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Many growers fertigating their orchards with zinc–ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (Zn-EDTA) are still using supplemental zinc foliar sprays because of a lack of confidence that soil-applied Zn-EDTA is supplying enough Zn to the trees. A field study was conducted in a pecan orchard located near San Simon, AZ, on 8-year-old ‘Wichita’ trees growing in an alkaline, calcareous Vekol loam soil to evaluate the effectiveness of supplemental foliar Zn sprays. All trees were fertigated with 6.0 kg⋅ha–1 Zn in the form of Zn-EDTA in 2018 and 11.0 kg⋅ha–1 Zn in 2019 and did not exhibit visible signs of Zn deficiency. Foliar treatments of 3.75 mL⋅L–1 urea–ammonium nitrate (UAN), 3.6 g⋅L–1 zinc sulfate monohydrate (ZnSO4·H2O), 3.6 g⋅L–1 ZnSO4·H2O with 3.75 mL⋅L–1 UAN, 11 mL⋅L–1 Zn-EDTA, and water alone were applied to individual fruiting shoot terminals of trees on two dates each in 2018 and 2019. Treatments were sprayed directly onto the leaves of the selected terminals. Zn-EDTA was included as a foliar treatment in 2019 only. Leaf photosynthesis was measured to determine the impact of leaf Zn concentrations on plant function. Midday stem water potential (MDSWP) was measured to verify that water stress was not limiting photosynthesis. Both measurements were taken about 2 to 4 weeks after the application of foliar treatments. MDSWP measurements indicated a lack of water stress and therefore no effect on photosynthesis. Leaf samples collected from untreated branches indicated that the average foliar Zn concentration of untreated leaves was 21.3 mg⋅kg–1 in 2018 and 15.7 mg⋅kg–1 in 2019. No differences were observed in photosynthesis rates of treated branches. No additional benefit to leaf photosynthetic function or appearance was observed from spraying Zn on foliage of trees fertigated with Zn-EDTA.

Open Access

Small-scale vegetable farmers are interested in cover crops and reduced tillage, but scale-appropriate technology and equipment are necessary to expand these practices to the growing segment of small farms. We sought to determine the efficacy of tarps, an increasingly popular tool on small farms, to end overwintering cover crops and provide weed suppression for subsequent no-till cabbage production. In three fields over two seasons in Maine, we grew a winter rye (Secale cereale L.) and hairy vetch (Vicia villosa L.) cover crop, which we managed by a factorial combination of tillage (no-till, till) and tarping (tarp, no-tarp) in June, followed by a transplanted cabbage crop (Brassica oleracea L. var. Capitata) in July. Within each treatment, subplots were either weeded by hand or left unweeded. Cover crop biomass ranged from 2.8 to 4.5 Mg⋅ha−1. Mean cabbage weights in the novel no-till system (no-till/tarp) were greater than (year 1) or equal to (year 2) those in tillage-based systems (till/no-tarp and till/tarp). In year 1, the mean cabbage weight in weeded subplots was 48% greater in no-till/tarp than in till/no-tarp systems. In unweeded subplots, this difference was 270%, highlighting the efficacy of the no-till/tarp system to reduce the impact of weeds. In year 2, weed biomass was higher with all treatments than it was in year 1, and unweeded subplots failed to produce marketable heads (i.e., >300 g). The mean cabbage weight in weeded subplots was equal among no-till/tarp, till/tarp, and till/no-tarp systems. Tarping had a strong effect on weed biomass and weed community composition measured at the time of cabbage harvest in unweeded subplots. In year 1, weed biomass at the time of cabbage harvest with tarp treatments was less than half that with no-tarp treatments. Tarps effectively facilitated the cover crop mulch-based no-till system. We propose that this system is an adaptive strategy for farmers affected by climate change. However, both cover crop production and tarping shorten the growing season. We discuss tradeoffs and opportunity costs using the metric of growing degree days.

Open Access

Legume/cereal mixed winter cover crops are commonly used by organic growers on the central coast of California, but they are unable to provide sufficient nitrogen (N) for a high N-demanding vegetable crop such as broccoli and supplemental fertilizer application may be necessary. The goals of this project were to evaluate the contribution of N from a mixed legume/cereal cover crop (CC) and feather meal and blood meal as organic fertilizers (OF) to an organic broccoli crop and to evaluate economic benefits of CC and OF to the subsequent organic broccoli crop. Trials were conducted at two sites (A and B) with different management histories. Cover crops were grown over the winter and incorporated into the soil in the spring and subsequently broccoli [Brassica oleracea L. (Italica group)] was grown in 2006 at both sites and in 2007 at B only. Cover crop and no CC treatments were grown with supplemental organic fertilizers at four fertility levels (0, 84, 168, and 252 kg N/ha of OF) with four replicates. Generally broccoli head yields at A (14.9 to 26.3 Mg·ha−1) were higher than at B (0.7 to 17.4 Mg·ha−1 in 2006 and 5.5 to 17.9 Mg·ha−1 in 2007). Yield and aboveground biomass N were significantly increased by OF at rates up to 168 kg N/ha at A and to 252 kg N/ha at B and by CC in 2006 at both sites but not in 2007 at B. Although N content of the CC was similarly low at A (2006) and at B (2007), immobilization of soil mineral N occurred only at B. This suggests that the addition of a low N content CC was offset by high N mineralization from the soil at A with a long organic management history (greater than 33 years). Supplemental fertilizer applications may be necessary to achieve optimal yields, but the amount needed can be reduced by cover cropping in fields with a long history of cover crop-based organic management (A) or when cover crop N content is sufficiently high to prevent immobilization (B, 2006). Soil NO3-N patterns suggest a pre-side dress nitrate test may also be useful for N management in organic broccoli. Use of cover crops increased net return above harvest and fertility costs when the yield reduction by N immobilization did not take place. However, the net return increase by the use of cover crops tended to diminish as the rate of OF application increased.

