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David C. Percival, John T. A. Proctor and J. Alan Sullivan

A study examining the influence of trickle irrigation (TI), IRT-76 plastic film (PF) and straw mulch (SM) on the establishment of Rubus idaeus L. cv. `Heritage' micro-propagated raspberries was initiated at Cambridge, Ontario in 1993. Environmental, nutritional, vegetative and reproductive data were collected. Soil temperature and soil water status were greatly affected by TI, PF and SM. TI lowered soil NO3-N and increased soil NH4-N and Mg. PF increased soil NO3-N and NH4-N. Foliar N decreased by 10% with TI and increased by 8% with PF. Foliar P and Ca increased by 45 and 6% respectively, with TI. Node number was not influenced by TI, PF or SM. PF however, increased cane height, cane diameter, dry weight and leaf area by 14, 17, 77 and 11% respectively, and TI increased cane diameter by 13%. Although TI increased the number of fruiting laterals by 63%, there was no effect of TI, PF or SM on harvested berry number or weight.

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David C. Percival, John T.A. Proctor and J.P. Privé

Rubus idaeus L. cv. Heritage raspberries were placed in controlled environment chambers (25°C, 14-hour photoperiod, 2.0 kPa vapor pressure deficit, CO2 concentration of 380 mol·m-2·s-1) to study the effects of drought stress on leaf gas exchange and stem water potential. Whole-plant photosynthesis (Pn) and transpiration were sensitive to drought stress and gradually decreased from the second day of the study until rehydration. Stomatal aperture feed-back regulation was present during the initial 48 hours of the study with transpiration rates dropping in response to a decrease in stem water potential. Spatial differences were also present with leaf Pn, and stomatal and CO2 conductance values of the younger, distal (i.e., closer to the apex) leaves decreasing at a faster rate than the older, proximal leaves (i.e., close to crown). Evidence of increased mesophyll resistance to drought stress was apparent with ci either remaining constant or increasing, while Pn and carboxylation efficiency simultaneously decreased. Protection of the underlying photochemistry was evident with parahelionastic leaf movements which resulted in a reduction in the effective leaf area and subsequent heat load. Therefore, an optimum balance between water loss and ci existed, and an alteration in these rates represented a stomatal conductance adjustment to match the intrinsic photosynthetic capacity rather than just a causal relationship.

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John T.A. Proctor, David C. Percival and Dean Louttit

Manual removal of inflorescences from mature (3- and 4-year-old) American ginseng plants (Panax quinquefolium L.) at commercial timing (early July, ≈25% flowers open) increased root yield at harvest. Consecutive inflorescence removal for 2 years (third and fourth) increased yield 55.6%. Inflorescence removal in 4-year-old plants increased yield by 34.7% compared with 26.1% in 3-year-old plants. Analysis showed that the largest portion of roots (≈40%) was in the medium category (10-20 g), and inflorescence removal did not influence root size distribution. Root yield for 3-year-old plants increased quadratically with plant density, with plants lacking inflorescences having an estimated yield increase of 25%. Maximum yields of 2.4 kg·m-2 for deflowered plants were achieved at a plant density of 170 plants/m2. To maximize ginseng root yield, all plants except those needed to provide seed for future plantings should have inflorescences removed.

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David C. Percival, J.T.A. Proctor and J.A. Sullivan

Field experiments including supplementary trickle irrigation (IR), IRT-76 plastic film (PF), and straw mulch (STR) treatments were conducted during 1993 and 1994 to determine the influence of root-zone temperature and soil moisture status on carbon assimilation and dry mass distribution, and soil and plant nutrient content, during the establishment of Rubus idaeus L. `Heritage' primocane-fruiting raspberries. The IR, PF, and STR treatments were reapplied after the 1993 establishment year to examine their effects on an established, hedgerow planting. Physical environment, vegetative and reproductive data were collected. PF increased root and shoot mass, total flower number, and total berries harvested. Maximum leaf net photosynthetic (Pn) rates were observed under cool air temperatures and root-zone temperature of 25 °C. Field Pn measurements indicated that there was no seasonal decline in Pn. Mulch treatments however, were not beneficial to the established (i.e., 2-year-old) hedgerow planting. The root system of the 2-year-old planting was largely confined to an area within the foliage wall and also at a greater depth from the mulch treatments. Therefore, beneficial effects of mulch management on the growth and development of raspberries may be limited to the establishment year.

