.88 μm 6-benzylaminopurine (BA) and 0.27 μm naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA), resulting in the production of more than six axillary shoots per explant. The axillary shoots could either be used as explants for additional shoot production or be cultured on ½ DKW medium supplemented with 0.25 μm indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) for rooting. Plantlets were transplanted into a substrate with 99% survival rate in a shaded greenhouse. This established method could be used for rapid propagation of W. florida to speed the introduction of new hybrids or cultivars for commercial production.

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Marissa Moses and Pathmanathan Umaharan

Capsicum chinense is commercially the most important pepper species grown in the Caribbean. It is popularly used to impart pungency and flavor to Caribbean cuisine. However, unlike Capsicum annuum, which is the most commercially exploited domesticated species internationally, C. chinense has not been methodically collected or characterized for systematic improvement through plant breeding. The objectives of the study were to assess the diversity of C. chinense and its structure within the Caribbean basin and to determine its phylogenetic relationship to groups within South America. DNA isolated from 201 accessions of C. chinense, representing geographical regions where the species is found, were amplified using arbitrary primers to generate 138 polymorphic and reproducible random amplification of polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers. Nei’s and Shannon’s diversity indices for C. chinense (0.28 and 0.419, respectively) were higher in South America compared with Central America or the Caribbean, corresponding to its putative center of diversity. The study showed the existence of three phylogenetic clusters within C. chinense. The largest cluster consisted of accessions from the Upper Amazon region, the Guianas including Venezuela, and the Lesser Antilles of the Caribbean. The other major cluster was represented by accessions principally from the Lower Amazon region. Another distinct but small cluster consisted of samples solely from the Greater Antilles of the Caribbean. The discovery of the three phylogenetic clusters within C. chinense may have potential for exploiting heterosis in breeding. The implications of the findings to the understanding of the phylogenetic origin and distribution of C. chinense are discussed.

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G.E. Jones and B.M. Cregg

Conifers represent a sizeable portion of nursery and landscape sales in the upper midwestern U.S. Several conifer species have been overplanted to the point where disease problems and insect pressures have developed. Although more than 40 true fir (Abies Mill.) exist throughout the northern hemisphere, use of firs in the landscape and Christmas tree industry has been limited to relatively few species. This is largely due to perceived intolerance of many site conditions. However, recent research suggests Abies are more tolerant of varying site conditions than originally thought. Successful introduction of new exotic fir species for landscape use will require a systematic approach to identify species that are adapted to environmental stresses. In this article we review the extent and nature of inter-specific variation among Abies species in traits commonly associated with tolerance of stresses found in the upper midwestern U.S. Specifically, we focus on cold hardiness, budbreak, photosynthetic gas exchange and water relations, and response to soil pH. It is important to match plants possessing necessary adaptive characteristics with the existing site conditions. Therefore, multiple screening factors should be met when identifying species or trees from different provenances for future introduction.

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James L. Glancey, Edwin Kee, and Tracy Wootten

The vegetable industry is important to our nation as a provider of nutritious and safe food directly consumed by our citizens. It is also critical to a rich and vigorous national agriculture. During the 20th century, engineering innovations coupled with advances in genetics, crop science, and plant protection have allowed the vegetable industry in the U.S. to plant and harvest significantly more land with higher yields while using less labor. Currently, fresh and processed vegetables generate 16% of all U.S. crop income, but from only 2% of the harvested cropland. Yet, many of the challenges in production that existed a century ago still exist for many crops. Perhaps the most significant challenge confronting the industry is labor, often accounting for 50% of all production costs. A case study of the mechanized production system developed for processed tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) confirms that systematic methodology in which the machines, cultural practices, and cultivars are designed together must be adopted to improve the efficiency of current mechanized systems as well as provide profitable alternatives for crops currently hand-harvested. Only with this approach will horticultural crop production remain competitive and economically viable in the U.S.

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A. Medlicott, J. Brice, T. Salgadol, and D. Ramirez

No systematic curing and storage techniques are currently used with onions in Honduras; postharvest losses occur rapidly. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of storage bins (maximum capacity 7t) that use forced ambient air ventilation to manipulate the atmospheric conditions around the onions. The desired storage conditions were 26 to 30C and 60% to 75% relative humidity. Ventilation regimes were manipulated in an attempt to obtain these conditions. The rate of deterioration in four varieties of onions over a 3-month period was determined and compared with onions stored under normal ambient conditions. Marketable onions in the forced-air storage bin compared to the controls stored under ambient conditions after 13 weeks were 82% vs. 37% for `Granex 33'; 71% vs. 40% for `Granex 429'; 63% vs. 31% for `Granex 438'; and 90% vs. 44% for `Texas Grano 502'. This represents a significant increase in the number of marketable onions after storage. All losses were increased by rain and tornado damage after 1 month of storage. The methods used to maintain uniform temperature and humidity conditions in the storage bin are discussed together with the problems encountered. The construction and operating costs are given together with the market prices and the required returns to cover the bin costs.

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Xin Zhao, C.B. Rajashekar, Edward E. Carey, and Weiqun Wang

Demand for organically grown produce is increasing, largely due to concerns of consumers about health and nutrition. Previous studies have not shown a consistent difference of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, between organic food crops and the conventional counterparts. However, to date, little consideration has been given to phytochemicals, secondary plant metabolites with potential health-promoting properties. We first discuss factors that can infl uence the levels of phytochemicals in crops, and then we critically review the results of published studies that have compared the effects of organic and conventional production systems on phytochemical contents of fruit and vegetables. The evidence overall seems in favor of enhancement of phytochemical content in organically grown produce, but there has been little systematic study of the factors that may contribute to increased phytochemical content in organic crops. It remains to be seen whether consistent differences will be found, and the extent to which biotic and abiotic stresses, and other factors such as soil biology, contribute to those differences. Problems associated with most studies tend to weaken the validity of comparisons. Given the limitations of most published studies, needs for future research are discussed.

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Thomas Ranney* and Thomas Eaker

Information on ploidy levels is extremely valuable for use in plant breeding programs. Fertility, crossability, and heritability of traits are all influenced by ploidy levels. Knowledge of reproductive pathways, including occurrence of apomixes, pseudogamy, and formation of unreduced gametes can also be important information for developing breeding strategies. Although ploidy level can be determined by counting chromosomes, flow cytometry provides a reliable and much faster means for determination of nuclear DNA content and associated ploidy level. Measurement of ploidy levels of seeds (embryo and endosperm) can also provide useful insights into reproductive pathways. The objective of this study was to determine the approximate genome size, estimated ploidy level, and range of reproductive pathways of a diverse collection of flowering crapbapples (Malus spp.). Genome sizes were calculated as nuclear DNA content for unreduced tissue (2C). Results from the taxa included in our survey showed DNA contents ranging from 1.52 to 1.82 for diploids, 2.40 to 2.62 for triploids, and 3.36 to 3.74 pg/2C for tetraploids. Based on these ranges, we identified 43 diploid, 10 triploid, and 4 tetraploid crabapple taxa in this collection. Results from open pollinated seeds and seedlings demonstrated a variety of reproductive pathways including apomixes and unreduced gametes. This research provides information on ploidy levels and reproductive pathways of flowering crabapples and will allow for more systematic and efficient progress in the development of improved cultivars.