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  • Author or Editor: Ben Mullinix x
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Pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] tree height was gradually reduced by removing one to three limbs per year at a height <12 or <9 m or none. Pruning at either height reduced yield but increased tree vigor, terminal shoot growth, nut size, and percentage of “standard” grade kernels. Pruning reduced leaf Mg and percentage of “fancy” grade kernels.

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Treatments of control, selective limb pruning (SLP), tree thinning, SLP + 12.24 kg paclobutrazol/ha, and SLP + 3.36 kg paclobutrazol/ha were applied to `Desirable', `Western Schley', and `Wichita' pecans for >7 years. Thinning increased yield per tree significantly for `Desirable' but not for the other cultivars. Thinning did not increase yield per hectare during the study. Paclobutrazol application reduced terminal shoot growth but did not benefit yield or kernel quality. There was no significant benefit from SLP with or without paclobutrazol.

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After 10 years, application of 112 kg N/ha, divided into four annual applications and applied through the drip irrigation system (fertigated), provided nut yield and quality as good as 224 kg·ha–1 all broadcast or 1/2 fertigated and 1/2 broadcast. Leaf N was well above the 2.50% deficiency threshold. Treatment rates were halved for six additional years with no detrimental effects on yield and quality from fertigation. All treatments still provided leaf N well above the deficiency threshold. After 16 years of N fertigation there appears to be no serious reduction of pH or flushing of other nutrients from the wetted zone of the emitter. Leaf and soil analysis indicate a loss of Ca and Mg in the area away from the emitter when N was broadcast. Soil pH and nutrients were lower in the wetted zone of the emitter than in the area not wet by the emitter, and soil pH, K, and Mg were reduced in the 15- to 30-cm layer with fertigation. Leaf nutrient concentrations reflected the cation concentrations in the nonwetted area. Broadcast N was from NH4NO3 and fertigated N was from URAN (16% N from NH4NO3 and 16% N from urea).

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`Climax' blueberry is a major cultivar in Georgia, but because of its excessively low chilling requirement and early blooming habit, it has a poor cropping history in recent years due to spring freezes. Research was initiated to explore the potential for ethephon to delay bloom, without delaying ripening too much. In 1997-1998 a treatment of 200 ppm ethephon applied on 3 Nov. or 400 ppm applied on 17 Nov. delayed bloom 5 to 7 days compared to the control. There was no significant difference between the control and the ethephon treatment in flower bud density or fruit density in the spring. In 1998-1999 ethephon applications at 200 and 400 ppm were applied once or twice 2 weeks apart starting on 5 Oct. and ending 19 Nov. A bloom delay of about 7 days was achieved with most ethephon applications. However, an application of 400 ppm on 19 Oct. and 2 Nov. delayed bloom about 14 days compared to the control. There was a trend toward delayed fruit ripening with the most-effective bloom delay treatments, but the extent of delayed ripening was minimal. Berry weight was not effected by ethephon treatments.

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Poor blueberry leaf development is a serious problem in medium and low chilling regions which leads to smaller, later ripening fruit and reduced bush vigor. Dormex (hydrogen cyanamide) and Promalin or Accel (6-benzyl adenine plus gibberellins A4 and A7) were used in the experiments. Dormex 1991-1995 trials with applications at the end of the dormancy period (February) looked promising but were not uniformly successful. In 1996, applications were made starting in mid-dormancy (early-mid January) about 6-8 weeks before normal bud break. Spring vegetative bud development was greatly accelerated with minimal advance in flower development. Mid-dormancy Dormex rates of 1.5% to 2% appear promising. Dormex application after bud break or at excessively high rates will kill flower buds, but has excellent potential as a bloom thinning agent for juvenile blueberry plants. Promalin or Accel applications post bloom significantly accelerated spring leaf development. Late summer applications of Promalin significantly increased fall growth and number of side shoots.

