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C.B. McKenney

Horticulture requires knowledge, acquired skills, and practical experience. Knowledge and acquired skills are relatively easy to impart in the university setting; however, weekly laboratory sessions fall far short of providing students with the practical experience they need in the workplace. Internship programs provide students opportunities to reinforce the knowledge and skills they have acquired in the classroom and allow them to gain new experiences, techniques and ideas. At Texas Tech Univ., students are highly encouraged to take an internship after both their 2nd and 3rd years. During an average academic year, about 30% of horticulture students participate in an internship, while more than 50% complete an internship during their degree program. Arrangements are generally made to ensure the students will rotate through a wide variety of horticultural experiences. At the conclusion of their program, interns write a report summarizing their experiences and then give a short oral presentation to other students at a club meeting or in a class. These presentations peak the interest of the other students and serve to keep the program effective.

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C.B. McKenney and Helen Tyler

Chili pepper yield may be hampered by wind-blown sand and high evaporative demand common in semiarid regions. Initial establishment of the crop is of great importance to overall yield. Due to their reduced size, ornamental grasses could serve as windscreens in urban gardens. In this project, seven species of ornamental grasses (Cortaderia selloana `Pumila', Erianthus ravennae, Miscanthus sinensis `Autumn Light', Miscanthus sinensis `Gracillimus', Miscanthus sinensis `Silberfeder', Miscanthus sinensis `Variegatus', Miscanthus sinensis `Zebrinus', and Pennisetum setaceum `Rubrum') were used as aesthetic windscreens. Capsicum annuum `NuMex Big Jim' chili pepper yield was significantly affected by species of grass in the windscreen. The number of peppers per plant was also significantly affected by species; however, the weight of each pepper was not significantly impacted. Effect of species of ornamental grass in the windscreen may be due to differences in wind resistance, moisture competition, or shading between species. The durability, increase in yield, and aesthetic nature of the ornamental grasses used as windscreens provides several reasons to take advantage of these perennial grasses for an aesthetic form of garden protection.

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C.B. McKenney and E.B. Peffley

The Department of Plant and Soil Science at Texas Tech University has developed on-line master's of science nonthesis and master's of agriculture nonthesis degree programs in response to the perceived needs of mature place bound students. Initial enrollments have been successful. The development of these types of programs requires time, funding and technically capable personnel. In addition, there are administrative, curricular and personnel issues involved with the implementation of such a project. These issues and the solutions we have employed will be discussed.

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C. B. McKenney and D. L. Auld

With the current climate of consolidation in academia, maintaining viable discipline-oriented curricula requires concerted effort. In the past 8 years, the horticulture program at Texas Tech reduced the number of degree programs and faculty while it increased the course offerings available and quadrupled the enrollment in horticulture courses. This increase in productivity and program security came about through the efforts of the College and the Department. The designation of the Introductory Horticulture course as a core curriculum lab science elective dramatically raised enrollment. The introduction of horticulture as a minor within the College and across the University resulted in many of the horticulture courses being accessed by students previously not reached. In addition, efforts to create articulation agreements with and actively recruit students from 2- year institutions are beginning to show some success. The greatest future impact appears to be in the creation of mutually beneficial distance education alliances with other 2- and 4-year institutions. Areas of continued concern include balancing faculty teaching and research loads, frequency of upper level course offerings, and identifying large classroom facilities during peek hours. Support facility space utilization, pressing time constraints and “faculty burn-out” are also current problem areas associated with increased faculty productivity levels.

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C. B. McKenney and F. Gaitán-Gaitán

The High Plains of Texas is a short-grass prairie with an extremely stressful environment which limits adapted ornamentals. Plant materials capable of consistent performance have yet to be established for this region. Twelve perennial ground covers were evaluated for urban landscape use. Species were planted in a completely radomized design split in time with four replicates. Ground coverage and distance of spread were evaluated monthly for two growing seasons in 1989 and 1990. Visual ratings of quality as ground cover were also determined using color, growth and density as indices. Sedum brevifolium, Sedum acre, Lysimachia nummularia, Sedum sieboldi, and Arrhenatherum elatius `Variegatum' were the most promising species for all criteria. Sedum acre and Arrhenatherum elatius `Variegatum' did not perform well at temperatures above 40°C. Sedum stolonifera failed to survive in this demanding environment.

