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  • Author or Editor: Larry R. Stein x
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Plant trialing and marketing assistance programs have become popular in recent years with several state and some regional programs emerging. Successful implementation requires considerable labor, facilities, and monetary resources for evaluation of large numbers of taxa over several years to ensure that plants are well adapted to the region of interest. Research and development funds, dedicated facilities, and cooperator commitment to trialing programs can be limiting during the early years of the programs. Involvement in plant trialing programs allows students to be exposed to plot layout planning, statistical design, plant maintenance, data collection and analysis, and professional communication of trial results. Construction of facilities for conducting plant trials, growing plants for use in trials, trial installation, and maintenance of plants all provide practical hands-on horticultural training. Replicated plant trials provide the latest information on regionally adapted taxa for inclusion in classroom instruction and publications. Plant trialing programs benefit from labor assistance, development of dedicated facilities, and the opportunity to share equipment and supplies among teaching, trialing, and student research projects.

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The Coordinated Educational and Marketing Assistance Program identifies outstanding landscape plants for Texas and provides support for the nursery industry, thereby making superior plants available to Texans. CEMAP funding comes directly from industry and from consumers through the sale of plant tags bearing the Texas Superstar logo. Additionally, the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and Texas Department of Agriculture is conducting a Texas Superstar publicity campaign. An estimated $10 million in new plant sales have been generated during the first 10 years of this program. Because plants are chosen based on their performance under minimal input conditions, Texas SuperStars greatly reduce their impact on the urban environment.

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Two-year-old, field-grown golden kiwifruit (Actinidia chinensis) and fuzzy kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) plants were evaluated for injury following an early freeze event of −4.1 °C on 14 Nov. 2018 in Burleson County, TX. Plant material included seven cultivars: one seed-propagated [Sungold™ (ZESY002)] and three cutting-propagated golden kiwifruit (AU Golden Dragon, AU Golden Sunshine, CK03), and one seed-propagated (Hayward) and two cutting-propagated fuzzy kiwifruit (AU Authur and AU Fitzgerald). Observations were made 5 weeks after the frost event. Base trunk diameter (BD) and maximum trunk diameter damaged (MDD) provided a reference of plant size and crude measurement of damage intensity, as evident by presence of water-soaked necrotic and/or dehydrated tissue following the removal of a thin slice of periderm, vascular cambium, phloem, and xylem. Percent of base diameter damaged (PBDD) was calculated as MDD divided by BD and provided an assessment of damage, unbiased by plant size. Percent of shoot damaged (PSD) was visually evaluated as the percentage of entire shoot system exhibiting damage. In addition, presence of basal damage (DB) and basal cracking (CB) were recorded. A strong cultivar response was observed for BD, MDD, PBDD, and PSD. Mean cultivar values for PSD ranged from 79% and 19% for AU Authur and Sungold™ seedlings, respectively, which represented extremes among cultivars. Fuzzy kiwifruit exhibited greater injury (PBDD, PSD, DB, and CB) as compared with golden kiwifruit cultivars. Basal damage and basal cracking proved unique to fuzzy kiwifruit, as DB ranged from 0% in Sungold™ seedlings to 100% in fuzzy kiwifruit ‘AU Authur’ and ‘AU Fitzgerald’. In spite of having greater vigor, golden kiwifruit plants sustained less injury. Method of propagation had no effect on injury. PBDD and PSD proved to be reliable field assays for documenting injury, based on their strong correlation value (r = 0.92). Greater relative autumn frost tolerance of golden kiwifruit over fuzzy kiwifruit cultivars is previously unreported.

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