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Michael F. Polozola II, Daniel E. Wells, J. Raymond Kessler, Wheeler G. Foshee, Amy N. Wright and Bryan S. Wilkins

An experiment was conducted to determine the effects of banded phosphorus (P) applications at differing rates in irrigated and nonirrigated pecan (Carya illinoinensis) plots on P movement within the soil, P uptake and movement within pecan trees, and the yield and quality of nuts. On 20 Mar. 2015, P applications of 0 kg·ha−1 (0×), 19.6 kg·ha−1 (1×), 39.2 kg·ha−1 (2×), and 78.5 kg·ha−1 (4×) were administered to bands of triple superphosphate to randomly selected trees in nonirrigated and irrigated plots of a ‘Desirable’ orchard bordered by ‘Elliot’ trees. When P was applied at the 2× and 4× rates, the total soil test P decreased linearly by 35% and 54%, respectively, in nonirrigated plots and by 41% and 59%, respectively, in irrigated plots over the course of the experiment. There was no change in soil test P over time at the 0× rate for either irrigation regimen; however, at the 1× rate, soil test P decreased 44% in the irrigated plot but did not change in the nonirrigated plot. The largest linear decrease of the soil test P from the start of the experiment to the end of the experiment occurred in the top 0 to 7.6 cm. In contrast, soil test P at a depth of 15.2 to 22.9 cm decreased linearly by 23% in the nonirrigated plot, but it did not decrease over time in the irrigated plot. Increasing the P application rate increased foliar P quadratically in the nonirrigated plot, but only the 4× application rate increased foliar P compared with the 0× control. In the irrigated plot, foliar P concentrations decreased linearly from 2015 to 2017, and foliar P concentrations were not influenced by the P application rate. No differences in pecan yield or quality were observed in either irrigated or nonirrigated plots. Overall, P banding may not be the most sustainable way to increase foliar concentrations of P quickly or to maintain concentrations of the nutrient in the long term.

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Wheeler G. Foshee III, Brad E. Reeder, Raymond J. Kessler Jr., Larry W. Wells, Joseph M. Kemble, Edgar L. Vinson, Robert T. Boozer and William A Dozier Jr

Production of high tunnel tomatoes and snapdragons was evaluated over a 2-year period at the Wiregrass Experiment Station, in southeastern Alabama. `BHN 640', `Florida 91', `Sunleaper', and `Carolina Gold', were evaluated in early Spring 2004. Results indicated that `BHN 640' outperformed `Florida 91' and `Carolina Gold' in early production of high tunnel grown tomatoes. A late Fall 2005 study examined `BHN 640' and `Florida 91'. Results indicated that `BHN 640' was superior to `Florida 91' in total marketable fruit. Season extension of both spring and fall tomato production were accomplished. A planting date study was completed in the early Spring 2005. The following four planting dates were evaluated: 31 Jan., 17 Feb., 4 Mar., and 25. Mar 2005. Wind damage to the high tunnel caused some mortality; however, the two earliest planting dates (31 Jan. and 17 Feb. 2005) produced over 10 lbs. of marketable tomatoes per plant. These were both superior to the last planting date of 25 Mar 2005. Cut snapdragons were evaluated for suitable colored mulch (red, white, or blue) and varieties for summer (`Opus Yellow', `Opus Rose', `Monaco Red', and `Potomac Early White') and fall (`Apollo Purple', `Apollo Yellow', `Monaco Red', `Monaco Rose', and `Potomac Early Orange') production. Results indicated that inflorescence length was affected by the color of mulch. The red mulch had increased inflorescence length compared to the white in Summer 2005. The Fall 2005 study revealed that white mulch had longer inflorescence length than the red or blue mulch. Some varietal differences were observed. The `Apollo Purple' had longer stem lengths than all other varieties for the fall study. The summer study revealed that `Opus Yellow' had longer inflorescence lengths than all others but stem lengths were all similar.

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Edgar L. Vinson III, Elina D. Coneva, Joseph M. Kemble, Floyd M. Woods, Jeff L. Sibley, Esendugue G. Fonsah, Penelope M. Perkins-Veazie and J. Raymond Kessler

The development of more cold-tolerant short-cycle banana cultivars has made subtropical production possible, but fruiting may be unreliable in colder margins, such as the coastal region of Alabama, as a result of cold winter temperatures and other suboptimal growing conditions. Thus, the objectives of this study were to determine plant growth parameters that predict flowering, and to evaluate vegetative and reproductive growth of Cavendish and non-Cavendish banana cultivars. Pseudostem circumference and the height-to-circumference ratio (HCR) for tall cultivars and HCR for medium cultivars exhibited linear or quadratic relationships when regressed to the number of days from planting to inflorescence emergence (DPE), and hence were the best predictors of inflorescence emergence. The banana cultivars Double, Grand Nain, Cardaba, Ice Cream, and Goldfinger demonstrated cropping potential by producing mature bunches in the cooler environment of the subtropics and currently offer the best possibilities for banana production in Alabama.

