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Diana R. Cochran and Amy Fulcher

The objective of these experiments was to evaluate the response of Little Lime™ hardy hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Jane’) across two seasons in response to single foliar applications of three plant growth regulators (PGRs) at two rates: dikegulac sodium at 800 or 1600 ppm, benzyladenine at 300 or 600 ppm, or ethephon at 500 or 1000 ppm. There were two additional treatments: a hand-pruned control leaving three nodes and an unpruned water control (untreated) applied the same day as the PGR applications. To evaluate PGR efficacy, vegetative growth, floral attributes, branch symmetry, and phytotoxicity were assessed. Dikegulac sodium significantly increased branch number (BN) compared with all other treatments. Branch symmetry was greater in dikegulac sodium (800 or 1600 ppm) and hand-pruned treatments compared with the untreated and other PGR treatments (2011 and 2012). Flower number was greater in all PGR treatments compared with hand-pruned plants (2011 and 2012). The only treatment that promoted more symmetrical branching without reducing flower count was dikegulac sodium (800 or 1600 ppm). Phytotoxicity was observed in both seasons; however, no injury symptoms were evident 16 weeks after treatment (WAT), the termination of the experiment.

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Diana R. Cochran, Amy Fulcher, and Guihong Bi

Pruning is commonly performed during production of nursery crops to produce symmetrical, compact plants that are pleasing to the consumer’s eye. To achieve the desired results, nursery growers hand prune or apply plant growth regulators (PGRs). However, hand pruning is expensive and is not always effective, and efficacy of PGRs can depend on cultural practices, environmental conditions, irrigation, cultivar, and rate. Therefore, the objective of these experiments was to evaluate the effect of dikegulac sodium applied to pruned or unpruned ‘Limelight’ hardy hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata). Plants were grown at two locations, Tennessee (TN) and Mississippi (MS). The pruned treatment consisted of hand pruning, leaving three nodes followed by applications of dikegulac sodium (400, 800, or 1600 ppm). Applications of dikegulac sodium to pruned or unpruned plants were made the same day using a carbon dioxide backpack sprayer. There were two additional control treatments: hand-pruned untreated (hand-pruned) and unpruned untreated (untreated). Plants were grown outdoors under full sun in TN and under 40% shade in MS. Data were collected at the close of the experiment on the number of branches over 1 inch, final growth index (FGI), floral attributes, branch symmetry, and phytotoxicity. At both locations, pruned and unpruned plants treated with 800 or 1600 ppm dikegulac sodium had more branches than the hand-pruned and unpruned plants. Flower number and size tended to be greater for unpruned plants than pruned plants. Phytotoxicity was observed at 2 and 6 weeks after treatment (WAT). For plants grown in TN, symptoms were more pronounced on plants following treatment with 800 (pruned plants) and 1600 ppm (pruned and unpruned) dikegulac sodium compared with the untreated plants. There were no visible phytotoxicity symptoms at 6 WAT for plants grown in MS, regardless of treatment.

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S. Christopher Marble, Amy Fulcher, and John Toman

Budget reductions for the Cooperative Extension Service have made traditional extension programming (face-to-face, live programming) difficult for extension professionals. Attending traditional extension programming can also prove to be challenging for industry practitioners due to the need to delay or reschedule work activities and the need to travel to participate. The Tennessee Master Nursery Producer program (TMNP) is a professional development extension program designed to enhance the sustainability of the Tennessee nursery crops industry. The TMNP was first offered as a traditional extension program in 2012. Although the program was successful, it demanded substantial time from faculty and staff to coordinate the program, prepare presentations, and travel. Recurring travel expenses required a significant financial commitment from both extension personnel and participants. An asynchronous online program was developed to address these challenges and to increase accessibility, exploit the economies of scale, and standardize curriculum. The objective of this article is to describe the advantages and disadvantages that were identified offering nursery production subject matter as a traditional live classroom and subsequently as an asynchronous online program in terms of development cost, administrative and technological requirements, and economic impacts.

