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  • Author or Editor: C.E. Thomas x
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Field evaluations for resistance against downy mildew, incited by Pseudoperonospora cubensis (Berk. & M.A. Curtis) Rostovzev were conducted on 1076 U.S. Plant Introductions (PI) of Cucumis melo L. (melon). A disease index (DI) was calculated for each entry that had one or more resistant plants. Based on DI, PIs 271329 and 401644 were the most resistant overall (DI = 2.6 and 2.8, respectively). However, resistant plants exhibiting reaction type (RT) 3 were identified in 68 accessions, and 110 accessions had moderately resistant (RT 2) plants.

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Until the late 1950's, the U.S. spinach industry was not a highly viable one. Cultivars were mostly of European origin, low yielding and susceptible to the internationally important downy mildew disease. Because of the uncertain future of the spinach industry, seed companies in the U.S. were not progressing toward a competitive position with seed suppliers in Europe.

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Seventeen U.S. honeydew-type cultivars of melon (Cucumis melo L.) and three control cultigens were evaluated in replicated, artificial inoculations under controlled conditions for resistance against downy mildew and Alternaria leaf blight. All cultivars tested were susceptible to downy mildew. However, all of the tested cultivars were significantly more resistant to Alternaria leaf blight than the susceptible control. Twelve of these cultivars were not significantly more susceptible to Alternaria leaf blight than the two resistant controls. These cultivars may provide useful sources of Alternaria leaf blight resistance for incorporation into other commercial melon types.

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Growth and physiological responses of Intsia bijuga trees to flooding were determined in a series of five container experiments to assess the relative tolerance of this species to flooding. The first measurable response to flooding was reduced leaf gas exchange, which began within 5 to 6 days of the onset of flooding. Development of hypertrophied lenticels at the water line and paraheliotropic leaflet movement were evident by 17 days of flooding. Emergence of adventitious roots on the stem above the water line began after about 30 days of flooding. Leaflet abscission was greatly accelerated by flooding. After more than 3 months of flooding, regrowth of roots, stems, and leaves began within two weeks of draining the medium. The data and observations support a relative ranking of moderate flood tolerance for Intsia bijuga.

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Heirloom dry bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) cultivars are distinct in their seed characteristics, although little information regarding their performance at the field scale in the Midwest is currently available. Demand for organic heirloom dry beans from direct-to-consumer markets in Minnesota motivated our examination of the crop’s suitability for local production. Heirloom cultivars were evaluated on the basis of yield and yield stability at four small-scale organic vegetable productions in southeast Minnesota. Yield data from 2013 and 2014 were subject to static and dynamic stability biplot analyses. The mean yield of heirloom cultivars was ≈44% lower than commercial market class checks included in the trial; heirloom yields ranged from 825 to 2127 kg·ha−1, with a mean of 1362 kg·ha−1. Stability analyses and economic incentives suggest that the production of heirloom cultivars, especially ‘Jacob’s Cattle Gold’, ‘Lina Sisco’s Bird Egg’, ‘Peregion’, and ‘Tiger’s Eye’, could provide growers with the opportunity to diversify their production, differentiate themselves in local markets, and maintain economic return.

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One- or two-node hardwood cuttings were taken from 9-year-old ‘Triple Crown’ and ‘Siskiyou’ blackberry (Rubus) plants on 5 Nov. 2009, 3 Dec. 2009, and 21 Jan. 2010. The response of cuttings with and without partially excised axillary buds to an application of cytokinin was compared with control cuttings with intact axillary buds and no cytokinin. Differences in root development were evident in the two cultivars tested. The cuttings of ‘Siskiyou’ and ‘Triple Crown’ callused on cut ends, but many of the adventitious roots developed from the base of the axillary buds. Shoots emerged from the bud in ≈90% of ‘Siskiyou’ cuttings stuck in November, December, and January. Rooting occurred in more than 90% of cuttings stuck in November and December but declined in cuttings stuck in January. In ‘Siskiyou’, bud excision had no effect on shoot and root emergence, but cytokinin treatment suppressed rooting in cuttings collected in November and January. Shoot emergence and rooting were poorer in ‘Triple Crown’ cuttings than in ‘Siskiyou’. In ‘Triple Crown’ cuttings, partial excision of buds reduced shoot emergence only in January but had no effect on rooting at three sticking dates. Cytokinin treatment improved shoot emergence in November and December but reduced rooting in January. The enclosed system is a viable method for propagating ‘Siskiyou’ blackberry by non-leafy floricane cuttings.

