Low temperature is one of the most important environmental factors limiting crop plant growth, distribution, and productivity. New cultivars with improved freezing tolerance are a common breeding objective of many temperate fruit breeding programs. Improved freezing tolerance would prevent crop loss due to low temperature and reduce yearly fluctuations in crop quantity and quality. Breeding temperate fruit cultivars for improved freezing tolerance is made difficult by several factors, including complexity of the phenotype, difficulty in accurate measurement of the phenotype, and lack of fundamental knowledge concerning the inheritance and genetic control of this trait. Results from inheritance studies of freezing tolerance in temperate fruit crops as well as recent research in forestry genetics highlight some of the challenges and opportunities for further elucidating the inheritance of freezing tolerance in temperate fruit crops. A tremendous amount of research has been conducted describing the molecular biology and signal transduction of the cold acclimation response in the model plant, Arabidopsis thaliana. These findings have begun the transfer to research in agriculturally important crops and hold great promise for elucidating novel methods for generating new fruit cultivars with improved freezing tolerance.
Christopher L. Owens
Christopher L. Owens and Ed Stover
Paul L. Owen and Wallace G. Pill
The influence of two drying regimes and two storage temperatures of primed asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seeds on germination after storage up to 3 months was examined. Seeds of `Mary Washington' asparagus and `Ace 55' tomato primed in synthetic seawater (-1.0 MPa, 20C, 1 week, dark) were surface-dried at 20C and 50% relative humidity (RH) for 2 h (42% to 49% moisture) or dried-back at 20C and 32.5% RH for 48 h (moisture = 13% tomato and 22% asparagus). These and nonprimed seeds were stored in tight-lidded metal cans and heat-sealed plastic pouches at 4 or 20C for up to 3 months before germination at 20C. After 3-month storage, primed surface-dried asparagus seeds stored at 4C had greater germination percentage and rate than nonprimed seeds, surface-dried seeds stored at 20C, or primed dried-back seeds. Dried-back primed tomato seeds had higher germination percentage than surface-dried primed seeds after 2 or 3 months of storage, with storage temperature having no effect on germination perecentage or rate. In a further study, primed surface-dried and primed dried-back seeds stored at 4 or 20C for 1.5 months in sealed containers were germinated at 15, 25, or 35C under low (-0.05 MPa) or high osmotic stress (-0.4 MPa). Primed surface-dried asparagus seeds stored at 4C, compared to nonprimed seeds, surface-dried seed stored at 20C, or primed dried-back seeds, had greater germination percentage at 15 and 35C and low osmotic stress, and higher germination rate at 15 or 25C. Primed tomato seeds had greater germination percentage than nonprimed seeds only at 35C and low osmotic stress, and higher germination rate at 15 or 25C. Storage of primed tomato seeds at 4C rather than 20C increased germination rate at 15 or 25C, and increased germination percentage at 35C and low osmotic stress. For maximal seed viability and germination rate after 1.5 to 3 months of storage, primed asparagus and tomato seeds should be stored at 4C rather than 20C; however, asparagus seeds should be surface-dried, and tomato seeds should be dried-back.
Gary Chastagner, L. Eric Hinesley, and Jeff Owen
SafeTree Christmas Tree Fire Retardant was applied to freshly harvested Douglas fir [Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirb.) Franco] boughs, and RapidCool FRX Christmas Tree Retardant was applied to freshly cut Fraser fir [Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.] boughs. The flame retardants were sprayed onto the foliage. Fire retardant accelerated the drying rate of Douglas fir boughs, which increased flammability. RapidCool fire retardant did not slow the drying rate of Fraser fir boughs, and had no effect on moisture content (MC) at ignition, flame time, total burn time, or total foliage consumed. For both species, initial ignition and spread of flame occurred at 60% to 70% MC. Fresh boughs did not ignite in burn tests and were not a fire hazard. Twig MC of nontreated Fraser fir increased 20% during display in water, further decreasing the possibility of ignition when exposed to a flame. Neither product was effective as a fire retardant on boughs of Christmas trees.