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S. Christopher Marble, Amy Fulcher, and Richard Karel

Asynchronous online extension classes, in which content is made available on demand, can reach a larger audience, offer more scheduling flexibility, and reduce the strain on limited time and financial resources for extension faculty and staff. In comparison with traditional extension programming (in-person presentations) or online synchronous programming (live webinars), asynchronous programs can require significant time and resources during the initial development stages, including advanced planning and dedicated contributors as well as ongoing information technology (IT) infrastructure and maintenance. The objective of this article is to summarize the development process and inputs needed to successfully develop an online asynchronous extension program based on the authors’ experience developing the Tennessee Master Nursery Producer Program (TMNP). The TMNP is a certificate program for nursery growers in Tennessee designed to improve growers’ long-term environmental, economic, and community sustainability. Developing the online TMNP required three key positions: project coordinator, e-learning specialist, and content developer which spent 473, 401, and 847 hours, respectively, during the development process. Detailed information on development time, requirements, and suggestions for other institutions wishing to develop similar programs is offered.

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Amy Fulcher, Dava Hayden, and Winston Dunwell

The objectives of Kentucky's Sustainable Nursery Production Practices Extension Program are for 1) the Kentucky nursery industry to continue sustained growth and 2) Kentucky growers to produce high quality plants, efficiently use pesticides, be stewards of their land and Kentucky's environment. Sustainable Nursery Program Components are 1) Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Nursery Scouting, Scout Training and Scouting Education for growers, Extension workers, and students; 2) Best Management Practice (BMP) Workshops: BMP VI: Disease Demolition Workshop; 3) Production Practice Demonstration: Pruning Training, Pesticide Handling, and Safety and Environmental Stewartship. 4.) Research: Pruning protocols; Media and media amendments; Precision Fertilization and Irrigation. The Kentucky Nursery Crops Scouting Program scouting guidelines were developed and contained: a weekly scouting/trapping guide; a listing of which pests to look for and on what host plants, and a detailed methodology of precisely how to look for the pest, its damage, and how to record this information such that comparisons could be made across nurseries and seasons.

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Lauren Fessler, Amy Fulcher, Dave Lockwood, Wesley Wright, and Heping Zhu

Advanced variable-rate spray technology, which applies pesticides based on real-time scanning laser rangefinder measurements of plant presence, size, and density, was developed and retrofitted to existing sprayers. Experiments were conducted to characterize the application of four programmed spray rates (0.03, 0.05, 0.07, or 0.09 L·m−3 of crop geometric volume) when applied to Malus domestica Borkh. ‘Golden Delicious’ apple trees using this crop sensing technology. Water-sensitive cards (WSCs) were used as samplers to quantify spray coverage, deposits, and deposit density in the target and nontarget areas, and an overspray index based on a threshold of greater than 30% coverage was calculated. The application rate ranged from 262 L·ha−1 at the programmed spray rate of 0.03 L·m−3 to 638 L·ha−1 at the rate of 0.09 L·m−3. For a given WSC position, spray coverage and deposits increased as the spray rate increased. WSC positions 1 and 2 were oversprayed at all rates. The effect of spray rate on deposit density varied with WSC positions, with high densities achieved by low spray rates for WSCs closest to the sprayer but by high spray rates for WSCs positioned either deeper within or under the canopy. When coalescing deposits were accounted for, deposit densities met or exceeded the recommended pesticide application thresholds (insecticides 20–30 droplets/cm2; fungicides 50–70 droplets/cm2) at all WSC positions for each spray rate tested. The lowest spray rate reduced off-target loss to the orchard floor by 81% compared with the highest rate, dramatically reducing potential exposure to nontarget organisms, such as foraging pollinators, to come into contact with pesticide residues. Applying the lowest rate of 0.03 L·m−3 met deposit density efficacy levels while reducing spray volume by 83% compared with the orchard standard application of 1540 L·ha−1 and by 87% compared with the 1950 L·ha−1 application rate recommended when using the tree row volume method. Thus, there is potential for growers to refine pesticide application rates to further achieve significant pesticide cost savings. Producers of other woody crops, such as nursery, citrus, and grapes, who use air-assisted sprayers, may be able to achieve similar savings by refining pesticide applications through the use of laser rangefinder-based spray application technology.