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Traditionally, American ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L.) seeds are stratified for 18 to 22 months, before seeding, in a sandbox buried outdoors in late August or early September. Uncontrolled fluctuating temperature and moisture levels and the presence of pathogenic organisms in the seed box can cause seeds to sprout prematurely, rot, dry out and die. A study was initiated to shorten the lengthy stratification period, and to increase seed viability and percentage of germination by stratifying seeds indoors under a controlled environment. Seeds were subjected to various periods of warm [15 or 20 °C (59 or 68 °F)] and cold [2 °C (35.6 °F)] temperature stratification regimes in growth chambers. Embryo growth and viability, and seed moisture content were tested periodically during stratification. The best warm regime for embryo development, seed viability and germination after subsequent cold treatment was 15 °C (59 °F). The first “split” seeds, indicating incipient germination, were observed after 3 months of warm [15 °C (59 °F)] and 4 months of cold [2 °C (35.6 °F)] treatment, when average embryo length reached 6 mm (0.24 inch). Greenhouse germination of stratified seeds was as high as 80%. The results from this study indicate that good germination is possible when ginseng seeds are stratified indoors under a controlled environment and seeds can be made to germinate at any time of the year.

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The objective of this research was to determine the response of soil properties and plant growth to the application of various tree-based mulches and provide information specifically regarding attributes of eastern redcedar mulch (Juniperus virginiana). Eastern redcedar mulch, cypress mulch (Taxodium distichum), pine bark nuggets [southern yellow pine (Pinus sp.)], pine mulch (southern yellow pine), hardwood mulch [maple (Acer sp.), oak (Quercus sp.)], red-dyed mulch [maple, poplar (Populus sp.)], and grand eucalyptus mulch (Eucalyptus grandis), as well as two nonmulched controls (with and without chemical weed control) were tested. Volumetric soil moisture, soil nutrients, soil temperature, weed growth, and growth and survival of planted annuals and trees were measured. Compared with nonmulched controls, mulch treatments generally increased growth of annuals and trees and decreased weed growth, but few differences in measured variables were noted among mulch types. Mulched plots had greater volumetric soil moisture than nonmulched plots during extended periods without rainfall. Mulched plots had more moderate diurnal soil temperatures than nonmulched control plots. Soil pH and soil potassium increased with hardwood mulch during the 2 years of the study. These results indicate tree-based mulch benefits plant growth and survival by maintaining greater soil moisture, decreasing competition from weeds, and moderating soil temperatures compared with not using mulch. Eastern redcedar mulch provides similar benefits as other common wood mulches and is a viable forest product.

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Genetic diversity and relatedness were assessed among 46 American cultivars of watermelon (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus), and 12 U.S. Plant Introduction accessions (PIs) of Citrullus sp. using 25 randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) primers. These primers produced 288 distinct reproducible bands that could be scored with high confidence among cultivars and PIs. Based on the RAPD data, genetic similarity coefficients were calculated and a dendrogram was constructed using the unweighted pair-group method with arithmetic average (UPGMA). The cultivars and C. lanatus var. lanatus PIs differentiated at the level of 92% to 99.6% and 88% to 95% genetic similarity, respectively. In contrast, the C. lanatus var. citroides, and C. colocynthis PIs were more divergent and differentiated at the level of 65% to 82.5% and 70.5% genetic similarity, respectively. The low genetic diversity among watermelon cultivars in this study emphasizes the need to expand the genetic base of cultivated watermelon.

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