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Curt R. Rom*

In a required introductory horticulture course during a 5-year period, students received early progress grades 1/3rd of the way through the course reflecting 20% of the possible points to be awarded in the class. It was thought that student knowledge of their grade performance may result in changes in behavior and class performance. The early progress and final grades both had a bell-shaped distribution with 45% and 48% of students receiving grades better than “C” for early progress and final grades, respectively. There was a significant although low correlation between early progress grades and final grades for the course (r 2 = 0.58). About 50% of the students received a final grade equal to the early progress grades, and 27% received grades higher than the early progress grades. The greatest change in performance were students who received a “D” early progress grade; 60% of those students improved their final grade. Nearly 25% of the students received final grades lower than the early progress grades. Of students receiving failing early progress grades (12%), nearly 60% withdrew from the course and only 10% received passing final grades.

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Curt R. Rom

To enhance the opportunities for students to access information and the instructors of a large, general plant science class, “Virtual Classroom” concepts using computers resources were implemented. The Virtual Classroom uses three computer resources: 1) a closed subscription LISTSERV for the extramural class discussions, 2) electronic mail for homework assignment and submission, and 3) a World Wide Web Internet homepage for the course. In a large, introductory-level class, student–teacher interaction can be limited. The size of the class and the content may inhibit questioning and discussion among the class participants. The LISTSERV allowed for questions to be posed by students at their leisure and facilitated discussion among students and the instructor outside of the confines of the class meeting. The LISTSERV also allowed instructors to to respond to the students by referring questions to “experts” on a particular subject. Using e-mail for homework assignment and submission was useful for tracking when student read assignments and submitted completed assignments. Electronic assignment grading and returning was paperless and easy for instructors to maintain. The homepage provided students with a permanent syllabus, lecture outlines, homework assignment descriptions, and study aids. Additionally, from the homepage students were able to send e-mail to instructors and search library databases and other electronic databases. Experiences from the instructors using these computer resources will be presented and discussed.

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Curt R. Rom

Current practices of fertilizer management, potential problems, and paths for fertilizer management research were discussed. Apple nutrition management in the humid southern regions of the U.S. is typically challenged by several factors such as inherently low soil pH, variable soil chemistry, and irregular precipitation. Some literature and personal experiences with orchard replant conditions and fumigation, fertigation, fertilizer delivery system, and time of fertilizer application were reviewed. On replant sites, fumigation and liming significantly improved tree survival and growth in the first 5 years. Fertigation with ammonium nitrate significantly lowered soil pH in the root zone compared to top dress applications. Using calcium nitrate resulted in less pH reduction. Results of studies of autumn application of N fertilizers have been mixed, with reports of no, decreased, or increased effects on fruit set, yield, and growth. Studies with size-controlling rootstocks indicate additional need to study the uptake of Mn and related Mn toxicity. Precocious rootstocks with high early yields have resulted in foliar K levels approaching deficiency within the first 10 years of production. Indications are that high-density orchards may have additional requirements for K fertilizers.

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Curt R. Rom

Shoot growth `Starkspur Supreme Delirious' on 10 different rootstock was measured on 3-, 4- and 6-year-old trees at weekly intervals from budbreak until terminal bud formation. Spur density, spur development, and extension shoot leaf area development were measured in September. Growth rate was analyzed by regression against chronological time and accumulated growing degree days using linear and nonlinear statistics.

Rootstock affected shoot length, leaf number, leaf area, leaf size, leaf dry weight/leaf area and internode length. Trees on M.4, M.7 EMLA, P-1 and seedling had the longest shoots and highest shoot growth rate. Trees on P16 had least leaves and leaf area per shoot and smallest shoot leaves. Leaf dry wt./area were negatively correlated to leaf size. Typically, trees with shortest shoot length and smallest internode length had greatest spur density. Rootstock affected both rate and duration of shoot growth. Shoots on trees with P22 and P2 rootstocks grew for the shortest duration while trees on M.4 and M.7 EMLA grew for the longest period.

