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  • Author or Editor: Bernardo Chaves-Cordoba x
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Bananas are one of the most important fruits, serving as a cash crop and staple food in many regions of the world. In Puerto Rico, bananas are an important agricultural industry, supplying all the fruit needed for local demand. Diseases significantly limit production, and the evaluation and adoption of improved genetic resistance in bananas might provide an avenue for long-term sustainable production. To this end, nine enhanced genotypes from international selection and breeding programs were introduced and evaluated for their response to black leaf streak (BLS) (Pseudocercospora fijiensis Morelet) and for their agronomic performance. Bananas were evaluated as part of a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) Tropical Agriculture Research Station (TARS) and Bioversity International’s International Musa Testing Program (IMTP). Improved genotypes were compared with disease-resistant and disease-susceptible reference genotypes across two cropping cycles. Field plants were grown following commercial production practices with no BLS management. Significant differences in disease reactions were observed during both cropping cycles for test and reference genotypes. Under high disease pressure, ‘FHIA-21’, ‘FHLORBAN 916’, and ‘FHLORBAN 920’ test genotypes showed higher numbers of functional leaves and lower disease severity at harvest in both cycles. Short cycling times were also observed for the two FHLORBAN genotypes. Larger bunches with a high number of fruits were produced by the ‘IBP 12’, ‘IBP 5-B’, and ‘IBP 5-61’ selections. Several of the GCTCV test genotypes were extremely susceptible to BLS, did not perform as expected, and appeared to be off-types. Several of the test genotypes performed well, although currently none possessed all needed traits for a commercial banana substitute. Regardless, several test genotypes have agronomic potential because they have been selected for disease resistance to other important pathogens (e.g., fusarium wilt) and therefore have become part of the permanent TARS collection. Future efforts will continue to focus on the IMTP collaboration and introduction of promising banana genotypes for evaluations.

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The ability of a substrate component (organic or inorganic) to capture and retain water (hydration and wettability) is important to investigate and promote water-use–efficient practices. Many factors may play a role in the wettability of the material, including the processing of the material and its initial handling. The goal of this experiment was to determine the effect of moisture content (MC) on the sorptive behavior of substrates after an initial and secondary hydration cycle. Coir, peat, and aged pine bark were evaluated at a 33%, 50%, and 66% MC by weight. At all moisture levels, coir and bark were minimally affected by MC or the initial hydration cycle. Peat was the most vulnerable to changes in sorptive behavior as a result of wetting and drying cycles. After a wetting and drying cycle, the maximum volumetric water content of peat from surface irrigation was reduced 21.5% (volumetrically), more than three times any other treatment. The hydration efficiency of peat was improved when blended with as little as 15% coir. These experiments provide evidence that MC and initial handling of the substrate can lead to differences in initial water use efficiency.

Open Access