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Dennis C. Odero and Alan L. Wright

Field studies were conducted in 2011 and 2012 in Belle Glade, FL, to evaluate the critical period of weed control (CPWC) in snap bean grown on organic soils in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) of South Florida. Treatments consisting of increasing duration of weed interference and weed-free period were imposed at weekly intervals from 0 to 7 weeks after emergence (WAE) of snap bean. The beginning and end of the CPWC based on 2.5%, 5%, and 10% snap bean acceptable yield loss (AYL) levels were determined by fitting log-logistic and Gompertz models to represent increasing duration of weed interference and weed-free period, respectively. Based on 2.5% yield loss, the CPWC was 7.2 weeks long, beginning 1.2 (cotyledon and unifoliate leaf) and ending 8.4 WAE (mid-pod set, 50% of pods reached maximum length). At 5% yield loss, the CPWC was 5.0 weeks, beginning 1.7 (first to second trifoliate leaf) and ending 6.7 WAE (mid-flower to early pod set, 50% of flowers open and one pod reached maximum length). At 10% yield loss, the CPWC was 3.0 weeks, beginning 2.2 (second trifoliate leaf) and ending 5.2 WAE (early flowering, one open flower). Based on these results, the beginning of CPWC was hastened, whereas the end was delayed at different yield loss levels showing that acceptable weed control in snap bean on organic soils in the EAA is required throughout much of the growing season to minimize yield loss.

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Huangjun Lu, Alan L. Wright and David Sui

Banded cucumber beetle [BCB (Diabrotica balteata)], serpentine leafminer [SL (Liriomyza trifolii)], and aphids (Homoptera: Aphididae) are among the major insect pests that cause significant economic damage to lettuce (Lactuca sativa) in southern Florida. Four romaine cultivars and three iceberg cultivars, currently used in Florida's lettuce production, were evaluated from Oct. 2010 to Jan. 2011 in separate field experiments for their responses to insect infestation. Lettuce cultivars differed significantly in their responses to infestations of BCB and aphids. Cultivar 70096 had the lowest percent (3.7%) of BCB feeding damage among the romaine cultivars. Romaine cultivar Manatee also had significantly lower BCB feeding damage (12.1%) than the susceptible cultivars Okeechobee (19.8%) and Terrapin (19.1%). The lowest level of infestation of aphids was observed on ‘Manatee’, followed by ‘70096’, whereas ‘Okeechobee’ and ‘Terrapin’ had severe infestation of aphids. The iceberg cultivars were similar to one another in their responses to BCB and SL but not in their response to aphid infestation. Yield was decreased from 3% to 37% for six of the seven cultivars grown under the adverse environmental conditions of insect infestations and cold weather in Dec. 2010, but the yield of ‘70096’ did not decline. The cultivars identified as resistant to insects can play an important role in integrated pest management (IPM), which may decrease pesticide application, reduce production costs, and protect the environment.

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Alan L. Wright, Tony L. Provin, Frank M. Hons, David A. Zuberer and Richard H. White

Application of organic amendments can increase dissolved organic C (DOC) concentrations, which may influence movement of nutrients and heavy metals in soils. The objectives of this study were to investigate the influence of compost sources and application rates on concentrations of soil DOC, NO3-N, and extractable P over 29 months after a one-time application of compost to bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] turf. Few differences were evident between compost sources for soil total organic C (TOC), DOC, and NO3-N. However, the initial P content of compost sources significantly influenced soil extractable P. Increasing the rate of compost application increased soil TOC initially, but levels remained fairly stable over time. In contrast, DOC continued to increase from 3 to 29 months after application, suggesting that compost mineralization and growth of bermudagrass contributed to DOC dynamics in soil. Dissolved organic C was 98%, 128%, 145%, 175%, and 179% greater 29 months after application of 0, 40, 80, 120, and 160 Mg compost/ha, respectively, than before application. Rate of compost application had less effect on DOC than TOC, as DOC concentrations appeared controlled in part by bermudagrass growth patterns. Soil NO3-N was generally unaffected by compost application rate, as NO3-N decreased similarly for unamended soil and all compost treatments. Soil extractable P initially increased after compost application, but increasing the application rate generally did not increase P from 3 to 29 months. Seasonal or cyclical patterns of TOC, DOC, and extractable P were observed, as significantly lower levels of these parameters were observed in dormant stages of bermudagrass growth during cooler months.

