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Abstract

Red maple (Acer rubrum L.) plants were evaluated for their responses to 5 weeks of constant root-zone temperatures from 18 to 36C. Shoot lengths of plants grown with 18 to 30C root zones did not differ significantly from one another at any time during the study, and shoot dry weights of these plants were similar. However, after 21 days of exposure, shoot length of plants grown with roots at 36C was significantly less than that of plants with roots grown at 30C and below. Leaf area was greatest among plants with roots at 24C, and mean shoot and root dry weights of plants in the 36C treatment were 57% and 68% less, respectively, than those for plants with roots at 30C. Leaf diffusive resistance of plants grown at 36C was five times greater than for plants with root zones at 30C or below. Shoot water potential decreased with increasing temperature, but increased solute concentration in leaves of 36C-grown plants probably contributed to turgor maintenance.

Open Access

Our objectives were to test whether Maackia amurensis Rupr. & Maxim. nodulates and fixes N and to characterize the N-fixing bacteria effective with this host. Soil samples were collected near diverse legume trees at arboreta and public gardens in the United States, Canada, and China. Seedlings of M. amurensis were grown for 6 weeks in a low-N, sterile medium and inoculated with soil samples. At harvest, nodules were found on the lateral and upper portions of root systems. Bacteria were isolated from nodules and subculture. Roots of seedlings inoculated with all 11 of these isolates nodulated and freed N, confirming that the isolates were rhizobial bacteria. Growth of isolates in axenic culture generally was poor when single sources of C were provided. Generation times of the isolates ranged from 6 to 10 hours, and all isolates raised the pH of culture media. Isolates were highly resistant to several antibiotics, showed no 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (6PGD) or β-galactosidase activity, and were highly sensitive to NaCl. These results provide the first evidence that M. amurensis has the capacity to form N-fixing symbioses with rhizobial bacteria and indicate that the bacteria are Bradyrhizobium sp.

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Many members of the citrus family (Rutaceae) are valued for the aromatic compounds emitted by their flowers. Ptelea species are unusually cold-hardy members of the Rutaceae, but conflicting descriptions of the fragrance of their unisexual flowers may discourage the use of these trees. We analyzed floral volatiles and human response to these chemicals to test the hypothesis that the fragrance of staminate and pistillate flowers of these species differs. Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry showed that most volatile chemicals emitted by flowers of Ptelea trifoliata and Ptelea crenulata are monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and esters. Most volatiles were emitted from flowers of both sexes, but ethyl benzoate and estragole were emitted only from pistillate flowers. When concentrations of aromatics differed between sexes, they were higher for pistillate flowers, except for cis-3-hexenyl butanoate and an unidentified terpene. For P. crenulata and P. trifoliata, respectively, 81% and 77% of survey responses were from volunteers who liked the fragrance. Panelists most frequently described the scent of flowers of P. crenulata of both sexes with the words citrus, lime, and sweet. Panelists distinguished between pistillate and staminate flowers of P. trifoliata, describing the odor of pistillate flowers most frequently with the words damp-earthy, spicy, and sweet; staminate flowers were perceived as light, fresh, grassy, and pleasant. This work represents the first analysis of floral volatiles of P. crenulata and resolves conflicting prior reports regarding the floral fragrance of P. trifoliata. We conclude that differences among people rather than the sex of flowers account for conflicting prior reports of floral fragrance. The scents of flowers of P. crenulata and P. trifoliata appeal to most people and are horticultural assets of these trees.

