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Emily E. Hoover, Frank Forcella, Neil Hansen, Steve Poppe and Faye Propsom

Lack of effective weed control is the major limiting factor in strawberry production. With few herbicides labeled for use in this perennial crop, weeds are controlled using manual labor, cultivation, and one or two herbicide applications. However, these practices do not provide long-term, effective weed control, and weeds continue to be the number one reason why strawberry fields are removed from production due to a reduction in yield. The objective of this study was to evaluate weed control during strawberry plant establishment using woven woolen mats and spring-sown canola. The effects of these mulches on weed control and strawberry plant production were studied independently and in tandem. Weed and daughter plant counts were compared among treatments to test for differences. Wool mulch, both single- and two-ply, was an effective barrier to weeds within the strawberry rows. Planting canola between rows or broadcasting in combination with the wool mulch decreased the number of weeds when compared to other treatments. The four treatments that included wool had the highest number of rooted daughter plants when compared to all the other treatments except the weed-free plot. The canola treatments without wool mulch did not produce as many rooted daughter plants and were not statistically different from the weedy-check.

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Ahmed F. El-Shiekh, Cindy B.S. Tong, James J. Luby and Emily E. Hoover

The relationships between cellular characteristics of cortical tissue and changes in texture during storage under controlled atmosphere (CA, 3% O2 + 3% CO2) or air at 0C were studied. The cultivars used were `Delicious', `Cortland', `Honeycrisp' and its parents, `Honeygold' and `Macoun'. The force needed to break a 7-mm cylinder of apple flesh (breaking force) was greatest for `Delicious' and `Honeycrisp'. Scanning electron microscopy demonstrated that tissues of firm-fleshed cultivars (`Honeycrisp' and `Delicious') fractured through cells, while that of soft-fleshed cultivars (`Cortland', `Honeygold', and `Macoun') fractured between cells. `Honeycrisp' had fewer cells/100 cm2 than the other cultivars. After 9 months of storage, breaking force, cell size, and K+/Ca2+ decreased, while cell number/100 cm2, Ca2+ content, and K+ content increased for all cultivars. Cell number/100 cm2 was significantly less and breaking force was significantly greater for tissue from CA than air-stored fruit.

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Carl J. Rosen, Peter M. Bierman, Adriana Telias and Emily E. Hoover

Application of calcium (Ca) sprays is a recommended practice to reduce the incidence of Ca-related disorders such as bitter pit in apple (Malus ×domestica), but effectiveness of sprays to increase Ca concentrations in the fruit is not always consistent. Strontium (Sr) has been used as a Ca analog to evaluate Ca transport processes and distribution in plants. A field study was conducted using foliar- and fruit-applied Sr as a tracer for Ca transport in 20-year-old `Honeycrisp' apple trees on Malling.26 (M.26) rootstock. The objectives of this study were to 1) measure the amount of Sr translocation from leaves to fruit, 2) determine the effectiveness of eight sprays applied over the growing season vs. four late-season sprays on increasing Sr concentrations in leaves and fruit, and 3) evaluate the effect of an experimental adjuvant consisting of alkyl-polysaccharides and monosaccharides on spray efficacy. Seven treatments were tested, which included a control and six Sr treatments applied in various combinations with or without an adjuvant. Trees were sprayed four or eight times during the growing season, either directly to leaves and fruit or to leaves only (fruit covered during application). Spray treatments did not significantly affect total fruit fresh or dry weight. Although some discrimination between Ca and Sr was detected, the similar distribution of Ca and Sr in fruit tissue of control treatments suggested that Sr is a suitable tracer for Ca. Based on the covered vs. uncovered fruit treatments, about 11% to 17% of the Sr in the fruit came from Sr applied directly to the leaves. Eight spray applications over the growing season more than doubled both the concentration and content of fruit Sr compared with four late season sprays. The tested adjuvant doubled Sr absorption by and translocation to fruit compared with not using an adjuvant. Assuming similar transport for Ca and Sr, and adjusting for the atomic weight of Ca relative to Sr, the maximum increase in fruit Ca concentration at harvest from foliar and fruit applications (eight sprays with adjuvant and uncovered fruit) would have been as follows: core = 78 mg·kg–1; flesh = 35 mg·kg–1; peel = 195 mg·kg–1; entire fruit = 67 mg·kg–1. In addition to being an underused tool for studying Ca transport patterns, the results also suggest that use of Sr may be a novel technique for testing the efficacy of various adjuvants used to enhance uptake and transport of Ca in leaves and fruit.

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James J. Luby, Emily E. Hoover, David S. Bedford, Shirley T. Munson, Wesley H. Gray, David K. Wildung and Cecil Stushnoff

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Emily E. Hoover, Richard P. Marini, Emily Tepe, Wesley R. Autio, Alan R. Biggs, Jon M. Clements, Robert M. Crassweller, Daniel D. Foster, Melanie J. Foster, Peter M. Hirst, Diane Doud Miller, Michael L. Parker, Gregory M. Peck, Jozsef Racsko, Terence L. Robinson and Michele R. Warmund

Researchers have collected a considerable amount of data relating to apple (Malus ×domestica) cultivars and rootstocks over the past 30 years, but much of this information is not easily accessible. The long-term goal of our working group is to increase access to this information using online technology available through eXtension. In eXtension, researchers and extension personnel are developing a community of practice (CoP) to increase the quality and amount of online information for individuals interested in our work [referred to as a community of interest (CoI)]. For this project, our CoI is broadly defined as commercial apple producers, nursery professionals, county extension educators, Extension Master Gardeners, home gardeners, and consumers. Our CoP is developing diverse educational tools, with the goals of increasing productivity, profitability, and sustainability for commercial apple production. Additionally, we will provide other members of our CoI access to research-based, reliable information on the culture of apples. We chose to begin our focus on cultivars and rootstocks adapted to the eastern United States and will add other U.S. regions as our resources and interest in our project grows.