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David C. Percival, J.T.A. Proctor and M.J. Tsujita

The influence of irradiance, CO2, and temperature on whole-plant net CO2 exchange rate (NCER) of Rubus idaeus L. `Heritage' micropropagated raspberries was examined. Within the set of environmental conditions examined, irradiation was the most important factor, accounting for 58% of the whole-plant irradiance/CO2 concentration/temperature NCER model variation, followed by CO2 concentration (28%) and temperature (2.5%). Net photosynthesis (Pn) required irradiance levels >600 μmol·m-2·s-1 PPF for saturation, greatly increased under CO2 enrichment (up to 1500 μL·L-1), and was optimum at a whole-plant temperature of 20 °C. Temperature effects were partitioned in an experiment using varying air and root-zone temperatures (15, 20, 25, 30, and 35 °C) under saturated light and ambient CO2 levels (350 μL·L-1). Air and root-zone temperature influenced Pn, with maximum rates occurring at an air × root-zone temperature of 17/25 °C. The contribution of air and root-zone temperature to the NCER model varied, with air and root-zone temperature contributing 75% and 24%, respectively, to the total model variation (R 2 = 0.96). Shoot dark respiration increased with air and root-zone temperature, and root respiration rates depended on air and root-zone temperature and shoot assimilation rate. Humidity also influenced Pn with a saturated vapor pressure deficit threshold >0.25 kPa resulting in a Pn decrease. Quantifying the physiological response of raspberries to these environmental parameters provides further support to recent findings that cool shoot/warm root conditions are optimum for raspberry plant growth.

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Nicole E. Burkhard, Derek H. Lynch and David C. Percival

Within-row weed management of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) is reliant upon herbicide applications. However, in organic production, herbicides are typically not permitted and alternative methods must be used. The impact of thick (25-cm) mulch applications on weed pressure in an organic production system was initiated at a commercial operation in Nova Scotia, Canada, during 2005. A split-plot experimental design was used with five blocks (replications), six treatments, and five plants per split plot (cv. Duke). The whole-plot factor consisted of mulch/fertility treatments and included: i) control (no amendment); ii) ammonium sulphate fertilizer (30 kg·ha-1 N); iii) pelletized poultry manure (60 kg·ha-1 N); iv) pine needles (80 t·ha-1); v) horse manure and sawdust compost (550 t·ha-1); and vi) seafood waste compost (360 t·ha-1). The split-plot factor consisted of level of hand weeding (–/+). Weed control was assessed by sampling percent ground cover and weed shoot biomass in three 0.25-m2 quadrats in nonweeded subplots. Blueberry leaf N content, plant canopy volume, and berry yield (fresh weight and number) were recorded. The manure/sawdust compost and pine needle treatments had the lowest weed biomass and percent ground cover values, thereby providing the best weed control. Weed shoot biomass, blueberry leaf N, plant canopy volume, and berry yield were greatest in the seafood waste compost treatment. Results from this preliminary study indicate the potential of using these groundcover treatments to improve organic cultural management practices.

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David C. Percival, John T.A. Proctor and M.J. Tsujita

The influence of irradiance, CO2, and temperature on whole-plant net C exchange rate (NCER) of micropropagated raspberries (Rubus idaeus L. cv. `Heritage') was examined in 1994. Irradiances >1000 μmolm–2–s–1 PAR were required for light saturation, and net photosynthesis (Pn) greatly increased under CO2 enrichment (up to 2000 μlliter–1) and was optimum at 17C. Temperature effects were separated in another experiment using varying air and soil temperatures (15, 20, 25, 30, and 35C) under saturated light and ambient CO2 levels (350 μlliter–1). Both air and soil temperature influenced net Pn, with maximum rates occurring at an air/soil temperature of 17/25C and each contributing 71.2% and 26.7%, respectively, to the total variation explained by a polynomial model (R 2 = 0.96). Dark respiration and root respiration rates also increased significantly with elevated air and soil temperatures. Therefore, results from this study indicate that maximum net Pn occurred at an air/soil temperature of 17/25C and that irradiance, CO2 levels, and shoot and root temperatures are all important factors in examining NCER in raspberries.

