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Wayne A. Mackay, Timothy J Ng, and Freddi A. Hammerschlag

Studies examining exposure methods and callus type were conducted to develop an in vitro selection system using roridin E as a selection agent. Vacuum infiltration of callus with the toxin solution was the only successful selection method at the concentrations tested. Primary callus (callus originating directly from the explant) was not sensitive to roridin A or E at the concentrations used. Secondary callus (callus produced from primary callus) exhibited a differential response to roridins A and E similar to that of detached-leaf assays. Electrolyte leakage studies of callus were not conclusive in establishing the membrane as the site of toxin action or useful for screening tolerance in vitro. A small percentage of callus from tolerant and susceptible cultivars survived repeated exposure to roridin E at 50 μg·ml-1.

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Tim D. Davis, Wayne A. Mackay, and N. Sankhla

Lupinus havardii (Big Bend bluebonnet) is native to a narrow geographical range along the Rio Grande River in southwest Texas and produces attractive blue flower spikes which have potential as cut flowers. Without any post-harvest treatments, these spikes had an average vaselife in water of about 7 d. During this period, an average of about 13 florets were abscised per spike. When preconditioned for 4 h in 40-80 mg/liter silver thiosulfate (STS), vaselife increased to 11 days and only 1-3 florets were abscised per spike. Post-harvest treatment of the spikes with 25-50 mg/liter oxime ether, a new ethylene inhibitor, surprisingly enhanced floret abscission and shortened vaselife. The basis for this response is not clear. Storage of STS-preconditioned spikes in water at 5C for 72 h only decreased vaselife by about one day compared to unstored controls. Dry post-harvest storage at 5C for 72 h caused severe wilting, but upon rehydration these spikes still had a vase/life of about 8 d. These results indicate mat cut flower spikes of L. havardii have good post-harvest qualities and can be stored for up to 3d without seriously limiting vaselife.

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Tim D. Davis, Wayne A. Mackay, and Daksha Sankhla

Seeds of Lupinus havardii Wats. (Big Bend bluebonnet), a potential cut flower crop, were subjected to a variety of scarification and temperature treatments. Without scarification, only 10-20% of the seeds germinated within one week. Germination percentages increased sigmoidally as scarification time in concentrated sulfuric acid increased. Nearly 100% germination was obtained within one week after seeds were placed in sulfuric acid for 120 min. Nicking the seed coat with a razor blade also resulted in near 100% germination. Soaking the seed in water for 24 h failed to enhance germination. Soaking the seed in ethanol, methanol, or acetone for 2 h likewise failed to enhance germination. Total germination of scarified seed was >90% between 21 and 33C within 28 h. The most rapid germination occurred within a range of 24-29C. Above or below this range germination was delayed. At 35C, seedling, mortality was observed and total germination was reduced to <50%. Our data indicate that seed of this species requires scarification for optimum germination but the seed can germinate over a relatively wide temperature range.

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Tim D. Davis, Wayne A. Mackay, and Narendra Sankhla

Big Bend bluebonnet (Lupinus havardii Wats.) is native to a narrow geographic range in southwestern Texas and produces attractive blue inflorescences (racemes) that may be used as cut flowers. Several crops were produced in the greenhouse to determine postharvest-characteristics of the cut inflorescences. Without any postharvest conditioning treatments, the inflorescences held in water had an average vase life of about 7 days. During this period, an average of 13 flowers abscised per inflorescence. When preconditioned for 4 hours in 40 to 160 mg·liter−1 silver thiosulfate (STS), vase life increased to 10 to 12 days and fewer than three flowers abscised per inflorescence. A commercial floral preservative (Oasis) had no effect on flower abscission or vase life of STS-treated inflorescences. Flower abscission and vase life were the same whether STS-treated inflorescences were placed in floral foam moistened with water or in water alone. Storing STS-preconditioned inflorescences in water at 5C for 72 hours did not affect flower abscission or vase life compared to the unstored control. Dry postharvest storage at 5C for 72 hours caused noticeable wilting, but, on dehydration, these inflorescences still had a vase life of about 8 days. Postharvest characteristics of pink-and white-flowered breeding lines were the same as for the blue-flowered line. These results indicate that cut inflorescences of L. havardii have desirable postharvest qualities and can be stored for up to 72 hours without seriously limiting vase life.

