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Peter Allan, Alan George, and Robert Nissen

Low chill `Flordaprince' peach trees were grown in subtropical Australia, either following paclobutrazol application to dwarf the trees, or extra nitrogen to invigorate them. Fruits were thinned uniformly. Paclobutrazol significantly reduced the competing spring shoot growth and gave earlier maturity of larger, better quality fruits. It reduced the spring, but increased the autumn root flush. Stage 2 of fruit growth was slightly longer in vigorous trees, resulting in delayed seed growth and greater dry mass of the embryos. Starch reserves were greatest in the roots, followed by the trunk, shoots and leaves. The reserves were lowest during the second half of fruit development, but rose again after the end of shoot extension growth. Leaf N, P, and K levels decreased through the season while Ca and Mg increased. There were significantly lower K and higher Ca and Mg levels in dwarfed trees.

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Nicole Gardner, Tracy Melberg, Manju George, and Alan G. Smith

Expression of the rolC gene in plants has been shown to cause pleiotropic effects, including decreased height. The effects of differential rolC gene expression on plant height, leaf color, root growth, leaf size, corolla length, and stem diameter were determined. Differential expression of rolC in Nicotiana tabacum L. `Samsun' plants was achieved using the 35S promoter, the light-inducible rbcS promoter, or the native rolC promoter. Sixteen plants from the T1 generation—six with the 35S promoter, six with the rbcS promoter, and four with the native rolC promoter—and non-transformed controls were measured for height, internode length, branch number, bud size, corolla length and diameter, root growth, and the number of days to flowering. Steady state mRNA levels of rolC were measured in roots, stems, and leaves to assess relationships between rolC expression level in specific tissues and phenotypes. Plants expressing rolC showed a wide range of phenotypes, with the largest changes in plants expressing rolC using the 35S promoter, which also had the highest rolC mRNA levels. Plants expressing rolC with the rolC or rbcS promoter had significant changes for many measured traits, despite rolC mRNA levels that were not significantly different from non-transformed controls. In general, as rolC mRNA levels increased, so did the severity of the rolC phenotype observed. Three plants, A4, A7, and B9, had unique combinations of traits that did not follow this general trend. Transformation with rolC can be useful in ornamental crops where smaller cultivars are desired.

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Salvadore J. Locascio, George J. Hochmuth, Fred M. Rhoads, Steve M. Olson, Alan G. Smajstrla, and Ed A. Hanlon

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) was grown with drip irrigation on an Arredondo fine sand and on an Orangeburg fine sandy loam to evaluate the effect of N and K time of application on petiole sap, leaf-N and -K concentrations, fruit yield, and to determine N and K sufficiency ranges in leaf tissue. On the sandy soil, N—K at 196-112 kg·ha-1 were applied 0%, 40%, or 100% preplant with the remainder applied in 6 or 12 equal or in variable applications in 12 weeks. With the variable application rate, most nutrients were applied between weeks 5 and 10 after transplanting. On the sandy loam soil that tested high in K, only N (196 kg·ha-1) was applied as above. Petiole sap K concentration declined during the season, but was not greatly affected by treatment. Petiole NO3-N concentrations decreased during the season from 1100 to 200 mg·L-1, and the decrease was greater with preplant N treatments. On the sandy soil, marketable fruit yields were lowest with 100% preplant, intermediate with 100% drip applied (no preplant N), and highest with 40% preplant and 60% drip applied. With 100% drip applied, yields were higher with 12 even applications than with either six even weekly applications or with 12 variable N and K applications. With 40% preplant, timing of application had little effect on yield. On the sandy loam soil in 1993, yields were highest with 100% preplant, intermediate with 40% preplant and 60% drip applied, and lowest with all N drip applied. In 1994 when excessive rains occurred, yields were similar with all preplant and with split N applications. Petiole N concentration was correlated with tomato yield, especially at 10 weeks after transplanting. The best correlation between sap-N and total yields occurred between 4 and 6 weeks at Gainesville and between 4 and 10 weeks at Quincy.