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Curt R. Rom

As part of the NC-140 rootstock evaluation trials, `Starkspur Supreme Delicious' on 18 rootstocks planted in 1984 were evaluated for growth and pruning requirement. After 9 seasons, trees on the P.22 produced the smallest trees, 1.1 m width and 1.7 m height. The stocks P.16, P.2 and Bud.9 produced trees 2.0-2.2 m wide and 2.1-2.6 m tall. Trees on MAC.39, C.6, MAC 1, M.26 EMLA P.1, BUD.490, M.7 EMLA, CG.24, and domestic seedling were 2.9-3.4 m wide and 3.7-4.3 m tall. The largest trees were on P.18 and M.4; 3.6 m wide and 4.2 m tall. Dormant pruning time in two seasons significantly increased at an exponential rate with increasing tree width and height. An asymptote for maximum pruning time had an x-axis intersection at approximately 2.7 m tree height. Pruning time per tree significantly increased in a linear manner with increasing trunk cross section. When pruning time was calculated on a per hectare basis, trees planted at 1460 to 2000 trees/ha required less pruning time than when planted at ≤ 750 tr/ha or ≥ 4000 tr/ha. Trees on P.16, P.2, Bud.9 and C.6 required the least pruning per unit of fruit production.

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Curt R. Rom and Jason McAfee*

`Apache' blackberry planted in 3-m plots spaced at 0.6 m between plants were maintained either with or without waste municipal wood chip mulch and grown for 5 years. Plots received similar weed control, pest management, and irrigation. All plots were annually hedged at 1.35-m height twice during midsummer to encourage branching. Fruit were harvested beginning in the second season after a season of establishment. Annual yield in the mulched plots was 15% greater, average fruit size was 4% larger, and cumulative yield was 9% greater in the mulched plots compared to nonmulched control plots. In two seasons, average berry soluble solids content of fruit from mulched plots was slightly, but not significantly higher. Annual primocane number was 33% greater, floricane number 41% greater, floricane dry weight after harvest was 15% greater, and average plant height before summer pruning was 24% taller in mulched plots compared to nonmulched plots. Mulch significantly reduced weeds within the plots.

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Vikramjit Bajwa and Curt R. Rom

Alternate bloom thinners are needed for apple are needed to replace compounds which can no longer be used or have production system limitations. The effects of 24 chemicals selected as osmotic agents, organic acids, oils, essential oils, or potential metabolic agents and their properties of pH, electrical potential (EP) and water potential were tested in vitro on `Gala' apple pollen germination, tube growth and pistil damage. Solution concentrations of 0%, 0.25%, 0.5%, 1%, 2%, 5%, and 10% were prepared and solution pH, EP, and water potential measured. To test affects on germination, pollen was placed on agar germination media in petri dishes and then treated with 10: l of chemical solution. Percentage pollen germination and tube growth was calculated 4, 12, and 24 h after treatment. Excised pistils from forced flowers were placed on glass filter papers saturated with chemical solution. Pistil damage was visually, subjectively rated for damage indicated by discoloration 24 h after treatment. Effects of solution pH, EP and water potential on pollen germination, tube growth and pistil damage was significant with pH less than ∂4.0 or greater than ∂10.0, EP > 200mv, or water potential less than ∼4.0MPa inhibited pollen germination, growth, and killed pistils. Several chemical had apparent metabolic effects beyond the chemical effects mentioned above. In vitro tests were correlated to in vivo field tests in other studies indicating the use of pollen and pistil in vitro as a useful model for screening potential alternative thinning agents.

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Ken Kupperman and Curt R. Rom

The effect of soil preplant strategies winter solarization and methyl bromide fumigation were compared to a non-treated control on apple tree growth. Treatments were applied in the fall after removal of an existing orchard with spring planting of 'Jonee' and 'Smoothee Golden Delicious' on M.26 EMLA rootstock. Soil fumigation significantly increased shoot length in first year, trunk cross-sectional area increase during two seasons, and bloom and set in second year. The control and winter solarization treatments were similar in all responses. Foliar Mn concentrations were significantly lower with fumigated trees in second years compared to other two treatments, which were similar.