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  • Author or Editor: Christopher Clark x
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Tip rot, or restricted end rot, is a new sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) disease/disorder in Mississippi with unknown etiology. Since pathogen isolations have been inconsistent, a relationship of this disorder with stress is proposed. This disease/disorder is manifested as a restricted lesion at or close to the proximal end of the storage root and appears after 2 to 4 weeks in storage. In many cases, the lesion necrosis expands internally. On-farm and research station studies with preharvest foliar applications of ethephon were conducted in Mississippi to determine the potential association of tip rot with ethephon-induced stress. In addition, the effects of ethephon rate and interval between application and harvest on tip rot were investigated. After 1 to 2 months in storage, tip rot incidence was observed mostly in storage roots from ethephon-treated plants. The increase in tip rot incidence was well correlated with ethephon rate. These results suggest that preharvest applications of ethephon trigger a response that results in the tip rot disorder.

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Predictive models of optimum sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) harvest in relation to growing degree days (GDD) will benefit producers and researchers by ensuring maximum yields and high quality. A GDD system has not been previously characterized for sweetpotato grown in Louisiana. We used a data set of 116 planting dates and used a combination of minimum cv, linear regression (LR), and several algorithms in a data mining (DM) mode to identify candidate methods of estimating relationships between GDD and harvest dates. These DM algorithms included neural networks, support vector machine, multivariate adaptive regression splines, regression trees, and generalized linear models. We then used candidate GDD methods along with agrometeorological variables to model US#1 yield using LR and DM methodology. A multivariable LR model with the best adjusted r2 was based on GDD calculated using this method: maximum daily temperature (Tmax) – base temperature (B), where if Tmax > ceiling temperature [C (90 °F)], then Tmax = C, and where GDD = 0 if minimum daily temperature <60 °F. The following climate-related variables contributed to the improvement of adjusted r2 of the LR model: mean relative humidity 20 days after transplanting (DAT), maximum air temperature 20 DAT, and maximum soil temperature 10 DAT (log 10 transformed). In the DM mode, this GDD method and the LR model also demonstrated high predictive accuracy as quantified using mean square error. Using this model, we propose to schedule test harvests at GDD = 2600. The harvest date can further be optimized by predicting US#1 yield using GDD in combination with climate-based predictor variables measured within 20 DAT.

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For about 30 years, the Univ. of California has used advanced laboratory techniques in addition to traditional methods to produce pathogen-free and true-to-type sweetpotato seedstock. The effort continues with the varieties important in the marketplace today. This program serves as a model for the use of meristem culture by foundation sweetpotato programs in other states.

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Because sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) is vegetatively propagated, viruses and mutations can accumulate readily, which can lead to cultivar decline. Sweetpotato foundation seed programs in the United States maintain the integrity of commercial seed stock by providing virus-tested (VT) foundation seed to commercial producers. A survey was conducted in Louisiana from 2007 to 2009 to examine the performance and quality of the foundation seed after it had been integrated into commercial sweetpotato operations. G1 seed [grown 1 year after virus therapy in the foundation seed production field at the Sweet Potato Research Station, Louisiana State University Agricultural Center (LSU AgCenter), at Chase, LA] was used as a reference to compare the yield and virus incidence of growers' generation 2 (G2) and generation 3 (G3) seed roots (grown in the growers' seed production fields 1 or 2 years following the year of foundation seed production). Although yields of plants grown from G2 and G3 seed were 86.3% and 86.1% for U.S. No. 1 and 83.3% and 86.0% for total marketable, respectively, compared with the yields from G1 seed, they were not significantly different. Yield and virus incidence data suggest that seed quality may vary from year to year and from location to location. Results from this study suggest that producers are realizing yield benefits by incorporating VT foundation seed into their production schemes, but further benefits could be attained if ways to reduce re-infection with viruses can be found.

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Experiments were conducted to determine if the seedling hypocotyl elongation and petal abscission assays could be used to identify differences in ethylene sensitivity among seedling geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum) cultivars. When seedlings of six geranium cultivars were germinated and grown in the dark in the presence of the ethylene biosynthetic precursor 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) at various concentrations, they exhibited the triple response (measured as reduced hypocotyl length). While seedlings from all six cultivars were sensitive to ACC, `Scarlet Elite' seedlings were most sensitive, and `Multibloom Lavender', `Elite White' and `Ringo 2000 Salmon' seedlings were the least sensitive when germinated and grown on 20 mm [2022 mg·L-1 (ppm)] ACC. Florets representing three developmental stages of each of the six cultivars were exposed to 1 μL·L-1 of exogenous ethylene for 0, 30, or 60 min to determine if differences in cultivar sensitivity could be determined for petal abscission. Of the six cultivars tested, `Ringo 2000 Salmon', `Multibloom Lavender' and `Elite White' were the least ethylene sensitive. Florets were also self-pollinated to test for cultivar differences in ethylene synthesis and subsequent petal abscission. Ethylene production and petal abscission were both promoted in self-pollinated florets compared to nonpollinated florets. `Ringo 2000 Salmon', `Multibloom Lavender' and `Elite White' florets produced similar amounts of ethylene as all other cultivars, but abscised fewer petals after pollination. Our results indicate that the seedling hypocotyls elongation assay may be used to identify geranium cultivars with reduced sensitivity to ethylene. The data also suggest that genetic variability exists among geraniums for both ethylene sensitivity and biosynthesis.

