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Karla M. Addesso, Anthony L. Witcher and Donna C. Fare

Adoption of biological control tools in woody ornamental nursery production has lagged behind other agriculture fields. One of the major obstacles to adoption is lack of information on the efficacy of various biological control agents in nursery production systems. The predatory mite Amblyseius swirskii, sold commercially as “swirski mite,” is a generalist predatory mite that has recently been adopted as a generalist control for a wide range of mite and insect pests, including thrips (Thripidae), whiteflies (Aleyrodidae), eriophyid mites (Eriophyidae), broad mite (Polyphagotarsonemus latus), and spider mites (Tetranychidae). A controlled-release sachet formulation of swirski mite was evaluated in three experiments to determine whether size of the tree, timing of first application, or sun intensity would affect treatment efficacy. Pest numbers on plants was evaluated biweekly for 12 weeks. The swirski mite sachets controlled broad mite and spider mite outbreaks on red maple trees (Acer rubrum) grown in nos. 3 and 15 nursery containers, respectively. Application at the time of red maple rooted cutting transplant was not necessary to achieve summer-long control of pests. No outbreaks of target pests on flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) in no. 5 containers grown under both full sun and shade, but with low levels of broad mite persisting in the shade treatment and thrips persisting in sun. These results suggest that swirski mite is a promising candidate for biological control in woody ornamental nursery production.

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Glenn B. Fain, Charles H. Gilliam, Jeff L. Sibley, Cheryl R. Boyer and Anthony L. Witcher

A substrate component (WholeTree) made from loblolly pine (Pinus taeda L.) was evaluated along with starter fertilizer rate in the production of greenhouse-grown petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Vilm. ‘Dreams Purple’) and marigold (Tagetes patula L. ‘Hero Spry’). Loblolly pine from a 12-year-old plantation were harvested at ground level, chipped, and further processed through a hammer mill to pass a 0.64-cm screen. The resulting WholeTree (WT) substrate was used alone or combined with 20% (WTP2) or 50% (WTP5) (by volume) Canadian sphagnum peatmoss and compared with an industry standard peat-lite (PL) mix of 8 peatmoss : 1 vermiculite : 1 perlite (by volume). Substrates were amended with 1.78 kg·m−3 dolomitic lime, 0.59 kg·m−3 gypsum [CaSO4-2(H2O)], 0.44 kg·m−3 Micromax, 1.78 kg·m−3 16N–2.6P–9.9K (3- to 4-month release), and 1.78 kg·m−3 16N–2.6P–10.8K (5- to 6-month release). A 7N–1.3P–8.3K starter fertilizer (SF) was added to each substrate at 0.0, 1.19, 2.37, or 3.56 kg·m−3. Container capacity (CC) was greatest for PL and decreased as the percentage of peatmoss in the substrate decreased with WT having 35% less CC than PL. Conversely, air space (AS) was greatest for the WT and decreased as percentage of peatmoss increased with PL containing 33% less AS than WT. In general, petunia dry weight was greatest for any substrate containing peatmoss with a SF rate of 2.37 kg·m−3 or greater. The exception was that petunia grown in WT at 3.56 kg·m−3 SF had similar dry weight as all other treatments. Marigold dry weight was similar for all substrates where at least 2.37 kg·m−3 SF was used.

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Allen D. Owings, Gordon E. Holcomb, Anthony L. Witcher, C. Allen Broyles and Edward W. Bush

Performance evaluations of numerous annual and perennial herbaceous ornamentals were conducted in landscape settings in 2004 at the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge. A mid-summer through fall evaluation of Kong coleus found no difference in flowering performance and visual quality ratings of the five available cultivars. In a sun/shade study, Kong coleus cultivars in 60% shade were about 50% shorter than those in sun. Other impressive coleus have been Aurora Black Cherry and Mississippi Summer Sun. The Stained Glassworks series of coleus have been average performers. The Son series of lantanas (Sonrise, Sonset, Samson, Sonshine) have been top performers in terms of visual quality and continual bloom. All-America daylilies most prevalent to rust symptoms have included Judith, Leebea Orange Crush, Starstruck, Lady Lucille, and Chorus Line. Some rust has also been noted on Plum Perfect and Frankly Scarlet. Profusion Apricot and Profusion White have been less susceptible to Xanthomonas bacterial petal blight than Profusion Fire, Profusion Cherry, and Profusion Orange. Earth Kind roses, being promoted by Texas A&M, are being evaluated for landscape performance along with black spot and powdery mildew susceptibility. Most problematic cultivars thus far have included Georgetown Tea, Clotilde Soupert, Nacogdoches, Reve d'Or, New Dawn, Souvenir de St. Anne's, Spice, Lamarque, Puerto Rico, Sarah Jones, Ducher, and Louis Philippe. Lady Bird cosmos have been good late summer/early fall landscape performers.

