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  • Author or Editor: D. Michael Jackson x
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Production of sweetpotatoes is severely limited by several insect pests, and new pest management approaches for this crop are needed. A host plant resistance research program typically depends on reliable bioassay procedures to streamline evaluation of germplasm. Thus, bioassay procedures were developed for both adults and larvae of two cucumber beetle species (Diabrotica balteata and D. undecimpunctata). For the adult bioassay, a piece of sweetpotato peel (periderm & cortex with stele removed) was embedded periderm-side up in plaster in a Petri dish, and a single adult was placed on it. Plugs were changed as needed and adult longevity was measured. A laboratory bioassay also was developed for Diabrotica larvae. Plugs (0.9 cm diameter) of sweetpotato peel or stele were placed periderm-side up into sterile microcentrifuge tubes (1.5 mL) containing 0.5 mL water-agar to prevent desiccation. One second instar Diabrotica was added to each micro centrifuge tube, which was held at 25 °C for 12 days. Surviving larvae were weighed. Diabrotica larvae grew larger when they were fed stele than when they were fed peels of any sweetpotato genotype. Larval growth was not different among genotypes for any of the stele treatments. However, larval growth on the peel of the resistant genotypes (Regal and W-375) was significantly lower than for the susceptible cultivars Beauregard or SC1149-19. These bioassays were consistent with field results, indicating that these techniques could be useful for evaluating pest resistance in sweetpotato genotypes for Diabrotica and other insect species.

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‘Prestige’ poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. Ex Klotzsch) were grown at different fertilizer rates in three pine tree substrates (PTS) made from loblolly pine trees (Pinus taeda L.) and a peat-based control. Pine tree substrates were produced from pine trees that were chipped and hammer-milled to a desired particle size. Substrates used in this study included peat-lite (PL), PTS produced with a 2.38-mm screen (PTS1), PTS produced with a 4.76-mm screen (PTS2), and PTS produced with a 4.76-mm screen and amended with 25% peatmoss (v/v) (PTS3). Initial and final substrate physical properties and substrate shrinkage were determined to evaluate changes over the production period. Poinsettias were grown in 1.7-L containers in the fall of 2007 and fertilized at each irrigation with 100, 200, 300, or 400 mg·L−1 nitrogen (N). Shoot dry weight and growth index were higher in PL at 100 mg·L−1 N but similar for all substrates at 300 mg·L−1 N. Bract length was generally the same or longer in all PTS-grown plants compared with plants grown in PL at each fertilizer rate. Postproduction time to wilting was the same for poinsettias grown in PL, PTS1, and PTS3. Initial and final air space was higher in all PTSs compared with PL and container capacity (CC) of PTS1 was equal to PL initially and at the end of the experiment. The initial and final CC of PTS2 was lower than PL. The incorporation of 25% peat (PTS3) increased shoot dry weight and bract length at lower fertilizer rates compared with 4.76 mm PTS alone (PTS2). Substrate shrinkage was not different between PL and PTS1 but greater than shrinkage with the coarser PTS2. This study demonstrates that poinsettia can be successfully grown in a PTS with small particles (2.38-mm screen) or a PTS with large particles (4.76-mm screen) when amended with 25% peatmoss, which results in physical properties (CC and air space) similar to those of PL.