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Polyethylene (PE) mulch provides significant benefits to fruit and vegetable producers because it has the potential to improve crop quality and increase yield. However, the use of PE mulch generates plastic pollution, posing challenges to the sustainability of fruit and vegetable production. Plastic biodegradable mulches (BDMs) are a sustainable alternative to PE mulch because they are designed to decompose into water, carbon dioxide, and microbial biomass. We surveyed Tennessee fruit and vegetable growers to assess their use of PE mulch, BDM, or both; the differences in the characteristics of BDM users and nonusers; and their interest in using BDM. Our results indicate a large percentage of fruit and vegetable growers have used PE mulch compared with BDM. In general, BDM users tend to have more acres in fruit and vegetable production, have used dumping and burying as PE mulch disposal methods, and have spent more hours removing and disposing of PE mulch. Results indicate that even at prices higher than the current average market price for BDM, there is a percentage of Tennessee fruit and vegetable growers interested in using BDM.

Open Access

Two distinct syndromes have emerged in some production areas that have caused losses of sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) storage roots during postharvest storage: a complex of fungal rots (end rots) progressing from either end of storage roots and a necrotic reaction (internal necrosis) progressing internally from the proximal end of storage roots. This study was conducted in multiple environments to evaluate whether the use of preharvest ethephon application and storage with or without curing after harvest could be used to screen sweetpotato breeding lines for susceptibility/resistance to these two disorders. Treating vines with ethephon 2 weeks before harvest and placing harvested roots directly into storage at 60 °F without curing resulted in the greatest incidence of end rots in each state and there were significant differences in incidence among the sweetpotato genotypes evaluated. However, when ethephon was not used and roots were cured immediately after harvest, the incidence of end rots was low in all the genotypes evaluated except for one breeding line. Incidence and severity of internal necrosis were greatest when ethephon was applied preharvest and roots were cured immediately after harvest, but two cultivars, Hatteras and Covington, had significantly more internal necrosis than all others.

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Tissue-cultured, virus-tested (TC) plantlets of sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas var. batatas) cultivars Okinawan, LA 08-21p, and Murasaki-29 were obtained from Louisiana State University Agricultural Center. The objectives of field trials conducted at the Kula Agricultural Park, Maui, HI, were to compare yield and pest resistance of 1) ‘Okinawan’ obtained from a commercial (C) field with TC ‘Okinawan’ and 2) TC Okinawan with the aforementioned TC cultivars. Trials were planted Oct. 2015 and Aug. 2016 and harvested 5 months later. Storage roots were graded according to State of Hawai’i standards, and marketable yields included Grades AA, A, and B. In addition, injuries due to sweetpotato weevil (Cylas formicarius elegantulus) or rough sweetpotato weevil (Blosyrus asellus) were estimated. In both trials, fresh and dry weights of marketable storage roots of TC ‘Okinawan’ were nearly twice those from commercial planting material. In both trials, marketable fresh weights differed among the three TC cultivars; however, significant interactions were found, indicating that yields of cultivars differed between years. In the first field trial, ‘LA 08-21p’ had fresh marketable yields 1.6 to 1.7 times greater than TC ‘Okinawan’ and Murasaki-29, respectively. In the second trial, fresh marketable yields of TC ‘Okinawan’ and ‘LA 08-21p’were similar and 1.7 to 1.5 times greater than that of ‘Murasaki-29’, respectively. In both trials, ‘LA 08-21p’ had greater sweetpotato weevil injury than did the other two cultivars. Interestingly, in the second year, TC ‘Okinawan’ had greater rough sweetpotato weevil injury than did the other cultivars. Our results indicate that tissue-cultured planting materials increased marketable yields of TC ‘Okinawan’ compared with C ‘Okinawan’ sweetpotato and that the other TC cultivars did not produce greater yields than TC Okinawan.

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Home gardeners’ concerns for the environment are expressed both in the ecofriendly gardening practices they use and in environmental attributes they prefer in the gardening products they purchase. This study uses data from a 2018 survey of 601 Tennessee outdoor home gardeners and a multiple indicators multiple causes (MIMIC) model to illustrate how outdoor home gardener demographics, expenditures, information use, and attitudes influence use of ecofriendly gardening practices and preferences for environmental attributes in home gardening supplies. Practices considered include planting pollinator plants, using rainwater collectors, composting, recycling gardening supplies packaging, using organic gardening methods, and use of soil testing. Gardening supply product attributes include decreased need for fertilizer, pesticides, and water; native plant species; organically produced products; and recyclable packaging. The most widely used practice is recycling gardening supplies packaging, and the least used is soil testing. Gardeners with a greater propensity to use the six gardening practices include male, college graduates, who spend relatively more of their income on gardening supplies, and consider themselves as being knowledgeable about environmental issues. The gardening supply product attribute most widely considered as important is decreased need for pesticides, and least widely considered as important are native species and organically produced. Gardeners more likely to prefer the six gardening supply product attributes include older gardeners, who seek other gardeners for information, and who perceived themselves as being knowledgeable about the environment. This same group likes to grow their own food and feels responsibility for protecting the environment for future generations.

Open Access