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  • Author or Editor: Alan Wright x
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Banded cucumber beetle [BCB (Diabrotica balteata)], serpentine leafminer [SL (Liriomyza trifolii)], and aphids (Homoptera: Aphididae) are among the major insect pests that cause significant economic damage to lettuce (Lactuca sativa) in southern Florida. Four romaine cultivars and three iceberg cultivars, currently used in Florida's lettuce production, were evaluated from Oct. 2010 to Jan. 2011 in separate field experiments for their responses to insect infestation. Lettuce cultivars differed significantly in their responses to infestations of BCB and aphids. Cultivar 70096 had the lowest percent (3.7%) of BCB feeding damage among the romaine cultivars. Romaine cultivar Manatee also had significantly lower BCB feeding damage (12.1%) than the susceptible cultivars Okeechobee (19.8%) and Terrapin (19.1%). The lowest level of infestation of aphids was observed on ‘Manatee’, followed by ‘70096’, whereas ‘Okeechobee’ and ‘Terrapin’ had severe infestation of aphids. The iceberg cultivars were similar to one another in their responses to BCB and SL but not in their response to aphid infestation. Yield was decreased from 3% to 37% for six of the seven cultivars grown under the adverse environmental conditions of insect infestations and cold weather in Dec. 2010, but the yield of ‘70096’ did not decline. The cultivars identified as resistant to insects can play an important role in integrated pest management (IPM), which may decrease pesticide application, reduce production costs, and protect the environment.

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Completely enclosed screen houses can physically exclude contact between the asian citrus psyllid [ACP (Diaphorina citri)] and young, healthy citrus (Citrus sp.) trees and prevent huanglongbing (HLB) disease development. The current study investigated the use of antipsyllid screen houses on plant growth and physiological parameters of young ‘Ray Ruby’ grapefruit (Citrus ×paradisi) trees. We tested two coverings [enclosed screen house and open-air (control)] and two planting systems (in-ground and container-grown), with four replications arranged in a split-plot experimental design. Trees grown inside screen houses developed larger canopy surface area, canopy surface area water use efficiency (CWUE), leaf area index (LAI) and LAI water use efficiency (LAIWUE) relative to trees grown in open-air plots (P < 0.01). Leaf water transpiration increased and leaf vapor pressure deficit (VPD) decreased in trees grown inside screen houses compared with trees grown in the open-air plots. CWUE was negatively related to leaf VPD (P < 0.01). Monthly leaf nitrogen concentration was consistently greater in container-grown trees in the open-air compared with trees grown in-ground and inside the screen houses. However, trees grown in-ground and inside the screen houses did not experience any severe leaf N deficiencies and were the largest trees, presenting the highest canopy surface area and LAI at the end of the study. The screen houses described here provided a better growing environment for in-ground grapefruit because the protective structures accelerated young tree growth compared with open-air plantings while protecting trees from HLB infection.

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Huanglongbing (HLB) disease is a threat to most citrus (Citrus sp.) producing areas and is associated with the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. The disease is transmitted by the vector asian citrus psyllid [ACP (Diaphoria citri)]. Antipsyllid screen houses can potentially reduce and eliminate HLB development in young citrus plantings by excluding the insect vector. These structures are also anticipated to represent a new environmental platform to cultivate high-valued fresh citrus. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effect of screen houses on excluding infective ACP from inoculating grapefruit (Citrus ×paradisi) trees and determine changes on environmental conditions caused by the screen cloth. We tested two coverings [enclosed screen house and open-air (control)] and two planting systems (in-ground and container-grown), with four replications arranged in a split-plot experimental design. Psyllid counting and HLB diagnosis were performed monthly, and the antipsyllid screen excluded the HLB vector from the houses. ACP and HLB-positive trees were found only at the open-air plots. Weather monitoring was performed every 30 minutes from 22 Feb. to 31 July 2014. Solar radiation accumulation averaged 6.7 W·m−2·minute−1 inside the screen houses and 8.6 W·m−2·minute−1 in the open-air. Air temperature was greater inside the screen houses whereas wind gusts were higher in the open-air. Reference evapotranspiration accumulation averaged 3.2 mm·day−1 inside the screen houses and 4.2 mm·day−1 in the open-air. There was no difference in cumulative rainfall between screen houses and open-air. The antipsyllid screen houses reduced solar radiation, maximum wind gust, and reference evapotranspiration (ETo). The environmental conditions inside the protective screen houses are suitable for grapefruit production.

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Use efficiency of applied nitrogen (N) is estimated typically to be <50% in most crops. In sandy soils and warmer climates particularly, leaching and volatilization may be primary pathways for environmental loss of applied N. To determine the effect of N fertilization rate on the N use efficiency (NUE) and apparent recovery of N fertilizer (APR), a replicated field study with ‘BHN 602’ tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) grown in sandy soils under a fertigated plastic-mulched bed system was conducted using ammonium nitrate as the N source at four different rates (0, 150, 200, and 250 lb/acre). Spring tomato was followed by fall tomato in the same field, a typical cropping sequence in north Florida. Fertigation of N fertilizer was applied weekly in 13 equal doses for both seasons. The highest NUE was 12.05% (spring) and 32.38% (fall), and the highest APR was 6.11% (spring) for the lowest rate of N applied (150 lb/acre). In the fall, APR was unaffected by fertilizer N rates and ranged from 12.88% to 19.39%. Nitrogen accumulation in tomato plants were similar among the three N fertilizer rates applied (150, 200, and 250 lb/acre), though compared with no N fertilizer application, significant increases occurred. Whole plant N accumulation, NUE, and APR declined or remained similar when N rates increased above 150 lb/acre. Additionally, a regression analysis and derivative of the quadratic fresh yield data showed that yields were maximized at 162 and 233 lb/acre N in the spring and fall seasons, respectively.

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