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The use of freshly harvested and processed pine trees as a container substrate for greenhouse and nursery crop production is a relatively new concept, and fundamental knowledge of the construction of a pine tree substrate (PTS) for optimal physical properties is insufficient. Therefore, this research was conducted to determine the influence of mixing PTSs produced with different wood particle sizes and adding other amendments to PTS on substrate physical properties and plant growth compared with traditional substrates. Coarse pine wood chips produced from 15-year-old loblolly pine trees (Pinus taeda L.) were ground in a hammermill fitted with either a 4.76-mm screen or with no screen (PTS-NS) allowing a fine and a coarse particle PTS to be produced. Increasing proportions of the finer (4.76-mm) PTS to the coarser PTS (PTS-NS) resulted in increased container capacity (CC) and shoot growth of ‘Inca Gold’ marigold (Tagetes erecta L.). In another study, PTSs were manufactured in a hammermill fitted with different screen sizes: 4.76, 6.35, 9.54, or 15.8 mm as well as PTS-NS. After being hammermilled, each of the five PTSs was then amended (by mixing) with 10% sand (PTS-S), 25% peatmoss (PTS-PM), or left unamended. Pine tree substrates were also produced by adding 25% aged pine bark (PB) to pine wood chips before being ground in a hammermill with each of the five screen sizes mentioned (PTS-HPB). These five substrates were used unamended as well as amended with 10% sand after grinding (PTS-HPBS). Control treatments included peat-lite (PL) and 100% aged PB for a total of 27 substrates evaluated in this study. Container capacity and marigold growth increased as screen size decreased and with the additions of peatmoss (PTS-PM) or hammering with PB (PTS-HPB) to PTS. Container capacity for all substrates amended with peatmoss or PB was within the recommended range of 45% to 65% for container substrates, but only with the more finely ground PTS-4.76-mm resulted in marigold growth comparable to PL and PB. However, when the PTS-NS was amended by mixing in 25% peat or hammering with 25% PB, growth of marigold was equal to plants grown in PL or PB. In a third study, hammering PTS-NS with 25% PB followed by the addition of 10% sand increased dry weight of both azalea (Rhododendron ×hybrida ‘Girard Pleasant White’) and spirea (Spiraea nipponica Maxim. ‘Snowmound’) resulting in growth equal to plants grown in 100% PB. This work shows that amending coarsely ground PTS with finer particle PTS or with other materials (peatmoss, aged PB, or sand) can result in a substrate with comparable physical properties such as CC and plant growth compared with 100% PL or PB.

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The two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae Koch (Acari: Tetranychidae), often causes serious damage to watermelon (Citrullus spp.), and there is a need to evaluate and identify watermelon germplasm resistant to T. urticae. Watermelon cultivars (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus), and U.S. plant introduction (PI) accessions of C. lanatus var. citroides and C. colocynthis, were evaluated for preference by T. urticae (number of adults and eggs on leaves). In open-choice experiments in the greenhouse and in laboratory rearing cages, there was a significant preference by T. urticae for watermelon cultivars, Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus PIs, and C. lanatus var. citroides PIs over C. colocynthis PIs. All watermelon cultivars and PIs were infested, but the C. colocynthis PIs were significantly less infested with T. urticae. The C. colocynthis PIs may be useful sources for enhancing T. urticae resistance in cultivated watermelon.

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Periderm and cortex tissues of 14 genetically diverse sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] clones were grown under low stress conditions and analyzed for their content of scopoletin ((7-hydroxy-6-methoxycoumarin) and scopolin (7-glucosylscopoletin). A wide range of concentrations of both compounds was found in both tissues. The two compounds were tested in vitro for their biological activity (concentration-activity relationships) using several bio assays: germination of proso-millet (Panicum milliaceum L.) seed; mycelial growth of the sweetpotato fungal pathogens Fusarium oxysporum Schlecht. f. sp. batatas (Wollenw.) Snyd. & Hans, F. solani (Sacc.) Mart., Lasiodiplodia theobromae (Pat.) Griffon & Maubl., and Rhizopus stolonifer (Ehr. ex Fr.) Lind; and growth and mortality of diamondback moth[Plutella xylostella (L.)] larvae on artificial diet. The glycoside scopolin showed little activity, except moderate inhibition of F. oxysporum. The aglycone scopoletin inhibited seed germination and larval growth; however, at much higher concentrations than were measured in the tissues. Mycelial growth of the four pathogenic fungi, however, was inhibited at concentrations occurring in some sweetpotato clones.

