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  • Author or Editor: Larry R. Stein x
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Five Texas orchards were selected in Spring 1993 in commercial pecan counties for testing three types of soil aeration equipment. Mechanical aeration spikes were either 20 or 46 cm long, and a pneumatic spike was 20 cm long. The mechanical spikes are on a rolling cylinder that can be manufactured in sufficient lengths to fit the tree spacing in different orchards. The pneumatic probe is manually inserted into the soil so that a quick burst of 130-psi air can be delivered to effect soil profile fracturing. The fourth replicated treatment was an nontreated control. There were no differences in trunk diameter increases and yield in 1993 between May-applied replicated treatments. The May treatments and November measurements will continue for two more years to allow for differences in soil aeration to influence growth and yield. Shoot growth measurements will be taken in Spring 1995. Irrigation water has penetrated the soil under aerated trees more readily than in nonaerated controls.

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Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) and habanero pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.) growers have observed increased crop yield by placing bees in close proximity to these vegetable crops. However, adding managed bees typically may not be feasible for small-scale farmers or homeowners. Limited studies have demonstrated the potential of pollinator-attracting plants to be used as a lure to enhance the visitation of pollinators to adjacent food crops. This study evaluated the potential of adding pollinator-attracting plants in close proximity to cucumber and habanero plants to improve yields by either establishing permanent perennial companion plantings adjacent to the crops or interplanting annual companion plants within the row anew with each crop. The perennial treatment group consisted of Phyla nodiflora (L.) Greene, Borrichia frutescens (L.) DC., Salvia farinacea Benth. ‘Henry Duelberg’, and Eysenhardtia texana Scheele. The annual treatment group consisted of Cosmos bipinnatus Cav., Zinnia ×marylandica D.M. Spooner, Stimart, & T. Boyle, Borago officinalis L., and Ocimum basilicum L. Multiple cropping cycles were initiated using both spring and fall seasons, and yield was assessed for three successive cropping cycles. Fruit quality was unaffected by pollinator-attracting companion plantings; however total and marketable yields were impacted. Cucumber yields were significantly (P < 0.05) greater during fall harvests with annual companion plantings and with the second fall harvest in perennial companion plant plots. Perennial companion plots initially yielded less than control plots or annual companion plots due to the space allocated to the companion plantings and the fewer pollinators initially attracted to the plots compared with the annual companion plantings. When the perennial plots became more established, they resulted in similar yields as the annual companion planting plots. Although habanero yields were increased by annual companion plantings in spring and fall, cucumbers were unaffected by companion plantings in spring. This suggests a potential seasonality for the efficacy of some pollinator-attracting companion plantings for a given crop that could offer an opportunity to tailor companion plantings to attract specific pollinators at different times of the year.

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