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Alan L. Wright, Tony L. Provin, Frank M. Hons, David A. Zuberer and Richard H. White

Compost application to turfgrasses may contribute to accumulation of macronutrients in soil and eventually pose leaching and runoff hazards. The objectives of this study were to determine the influence of compost on soil-dissolved organic C (DOC) and accumulation of NH4OAc-EDTA-extractable and water-soluble nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S) in St. Augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze] turf. Dissolved organic C increased from 3 to 29 months after application for unamended and compost-amended soils, indicating contribution from decomposition of both compost and St. Augustinegrass residues. Dissolved organic C was 75%, 78%, and 101% greater 29 months after application of 0, 80, and 160 mg·ha−1 of compost, respectively, than before application. Dissolved organic C and macronutrients exhibited considerable seasonal variation, because DOC and EDTA-extractable P, Ca, Mg, and S increased after compost application, whereas NO3 declined. Water-soluble K, Ca, and Mg declined, whereas P and S increased from 0 to 29 months. Similar seasonal changes in macronutrient concentrations occurred for unamended and compost-amended soil, indicating that composts, in addition to turfgrass residues, influenced DOC and macronutrient dynamics. Long-term nutrient accumulation occurred in compost-amended turfgrass, but seasonal dynamics were more related to the growth stage of turfgrass than compost. Formation of DOC-cation complexes appeared to contribute to macronutrient mobility, because decreases in DOC and nutrient concentrations occurred during turfgrass dormancy in winter and after high precipitation levels, indicating the potential for leaching of DOC-associated nutrients from soil.

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Rhuanito S. Ferrarezi, Alan L. Wright, Brian J. Boman, Arnold W. Schumann, Fred G. Gmitter and Jude W. Grosser

Completely enclosed screen houses can physically exclude contact between the asian citrus psyllid [ACP (Diaphorina citri)] and young, healthy citrus (Citrus sp.) trees and prevent huanglongbing (HLB) disease development. The current study investigated the use of antipsyllid screen houses on plant growth and physiological parameters of young ‘Ray Ruby’ grapefruit (Citrus ×paradisi) trees. We tested two coverings [enclosed screen house and open-air (control)] and two planting systems (in-ground and container-grown), with four replications arranged in a split-plot experimental design. Trees grown inside screen houses developed larger canopy surface area, canopy surface area water use efficiency (CWUE), leaf area index (LAI) and LAI water use efficiency (LAIWUE) relative to trees grown in open-air plots (P < 0.01). Leaf water transpiration increased and leaf vapor pressure deficit (VPD) decreased in trees grown inside screen houses compared with trees grown in the open-air plots. CWUE was negatively related to leaf VPD (P < 0.01). Monthly leaf nitrogen concentration was consistently greater in container-grown trees in the open-air compared with trees grown in-ground and inside the screen houses. However, trees grown in-ground and inside the screen houses did not experience any severe leaf N deficiencies and were the largest trees, presenting the highest canopy surface area and LAI at the end of the study. The screen houses described here provided a better growing environment for in-ground grapefruit because the protective structures accelerated young tree growth compared with open-air plantings while protecting trees from HLB infection.

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Rhuanito S. Ferrarezi, Alan L. Wright, Brian J. Boman, Arnold W. Schumann, Fred G. Gmitter and Jude W. Grosser

Huanglongbing (HLB) disease is a threat to most citrus (Citrus sp.) producing areas and is associated with the bacterium Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus. The disease is transmitted by the vector asian citrus psyllid [ACP (Diaphoria citri)]. Antipsyllid screen houses can potentially reduce and eliminate HLB development in young citrus plantings by excluding the insect vector. These structures are also anticipated to represent a new environmental platform to cultivate high-valued fresh citrus. The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effect of screen houses on excluding infective ACP from inoculating grapefruit (Citrus ×paradisi) trees and determine changes on environmental conditions caused by the screen cloth. We tested two coverings [enclosed screen house and open-air (control)] and two planting systems (in-ground and container-grown), with four replications arranged in a split-plot experimental design. Psyllid counting and HLB diagnosis were performed monthly, and the antipsyllid screen excluded the HLB vector from the houses. ACP and HLB-positive trees were found only at the open-air plots. Weather monitoring was performed every 30 minutes from 22 Feb. to 31 July 2014. Solar radiation accumulation averaged 6.7 W·m−2·minute−1 inside the screen houses and 8.6 W·m−2·minute−1 in the open-air. Air temperature was greater inside the screen houses whereas wind gusts were higher in the open-air. Reference evapotranspiration accumulation averaged 3.2 mm·day−1 inside the screen houses and 4.2 mm·day−1 in the open-air. There was no difference in cumulative rainfall between screen houses and open-air. The antipsyllid screen houses reduced solar radiation, maximum wind gust, and reference evapotranspiration (ETo). The environmental conditions inside the protective screen houses are suitable for grapefruit production.