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- Author or Editor: Brian J. Pearson x
The development of course content and assignments focused on basic horticultural knowledge and theory (hard skills) in an online setting is relatively straightforward and uncomplicated. However, it is slightly more challenging to improve a student’s soft skills like communication, problem solving, critical observation, and professionalism in an asynchronous online classroom environment. To address this challenge, we developed assignments, such as the challenge question, that focused on having students solve situational horticulture problems. In another assignment, we gave students data from an experiment and asked them to summarize and interpret the data. The recent addition of an online scholars ignite assignment (3-minute thesis competition) has turned each student into the teacher for a brief moment and makes the student an active learner and active listener. The addition of etiquette rules to the syllabus, weekly online tasks, and reminders help to develop professionalism and time management skills in addition to organization skills. It is impossible to cover all soft skills in any class but by offering various assignments and assessments, many soft skills are potentially improved.
Increased global trade coupled with diversified employment opportunities demand college graduates possessing well-developed professional skills. Recent survey results identified the importance of professional skills among candidates seeking employment, with communication being recognized as the most important skill or quality when selecting candidates. The ability to work within a team structure, solve complex problems, and organize and prioritize work also ranked high among industry employment needs. Despite a rigorous focus on discipline-oriented knowledge and skills, development of professional skills in students of horticulture may be overlooked or not fully developed. Teaching methods can be modified to incorporate development of professional skills and discipline-oriented knowledge to enhance student employment preparedness and directly address industry needs.
Increased global trade coupled with diversified employment opportunities have generated demand for college graduates to possess enhanced interpersonal and foreign communication skills and a well-developed understanding of foreign culture. Horticultural employment opportunities also require students to possess a mastery of horticultural theory with an established record of direct, hands-on experience. Despite these needs, financial limitations of students and academic departments coupled with a lack of available opportunities may restrict students from developing these critical skills. Through development of cooperative learning programs, students have an opportunity to master and refine their horticultural skills while simultaneously raising funds, which are allocated for professional development including an international learning program. This article provides a successful overview of a student-based cooperative learning program that enhances student learning opportunities.
Hops (Humulus lupulus) is a perennial, herbaceous crop cultivated for its strobiles, or cones, which contain a resinous compound used for flavoring and aroma in food, tea, and beer. The United States is the second largest global producer of hops with greater than 15,000 ha in production. Increased demand for hop products has recently resulted in production of hops in nontraditional production areas (non-Pacific northwest U.S. region). To examine cultivation potential of hops within the southeastern United States, 60 hop rhizomes consisting of four varieties were transplanted into native, deep sand soil (Candler and Tavares-Millhopper soil series) within a protected, open-sided greenhouse and evaluated for growth, strobile yield, and brewing values for a period of 2 years. Plant bine length was recorded weekly for 20 weeks throughout year 1 with mean bine lengths of 609, 498, 229, and 221 cm at harvest for ‘Chinook’, ‘Columbus’, ‘Amalia’ and ‘Neo1’, respectively. Mean harvested strobile dry weight recorded for year 1 was 21.2, 17.9, 9.0, and 8.2 g/plant for ‘Columbus’, ‘Chinook’, ‘Neo1’ and ‘Amalia’, respectively. With the exception of ‘Neo1’, mean strobile mass was lower for all cultivars during year 2 with 16.6, 10.3, 25.8, and 2.6 g/plant for ‘Columbus’, ‘Chinook’, ‘Neo1’ and ‘Amalia’, respectively. Alpha acid concentrations by percentage strobile mass for year 1 were 6.8%, 9.7%, 3.8%, and 4.3% for ‘Columbus’, ‘Chinook’, ‘Amalia’, and ‘Neo1’, respectively. Alpha acids varied year 2 with concentrations of 4.8%, 10.4%, and 5.6% for ‘Columbus’, ‘Chinook’, and ‘Neo1’, respectively. Findings support viability of hop production in the southeastern United States and establish the benchmark for future varietal trialing investigations.
Butterfly pea (Clitoria ternatea) is a unique perennial and leguminous plant that produces brightly colored flowers that can be used as a pH-dependent natural food colorant in culinary and cosmetic preparations. Butterfly pea is commonly propagated from seed. Because of the increased interest in its commercial applications, effective production techniques are necessary to ensure consistent and successful commercial production. The objective of this research was to determine the influence of the substrate type and temperature on butterfly pea germination. Two substrate types (rockwool and commercial soilless substrate mix) and three temperatures (70, 80, and 90 °F) were evaluated to determine their effects on germination of butterfly pea seed. Collected and calculated germination data included germination capacity (G), mean germination time (MT), coefficient of variation of the germination time (cv t), mean germination rate (MR), uncertainty of the germination process (U), and synchrony of the germination process (Z). Differences were observed among substrate temperatures for the MT, cv t, and MR values, with germination greater at both 70 and 80 °F than at 90 °F. Similarly, significant differences among substrate types were observed for the G, MT, cv t, and MR values, with germination of seeds in rockwool outperforming seeds in soilless substrate mix. Because of the high priority for successful and uniform germination in commercial plant production operations, the results suggest that commercial germination of butterfly pea would be best in rockwool at 70 °F. Results of this study can be used for the commercial production of butterfly pea, for which propagation from seed is the primary means of plant production.