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Susmitha Nambuthiri, Ethan Hagen, Amy Fulcher, and Robert Geneve

Two sensor-based irrigation scheduling systems were compared for water use and plant growth in container-grown Green Velvet boxwood (Buxus sempervirens L. × B. microphylla Siebold & Zucc. var. koreana ‘Green Velvet’) and slender deutzia (Deutzia gracilis Siebold & Zucc). These crops were chosen because they have different water requirements during production. The two sensor-based irrigation systems included a physiological-based on-demand (OD) irrigation system where the set point was derived from the relationship between substrate moisture and photosynthetic rate. The second system was a daily water use (DWU) method where the amount of water used by the crop was replaced each day. The objective of the study was to evaluate and compare water use and growth metrics using the OD and DWU irrigation scheduling regimes for two container-grown woody plants that differed in their water consumption. There were no differences in root and shoot biomass or growth index due to the irrigation schedule employed for either boxwood or deutzia. For boxwood plants, OD irrigation reduced water consumption by 35.5% and enhanced water use efficiency (WUE) by 54.5% compared with DWU. Total water use of deutzia in OD zones was reduced by 26.5% compared with DWU. DWU offers the labor scheduling advantage of irrigation occurring at a set time of day, and OD offers the advantage of watering as required, potentially reducing water stress as the season progresses and as the plant size and atmospheric demand increase.

Open access

Liming Chen, Heping Zhu, Leona Horst, Matthew Wallhead, Michael Reding, and Amy Fulcher

Laser-guided variable-rate intelligent spray technology is anticipated to reduce pesticide use in production of crops and safeguard the environment. However, the ability of this technology to effectively control insect pests and diseases of crops must be validated before it becomes part of integrated pest management programs. Abilities of three different intelligent sprayers were tested to control pest insects and plant diseases at one fruit farm and two ornamental nurseries in Ohio during three consecutive growing seasons. The same sprayers with disabled intelligent functions were used as conventional constant-rate applications for comparisons. Test crops were apple (Malus pumila), peach (Prunus persica), blueberry (Vaccinium sect. Cyanococcus), black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis), crabapple (Malus sp.), maple (Acer sp.), birch (Betula sp.), and dogwood (Cornus florida). There were five insects and six diseases total involved in the investigations in the fruit farm and two nurseries. The field tests showed the intelligent spray applications reduced pesticide and foliar fertilizer use by ≈30% to 65% on average during the 3-year experiments. At the same time, intelligent spray technology was similar or more effective than conventional spray technology when controlling insects and diseases on a variety of crops. These results demonstrated that intelligent spray technology was environmentally friendly and more effective for control of insect and disease pests in fruit farms and ornamental tree nurseries.

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Amy F. Fulcher, Thomas G. Ranney, James D. Burton, James F. Walgenbach, and David A. Danehower

Japanese beetles (JB), Popillia japonica Newman, are destructive, highly polyphagous herbivores that show a general preference for Rosaceous plants. Choice and nochoice feeding assays were conducted to determine the level of resistance among 10 taxa of Malus spp. Mill. Under no-choice conditions, M. baccata (L.) Borkh. `Jackii', M. × `Hargozam' Harvest Gold and M. transitoria (Balatin) Schneider `Schmitcutleaf' Golden Raindrops were highly resistant, with <2 cm2 leaf area consumed in 24 hours. M. × `Radiant' was highly susceptible, with 7.6 cm2 consumed, and the remaining six cultivars were intermediate. Under choice conditions, eight taxa were resistant with <10% defoliation, M. × `Red Splendor' was intermediate with 26%, and M. × `Radiant' was susceptible with 73% defoliation. Feeding responses to eight individual phenolics were tested in artificial diets over a range from 0 to 100 mm. Phloridzin, phloretin, naringenin, and catechin were all feeding deterrents, whereas quercetin and rutin were feeding stimulants. Chlorogenic acid stimulated feeding at low concentrations and deterred feeding at higher concentrations (i.e., a peak response). Kaempferol had no effect. Analysis of endogenous foliar phenolics showed considerable variation in concentrations among taxa. Stepwise multiple regression analysis identified phloridzin as the only endogenous phenolic that was significantly related to resistance under both choice and no-choice feeding conditions.