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  • Author or Editor: Bala Rathinasabapathi x
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Shredded and chipped wood mulches are used for weed suppression in perennial fruit crops, in urban landscapes, and occasionally in vegetable crops. Wood chip mulches with weed-suppressing allelochemicals may be more effective for weed control, especially under sustainable and organic production systems, than mulches without such properties. The objective of this study was to test for the presence of water-soluble allelochemicals in wood chips derived from tree species, often found in wood resource recovery operations in the southeastern US. Presence of allelochemicals in water eluates of woodchips and leaves was evaluated in a lettuce bioassay. Eluates of wood chips from red maple (Acer rubrum L.), swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii Nutt.), red cedar (Juniperus silicicola L.H. Bailey), neem (Azadirachta indica A. Juss.), and magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora L.) highly inhibited germinating lettuce seeds, as assessed by inhibition of hypocotyl and radicle growth. The effects of wood chip eluates from these five species were more than that found for eluates from wood chips of black walnut (Juglans nigra L.,) a species previously identified to have weed-suppressing allelochemicals. Tests on red cedar, red maple, and neem showed that water-soluble allelochemicals were present not only in the wood but also in the leaves. In greenhouse trials, red cedar wood chip mulch significantly inhibited the growth of florida beggarweed (Desmodium tortuosum DC.), compared to the gravel-mulched and no-mulch controls.

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Wood chip mulches from southern redcedar (Juniperus silicicola) and southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) were evaluated for their effectiveness in weed control in nursery containers. In greenhouse tests, southern redcedar and southern magnolia wood chip mulches significantly inhibited the germination of redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus) and large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis). In a field trial, nursery containers with ‘Carolina Beauty’ crape myrtle plants (Lagerstroemia indica) were sown with large crabgrass and redroot pigweed seeds, mulched with southern redcedar or southern magnolia wood chips, and compared with plants without mulch and plants treated with a mixture of isoxaben and trifluralin (Snapshot). Wood chips from both southern redcedar and southern magnolia were as effective as a mixture of isoxaben and trifluralin in suppressing weed growth in nursery containers. The wood chip mulches had no inhibitory effect on the growth of crape myrtle plants. In a similar, longer-term field trial using containerized dogwood (Cornus florida) plants sown with large crabgrass and redroot pigweed, the southern redcedar wood chip mulch was most effective in weed suppression when used in combination with a low dose of the chemical herbicide.

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Many members of the Plumbaginaceae are important flower crops wherein propagation is hindered by poor seed germination. Micropropagation via organogenesis is commercially practiced for certain Limonium species. However, somatic embryogenesis was not reported for members of the Plumbaginaceae until recently for L. bellidifolium Durmort. The induction of somatic embryogenesis from cotyledon explants in a modified Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium was examined in four other members of this family, Limonium aureum O. Kuntze, L. latifolium O. Kuntze, L. sinuatum Mill., and Armeria maritima Willd. Induction of embryogenic callus was achieved in all the species examined on MS medium supplemented with 4.5 μm 2,4-D and 88 or 118 mm sucrose. Species of the genus Limonium responded better than A. maritima Willd. in somatic embryo induction and maturation. Somatic embryos of L. aureum O. Kuntze matured readily on MS medium supplemented with 0.93 μm kinetin and 88 mm mannitol. Chemical name used: 2,4-Dichlorophenoxy acetic acid (2,4-D).

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Tea (Camellia sinensis) is a promising new specialty crop for production in Florida. However, few data exist on the establishment phase of tea plantings in this environment and on how early growth parameters may predict yield potential. We tested seven accessions of tea grown under field conditions in north-central Florida for leaf yield and growth parameters—namely, pruned biomass, trunk diameter, trunk height, trunk width, trunk height × width, and canopy area—in the second and third years after planting. Our analyses indicated that the accession Fairhope performed best overall. Pruned biomass and trunk diameter were the best predictors for leaf yield. The harvested leaves produced good-quality black tea, with caffeine levels comparable to commercially available tea. These data indicate that nondestructive measurements of growth can be useful to assess yield potential of tea, and that regionally adapted tea accessions can be identified during the establishment stage.

