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  • Author or Editor: Leonardo Lombardini x
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Twenty-five-year-old `Cape Fear', `Desirable', and `Kiowa' pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) C. Koch] trees were either not pruned, or subjected to single selective or mechanical pruning using a mechanical hedger [or hedge pruning (HP)] in the dormant season 2003. Canopy light interception, yield, and nut quality were monitored during a period of three years. Leaf area index and light interception were significantly affected during the first growing season after treatment application, but after three years canopies grew back to control levels. In general, there were small positive effects observed on yield and nut quality after pruning. Minor improvements were recorded for `Desirable', in which yield was affected positively by both pruning strategies in 2004. However, most effects disappeared by the third year. `Desirable' responded better than `Cape Fear', whereas no beneficial effects were recorded on `Kiowa'. In 2005, yield was significantly reduced in HP trees of `Cape Fear' and `Kiowa'. Alternate bearing index was unaffected by pruning treatment or cultivar. Kernel percentage increased only in HP `Desirable' trees in 2003 and 2004. Kernel quality was improved in HP `Cape Fear' and `Desirable' in the first growing season after treatment application, but not in 2004. In 2005, quality was again improved in HP `Desirable'. The results of the current study indicate that one-time pruning of pecan trees induce positive short-term effect on light, but not necessarily an increase in productivity and nut quality.

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Pecan is a riparian species distributed over an area of geographic and climatic variation; such a wide distribution produces exposure to varied environmental conditions, providing a potential for genetic adaptation within the cultivars. Genotypes can be screened in order to obtain more drought tolerant cultivars using indirect screening parameters (chlorophyll fluorescence, osmotic adjustment, and abscisic acid assay) based on physiological responses of plants to abiotic stress conditions. A study was established at Texas A&M University, College Station, using a mixture of fritted clay (Quick dry) and pure sand in 1:1 (by weight) ratio to study the effects of drought on pecan rootstocks. The experiment was set up with the three water potential levels as treatments (–0.033 MPa, –0.1 MPa, –0.3 MPa) in a randomized complete-block design with three blocks. Measurements will include leaf water relations (relative water content, leaf water potential, osmotic adjustments, etc.), gas exchange parameters [net carbon dioxide assimilation rate (A), transpiration rate (E), stomatal conductance (gs)], chlorophyll fluorescence measurements [minimum (Fo), maximum (Fm), and variable fluorescence (Fv), quantum efficiency], water use efficiency, and abscisic acid assay on roots. Statistical analysis systems (SAS) package will be used for analysis. PROC GLM of the SAS will be used for statistical analysis of study involving plant response to water potential levels.

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An assessment of anatomical traits of pecan cultivars (`Pawnee', `Mohawk', and `Starking hardy giant') collected from three locations (Tifton, Ga.; Chetopa, Kans.; and Stillwater, Okla.) was conducted at Texas A&M University. The objective of the study was to provide an understanding of patterns of geographic variation within the natural range for anatomical (stomatal density, stomatal index, and epidermal cell density) traits. Microscopy using acetate casts was used as the means to investigate the patterns of variation in the epidermal characteristics of pecan leaf. `Starking hardy giant' had the greatest number of stomates/cm2 (46,229, 47,807, and 45,990 at Tifton, Chetopa, and Stillwater, respectively) while `Mohawk' had the least (37,397, 36,217, and 35,305). `Pawnee' had the greatest number of epidermal cells/cm2 (251,806, 250,098 and 254,883 at Tifton, Chetopa, and Stillwater, respectively) while `Starking hardy giant' had the least (141,699, 138,405, and 142,155). Differences in stomatal index were observed between the three cultivars at Tifton and Stillwater. No differences in stomatal index were observed between `Pawnee' and `Mohawk' at Chetopa. The study showed that stomatal density as well as epidermal cell density of all the tested cultivars were significantly different (P < 0.05) at a particular location but no differences were observed in a given cultivar grown at different locations.

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Water relation parameters were calculated from analysis of 92 pressure-volume isotherms of leaves of two olive varieties, `Leccino' and `Frantoio', measured after 4 weeks of salinity stress and 4 weeks of subsequent relief either in hydroponics or soil culture. `Frantoio' was more salt-tolerant than `Leccino', but no major differences in water relation parameters emerged between the two varieties. Increasing salinity from 0 to 200 mM NaCl decreased predawn leaf water potential from –0.5 MPa to –1.3 MPa, relative water content (RWC) from 97.6% to 89%, and leaf osmotic potential (Ψπ) from –2.0 to –3.5 MPa. Relative water content at turgor loss point (RWCtlp) was decreased from 89% to 85% (soil culture) and from 86% to 80% (hydroponic culture) in 0 to 200 mM CaCl-treated plants, respectively; a lower RWCtlp was also retained during the relief from salinity. Active osmotic adjustments induced by salinity was the result of accumulation of both inorganic ions and compatible solutes (e.g., mannitol). Maintenance of lower Ψπ and RWCtlp during relief indicated that salinized plants were better adapted to withstand further stress and that this potential might be exploited to harden olive plants to be used in arid or saline environments.