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Allen D. Owings, Gordon E. Holcomb, Anthony L. Witcher, C. Allen Broyles and Edward W. Bush

All-American daylily cultivars named from 1994-2004 were evaluated for landscape performance and daylily rust (Puccinia hemerocallidis) susceptibility during 2003 and 2004. Cultivars included `Black-Eyed Stella', `Bitsy', `Leebea Orange Crush', `Plum Perfect', `Judith', `Starstruck', `Frankly Scarlet', `Lullaby Baby', `Lady Lucille', and `Chorus Line'. Bareroot plants were planted in raised beds composed of an Olivier silt loam soil in full sun and received irrigation as needed to prevent stress. Visual quality ratings were made weekly from 19 Apr. to 25 Oct. 2003 and 15 Mar. to 20 Sept. 2004. Included in the visual quality ratings were growth habit and flowering with favorable growth habit being compactness, foliage color, uniformity, and overall aesthetics, and favorable flowering being longevity and visual appeal. Flower observations were made in regard to time in bud and peak blooming periods over the same time frames. Daylily rust ratings were taken in September and November 2003 and in August and November 2004. Flowering observations indicated that Black Eyed Stella and Bitsy were the only cultivars showing reliable repeat bloom potential. Among the other cultivars, Judith was the earliest to bud and bloom but also had a blooming period of only 2 to 3 weeks compared to 4 to 5 weeks of bloom for other cultivars. Rust was most prevalent on Judith, Leebea Orange Crush, Starstruck and Lady Lucille. Judith and Leebea Orange Crush have rust symptoms earlier than other cultivars. `Plum Perfect', `Frankly Scarlet', `Bitsy', `Black Eyed Stella', and `Lullaby Baby' were least susceptible to daylily rust.

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Hamidou F. Sakhanokho, Anthony L. Witcher, Cecil T. Pounders and James M. Spiers

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Guihong Bi, William B. Evans, James M. Spiers and Anthony L. Witcher

Two experiments were conducted to evaluate the growth and flowering responses of greenhouse-grown French marigold (Tagetes patula L. ‘Janie Deep Orange’) to two non-composted broiler chicken litter-based organic fertilizers, 4-2-2 and 3-3-3, and one commonly used synthetic controlled-release fertilizer, 14-14-14. In both experiments, fertilizer 4-2-2 was applied at four rates of 1%, 2%, 4%, and 6% (by volume); 3-3-3 was applied at four rates of 1.34%, 2.67%, 5.34%, and 8.0% (by volume); and 14-14-14 was applied at rates of 0.99, 1.98, 3.96, and 5.94 kg·m−3. In general, substrate containing different rates and types of fertilizers had a pH within the recommended range of 5.0 to 6.5. Electrical conductivity (EC) was similar among substrates containing different rates of 14-14-14; however, EC increased with increasing fertilizer rate for substrates containing 4-2-2 and 3-3-3. Substrate EC within each treatment was generally higher earlier in the experiment. For the fertilizer rates used in these two experiments, increasing 14-14-14 fertilizer rate increased plant growth and flowering performance. However, low to intermediate rates of 4-2-2 and 3-3-3 in general produced the highest plant growth index, shoot dry weight, number of flowers per plant, total flower dry weight, and root rating. Plants grown at high rates of 4-2-2 and 3-3-3 showed symptoms associated with excessive fertilization. Plant tissue nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) concentrations increased linearly or quadratically with increasing fertilizer rates for all three fertilizers. In general, plants receiving 4-2-2 and 3-3-3 had higher concentrations of N, P, and K than plants receiving 14-14-14. Results from this study indicated that broiler litter-based 4-2-2 and 3-3-3 have the potential to be used as organic fertilizer sources for container production of marigolds in greenhouses. However, growers need to be cautious with the rate applied. Because different crops may respond differently to these natural fertilizers, it is important for growers to test any new fertilizers before incorporating them into their production practices.