Open Access

Despite the growing interest in high tunnel organic vegetable production, limited information is available regarding optimizing nutrient management for organic leafy greens. This 3-year study examined the impacts of cowpea cover crop as well as different organic fertilizers and composts on yield, leaf mineral nutrient content, and phytochemical properties of organic leafy greens produced in high tunnels under Florida sandy soil conditions. The experiment was arranged in a split-split-plot design with three replications. The whole plots consisted of a cowpea (Vigna unguiculata ‘Iron & Clay’) cover crop and a weedy fallow control, with fertilization treatments in the subplots, including preplant application of granular fertilizer vs. weekly injection of liquid fish fertilizer at the same seasonal rates of nitrogen (112 kg/ha), phosphorus (9.8 kg/ha), and potassium (74.4 kg/ha). The sub-subplots included yard waste-based compost (22.4 Mt/ha), cow manure-based compost (22.4 Mt/ha), vermicompost (5.6 Mt/ha), and no compost control. Cowpea was broadcasted (112 kg/ha) in early July or mid-August and terminated 51 to 53 days after seeding. Pac choi (Brassica rapa var. chinensis ‘Mei Qing Choi’) was transplanted in mid-Sep. or mid-Oct. and harvested after 33 to 36 days. Baby spinach (Spinacia oleracea ‘Corvair’) or baby leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa ‘Outredgeous’) was direct seeded subsequently as a catch crop. Each experimental unit remained in the same location across the 3 years of the study. Cover cropping had little influence on yields, leaf mineral nutrients, ascorbic acid content, total phenolics, and total antioxidant capacity of pac choi and baby spinach/lettuce. Compared with preplant application of the granular organic fertilizer, weekly liquid organic fertigation improved pac choi marketable yield and dry weight by 16.8% and 5.4% on average, respectively, and enhanced leaf nitrogen and phosphorus contents on a dry weight basis. Relative to the no compost control, yard waste compost consistently improved marketable yields of pac choi by 11.6% on average and led to higher yields of the baby spinach/lettuce catch crop in years 1 and 3, suggesting that compost applications may enhance seasonal nutrient availability to better meet crop demand. However, compost application exhibited inconsistent effects on crop mineral nutrient and phytochemical contents across the years, which could be attributed to the different nutrient compositions of the composts applied in each season, as well as the legacy effects from the previous season. Furthermore, the compost benefits may be influenced by the fertilization program as indicated by their interaction effects observed in this study.

Open Access

Bell and chili peppers are important vegetable and spice commodities worldwide. Significant yield reductions have been attributed to damage caused by root-knot nematodes (RKNs; Meloidogyne spp.). This study addresses the need for developing pepper varieties that have high resistance to RKN, which is now of increasing importance due to restrictions on the use of fumigant nematicides. Our goal is to provide a nonchemical alternative to sustain commercial pepper production in Florida, which is a major producer of peppers in the United States. We evaluated ‘UFRJ107(6)A3’, an advanced inbred line developed from a cross between Capsicum annuum L. ‘Jalapeno’ and ‘Round of Hungary’, for resistance against the nematode in comparison with the parental and three other Capsicum cultivars, namely, C. annuum ‘Charleston Belle’, ‘California Wonder’, and C. chinense Jacq. ‘Datil’ in two separate growth chamber experiments. Based on egg mass indices and reproduction factors, ‘UFRJ107(6)A3’ was significantly more resistant to M. incognita compared with the other five cultivars. When tested with five RKN species, ‘UFRJ107(6)A3’ showed comparably high levels of resistance to M. arenaria and M. floridensis as ‘California Wonder’ based on the nematode reproduction factor. In ‘UFRJ107(6)A3’, however, there were no detectable M. arenaria egg masses, and M. incognita reproduction was minimal compared with that of ‘California Wonder’; both cultivars supported the reproduction of M. enterolobii and M. javanica, although the reproduction factors of M. enterolobii were ≈10-fold higher than M. javanica. To characterize the mechanism of high resistance to M. incognita in ‘UFRJ107(6)A3’, we examined the extent to which infective second-stage juveniles (J2s) were able to penetrate its roots in comparison with the susceptible ‘California Wonder’ and ‘Datil’ in two independent experiments; we conducted RKN root penetration assays with a single plant in a pot and two plants in a single-pot choice test using ‘Datil’ and ‘California Wonder’, respectively, as susceptible standards. In both assays, M. incognita J2s were absent in the roots of ‘UFRJ107(6)A3’ 7 days after inoculation but were present in the susceptible cultivars, indicating that resistance has an effect at the root invasion stage. In growth chamber experiments, at constant temperatures of 28 and 30 °C, ‘UFRJ107(6)A3’ exhibited M. incognita resistance superior to its parents and to the standard resistant bell pepper ‘Charleston Belle’, thus offering the potential to enhance specialty pepper production and for use as a nematode-resistant rootstock for commercial bell peppers.