Open access

Laura Jalpa, Rao S. Mylavarapu, George J. Hochmuth, Alan L. Wright, and Edzard van Santen

Use efficiency of applied nitrogen (N) is estimated typically to be <50% in most crops. In sandy soils and warmer climates particularly, leaching and volatilization may be primary pathways for environmental loss of applied N. To determine the effect of N fertilization rate on the N use efficiency (NUE) and apparent recovery of N fertilizer (APR), a replicated field study with ‘BHN 602’ tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) grown in sandy soils under a fertigated plastic-mulched bed system was conducted using ammonium nitrate as the N source at four different rates (0, 150, 200, and 250 lb/acre). Spring tomato was followed by fall tomato in the same field, a typical cropping sequence in north Florida. Fertigation of N fertilizer was applied weekly in 13 equal doses for both seasons. The highest NUE was 12.05% (spring) and 32.38% (fall), and the highest APR was 6.11% (spring) for the lowest rate of N applied (150 lb/acre). In the fall, APR was unaffected by fertilizer N rates and ranged from 12.88% to 19.39%. Nitrogen accumulation in tomato plants were similar among the three N fertilizer rates applied (150, 200, and 250 lb/acre), though compared with no N fertilizer application, significant increases occurred. Whole plant N accumulation, NUE, and APR declined or remained similar when N rates increased above 150 lb/acre. Additionally, a regression analysis and derivative of the quadratic fresh yield data showed that yields were maximized at 162 and 233 lb/acre N in the spring and fall seasons, respectively.

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Paul D. Curtis, Elizabeth D. Rowland, Meena M. Harribal, Gwen B. Curtis, J. Alan Renwick, Mathew D. Martin-Rehrmann, and George L. Good

Many plants have mechanisms of physical or chemical resistance that protect them from herbivores in their environment. The ornamental plant Pachysandra terminalis Sieb. and Zucc is highly unpalatable to voles, but the nature of this resistance is not fully understood. Extracts of P. terminalis were prepared to determine the extent to which chemical constituents could account for its avoidance by voles. A bioassay in which samples were mixed with applesauce showed that ethanolic extracts were highly deterrent to captive prairie voles (Microtus ochrogaster Wagner, 1842). Bioassay-guided fractionation of ethanol extracts showed that antifeedant activity was present in both polar and non-polar fractions. Further separation of each fraction by open column chromatography and high pressure liquid chromatography revealed that combinations of compounds were responsible for the deterrent activity. Preliminary ultraviolet and mass spectroscopic analyses indicated that steroidal alkaloids that are characteristic of this plant are likely to be involved.

Free access

Jose E. Sanchez, Charles E. Edson, George W. Bird, Mark E. Whalon, Thomas C. Willson, Richard R. Harwood, Kadir Kizilkaya, James E. Nugent, William Klein, Alan Middleton, Theodore L. Loudon, Dale R. Mutch, and Joseph Scrimger

Designing and implementing more productive, nutrient-efficient, and environmentally sound orchard management systems requires a better understanding of plant and soil responses to more biologically driven management practices. This study explored the effect of orchard floor and N management on soil organic C and N, populations of nematodes, NO3 leaching, and yields in tart cherry (Prunus cerasus L. `Montmorency') production. A baseline conventional orchard system consisting of an herbicide-treated tree row and a full rate of N fertilizer was compared to two modified-conventional and ten alternative orchard floor and N management systems. Living ground cover and the use of mulch with or without composted manure increased total C and the active C and N pools in the soil. For instance, supplemental mulch or mulch applied using a side-delivery mower increased soil C by >20% above the conventional baseline. The size of the active C pool increased 45% and 60% with the use of the species mix 2 ground cover and compost, respectively. Increases in the active N pool ranged from a low of 25% in the soils using mulch or a ground cover mix to a high of 60% when compost was used. As a result, the ability of these soils to provide N to growing plants was enhanced. Total soil N increased in the treatment using natural weeds as ground cover and the full rate of N fertilizer. It is likely that weeds were able to convert significant amounts of fertilizer N into organic forms. Increasing the active C and N pools stimulates microbial activity, and may favor populations of nonplant parasitic nematodes over plant parasitic species. Using a trunk-to-trunk cover crop mix under the cherry trees reduced NO3 leaching by >90% compared to a conventional, herbicide treated soil, even when N fertilizer was used at full rate. Nitrate leaching also dramatically diminished when N fertilizer was fertigated at a reduced rate or when compost was used as N source. Alternative orchard floor and N management did not reduce yields when compared to the baseline conventional treatment.