Christopher L. Owens and Eddie W. Stover
Early fruit production and control of tree size are important factors in the economic viability of high-density apple orchards. A horticultural tool permitting growers to induce terminal budset should provide greater control over the balance between vegetative growth and reproduction, increasing orchard production and profitability. With this goal, the experimental GA-biosynthesis inhibitor, BAS-125W, is being evaluated for effects on enhancing floral initiation and controlling tree size in young orchards. In nursery stock, the effect of inducing earlier terminal budset is also being studied for influence on storage carbohydrates and performance after planting. Studies in 1996 showed that 250 ppm BAS-125W induced terminal bud set on actively growing second-leaf `Macoun', `Delicious', and `Fuji' trees. Seven application dates from 17 June to 9 Sept. were compared to determine how time of treatment would effect degree and distribution of flowering the following year. Terminal budset typically occurred 2 weeks after application, with shoot growth resuming in 4 to 5 weeks. At two dates, treatment of growing tips only was compared with entire tree application to distinguish the direct effect of GA-inhibition on floral initiation from the effect of redistributing photosynthate. Treatment from 17 June to 29 July significantly reduced total annual shoot growth compared to the untreated controls, while later treatments had no significant effect on shoot length. Treatments of nursery stock with BAS-125W on 1 Sept. accelerated terminal bud set by at least 7 days compared to untreated controls of both `Fuji' and `Golden Delicious'. Effects of treatments on flowering and tree growth in 1997 will be discussed.
Paul L. Owen and Wallace G. Pill
Seeds of `Ace 55VF' tomato were soaked in solutions of -1.0 MPa Instant Ocean™ (inorganic salt mixture) or -0.6 MPa polyethylene glycol 8000 (P.E.G.) at 25 C for 1 week. `Mary Washington' asparagus seeds were soaked in the same solutions for 2 weeks. In solutions of decreasing matric or osmotic potentials, primed seeds germinated faster than untreated seeds. Germination percentages of primed seeds generally were greater than those of untreated seeds when water stress exceeded -0.5 MPa. All primed seeds, whether dried to a low moisture content or not, germinated faster than untreated seeds after storage for up to 3 months at 4 C or 20 C. Primed asparagus seeds germinated most rapidly and synchronously after storage at 4 C and high moisture content. Storage temperature and seed moisture content had no effect on subsequent germination of primed tomato seeds.
Jeb S. Fields, James S. Owen Jr., and Holly L. Scoggins
Many soilless substrates are inefficient with regard to water (i.e., high porosity and low water holding capacity), which provides an excellent opportunity to increase water efficiency in containerized production. We suggest that increasing hydraulic conductivity in the dry range of substrate moisture content occurring during production can increase water availability, reduce irrigation volume, and produce high quality, marketable crops. Three substrates were engineered using screened pine bark (PB) and amending with either Sphagnum peatmoss or coir to have higher unsaturated hydraulic conductivity between water potentials of −100 and −300 hPa. There was no correlation between substrate unsaturated hydraulic conductivity and saturated hydraulic conductivity (r = 0.04, P = 0.8985). Established Hydrangea arborescens (L.) ‘Annabelle’ plants were grown in the three engineered and a conventional (control) PB substrates exposed to suboptimal irrigation levels (i.e., held at substrate water potentials between −100 and −300 hPa) for 32 days. The plants in the engineered substrates outperformed the control in every growth and morphological metric measured, as well as exhibiting fewer (or no) physiological drought stress indicators (i.e., vigor, growth, plant development, etc.) compared with the control. We observed increased vigor measures in plants grown in substrates with higher unsaturated hydraulic conductivity, as well as greater plant water uptake. The coir increased unsaturated hydraulic conductivity and provided an increased air space when incorporated into coarse bark vs. if peat was incorporated into bark at the same ratio by volume. Increasing PB hydraulic conductivity, through screening bark or amending bark with fibrous materials, in concert with low irrigations can produce marketable, vigorous crops while reducing water consumed and minimizing water wasted in ornamental container production.