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Samuel C. Hill* and Cynthia B. McKenney

Given the regularity of periods of drought in the southwestern U.S., concern over an ample supply of high quality water is always an issue. With a diminishing water supply, higher quality water will likely be diverted to higher priority uses; therefore, concern arises over the availability and quality of water for landscape use. This project was designed to screen representative cultivars from several of the major garden rose categories (China, Tea, Polyantha, Hybrid Tea, and Found Roses) for tolerance to saline irrigation water. Roses were placed in a completely randomized design with four replications in a container holding area. Salinity treatments were designed to be a 2:1 molar ratio of NaCl:CaCl2. The treatments consisted of 0, 6.25, 12.5, 25, and 50 mmol NaCl. The volume of solution applied to each treatment was adjusted at every irrigation event to meet ET and produce a 30% leaching-fraction. At the conclusion of the study, the China rose retained the best foliage while one of the hybrid tea roses maintained flowering throughout the study at all treatment levels. It appears that the roses with the smallest leaflets were able to tolerate salinity better than those with larger leaflets. Results of the tissue sample, leachate, spad and media analyses will also be presented.

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C.B. McKenney, R.E. Durham and E.B. Peffley

The horticulture faculty at Texas Tech Univ. has developed an introductory horticulture laboratory course offered asynchronously through several media. A print version has been developed as a traditional correspondence course. Students can also choose to access the course over the World Wide Web with laboratory instruction provided from an accompanying CD-ROM. The course is based on an introductory horticulture textbook and is supplemented by additional information. Students conduct the laboratory exercises at a location of their choice and return photographs or video tapes of their results along with a formal lab report. Self-help exercises, worksheets, and proctored exams are submitted by correspondence or electronically via the World Wide Web. The most challenging aspect of this project was the development of laboratory exercises that ensured adequate experiential learning. This was accomplished by using easily accessible materials for laboratories that would allow students to apply the scientific method. A CD-ROM version of the lab includes compressed video segments used to demonstrate laboratory techniques. Details of these laboratory components and samples of student work will be presented.

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S.A. Balch, C.B. McKenney and D.L. Auld

The oil of evening primrose (Oenothera sp.) is an important source of gammalinolenic acid (GLA). GLA [C18:3Δ6,9,12] is an unsaturated fatty acid in demand for its nutritional and pharmaceutical application. Oenothera biennis L. is the primary commercial source of evening primrose oil. A study was conducted to determine if species of Oenothera, adapted to Texas, produce GLA levels comparable to O. biennis. This project identified and evaluated the fatty acid composition of eight species of evening primrose native to Texas. GLA levels of 54 accessions evaluated from collected seed ranged from 0.0% to 11.0%. Field experiments were then conducted to determine oil content, fatty acid composition, seed yield, and potential adaptation to commercial production of selected accessions. Mean GLA levels of cultivated seed from these accessions ranged from 0.0% to 10.1%. Mean seed oil content ranged from 7.3% to 21.7%. Of the species examined, O. elata subsp. hirsutissima (A. Gray ex S. Watson) W. Dietrich and O. jamesii (Torrey & Gray) demonstrated GLA levels and seed yields adequate for commercial production. Based on these results, O. elata subsp. hirsutissima and O. jamesii demonstrated sufficiently high GLA levels, oil content, and seed yields to be considered for commercial production.

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D.L. Auld, M.J. Cepica and C.B. McKenney

Distance education is an area of rapid expansion in higher education today. Unfortunately, the development of distance education efforts, like all new programming, is fraught with numerous barriers. Frequently, technological advances precede internal policies necessary to support these activities, and because of the nature of distance education, concerns over expense, workload, intellectual property, conflict of interest and teaching methodology may impede progress. Funding distance education efforts also requires long-term vision and commitment. It is essential that a clear vision, including identification of existing needs and benefits, be developed before equipment and personnel are secured. Finally, some distance education efforts by their nature involve collaboration between other institutions of higher education. These schools may view participation in these programs as opportunities for their advancement or possible encroachment on their educational market. Establishing strong relationships is essential for ultimate success. At Texas Tech Univ., the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources along with the Dept. of Plant and Soil Science have committed to the development and implementation of distance education as an educational tool providing enrichment and access to high-quality programming for its on campus and place-bound students. Some of the success stories as well as the frustrations behind these efforts will be discussed.

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L.L. Lockett, C.B. McKenney and D.L. Auld

Many segments of private industry use data gathered from public attitude and opinion research as an integral part of the planning, program development, and evaluation process. These basic techniques were used to determine public perception of five species of Texas native plants grown at three irrigation rates under xeriscape conditions. Nearly half of the average annual residential water costs go to lawns and gardens. Minimizing the amount of water used in irrigation could provide significant savings of money and a precious natural resource. The complexities of measuring social attitudes, how to develop a valid survey instrument, methods of analyzing survey data, and appropriate interpretation will be discussed. Use of public perception could be a powerful tool in developing water conserving technologies.