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Garry V. McDonald and Wayne A. Mackay

The University of Arkansas Horticulture Department was charged in 2016 by university administration to develop and implement a student learning outcome (SLO)-based assessment plan. The Horticulture Department curriculum committee was tasked to develop such a plan. Various models were considered, but ultimately a modified plan based on the work of M.P. Pritts and T. Park was adopted. Adjustments were based on student population size and particular requirements that had to be integrated with the university-mandated SLO goals and objectives. Two phases of a student’s academic career were chosen to access: an incoming freshman or transfer phase and a late-term or degree completion phase. Specific learning outcomes and goals were identified as well as courses and activities that would reasonably be measured while meeting university requirements. Data collection on entering freshmen and transfer students started in Fall 2018. The full impact of the implemented plan will not be known until 2020, when the first full cohort of incoming freshmen reaches the terminal stage of the degree program.

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Wayne A. Mackay, Brent Pemberton, Joseph Maxim, and Suresh D. Pillai

Pelargonium × hortorum ‘Tango Dark Red’, ‘Tango Pink’, ‘Americana Red’, and ‘Rocky Mountain Lavender’ unrooted cuttings were subjected to Electron beam (E-beam) irradiation at 0 (control, no treatment), 0.61 ± 0.04, 0.83 ± 0.07, or 1.02 ± 0.01 kGy (mean ± se, n = 4) in Expt. 1 and 0 (control, no treatment), 0.08 ± 0.00, 0.16 ± 0.00, 0.31 ± 0.00, or 0.57 ± 0.02 kGy (mean ± se, n = 4) in Expt. 2. Cuttings exposed to E-beam irradiation other than the control treatment did not root or form callus and exhibited a change in leaf color from green to red and eventually yellow. Our results suggest that the use of ionizing irradiation for preventing the accidental importation of biothreat agents through unrooted Pelargonium cuttings is not feasible.

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John J. Sloan, Raul I. Cabrera, Peter A.Y. Ampim, Steve A. George, and Wayne A. Mackay

Organic and inorganic amendments are often used to improve chemical and physical properties of soils. The objective of this study was to determine how the inclusion of light-weight expanded shale in various organic matter blends would affect plant performance. Four basic blends of organic growing media were prepared using traditional or alternative organic materials: 1) 75% pine bark (PB) + 25% sphagnum peatmoss (PM), 2) 50% PB + 50% wastewater biosolids (BS), 3) 100% municipal yard waste compost (compost), and 4) 65% PB + 35% cottonseed hulls (CH). Light-weight expanded shale was then blended with each of these mixtures at rates of 0%, 15%, 30%, and 60% (v/v). Vinca (Catharanthus roseus), verbena (Verbena hybrida), and shantung maple (Acer truncatum) were planted into the growing media after they were transferred into greenhouse pots. Vinca growth was monitored for 3 months before harvesting aboveground plant tissue to determine total biomass yield and elemental composition. Verbena growth was monitored for 6 months, during which time aboveground plant tissue was harvested twice to determine total biomass yield. Additionally, aboveground vinca plant tissue was analyzed for nutrients and heavy metal concentrations. In the absence of expanded shale, verbena and shantung maple trees produced more aboveground biomass in the 50-PB/50-BS blends, whereas vinca grew more biomass in the pure compost blends. Inclusion of expanded shale in the various organic matter blends generally had a negative effect on plant growth, with the exception of shantung maple growth in the 65-PB/35-CH blend. Reduced plant growth was probably due to a lower concentration of nutrients in the growing media. Macro- and micronutrient uptake was generally reduced by addition of expanded shale to the organic growing media. Results suggest that organic materials that have been stabilized through prior decomposition, such as compost or PM, are safe and reliable growing media, but expanded shale offers few benefits to a container growing medium except in cases where additional porosity is needed.