Baby primrose (Primula forbesii) is a newly cultivated and valuable ornamental plant with great market potential for both indoor and landscape use. As a container plant, baby primrose has long, weak flower stalks that can easily lodge, resulting in poor-quality plants, especially during transportation. To control plant height and subsequently prevent flower peduncle lodging, we investigated the effects of two plant growth regulators (PGRs), chlormequat chloride (CCC) at 0, 250, 500, or 750 ppm and uniconazole (UNI) at 25, 50, or 75 ppm on growth, development, and flowering of two cultivars of baby primrose, Fragrant Luolan and Red Star. Plant growth regulators at the proposed concentrations were applied twice throughout the experiment. Both PGRs significantly suppressed plant height in both cultivars, with a 16% to 27% reduction by CCC and 50% to 59% by UNI compared with untreated plants. Among CCC-treated groups, plants were shortest when CCC was applied at 500 ppm; plant height was suppressed more when treated with UNI. In both cultivars, UNI significantly suppressed the first, second, and third peduncle lengths. Furthermore, CCC affected peduncle length, but to a lesser extent than UNI. Plant growth regulator applications generally had little effect on flower characteristics of baby primrose. Neither PGRs influenced the inflorescence number and flower size; however, PGRs did increase the number of floral whorls and suppressed pedicel length of ‘Red Star’. New leaf growth was suppressed by both PGRs. In addition, peduncle cell length and width were both significantly suppressed by PGR applications. We concluded that two foliar applications of UNI at 25 ppm comprised the most effective method of controlling baby primrose plant height while maintaining desirable flower traits at a relatively low production cost. Results of this study provide guidance for techniques that can be used to effectively control the plant height of potted baby primrose for commercial greenhouse production.
The objective of these experiments was to determine if preemergence herbicides perform similarly across pine bark that was aged for varying lengths of time including 0, 4, 8, and 12 months after bark removal from harvested trees. Three preemergence herbicides were evaluated for three separate weed species, including 1) Cardamine flexuosa With. (bittercress) with isoxaben, 2) Digitaria sanguinalis (L.) Scop. (large crabgrass) with prodiamine, and 3) Oxalis stricta L. (woodsorrel) with dimethenamid-P. Leaching of herbicides through substrates was evaluated for prodiamine. Weed growth in the various substrates was variable, but few differences were detected in weed growth among the pine bark substrates evaluated. For isoxaben and prodiamine, weed control was similar among the pine bark substrates in most cases when label rates were applied. Although some differences were detected in prodiamine performance across different pine bark ages, a high level of control was achieved in all cases at rates well below manufacturer recommendations. Prodiamine leaching was minimal in all substrates. It would be recommended that growers test substrates for physical properties before use so that irrigation and other production inputs could be modified if needed. In most cases, growers should expect similar performance of preemergence herbicides regardless of pine bark substrate age.
Substrate stratification is a new research area in which multiple substrates, or the same substrate with differing physical properties, are layered within a container to accomplish a production goal, such as decreasing water use, nutrient leaching, or potentially reducing weed growth. Previous research using stratification with pine (Pinus sp.) bark screened to ≤1/2 or 3/4 inch reduced the growth of bittercress (Cardamine flexuosa) by 80% to 97%, whereas liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha) coverage was reduced by 95% to 99%. The objective of this study was to evaluate substrate stratification with pine bark screened to remove all fine particles as the top strata of the substrate and determine its effect on common nursery weeds and ornamental plants. Stratified treatments consisted of pine bark screened to either 1/8 to 1/4 inch, 1/4 to 1/2 inch, or 3/8 to 3/4 inch, applied at depths of either 1 or 2 inches on top of a standard ≤1/2-inch pine bark substrate. An industry-standard treatment was also included in which the substrate was not stratified but consisted of only ≤1/2-inch pine bark throughout the container. A controlled-release fertilizer was incorporated at the bottom strata in all stratified treatments (no fertilizer in the top 1 or 2 inches of the container media), whereas the industry standard treatment had fertilizer incorporated throughout. Compared with the nonstratified industry standard, substrate stratification decreased spotted spurge (Euphorbia maculata) counts by 30% to 84% and bittercress counts by 57% to 94% after seeding containers. The shoot dry weight of spotted spurge was reduced by 14% to 55%, and bittercress shoot dry weight was reduced by 71% to 93% in stratified treatments. Liverwort coverage was reduced by nearly 100% in all the stratified substrate treatments. Compared with the industry standard substrate, stratified treatments reduced shoot dry weight of ligustrum (Ligustrum japonicum) by up to 20%, but no differences were observed in growth index, nor were any growth differences observed in blue plumbago (Plumbago auriculata).