Free access

Despite an abundance of polyembryonic genotypes and the need for rootstocks that improve scion yield and productivity, simultaneous field testing of a wide range of mango (Mangifera indica L.) genotypes as rootstocks has not previously been reported. In this experiment, we examined the growth and yield of ‘Kensington Pride’ on 64 mango genotypes of diverse origin during the first four seasons of fruit production to identify those worth longer-term assessment. We also recorded morphological characteristics of seedlings of 46 of these genotypes in an attempt to relate these measures to subsequent field performance. Tree canopy development on the most vigorous rootstocks was almost double that on the least vigorous. Growth rates differed by more than 160%. Cumulative marketable yield ranged from 36 kg/tree for the lowest yielding rootstock to 181 kg/tree for the most productive. Yield efficiency also differed markedly among the 64 rootstocks with the best treatment being 3.5 times more efficient than the poorest treatment. No relationship was found between yield efficiency and tree size, suggesting it is possible to select highly efficient rootstocks of differing vigor. Two genotypes (‘Brodie’ and ‘MYP’) stood out as providing high yield efficiency with small tree size. A further two genotypes (‘B’ and ‘Watertank’) were identified as offering high yield efficiency and large tree size and should provide high early yields at traditional tree spacing. Efforts to relate the morphology of different genotype seedlings to subsequent performance as a rootstock showed that nursery performance of mango seedlings is no indication of their likely behavior as a rootstock. The economic cost of poor yields and low yield efficiencies during the early years of commercial orchard production provide a rationale for culling many of the rootstock treatments in this experiment and concentrating future assessment on the top ≈20% of the 64 treatments. Of these, ‘MYP’, ‘B’, ‘Watertank’, ‘Manzano’, and ‘Pancho’ currently show the most promise.

Free access

A field study was conducted to evaluate tolerance of pecan rootstocks to soil salinity and sodicity. Seven cultivars—Elliott, Giles, Ideal, Peruque, Riverside, ‘Shoshoni, and VC1-68—were selected from a range of geographic regions of origin. The soil of the experimental plot was a poorly drained, saline–sodic Pima silty clay variant. The irrigation water was a moderately saline mix of Gila River and local groundwater with an electrical conductivity of 2.8 dS⋅m–1, containing primarily ions of Na and Cl. Eighty seeds of each cultivar were planted in a greenhouse in late Feb. 2016; 48 seedlings of each cultivar were transplanted into field plots in Feb. 2017. Half the trees received a soil-based application of Zn–ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) at planting. The trees were observed and rated for both vigor and resistance to salt injury on seven separate occasions. Trunk diameter was measured each dormant season. Leaf samples were collected on 9 Oct. 2019 and 6 Oct. 2020, and were analyzed for nutrient content. Zn-EDTA was not found to have a significant effect on growth, vigor, or resistance to salt injury. ‘Elliott’ seedlings exhibited greater tolerance for the alkaline, saline–sodic soil conditions than other cultivars. ‘Giles’ and ‘Peruque’ were most severely affected. Resistance to salt injury (ranging from marginal leaf burn to necrosis of entire leaf), vigor, and growth correlated more strongly with foliar concentrations of Na than Cl or K during 2019. Vigor and growth were not significantly correlated with foliar Na, Cl, or K concentrations in 2020. The foliar K:Na ratio had a nearly equal correlation with resistance to salt injury and a greater correlation with growth than that of Na alone in 2019. However, although the correlation of the K:Na ratio with vigor was stronger than that of Cl or K, Na had the strongest correlation with vigor in 2019. In 2020, the only significant correlation of growth and vigor was with the K:Na ratio. The strongest correlation with resistance to salt injury in 2020 was with foliar Na concentration.

Open Access

Analysis of composite pecan leaf samples typically used to determine need for nutrient applications does not account for variability among trees in the sampled area. To account for this unmeasured variability, pecan orchard block nutrient standards are greater than actual single tree nutrient requirements. In 2018 and 2019, we measured variability in a pecan orchard block by evaluating nutrient status of all trees in a study area consisting of two cultivars (Wichita and Western) grafted on open-pollinated ‘Ideal’ seedlings. Foliar zinc (Zn) coefficient of variation (cv) ranged from 0.186 to 0.255 within individual cultivars and years but was as high as 0.30 when combining cultivars within a year. The ‘Western’ cultivar had higher foliar Zn concentrations than ‘Wichita’, but Zn concentrations were not consistently associated with other leaf nutrient levels, soil Zn status, or other soil properties. Using observed foliar Zn variability, we determined that it is necessary to sample 35 trees for a composite sample to achieve a relative margin of error of 10% and 95% confidence level in a pecan orchard block with more than 1000 trees. We developed field scale foliar Zn recommendations based on individual tree research that indicates a minimum acceptable leaf Zn concentration of ≈15 mg·kg–1 is needed to maintain optimal photosynthetic function in Zn chelate fertigated pecan trees. Assuming a Zn cv of 0.30 and a composite sample comprised of leaves from 35 trees, the minimum acceptable orchard block Zn level to ensure that less than 5% of trees had suboptimal levels of Zn was 27.6 mg·kg–1. An orchard block Zn level below 23.4 mg·kg–1 indicates that more than 5% of trees in the block had suboptimal foliar Zn concentrations.

Open Access