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Mario Valenzuela-Vázquez, Geno A. Picchioni, Leigh W. Murray, and Wayne A. Mackay

The raceme of Lupinus havardii Wats. (Big Bend bluebonnet) is a new greenhouse specialty cut flower, but postharvest life is limited by ethylene sensitivity. The authors studied the effects of 160 nL·L−1 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) with 0 to 6 days exposure to a 50-μm vase solution of ethephon [(2-chloroethyl) phosphonic acid, CEPA] on raceme postharvest quality indices and mature flower cell membrane permeability. With no CEPA, 1-MCP delayed postharvest losses in fresh weight and mature flower retention, and extended vase life longevity (VLL) by 1 to 4 days relative to a non-1-MCP control. With 2 days or more of CEPA, 1-MCP deferred raceme fresh weight loss and the abscission of both mature and newly opened flowers from 3 days to 5 days. There was a relatively strong protective effect of 1-MCP on raceme fresh weight, flower retention, and newly opening flowers in the presence of CEPA compared with the absence of CEPA. The greatest raceme VLL (7.2 days) was obtained for 1-MCP-treated racemes that did not receive CEPA in the vase. Although VLL was reduced by CEPA, VLL was consistently greater (by ≈2 days) after 1-MCP treatment relative to no 1-MCP treatment and irrespective of CEPA's duration. As expected, electrolyte leakage increased with individual flower development and between 1 day and 6 days in the vase. Unexpectedly, however, the 5-day postharvest increase in leakage was intensified by 1-MCP treatment if the racemes were exposed to 1 hour of CEPA in the vase solution. Electrical conductivity measurements suggested that, in the latter treatment (+1-MCP, +CEPA), increased levels of diffusible electrolytes that had yet to be exported to the expanding apical meristem (delayed raceme development) contributed to the higher leakage. Results also demonstrate good potential for quality maintenance of L. havardii racemes by using 1-MCP, and that in addition to flower retention, raceme fresh weight and flower opening should be considered in developing VLL criteria for this new specialty crop.

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Kyle R. Bading*, Garry V. McDonald, Michael A. Arnold, Wayne A. Mackay, and Jerry M. Parsons

Texas maroon bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis Hook. `Texas Maroon') grown for fall planting may be germinated as early as September. Plant growth regulators are commonly applied to control excessive stem elongation during production, but may potentially result in adverse responses in the landscape due to residual effects. In October 2003, an experiment was initiated to observe potential landscape residual effects of paclobutrazol (formulated as Bonzi) applied during the production phase to retard internode elongation. Seedlings were received in six-pack cell units. On 30 Oct. 2003, while still in six-packs, bluebon-nets were sprayed with paclobutrazol. Paclobutrazol was applied at concentrations of 0, 5, 10, and 15 mg·L-1 a.i. at a coverage rate of 10 mL per 0.93 m2. After treatment, half of the plants were transplanted from six-packs to 0.73 L pots and the other half remained in six-packs. Plants were grown in a nursery until they reached a marketable stage (13 Nov. 2003 for six-packs, 20 Nov. 2003 for 0.73-L pots). At the end of nursery production, one half of the plants (both container sizes) were then planted to landscape plots (0.3 m centers) at either College Station, Texas or Dallas, Texas. During the production phase, bluebonnets grown in 0.73-L pots had slightly larger growth indices than those produced in six-packs. As application rates of paclobutrazol increased, growth indices decreased. Possible residual effects on growth and flowering will also be discussed.

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Tim D. Davis, Steven W. George, Wayne A. Mackay, and Jerry M. Parsons