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  • Author or Editor: Aaron J. Palmateer x
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Bacterial leaf spot on roses caused by a Xanthomonas sp. is a new disease affecting commercial rose production with the potential to cause major economic losses. In the past few decades, antimicrobial photocatalyst technology has emerged from basic research and development to provide convenient formulations of titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanoparticles, which have the ability to destroy bacteria on surfaces in the presence of light. In this study, a TiO2 nanoparticle formulation containing zinc (TiO2/Zn) was tested for management of bacterial leaf spot on Rosa ‘Noare’. TiO2/Zn caused significant reduction in the survival of Xanthomonas sp. strain Xr-1 on glass coverslips coated with the nanoparticles on exposure to light at 3 × 104 lux for 10 minutes. There was no reduction of bacterial viability in non-coated or non-illuminated controls. Field applications of TiO2/Zn at ≈500 to 800 ppm on Rosa ‘Noare’ significantly reduced bacterial spot severity compared with the untreated control. TiO2/Zn activity was better or on par with the ornamental industry standard for management of rose diseases.

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Florida’s ornamental plant industry flourishes due to environmental conditions that allow for a 12-month growing season. Florida leads the nation in production of tropical foliage, and Miami-Dade County ranks number one in nursery and landscape production with sales reaching $2 billion annually. The well-advertised El Niño pattern made its presence felt this past winter in south Florida with the wettest conditions since record keeping began in 1932. As a result, ornamental nursery growers contended with a higher incidence of root rots, crown rots, and foliar blight diseases, confirmed by samples submitted to the University of Florida’s Extension Plant Diagnostic Clinic in Homestead, FL. The present study focused on environmental conditions occurring over the past 4 years and included rainfall, solar radiation, and temperature variables and examined their influence on the incidence of diseases affecting ornamental plants. Results indicated Pythium and Phytophthora species as the primary plant pathogens responsible for these diseases. The drastic increase of diagnostic samples identified as Pythium and Phytophthora can be attributed to the unusually wet weather experienced. These two oomycetes are well known for causing disease under wet conditions and growers should closely monitor weather forecasts and practice preventative disease management accordingly.

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Experiments were conducted during two different time periods to determine if hybrid phalaenopsis orchid (Phalaenopsis spp.) liners accumulate silicon (Si) and if this element can affect liner growth. A total of 800 liners were evaluated and Si fertilization was performed by applying potassium silicate (KSiO3) as a drench with three treatments (0.5%, 1.0%, and 2.0% v/v) and a control (water, no Si fertilization). The application of KSiO3 affected overall growth of phalaenopsis orchid liners, where Si content of the plant ranged from 0.5% to 1.7%. Overall, Si applied at 0.5% and 1.0% increased fresh weight and dry weight (DW) and at 1.0% Si significantly increased DW of root, shoot, and whole plant over the control. Increases in DW ranged from 27% up to 118%. Results from the second experiment were similar. Other plant parameters evaluated such as leaf number and size, root number, and length were unaffected by Si application. Although leaves of phalaenopsis orchid liners treated with Si appeared darker green when compared with the control, no significant differences were observed in chlorophyll content of leaves. Reduced growth was observed when 2.0% Si was applied affecting Si tissue concentrations and substrate electric conductivity. The data obtained from this study indicate that hybrid phalaenopsis orchid liners are Si accumulators and that this element influences their growth. Further studies are warranted to address the long-term effects of Si fertilization on the complete life cycle of hybrid phalaenopsis orchids.

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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the U.S.-Canadian Greenhouse Certification Program (USGCP) that was initiated in 1998. A survey consisting of 34 questions was designed and 43 out of ≈48 nurseries in Florida participating in the USGCP were visited. Based on the answers to the questionnaire, most of the nurseries were in compliance with the majority of USGCP requirements, growers were satisfied with the program, and there was an economic benefit to participating in the program. The main problems identified were the ambiguous wording of some of the requirements and the impracticality of keeping imported and domestic plants completely segregated. Moreover, many of the respondents did not have a written description of a pest management plan. Chi square statistical analysis showed that there was almost no difference between nursery groups in their responses to the majority of the survey questions, indicating that the USGCP is a successful program for both large and small nurseries. This quantitative assessment of the USGCP is the first assessment conducted for this program and discussed in a peer-reviewed publication.

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