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The objective of this study was to evaluate the landscape performance of annual bedding plants grown in a ground pine tree substrate (PTS) produced from loblolly pine trees (Pinus taeda) or in ground pine bark (PB) when transplanted into the landscape and grown at three different fertilizer rates. Begonia (Begonia ×semperflorens-cultorum) ‘Cocktail Vodka’, coleus (Solenostemen scutellarioides) ‘Kingswood Torch’, impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) ‘Dazzler White’, marigold (Tagetes erecta) ‘Bonanza Yellow’, petunia (Petunia ×hybrid) ‘Wave Purple’, salvia (Salvia splendens) ‘Red Hot Sally’, and vinca (Catharanthus roseus) ‘Cooler Pink’ were evaluated in 2005, and begonia ‘Cocktail Whiskey’, marigold ‘Inca Gold’, salvia ‘Red Hot Sally’, and vinca ‘Cooler Pink’ were evaluated in 2006 and 2007. Landscape fertilizer rates were 1 lb/1000 ft2 nitrogen (N) in 2005 and 0, 1, and 2 lb/1000 ft2 N in 2006 and 2007. Visual observations throughout each year indicated that all species, whether grown in PTS or PB, had comparable foliage quality in the landscape trial beds during the growing period. With few exceptions, dry weight and plant size for all species increased with increasing fertilizer additions, regardless of the substrate in which the plants were grown. For the unfertilized treatment, when comparing plant dry weight between PB and PTS for each species and for each year (eight comparisons), PTS-grown plant dry weight was less than PB-grown plants in three out of the eight comparisons. However, there were fewer differences in plant dry weight between PTS- and PB-grown plants when fertilizer was applied (PTS-grown plants were smaller than PB-grown plants in only 2 of the 16 comparisons: four species, two fertilizer rates, and 2 years), indicating that N immobilization may be somewhat of an issue, but not to the extent expected. Therefore, the utilization of PTS as a substrate for the production of landscape annuals may be acceptable in the context of landscape performance.

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During 2012–14, 737 sweetpotato, Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. (Convolvulaceae), plant introduction (PI) accessions from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA, ARS) sweetpotato germplasm collection were evaluated for several phenotypic leaf and plant characteristics, and a photographic record of each accession was made. Data were prepared for placement in the USDA, ARS Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) database and the sweetpotato ontology. The parameters recorded for each genotype were canopy coverage, vine length, general leaf outline, leaf lobing, shape of the central leaf lobe, number of leaf points, leaf petiole length, leaf width, leaf length, leaf width × length, and leaf width/length (aspect ratio). The data indicate that there is wide genetic diversity for vegetative phenotypic characteristics within the USDA, ARS sweetpotato germplasm collection. This study provides important phenotype information for the USDA, ARS sweetpotato collection that has been lacking and can be used for curation of the collection and by researchers and breeders working with this important global food crop.

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Fall transplanted `Commander' broccoli (Brassica oleracea Botrytis group) yield in mulches formed from the residues of killed cowpea (Vigna unquiculata), soybean (Glycine max), and velvetbean (Mucuna pruriens) cover crops was compared to yield in conventional production on bare soil. Average aboveground biomass production was 6.9, 7.7, and 5.9 t·ha-1 (3.08, 3.43, and 2.63 tons/acre) and total nitrogen content of the aboveground tissues was 2.9%, 2.8%, and 2.7% of the dry weight for cowpea, soybean, and velvetbean, respectively. Within each cover crop mulch main plot, subplots received different nitrogen rates, [0, 84.1, or 168.1 kg·ha-1 (0, 75, or 150 lb/acre)]. For several nitrogen level × year comparisons, broccoli grown in mulched plots yielded higher than broccoli grown on bare soil plots. Cowpea and soybean mulches promoted broccoli growth more than velvetbean mulch. The mulches of all three species persisted through the growing season and suppressed annual weeds.

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