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Robert F. Bevacqua and Dawn M. VanLeeuwen

Chile pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) yields are highly variable and are strongly influenced by disease and weather. The goal of two field experiments was to evaluate crop management factors, especially planting date, that could contribute to improved and more consistent crop production. Current practice in New Mexico is to direct seed the crop from 13 to 27 Mar. In the first experiment, chile pepper was direct seeded on three planting dates, 13, 20, and 27 Mar. 2000, without or with a fungicide treatment of pentachloronitrobenzene and mefenoxam for the control of damping off. The results indicate planting date had no effect on stand establishment or yield. Fungicide treatment, significantly reduced stand, but had no effect on yield. In the second experiment, chile pepper was direct seeded on six planting dates, 13, 20, 27 Mar. and 3, 10, 17, Apr. 2001, with or without an application of phosphorus fertilizer, P at 29.4 kg·ha-1, banded beneath the seed row. During the growing season, this experimental planting suffered, as did commercial plantings in New Mexico, from high mortality and stunting due to beet curly top virus, a disease transmitted by the beet leafhopper. The results indicate planting date had a significant effect on crop performance. The best stand establishment and highest yield were associated with the earliest planting date, 13 Mar. This date also resulted in the least viral disease damage. Phosphorus fertilizer had no effect on stand establishment or yield. Chemical names used: pentachloronitrobenzene (PCNB); (R)-2-[(2,6-dimethylphenyl)-methoxyacetylamino]-propionic acid methyl ester (mefenoxam).

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Malik G. Al-Ajlouni, Dawn M. VanLeeuwen and Rolston St. Hilaire

Linking an urban residential landscapes type to a specific landscape water budget is important to water resource management in a desert environment. Yet, no research that we are aware of has effectively associated a specific water budget with a quantitatively determined urban landscape type. The objective of this research was to determine whether a landscape water budget and residential urban landscape type could be related. We previously quantitatively classified urban residential landscapes in the desert environment of Las Cruces, NM, into hard-surface shade-structure, mulch, hard-surface, hard-surface-mulch, mulch tree, turf mulch, turf, tree mulch turf, and turf tree landscape types. In this study, we determined water budget, landscape coefficient, and the portion of the coverage of irrigated and nonirrigated elements for each landscape type. Landscape types in Las Cruces grouped into four distinct water budget groups: no-water, low-, moderate-, and high-water budget. Because of the heterogeneity of the coefficients for grass, plants, and water surfaces that constituted it, the landscape coefficient correlated weakly (r 2 = 0.3) with the water budget. Coverage of the irrigated elements correlated highly (r 2 = 0.95) with the water budget. Our results suggest that the coverage of irrigated elements in a desert urban landscape is a major driver of landscape water budgets.

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Emad Bsoul, Rolston St. Hilaire and Dawn M. VanLeeuwen

Although bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum Nutt.) is an ornamental plant that might thrive in managed landscapes in arid and semiarid regions, little information on the drought tolerance of bigtooth maples appears to be available. We studied water relations, plant development, and carbon isotope composition of bigtooth maples indigenous to New Mexico, Texas, and Utah that were field-grown in New Mexico using a pot-in-pot nursery production system. Plants were maintained as well-irrigated controls or irrigated after the weight of pots decreased by 35% due to evapotranspiration. Bigtooth maples subjected to drought had more negative predawn leaf water potentials (−0.76 MPa) than the plants in the control treatment (−0.64 MPa). Drought did not affect midday leaf water potential of seed sources. Trees native to the Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool, TX (designated LMP5), had the greatest leaf area (1236 cm2) among plants from all sources, while those native to Logan Canyon in Cache County, UT (designated UW2), had among the smallest leaf area (216 cm2). Leaf area ratio (LAR) was highest in plants from LMP5 (24.23 cm2·g−1), which suggests that they have potential for more carbon assimilation than the other plants tested. Plants from LMP5 had the highest leaf area/xylem diameter ratio (135 cm−2·mm−1). This ratio was 5.8 times higher than that of UW2, which had among the lowest leaf area/xylem diameter ratios. The high leaf area/xylem diameter ratio of LMP5 plants relative to UW2 plants indicates that LMP5 plants had a larger surface area of tissues that transpire relative to those that transport water. Treatment did not affect stomatal conductance (g S) or transpiration, but g S and transpiration were positively correlated for both drought-stressed (r 2 = 0.801) and well-irrigated plants (r 2 = 0.759). Plants from New Mexico (designated DS) had the lowest transpiration rate (2.32 mmol·m−2·s−1), lowest g s (52.1 mmol·m−2·s−1), largest xylem diameter (11 mm), and had among the largest shoot dry weight (DW) and plant height. Plants did not differ either among sources or between treatments in the ratio of variable to maximal fluorescence (mean = 0.64), relative water content (averaged 57%), specific leaf weight, stem DW, root DW, and plant DW. Carbon isotope discrimination (Δ) averaged −26.53‰ and did not differ among plant sources or irrigation treatments. This suggests that Δ might not be effective in screening bigtooth maples for drought tolerance. Low transpiration rate, g S, and high shoot dry weight in DS plants and traits, such as a high LAR in plants from LMP5, suggest that plants selected from these provenances might effectively endure deficit irrigation.