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Adam F. Newby, James E. Altland, Daniel K. Struve, Claudio C. Pasian, Peter P. Ling, Pablo S. Jourdan, J. Raymond Kessler and Mark Carpenter

Greenhouse growers must use water more efficiently. One way to achieve this goal is to monitor substrate moisture content to decrease leaching. A systems approach to irrigation management would include knowledge of substrate matric potentials and air-filled pore space (AS) in addition to substrate moisture content. To study the relationship between substrate moisture and plant growth, annual vinca (Catharanthus roseus L.) was subject to a 2 × 2 factorial combination of two irrigation treatments and two substrates with differing moisture characteristic curves (MCCs). A gravimetric on-demand irrigation system was used to return substrate moisture content to matric potentials of −2 or −10 kPa at each irrigation via injected drippers inserted into each container. Moisture characteristic curves were used to determine gravimetric water content (GWC), volumetric water content (VWC), and AS at target substrate matric potential values for a potting mix consisting of sphagnum moss and perlite and a potting mix consisting of sphagnum moss, pine bark, perlite, and vermiculite. At each irrigation event, irrigation automatically shut off when the substrate-specific weight of the potted plants associated with the target matric potential was reached. Irrigation was triggered when the associated weight for a given treatment dropped 10% from the target weight. VWC and AS differed between substrates at similar matric potential values. Irrigating substrates to −2 kPa increased the irrigation volume applied, evapotranspiration, plant size, leaf area, shoot and root dry weight, and flower number per plant relative to irrigating to −10 kPa. Fafard 3B had less AS than Sunshine LB2 at target matric potential values. Plants grown in Fafard 3B had greater leaf area, shoot dry weight, and root dry weight. Leachate fraction ranged from 0.05 to 0.08 and was similar across all treatment combinations. Using data from an MCC in conjunction with gravimetric monitoring of the container–substrate–plant system allowed AS to be determined in real time based on the current weight of the substrate. Closely managing substrate matric potential and AS in addition to substrate water content can reduce irrigation and leachate volume while maintaining plant quality and reducing the environmental impacts of greenhouse crop production.

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Ashley K. Brantley, James D. Spiers, Andrew B. Thompson, James A. Pitts, J. Raymond Kessler Jr., Amy N. Wright and Elina D. Coneva

Commercial kiwifruit production often requires substantial inputs for successful pollination. Determining the length of time that female flowers can be successfully pollinated can aid management decisions concerning pollination enhancement. The purpose of this research was to determine the effective pollination period (EPP) for ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ and ‘AU Fitzgerald’. Either 30 (2013) or 32 (2014, 2015) flowers of ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ were hand pollinated each day for 1 to 5 (2013) days after anthesis (DAA) or 1 to 7 DAA (2014, 2015), and then isolated to prevent open pollination. Anthesis was considered the day the flower opened. Similarly, ‘AU Fitzgerald’ flowers were pollinated and then isolated 1 to 6 DAA in 2013 and 1 to 7 DAA in 2015. For ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ in 2013, fruit set was consistent over the 5-day period, but fruit weight, fruit size index, and seed number decreased between 1 and 3 and 4 and 5 DAA. In 2014, fruit set decreased between 1 and 6 and 7 DAA, whereas fruit weight, fruit size index, and seed number each decreased in a linear trend. In 2015, fruit set also decreased between 1 and 6 and 7 DAA, whereas all other responses decreased linearly. Based on fruit set in 2014 and 2015, the EPP for ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ was 6 DAA. The EPP for ‘AU Fitzgerald’, however, was more variable. In 2013, fruit weight, fruit size index and seed number decreased between 1 and 4 and 5 and 6 DAA, suggesting that the EPP was 4 DAA. In 2015, fruit set remained consistent over the 7-day period with fruit weight, fruit size index, and seed number decreasing linearly. Differences in temperature and the alternate bearing tendency of kiwifruit species likely contributed to the discrepancies between the years for the EPP. For each cultivar, reductions in fruit weight, size, and seed number were observed before an observed decrease in fruit set. Greater fruit weight, size, and seed number were observed when flowers were pollinated within the first few DAA, with results varying thereafter.