Open Access

Carolina buckthorn [Rhamnus caroliniana Walt. or Frangula caroliniana (Walt.) Gray] is an attractive and water-stress-resistant shrub or small tree distributed extensively in the southeastern United States that merits use in managed landscapes. Due to substantial climatic differences within its distribution (30-year normal midwinter minima range from 13 to -8 °C), selection among provenances based on differences in cold hardiness is warranted. Before selections are marketed, the potential of carolina buckthorn to be invasive also merits investigation. Ecological problems resulting from the introduction of Rhamnus L. species in the United States, most notably the dominance of R. cathartica L. (common buckthorn) over neighboring taxa, are due in part to early budbreak. Consequently, we investigated depth of cold hardiness and vernal budbreak of carolina buckthorn and common buckthorn. Stem samples of carolina buckthorn and common buckthorn collected in midwinter survived temperatures as low as -21 and -24 °C, respectively. Although the cold hardiness of carolina buckthorns from Missouri was greater than that of carolina buckthorns from Ohio and Texas on 2 Apr. 2003, there were no differences in cold hardiness of stems from Missouri and Texas on all three assessment dates in the second experiment. All plants survived at both field locations except for the carolina buckthorns from southern Texas planted in Iowa, which showed 0% and 17% survival in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Budbreak of both species with and without mulch in Ames, Iowa, was recorded from 9 Apr. to 10 May 2002. Mean budbreak of common buckthorn was 5.7 days earlier than budbreak of carolina buckthorn, and buds of mulched carolina buckthorns broke 4.2 days earlier than did buds of unmulched carolina buckthorns. We conclude that the cold hardiness of carolina buckthorn is sufficient to permit the species to be planted outside of its natural distribution. Populations of carolina buckthorn in Ohio and Missouri should be the focus of efforts to select genotypes for use in regions with harsh winters. Phenology of its budbreak suggests carolina buckthorn will not be as invasive as common buckthorn, but evaluation of additional determinants of invasiveness is warranted.

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Little is known about asexual propagation of Maackia amurensis Rupr. & Maxim. (Amur maackia), a N2-fixing tree species with potential for increased use in the landscape. Terminal cuttings were collected from 20 trees (10 at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and 10 in the Washington, D.C., area) at two times in 1992. Cuttings were treated with either 0 or 2500 mg·kg-1 IBA and held in a humidified greenhouse for 12 weeks. Primary and secondary roots were counted, and a subjective rooting score was assigned at harvest. The rooting percentage of the genotypes ranged from 19 to 92, and the number of roots and the rooting scores of the genotypes also varied significantly. Collection date and IBA had relatively minor effects on rooting. We conclude that M. amurensis can be propagated from softwood cuttings, but the usefulness of this method varies with genotype.

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High temperatures are reported to promote day-neutral strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa) vegetative growth and development and inhibit floral and fruit development, thereby imposing geographic and temporal limitations on fruit production. Day-neutral strawberry response to air temperature has been researched, but specific responses to temperature in the root zone have not. In a 1998 greenhouse experiment, 60 `Tristar' plants were grown hydroponically in a system of individual, temperature-controlled pots. A randomized complete-block design with constant root-zone treatments of 11, 17, 23, 29, and 35 °C and 12 replications were used. Stomatal conductance and transpiration rate were significantly lower for plants at 35 °C, compared with plants at all other temperatures. Leaf area and leaf dry mass of plants at 35 °C were five and four times smaller, respectively, than the combined mean for plants in all other treatments. Leaf area of runner tips was 450 and 44.5 cm2 at 11 and 35 °C, respectively, compared with that of plants at all other temperatures, 1552.1 cm2. Fruit dry mass was 14.5, 21.6, 25.5, 29.0, and 3.96 g per plant at 11, 17, 23, 29, and 35 °C, respectively. Root dry mass was highest at 11 and 17 °C and lowest for plants at 35 °C. The number of flowers, fruit, and inflorescences per plant was reduced at 35 °C, as were individual berry fresh mass and diameter. Overall, `Tristar' growth and development were near optimal at 17, 23, and 29 °C.

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Temperature, as a potential environmental stressor, interacts with photoperiod in floral initiation of June-bearing strawberries (Fragaria ×ananassa), such that high-temperature exposure can result in poor floral initiation. Our objectives were to examine the effects of various durations of high root-zone temperature on floral initiation and development and on vegetative growth and development. In a 1998 greenhouse experiment, hydroponically grown `Allstar' June-bearing strawberry plants were subjected day/night temperatures of 31/21 °C in the root zone for one, two, or three continuous periods (of ≈7 days), followed by exposure to 17 °C for the duration of the experiment. Control plants were raised at 17 °C in the root zone throughout the experiment. An additional temperature treatment was exposure to 31/21 °C in the root zone for two periods, each followed by a period at 17 °C. Plants were arranged in a randomized complete-block design with factorial treatments of duration of high root-zone temperature and harvest time. At the end of each period, plants were harvested and the apical meristems dissected for microscopic evaluation of vegetative and floral meristems and the stage of development of the primary flower. We observed floral initiation in all treatments after photoperiodic induction. However, exposure to 31/21 °C in the root zone during key periods of floral initiation in June-bearing strawberry may alter floral development.