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Rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium ashei R.) flowers often suffer slight freeze damage that prevents fertilization and fruit development. To determine if gibberellic acid (GA3) might be useful in rescuing freeze-damaged flowers the following treatments were applied before anthesis to two cultivars at different locations: 1) undamaged control, 2) approximately two-thirds of the corolla and most of the style removed, 3) approximately half of the style removed, and 4) ovules lanced with an insect pin by driving it through the equator of the undeveloped berry until the point came out the other side. Half the bushes were not sprayed, and half were sprayed with GA3 (312 ppm, v/v) the night following treatment. `Climax' at Chula, Ga., had good fruit set for treatment 1 with and without GA3 (70% to 85%). Good fruit set also occurred for treatment 2, 3, and 4 where GA3 was applied (47% to 54%), but poor fruit set without GA3 (4% to 16%). `Tifblue' at Chula had significantly better fruit set for treatment 1 with GA3 (54% vs. 27%). Excellent fruit set occurred for treatment 2, 3, and 4 where GA3 was applied (81% to 96%), and poor fruit set without GA3 (6% to 7%). `Tifblue' fruit set by GA3 sized better than `Climax' fruit set by GA3. The experiments provide corroborative evidence that flowers that have suffered freeze damage to the stigma, style, corolla, and perhaps ovules can be set with GA3.

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In a series of experiments, gibberellic acid (GA3) was applied to rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei Reade) under field and greenhouse conditions to determine if fruit set could be improved following physical or freeze injury to flowers. In field experiments, physically damaged flowers (i.e., corollas and styles removed, styles only removed, or ovaries lanced) of `Climax' and `Tifblue' treated with GA3 (4% ProGib at 250 mg·liter–1) set substantially more fruit than nontreated, damaged flowers. Under green-house conditions, GA3 applied postfreeze to `Tifblue' and `Brightwell' resulted in increased fruit set compared to unsprayed control plants of the same cultivars. Freeze-damaged plants had substantially reduced fruit set overall but to a much lesser extent for GA3-treated plants than for those not treated with GA3. Individual fruit weight was reduced by GA3 applications, as was berry seediness. Results from these greenhouse and field trials suggest that GA3 can be used to salvage a blueberry crop following a moderate freeze during bloom.

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Growing southern highbush blueberries in milled pine bark beds ≈15 cm deep has become a popular fruit production system in Georgia and Florida. One of the primary limiting economic factors in this system is the cost of the growing media, which can exceed $10,000 U.S. per ha. In an effort to discover low-cost substitutes for milled pine bark, available waste or low-cost organic materials were screened for there suitability as growing media for southern highbush blueberries. Cotton gin waste, pecan shells, hardwood “flume” dirt, milled composted urban yard waste, composted urban tree trimmings, pine telephone pole peelings, and pine fence post peelings were evaluated. Only pine derived materials had a suitable pH (<5.3). Fresh pine telephone pole peelings (≈25% bark to 75% elongated fibers of cambial wood) and pine fence post peelings (≈75% bark to 25% elongated fibers of cambial wood) were evaluated for several seasons in containers and field trials. The growth index of blueberries in these materials was slightly less or equal to milled pine bark. Surprisingly, nitrogen deficiency was slight or not a problem. The results indicate that pine pole and post peelings may offer an excellent, low-cost substitute for milled pine bark for blueberry production.

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Bananas are a popular ornamental plant in the southern U.S. However, normally only a few cultivars, such as `Lady Finger' and `Orinoco', are grown in Georgia. Thirty-three primarily commercial cultivars of bananas were grown for two years near Savannah, Georgia to determine their suitability for ornamental and nursery production. Most plants were grown from tissue culture plugs. They where given rates of fertilization used for commercial banana fruit production. Most cultivars produced 10 to 14 leaves and grew to heights of 1.5 to 2.0 m. Some displayed desirable ornamental characteristics such as pink tinted pseudostems, colorful flowers, and large graceful leaves. Many of the cultivars flowered and began producing fruit in late summer, although only `1780', `Raja Puri' and `Sweetheart' produced palatable fruit before frost in November in some years. Cultivars were also rated for their ability to produce suckers that can be used for nursery production. In year two, `1780' and `Manzano' produced the largest number of high quality suckers for nursery production. For the planting as a whole, sales of suckers at a field day averaged $7/per plant in year 2 and $17/per plant in year 3.

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