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David C. Percival, John T.A. Proctor and J. Alan Sullivan

Field experiments consisting of trickle irrigation (TI), IRT-76 plastic film (PF), and straw mulch were initiated to determine the influence of soil temperature and water status on carbon partitioning during the establishment of Rubus idaeus L. `Heritage' (1993, 1994), `Autumn Bliss' (1994), and `Summit' (1994) micropropagated raspberries. Environmental, vegetative, reproductive, and nutrition data were collected. Photosynthesis (Pn) measurements were recorded under field conditions using a Li-Cor LI-6200 portable photosynthesis system. Neither node number nor shoot: root ratio was influenced by TI, PF, or straw mulch. PF, however, increased root and shoot weight, total flowers produced, total berries harvested, and foliar N and P. Although differences existed among cultivars, field Pn measurements indicated that, regardless of groundcover treatment or cultivar examined, the maximum Pn rate occurred at a root-zone temperature of 25C. Hence, results from this study indicate that conditions in both the air and root zone physical environment regulate carbon assimilation and partitioning.

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Peter R. Hicklenton, Julia Y. Reekie, Robert J. Gordon and David C. Percival

Seasonal patterns of CO2 assimilation (ACO2), leaf water potential (ψ1) and stomatal conductance (g1) were studied in three clones (`Augusta', `Brunswick', and `Chignecto') of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.) over two growing seasons. Plants were managed in a 2-year cycle of fruiting (year 1) and burn-prune (year 2). In the fruiting year, ACO2 was lowest in mid-June and early September. Rates peaked between 10 and 31 July and declined after fruit removal in late August. Compared with the fruiting year, ACO2 in the prune year was between 50% and 130% higher in the early season, and between 80% and 300% higher in mid-September. In both years, however, mid-season maximum ACO2 for each clone was between 9 and 10 μmol·m–2·s–1CO2. Assimilation of CO2 increased with increasing photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) to between 500 and 600 μmol·s–1·m–2 in `Augusta' and `Brunswick', and to between 700 and 800 μmol·s–1·m–2 in `Chignecto'. Midday ψ1 was generally lower in the prune year than in the fruiting year, reflecting year-to-year differences in soil water content. Stomatal conductance (g1), however, was generally higher in the prune year than in the fruiting year over similar vapor pressure deficit (VPD) ranges, especially in June and September when prune year g1 was often twice that observed in the fruiting year. In the fruiting year, g1 declined through the day in response to increasing VPD in June, but was quite constant in mid-season. It tended to be higher in `Augusta' than in the other two clones. Stomatal closure imposes limitations on ACO2 in lowbush blueberries, but not all seasonal change in C-assimilative capacity can be explained by changes in g1.

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David C. Percival, Dianne Stevens, Glen Sampson, Gary Patterson and Klaus Jensen

The influence of noninvasive, companion crops on lowbush blueberry production was examined at the Nova Scotia Wild Blueberry Inst. in 1998. A randomized complete-block experimental design was used with four replications and a plot size of 10 × 6 m. Treatments consisted of a control (no companion crop), sawdust, creeping red fescue, hard fescue, chewings fescue, sheeps fescue, birdsfoot trefoil (BFT), and redtop. Measurements of companion crop height, dry weight, and density, and lowbush blueberry vegetative and reproductive data were recorded. In addition, the effects of the companion crops on soil stability and weed pressures were measured at the conclusion of the growing season. Overall, the fescues and BFT established well within the blueberry canopy and in bare areas with plant densities ranging from 960 plants/m2 to 3500 plants/m2, plant dry weights of 7.2 to 11.7 mg/plant, and plant heights of 5.4 to 9.5 cm. The use of the companion crops increased yields with yields from the creeping red and hard fescue treatments being 9.0% and 13% greater, respectively, than the control. The creeping red and hard fescue treatments also significantly reduced weed pressures and increased soil stability. Therefore, using companion crops in lowbush blueberry production appears to be a viable management strategy with future research being required on herbicide use, fertility regimes, and harvestability.