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Anthony L. Witcher, Eugene K. Blythe, Glenn B. Fain and Kenneth J. Curry

Wood-based substrates have been extensively evaluated for greenhouse and nursery crop production, yet these substrates have not been evaluated for propagation. The objective of this study was to evaluate processed whole loblolly pine trees (WPT) (Pinus taeda) as a rooting substrate for stem cutting propagation of a range of ornamental crops. Substrates included processed WPT, pine (Pinus sp.) bark (PB), and each mixed with equal parts (by volume) peatmoss (PM) (WPT:PM and PB:PM, respectively). Substrate physical (air space, container capacity, total porosity, bulk density, and particle size distribution) and chemical [pH and electrical conductivity (EC)] properties were determined for all substrates. Rooting percentage, total root length, total root volume, and total shoot length were evaluated for four species in 2008 and five species in 2009. Substrate air space was similar between PB and WPT in the 2008 experiment, and likewise between PB:PM and WPT:PM. In the 2009 experiment, PB and WPT had similar substrate air space. The addition of PM to PB and WPT resulted in reduced air space and increased container capacity in both experiments. The proportion of fine particles doubled for PB:PM and WPT:PM compared with PB and WPT, respectively. Substrate pH for all substrates ranged from 6.0 to 6.9 at 7 days after sticking (DAS) cuttings and 6.9 to 7.1 at 79 DAS. Substrate EC was below the acceptable range for all substrates except at 7 DAS. Rooting percentage was similar among substrates within each species in both experiments. The addition of PM resulted in significantly greater total root length for PB:PM and WPT:PM compared with PB and WPT, respectively, for five of the eight species. Shoot growth was most vigorous for PB:PM compared with the other substrates for all species. The study demonstrated a range of plant species can be propagated from stem cuttings in whole pine tree substrates alone or combined with PM.

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Lisa W. Alexander, Anthony L. Witcher and Fulya Baysal-Gurel

Witchhazel (Hamamelis sp.) cultivars are now available in an array of forms and flower colors, including several native, pollinator-friendly cultivars. However, little is known about response of witchhazel cultivars to powdery mildew (Podosphaera biuncinata) or the growth and flowering characteristics of witchhazel cultivars in a nursery field production setting. To provide growth, flowering, and disease incidence data to nursery growers, a cultivar trial including 23 cultivars of witchhazel representing five species was planted Apr. 2016 in McMinnville, TN. Plant growth, flowering density, length of bloom, and foliar disease incidence were evaluated over three growing seasons between May 2016 and Oct. 2018. ‘Zuccariniana’ japanese witchhazel (H. japonica) and ‘Sunglow’ common witchhazel (H. virginiana) showed the greatest height increase during the trial, and ‘Sunglow’ also added the most width during the trial. Cultivars with negative height or width growth included Sweet Sunshine chinese witchhazel (H. mollis) and hybrid witchhazels (H. ×intermedia) Aphrodite, Twilight, and Barmstedt Gold. Ten of the 23 cultivars experienced winter injury in the form of stem necrosis. Root crown sprouts were observed for all cultivars at least once during the trial. ‘Wisely Supreme’ chinese witchhazel had the longest bloom period, followed by ‘Westerstede’ and ‘Twilight’ hybrid witchhazels, whereas ‘Quasimodo’ vernal witchhazel (H. vernalis) had the greatest density of flowers. The hybrid witchhazel cultivars Aphrodite, Nina, and Arnold Promise and the common witchhazel cultivars Green Thumb and Sunglow were resistant to powdery mildew under trial conditions in all 3 years. ‘Twilight’ and ‘Barmstedt Gold’ hybrid witchhazel, ‘Little Suzie’ common witchhazel, ‘Wisley Supreme’ chinese witchhazel, and ‘Shibamichi Red’ japanese witchhazel were moderately resistant to powdery mildew.