Open Access

This research study evaluated the suitability of controlled-release urea (CRU) as an alternate nitrogen (N) fertilizer source to conventional soluble urea (U) for tomato production under a humid, warm climate in coastal plain soils. Tomatoes are typically produced on raised plastic-mulched beds, where U is fertigated through multiple applications. On the other hand, CRU is applied once at planting, incorporated into soil before the raised beds are covered with plastic mulch. N source and management will likely impact tomato yield, N use efficiency (NUE), and apparent recovery of N fertilizer (APR). A 2-year field study was conducted on fall and spring tomato crops in north Florida to determine the crop N requirement and NUE in tomatoes (var. HM 1823) grown in sandy soils under a plastic-mulched bed system. In addition to a no N fertilizer treatment, three urea N sources [one soluble source and two polymer-coated CRU sources with different N release durations of 60 (CRU-60) and 75 (CRU-75) days] were applied at three N rates (140, 168, and 224 kg⋅ha−1). Across all N sources and N rates, fall yields were at least 20% higher than spring seasons. At the 140 kg⋅ha−1 N rate, APR and NUE were improved, especially when U was applied in fall tomato, whereas preplant CRUs improved N efficiency in spring tomato. Based on the lower APR values found in spring production seasons (0% to 16%) when compared with fall (57.1% to 72.6%), it can be concluded that residual soil N was an important source for tomatoes. In addition, the mean whole-plant N accumulation of tomato was 102.5 kg⋅ha−1, further indicating that reducing the N rate closer to crop N demand would greatly improve conventional vegetable production systems on sandy soils in north Florida. In conclusion, polymer-coated CRU and fertigation U applications were able to supply the N requirement of spring and fall tomato at a 38% reduction of the recommended N rate for tomato in Florida (224 kg⋅ha−1). Preliminary results show that adoption of CRU fertilizers can be considered a low-risk alternative N source for tomato production and the ease of applying CRU once during the bed preparation period for tomato may be an additional incentive.

Open Access

There has been increasing interest in recent years in sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea), as a leguminous cover crop and green manure, for weed and pest management and improving soil health. Aqueous extracts and ground shoot tissue have previously been demonstrated to be phytotoxic. To further explore its allelopathic potential, bioassays and chemical characterization of water-soluble eluates of sunn hemp were undertaken. Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) radicle growth inhibition was conducted with aqueous eluates from thinly sliced sunn hemp leaves, stems, and seeds, and all three tissues exhibited the inhibitory potential. Fourteen accessions originating from the United States, India, Brazil, South Africa, Pakistan, and Nigeria had water-soluble allelochemicals in leaves, suggesting that allelopathic potential is widely distributed in this species. The highest level of inhibitory potential was found in accession IN-86. Further characterization of IN-86 leaf eluates indicated that the inhibitory compound(s) was/were not soluble in chloroform, but was/were stable when boiled for 15 minutes and resistant to 1 n HCl. Binding and elution from AG-1(OH) ion-exchange resin also were observed. An analysis of leaf eluates of IN-86 using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) followed by mass spectrometry (MS) showed the presence of a compound with a mass-to-charge ratio of 148, consistent with the spectrum for hydroxynorleucine, a phytotoxic nonprotein amino acid previously reported in seeds of C. juncea. However, its low concentration (<1 μg·mL−1) suggested that other components of the eluate were responsible for the observed allelopathic effect. The results indicate the feasibility for development of weed control strategies using allelochemicals derived from sunn hemp biomass of select genotypes IN-86, NG-71, and BR-20 from India, Nigeria, and Brazil, respectively.

Free access

Inheritance of fruit-related traits was studied in a population generated by crossing two heirloom pepper (Capsicum annuum) cultivars, Round of Hungary and Bulgarian carrot. Inheritance of corrugated pericarp phenotype of ‘Round of Hungary’ behaved as a recessive trait controlled by two genes while round fruit shape behaved as a single gene. Pungent cultivar Bulgarian carrot had significantly higher total soluble solids, titratable acidity, antioxidant activities, and significantly thinner pericarp than fruit of Round of Hungary. Pericarp thickness was related to differences in both cell number and cell size. Analyses of F2 fruit indicated that fruit weight was positively correlated (P < 0.01) to fruit width and pericarp thickness. Fruit width was negatively correlated (P < 0.01) to fruit length and total soluble solids and positively correlated (P < 0.01) to pericarp thickness. Yellow color was negatively correlated (P < 0.05) to total soluble solids. Fruit length showed high inbreeding depression and transgressive segregation. Color measurements showed that yellow was correlated to lightness, and the relationships between red and yellow color spaces and carotenoid composition were complex.

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