When the substrate surface and drainage holes of feather fiber, peat, and plastic containers were sealed with wax, hyperbolic growth curves were good fits to cumulative water loss on a per container and per cm2 basis, with R 2 values ranging from 0.88 to 0.96. The effect of container type was significant as the differences in asymptotic maximum water loss (max) values for all container pairs were significant at P < 0.05 for both water loss per container and water loss per cm2. The predicted total water loss for peat containers was ≈2.5 times greater than feather containers, and the predicted water loss per cm2 for the peat container was ≈3 times greater than feather containers. Vinca [Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don.] `Cooler Blush' and impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Hook f.) `Dazzler Rose Star' plants grown in feather and peat containers required more water and more frequent irrigations than those grown in plastic containers. However, plants grown in feather containers required less water and fewer irrigations than plants grown in peat containers. The surface area of containers covered by algal or fungal growth was significantly higher on peat containers than on feather containers. No fungal or algal growth was observed on plastic containers. Additionally, primarily algae were observed on peat containers whereas most discoloration observed on feather containers was due to fungal growth. Dry feather containers had a higher longitudinal strength than dry plastic containers but a lower longitudinal strength than dry peat containers. Wet feather containers had higher longitudinal strength than wet peat containers but a similar longitudinal strength as wet plastic containers. Dry feather and plastic containers had similar lateral strengths and both had significantly higher lateral strength than dry peat containers. Wet feather containers had significantly lower lateral strength than wet plastic containers but had higher lateral strength than wet peat containers. Dry and wet plastic containers had higher punch strength than wet or dry peat and feather containers. Dry peat containers had significantly higher punch strength than dry feather containers. However, wet feather containers had significantly higher punch strength than wet peat containers. Decomposition of peat and feather containers was significantly affected by container type and the species grown in the container. When planted with tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum L.) `Better Boy', decomposition was not significantly different between the peat and feather containers. However, when vinca and marigold (Tagetes patula L.) `Janie Bright Yellow' were grown in the containers, decomposition was significantly higher for feather containers than for peat containers. Therefore, containers made from processed feather fiber provided a new type of biodegradable container with significantly improved characteristics as compared to peat containers.
Michael R. Evans and Douglas Karcher
Andrew P. Wycislo, Douglas E. Karcher, and John R. Clark
Quantifying fruit shape is challenging, particularly when measurements are made on segregating populations of plants that vary greatly in shape. Objective manual measurements can be performed on small samples of fruit, but this method is not feasible when dealing with larger samples or when shape variations are slight and continuous. Also, subjective rating scales can be utilized, but they are less effective when done by multiple raters due to varying descriptive standards among individuals. Therefore, we have developed a method to analyze digital images containing multiple fruits to characterize fruit shapes. Each segregant of a population of table grapes with parents of significant varying shapes was photographed and analyzed. Image pixels representing fruit were selected and evaluated for area and perimeter, which were subsequently used to calculate a shape factor and compactness value. This was a reasonably simple and quick method for quantifying grape berry shape, giving the researcher valuable phenotypic data in numerical form. This technology should be useful for shape characterizations of other fruits as well.
Andrew P. Wycislo, John R. Clark, and Douglas E. Karcher
Quantifying fruit shape is challenging, particularly when measurements are made on segregating populations of plants. Objective manual measurements can be performed on small samples of fruit, but this method is difficult and very time-consuming when dealing with larger samples or when shapes are complex or shape variations are slight. Subjective rating scales can also be used, but their effectiveness is questionable when done by multiple raters resulting from varying descriptive standards among individuals. Therefore, a method was developed to analyze digital images containing multiple fruits to characterize fruit shapes. Each segregant of a population of table grapes (Vitis spp.) with parents of wide shape variation was photographed and analyzed for shape using SigmaScan® software. The program discriminately selected image pixels representing the fruit and determined the area and perimeter of a grape berry, which were subsequently used to calculate the major:minor axis ratio, shape factor, and compactness values. Computer findings were compared with data from human raters using a simple correlation. When compared with the human ratings, results showed strong correlations of r = 0.941 for major:minor axis ratio, r = –0.804 for shape factor, and r = 0.744 for compactness. This analysis method was a reasonably quick and simple way to quantify grape berry shape, yielding valuable phenotypic data in numerical form. This technology should be useful for shape characterizations in other fruits as well.
Michelle M. Wisdom, Michael D. Richardson, Douglas E. Karcher, Donald C. Steinkraus, and Garry V. McDonald
Early-spring flowering bulbs can increase biodiversity while adding color to lawns and other grassy areas. However, few studies have investigated whether bulbs can flower and persist in warm-season lawns or provide feeding habitat for pollinating insects. Thirty early-spring flowering bulbs, including species of Anemone, Chionodoxa, Crocus, Eranthis, Hyacinthus, Ipheion, Iris, Leucojum, Muscari, and Narcissus, were established in bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L. Pers) and buffalograss [Buchloe dactyloides (Nutt.) J.T. Columbus] lawns in late autumn 2015 in Fayetteville AR. Bulbs were assessed over three growing seasons for flowering characteristics, persistence, and their ability to attract pollinating insects. A growing degree day model was also developed to predict peak flowering times in our region. Numerous bulb entries produced abundant flowers in bermudagrass and buffalograss lawns in the first year after planting, but persistence and flower production were reduced in both the second and third years of the trial. Five bulbs persisted for multiple years in both turfgrass species and continued to produce flowers, including Crocus flavus Weston ‘Golden Yellow’ (crocus), Leucojum aestivum L. (spring snowflake), Narcissus (daffodil) ‘Baby Moon’, Narcissus ‘Rip Van Winkle’, and Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’. Several bulbs, primarily crocuses and Muscari spp. (grape hyacinth), were also observed to attract pollinating insects, principally honey bees (Apis mellifera). These results demonstrate that some early-spring bulbs can persist in competitive warm-season turfgrasses, while providing pollinator forage, but species and cultivar selection is critical for long-term success.
Juming Zhang, Michael Richardson, Douglas Karcher, John McCalla, Jingwen Mai, and Hanfu Luo
Many bermudagrass (Cynodon sp.) and zoysiagrass (Zoysia sp.) cultivars are not available as seed and are commonly planted vegetatively using sprigs, especially for sod production or in sand-based systems. Sprig planting is typically done in late spring or early summer, but this can result in an extended grow-in period and delay the use of the turf in the first growing season. The objective of this study was to determine if sprigs of bermudagrass and zoysiagrass could be planted earlier in the year, during the dormancy phase, to hasten establishment. A field study was carried out in Fayetteville, AR, in 2014 and 2016 using ‘Tifway’ hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon × Cynodon transvaalensis) and ‘Meyer’ zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica), and in Guangzhou, China, in 2015, using ‘Tifway’ hybrid bermudagrass and ‘Lanyin III’ zoysiagrass (Z. japonica). Sprigs were planted in March (dormant), May (spring) and July (summer) in Fayetteville, and in January (dormant), March (spring) and May (summer) in Guangzhou. Sprigging rates of 30, 60, and 90 m3·ha−1 were tested at both locations and across all planting dates. Bermudagrass was less affected by planting date, with dormant, spring or summer plantings effectively establishing full cover in the first growing season. Zoysiagrass that was sprigged in the dormant season was successfully established by the end of the first growing season while a full zoysiagrass cover was not achieved with either spring or summer plantings in Arkansas. Dormant sprigging reached full coverage as fast or faster than traditional spring or summer planting dates at both locations, indicating that bermudagrass and zoysiagrass establishment can be achieved earlier in the growing season using dormant sprigging methods.