Christopher L. Owens, J.F. Hancock, and A.F. Iezzoni
Sour cherry and strawberry are examples of two Rosaceous species that often suffer crop reductions due to spring freezes. Breeding for improved floral freezing tolerance has the potential to mitigate the susceptibility of these plants to spring frosts. In model plant systems, researchers have been able to identify genes that play a role in freezing tolerance by initially searching for mRNAs regulated in response to cold temperatures. To search for cold-responsive freezing-tolerance genes in strawberry and sour cherry, it is necessary to first define their cold acclimation response. To test the hypothesis that sour cherry and strawberry flowers have the ability to cold acclimate, blooming plants were exposed to 4 °C and 16 h light for 14 days. Sour cherry styles and strawberry receptacles from open, fully developed flowers were excised, and electrolyte leakage curves were generated over a range of subzero temperatures. The temperature at which 50% electrolyte leakage (EL50) occurred was used to compare treatments. The flowers of two strawberry cultivars were tested for the ability to cold acclimate. Non-acclimated `Chandler' receptacles had an EL50 of -2.9 °C, while non-acclimated `Honeoye' had an EL50 of -3.4 °C. Conversely, acclimated `Chandler' receptacles had an EL50 of -7.7 and acclimated `Honeoye' receptacles had an EL50 of -8.7 °C, both are significantly different from non-acclimated values (P ≤ 0.01). Additionally, sour cherry styles were collected from the field at full bloom from a mapping population of 86 individuals from the cross `Rheinische Schattenmorelle' × `Erdi Botermo' and acclimated as previously described. The EL50 of the 86 progeny ranged from approximately -2.0 to -6.0 °C.
James S. Owen Jr., Stuart L. Warren, Ted E. Bilderback, and Joseph P. Albano
The physical and chemical properties of pine bark yield low water and nutrient efficiency; consequently, an engineered substrate altering the substrate properties may allow greater water and nutrient retention. Past research has focused on controlling the quantity and rate of water and nutrient inputs. In this study, pine bark was amended at 8% (by volume) with a Georgiana palygorksite-bentonite blended industrial mineral aggregate with a particle size of 850 μm-4.75 mm or 300 μm-710 μm to improve water and nutrient efficiency. Each particle size was pretreated at temperatures of ≈140 °C (pasteurized) or ≈390 °C (calcined). The study was a 2 (particle size) × 2 (heat pretreatment) factorial in a randomized complete-block design with four replications. The control was a pine bark substrate amended with 11% sand (by volume). Containers (14 L) were topdressed with 17–5–12 controlled release fertilizer. A 0.2 leaching fraction was maintained by biweekly monitoring container influent from spray stakes and effluent volume measured daily. An aliquot of the daily collected effluent was analyzed for phosphorus (P). After 112 days, tops and roots were harvested, dried, and weighed for dry weight comparisons. Compared to pine bark amended with sand the 300 μm-710 μm particle size mineral decreased mean daily water application by ≈0.4 L/day per container. The calcined mineral reduced P leaching by ≈10 mg of P per container or 60% over the course of the study compared to pine bark: sand. Top and root dry weights were unaffected. These results suggest 300 μm–710 μm calcined mineral provided the most significant decreases in water use and P leaching while growing an equivalent plant.
James S. Owen Jr, Stuart L. Warren, Ted E. Bilderback, and Joseph P. Albano
Nonpoint source effluent containing nitrate N (NO3-N) and phosphorus (P) from containerized nursery production has garnered local, regional, and national concern. Industrial minerals have long been used as absorbents, agrochemical carriers, and barriers to retain heavy metals. Our objective was to determine the effects of a palygorskite–bentonite industrial mineral aggregate on the physical and chemical properties of a soilless substrate and the resulting impact on water and nutrient efficiency. The mineral aggregate had two particle size ranges (0.25 to 0.85 mm or 0.85 to 4.75 mm) in combination with two temperature pretreatments [low volatile material (LVM) or regular volatile material (RVM)]. A representative substrate (8 pine bark:1 coarse sand) of the southeastern United States nursery industry was also included in the study as a control. Cotoneaster dammeri C.K. Schneid. ‘Skogholm’ was grown in all substrates on collection pads that allowed for the quantification of daily influent and effluent volumes to calculate cumulative NO3-N, ammonium N (NH4-N), and dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) loss for 112 days. There was a 13% to 15% decrease in daily water application volume with no effect on Skogholm cotoneaster growth, which equated into a savings of 22 to 26 L per 14-L container in mineral aggregate-amended substrates compared with a sand-amended substrate (control). Mineral aggregate-amended substrates decreased NH4-N and DRP effluent 39% and 34%, respectively, compared with the control. In addition, LVM and particle size 0.25 to 0.85 mm reduced effluent DRP compared with the 0.85 to 4.75-mm RVM aggregate. Plant dry weight was unaffected by any of the treatments. Substantial nutrient content reduction in effluent and reductions in water application were achieved with amending pine bark with 0.25 to 0.85 mm LVM industrial mineral aggregate. A 0.25 to 0.85-mm LVM industrial mineral aggregate pine bark-amended substrate reduced effluent DRP and NH4-N greater than 40% and reduced water application 15% or 26 L when compared with the industry representative substrate.