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Pecan tree pruning is a standard cultural practice in commercial pecan farming operations. Pruning often promotes canopy light infiltration, air movement, and crop load management. Timing of pecan tree pruning is often during winter for labor and time management purposes, yet the most effective pruning time is not known for pecan. `Pawnee' trees were pruned during March (winter), May, June, July and August in a commercial orchard in Charlie, Texas during the 2003 and 2004 growing seasons. June pruning produced the greatest two year summed annual average yield (2447.7 kernel lb/acre), largest increase of kernel lb/acre (625%) and largest increase percent kernel (113%) between 2003 and 2004. Furthermore, June produced the largest nuts (39.8 nuts/lb) with the lowest yield (337.5 kernel lbs/acre) in 2003, and smallest nuts (59.4 nuts/lb) with the highest yield (2110.2 kernel lb/acre) in 2004. March pruning produced the least variable yield of kernel lb/acre (38% decrease) between 2003 and 2004. July pruning produced the most consistent percent kernel (1.3% increase) between 2003 and 2004. August pruning produced the lowest two year summed annual average yield (879.8 kernel lbs/acre). Percent light transmission and leaf area index data showed no correlation with pruning times and kernel yields. Data collection will continue for another 2 to 3 years to asses the continuous affects of varied pruning times.

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Pecans nuts from `Kanza' and `Desirable' cultivars were irradiated with 0, 1.5, and 3.0 kGy using electron beam (E-beam) irradiation and stored under accelerated conditions (40 °C and 55% to 60% RH). Antioxidant capacity (AC), phenolic (TP) and condensed tannin (CT) content, HPLC phenolic profile, tocopherol content, peroxide value (PV), and fatty acid profile were evaluated in kernels after 0, 7, 21, 55, and 134 days of storage. Irradiation had no detrimental effects in AC and TP; however, variation was found throughout storage. Tocopherol content of 1.5 and 3.0 kGy kernels decreased after irradiation, but no further decrease was observed thereafter. Irradiated `Desirable' samples had greater PV than controls, while `Kanza' 1.5 kGy samples had increased PV only after 134 days of storage. No change in fatty acid composition was detected for any cultivar. Color modification induced by storage included a decrease in lightness and yellowness and an initial increase of redness followed by a decrease after 98 days of storage. No differences in phenolic profile were observed after irradiation. Compounds identified by HPLC in hydrolyzed extracts were gallic and ellagic acid, catechin, and epicatechin. In general, beside the decrease in tocopherol content, no detrimental effects were found in antioxidant composition caused by irradiation treatments. While a faster oxidation rate was seen in irradiated kernels for `Desirable' cultivar, no other quality attribute was affected by E-beam irradiation.

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Instrumentation to measure soil respiration is currently readily available. However, the relationship between soil respiration and root activity or root mass is not known. Herein we report on preliminary result using a 13CO2 pulse to the foliage to determine if 13C respiration can be related to either root activity or root mass. An experiment was performed in the field on a 5-year-old apple tree (cv. Jonagold on M7). The tree canopy was enclosed in a Mylar® balloon and 2.1 g 13CO2 were pulsed in the balloon for 1 hr. After the pulse, air emitted by the soil and selected roots was collected every 6 hr for 8 days, by bubbling it in 2 M NaOH. 13C/12C ratios were measured with the mass spectrometer. The emission of 13CO2 from the roots gradually increased after the pulse reaching a peak after 100 hr. The emission trend was not linear, but it seemed related to soil temperature. Leaves and fruit were also collected daily. 13C content in leaves was 1.15% right after the pulse, but it progressively decreased to 1.09% at the end of the experiment. The experiment was then repeated on 12 potted apple trees (cv. Redcort on M7) in greenhouse conditions. Six of them were maintained well-watered, whereas six plants were subjected to a mild water stress, by watering them with half of the volume of water used for well-watered plants. After the two soil moisture levels were achieved, the tree canopies of all the 12 trees were pulsed. Leaves, stems, and roots were ground and run in the mass spectrometer. The results of root emission rate were found to be similar to the field experiment. Results also indicated that, in our experiment, stress did not affect root respiration rate. Specific details of the physiology data will be presented.