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Freeman maples (Acer ×freemanii E. Murray) are suspected to be more resistant to environmental stress than red maples (A. rubrum L.) because the lineage of Freeman maple includes silver maple (A. saccharinum L.). Little is known, however, about stress resistance of silver maple, and few data from direct comparisons of red and Freeman maples are available. Our objectives were to determine effects of root-zone heat on silver maples from northern and southern provenances, and to compare red and Freeman maple cultivars for resistance to rootzone heat stress and drought. There were no provenance-by-temperature interactions when silver maples from 33.3°N (Mississippi) and 44.4°N (Minnesota) latitude were grown with root zones at 29 and 35°C. Plants from 44.4°N latitude had 36% higher fresh mass, 43% more leaf surface area, and 35% and 59% higher, respectively, root and shoot dry masses than plants from 33.3°N latitude. Midday xylem water potential was 68% more negative for plants at 35°C than for plants at 29°C, and transpiration rate was 129% less for plants with root zones at 35°C than for those with root zones at 29°C. During preliminary work with Autumn Flame and Franksred red maple and Indian Summer and Jeffersred Freeman maples, rooted cuttings were grown in 25 and 37°C root zones under both drought and nondrought conditions. Reductions in growth at 37°C were similar for all cultivars. Results of this work could influence development, marketing, and use of Freeman maples.

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As part of a project to develop and assess bio-based, biodegradable plastics for their potential to replace petroleum-based plastics in specialty-crop containers, we evaluated prototype containers made of protein-based polymers from soybean [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] for their effectiveness during production of plants in greenhouses and subsequent establishment of those plants outdoors. Our objective was to assess the function and biodegradation of soy-based plastic containers with special attention to whether a fertilizer effect results from degrading containers before and after plants are moved outdoors. In our first experiment, plants of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) and pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) were grown in soy-plastic containers and control containers of petroleum-based (polypropylene) plastic under greenhouse conditions for 4 weeks. Each plant then was transplanted and grown in an outdoor garden plot for 5 weeks with the container removed, broken into pieces less than 4 cm in diameter, and installed beneath the roots of the transplant. Three additional experiments were performed: a greenhouse trial to quantify the relative concentration and form of plant-available nitrogen (N) released from soy-plastic containers of three types [soy plastic, soy plastic coated with polylactic acid (PLA), and soy–PLA polymer blended 50:50 by weight] during production; a greenhouse trial to evaluate the same three container types under production conditions with five container-crop species; and a field trial to assess the effects of the 50:50 soy–PLA container on transplant establishment. Plant-available N was released from soy-based plastic containers during greenhouse production, and transplant establishment was enhanced when the soy-based container was removed, crushed, and installed in the soil near plant roots. During greenhouse production, containers of high-percentage soy plastic released N at an excessive rate (623 mg·L−1 in leachate) and predominantly in the form of NH4 + (99.4% at 3 weeks of culture). Containers made by blending soy plastic with PLA released N at a favorable rate during production. In both field trials, growth and health of plants cultured in soy containers were better than those of controls. Although the design and material formulation of soy-plastic containers need to be improved to optimize container integrity and plant health during production, our results illustrate the potential to use soy-based plastics in biodegradable containers that release N at rates that promote growth and health of plants during greenhouse production and establishment of transplants outdoors.

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Drawbacks of traditional synthetic fertilizer led us to explore a biologically based (bio-based) alternative. Our objective was to quantify the efficacy of wastewater-grown algae pellets and pastes harvested from rotating algal biofilm systems as fertilizers for three crops, ‘Honeycomb’ marigold (Tagetes patula L.), ‘Beefsteak’ tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.), and ‘Ambrosia’ sweet corn (Zea mays L.). Factorial experiments were designed for each crop with fertilizer type (algae pellets, algae paste, a synthetic controlled-release fertilizer, or a commercially available bio-based fertilizer from wastewater treatment) and substrate (commercial or custom-made) as factors. Shoot growth, shoot nutrient concentration, and substrate pH and electrical conductivity (EC) were affected by fertilizer, substrate, or their interaction. Algae pellets and paste supplied nutrients to all three species effectively, increasing shoot size, dry weight, perceived health, and nutrient concentrations compared with unfertilized controls. Notwithstanding some variability among crops, performance of algal materials was similar to that of the synthetic fertilizer and better than that of the commercial bio-based fertilizer. As a bio-based fertilizer that supplies plants with recycled nutrients sequestered from wastewater, wastewater-grown algae can reduce the impacts of mineral nutrition management in container-crop production by partially supplanting synthetic fertilizer use.

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