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The objective of this study was to evaluate kernels of different pecan (Carya illinoinensis) cultivars for their antioxidant profile and their contribution to nutritional and quality attributes. Kernels were analyzed for their antioxidant capacity (AC), phenolic, tannin, and vitamin C content. Fatty acid (FA) composition and phenolic profile were determined using, respectively, gas and liquid chromatographic techniques. AC was measured using one spectrophotometrical [2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH)] and one fluorescence method [oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC)]. Phenolic and tannin content were determined using spectrophotometrical assays. Ascorbic and dehydroascorbic acid were determined using a HPLC. Both AC methodologies gave similar results with marked differences between cultivars. `Desirable' had an antioxidant capacity of 47,747 μg·g-1 TEq/DW with DPPH method followed closely by `Cheyenne' (36,192 μg·g-1 TEq/DW) and, with smaller amounts, by `Cape Fear' and `Pawnee' (16,540 and 13,705 μg·g-1 TEq/DW, respectively). Total phenolic content showed a similar trend, but `Pawnee' showed a higher phenolic content than `Cape Fear'. The FA composition varied between cultivars. This phenolic profile jointly with FA composition and other compositional characteristics will provide the quality and nutritional attributes of each specific cultivar. Furthermore, the high antioxidant profile of pecans suggests that bioactive and anticancer properties should also be evaluated. Results from the present research can be used as an additional tool to evaluate pecan cultivars and help create new guidelines for breeding programs to select “healthier” pecans.

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Trials were conducted during summer months of 2002 and 2003 to evaluate the effects of a kaolin-based particle film (Surround WP, Engelhard Corp.) on gas exchange, nut quality, casebearer density and population of natural enemies (insects and arachnids) on pecan (Carya illinoinensis `Pawnee') trees. Film application was repeated for seven (2002) or nine (2003) times during the growing season. In both years, treated trees showed lower leaf temperature (up to 4 °C) than untreated trees. During the warmest hours of the day, kaolin-treated leaves were generally 0 to 2 °C cooler than air temperatures, compared to 4 to 6 °C for control leaves. Leaf net assimilation rate, stomatal conductance and stem water potential were not affected by film application. Nut size and quality did not differ between the two treatments. Shellout (percentage of nut consisting of kernel) was not affected by treatment and averaged about 55%. Crop grade distribution (fancy, choice, standard, and damaged) was also similar among treatments in both years. In both years, numbers of green lacewing eggs was less on kaolin-treated compared to control leaves. The density of common natural enemies (lady beetles, green lacewings, spiders) of pecan pests did not differ between treatments. The average number of developing nuts damaged by pecan nut casebearer (Acrobasis nuxvorella Neunzig) was significantly higher in kaolin-sprayed trees (24.2%) compared to control trees sprayed with conventional insecticides (9.3%). The results suggest that kaolin-based particle film may not be a viable alternative to conventional methods of controlling pecan pests. Also, under adequate irrigation conditions, carbon assimilation, water relations and productivity may not benefit from kaolin particle film application.

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Aleppo Pine (Pinus halepensis Mill.) is known to be the most drought-resistant Mediterranean Pine. This species is widely distributed throughout the Mediterranean region and displays a high intraspecific variability, with respect to its physiological and morphological response to environmental conditions. In this experiment we evaluated the response of Pinus halepensis seedlings to drought. Sixty germinated seeds (accession A6, Shaharia, Israel) were grown in soil for 8 weeks and then transferred to black plexiglass tanks containing half-strength air-sparged Hoagland solution. After 6 weeks of acclimation to hydroponics, the osmotic potential of the solution was lowered by adding polyethylene-glycol (PEG) 8000. Water potential was lowered in 0.2 MPa increments every 4 days, until a final value of –0.8 was reached. The seedlings were then maintained at –0.8 MPa for a further 8 days. Ultrasonic acoustic emissions, pressure–volume (P–V) curves, shoot and root growth, leaf area, xylem diameter, root apex mitotic index and cell length were measured on control and stressed seedlings. Seedlings were then transferred to normal Hoagland solution for 24 hours to simulate rewatering, and P–V curves and ultrasonic emissions measurements were repeated. Results showed that the final root growth is maintained in the stressed seedlings at the same rate as controls, whereas shoot growth was significantly reduced. The leaf area was reduced by stress to 36%, but the xylem diameter only to 10%, leading to a lower leaf area:xylem section ratio in the stressed plants. Ultrasonic emissions in the stressed plants were 365% of the control, and 182%, after rewatering. Specific details of the growth and physiology data are presented.

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