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Rolston St. Hilaire, Dawn M. VanLeeuwen and Patrick Torres

We surveyed homeowners with residential landscapes in Santa Fe, NM, to determine their attitudes toward high desert plants and to assess their preferences for urban landscapes and water conservation strategies in a high desert urban environment. While there was low acceptance for the traditional turf lawn, 64% of residents agreed that high desert plants provided the variety they needed in their residential landscapes and 92% of residents would use high desert plants to landscape their front yard. Homeowners had a strong preference for retaining their current desert landscapes and converting traditional landscapes to high desert-adapted landscapes. Logistic regression revealed a negative relationship between length of residency in the southwestern United States and the willingness to use high desert plants. When homeowners who irrigated their landscape were asked whether water shortages, environmental concerns, information on water, city regulations, high water bills, or water rate increases would cause them to use less water on their landscapes, the highest level of agreement (94%) was for water shortages. Eighty-eight percent of respondents agreed that they liked any type of landscape that contains interesting features and is well planned. We conclude that homeowners have a preference for desert-adapted landscapes and agree that high desert plants provide an adequate palette of plants for urban landscapes. Additionally, the length of residency in the southwestern U.S. and the possibility of water shortages have the potential to impact water conservation strategies in high desert urban landscapes.

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Dawn M. VanLeeuwen, Rolston St. Hilaire and Emad Y. Bsoul

Statistical analysis of data from repeated measures experiments with missing factor combinations encounters multiple complications. Data from asynchronous cyclic drought experiments incorporate unequal numbers of drought cycles for different sources and provide an example of data both with repeated measures and missing factor combinations. Repeated measures data are problematic because typical analyses with PROC GLM do not allow the researcher to compare candidate covariance structures. In contrast, PROC MIXED allows comparison of covariance structures and several options for modeling serial correlation and variance heterogeneity. When there are missing factor combinations, the cross-classified model traditionally used for synchronized trials is inappropriate. For asynchronous data, some least squares means estimates for treatment and source main effects, and treatment by source interaction effects are inestimable. The objectives of this paper were to use an asynchronous drought cycle data set to 1) model an appropriate covariance structure using mixed models, and 2) compare the cross-classified fixed effects model to drought cycle nested within source models. We used a data set of midday water potential measurements taken during a cyclic drought study of 15 half-siblings of bigtooth maples (Acer grandidentatum Nutt.) indigenous to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. Data were analyzed using SAS PROC MIXED software. Information criteria lead to the selection of a model incorporating separate compound symmetric covariance structures for the two irrigation treatment groups. When using nested models in the fixed portion of the model, there are no missing factors because drought cycle is not treated as a crossed experimental factor. Nested models provided meaningful F tests and estimated all the least squares means, but the cross-classified model did not. Furthermore, the nested models adequately compared the treatment effect of sources subjected to asynchronous drought events. We conclude that researchers wishing to analyze data from asynchronous drought trials must consider using mixed models with nested fixed effects.

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Emad Bsoul, Rolston St. Hilaire and Dawn M. VanLeeuwen

Ecological traits such as an extensive range of natural distribution and tolerance to varying soil conditions, suggest that bigtooth maples (Acer grandidentatum Nutt.) could be popular landscape trees. But information on the tolerance of bigtooth maples to environmental stresses, such as drought, is virtually nonexistent. We studied physiological, growth and developmental traits of bigtooth maple plants from 15 trees native to Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Utah. Plants were grown in pots in a greenhouse and maintained as well-irrigated controls or exposed to drought and irrigated in cycles based on evapotranspiration. The ratio of variable to maximal fluorescence (Fv/Fm) was not different between drought-stressed and control plants, but the low Fv/Fm in plants designated as LM2 from the Lost Maples State Natural Area in Vanderpool, Tex., suggests these plants were relatively inefficient in capturing energy at PSII. Plants from another tree (LM5) originating from Lost Maples State Natural Area maintained similar predawn water potentials between drought-stressed and control plants after five cycles of drought. Plants from Dripping Springs State Park in Las Cruces, N.M., and those from LM2 had a strong, significant linear relationship between transpiration and stomatal conductance. Drought-stressed plants from Dripping Springs State Park, two plant sources from the Guadalupe Mountains in Salt Flat, Tex., designated as GM3 and GM4, and plants from trees designated as LM1 and LM2, had high relative growth rates and net assimilation rates. Drought-stressed plants from three of the four Guadalupe Mountain sources (GM1, GM3, GM4) had among the longest and thickest stems. Drought reduced shoot and root dry weight (DW). Although bigtooth maples showed several provenance differences in drought adaptation mechanisms, the lack of an irrigation effect on biomass allocation parameters such as root to shoot DW ratio and leaf area ratio implies that altered biomass allocation patterns may not be a common drought adaptation mechanism in bigtooth maples. Plants from selected provenances from the Guadalupe Mountains and Lost Maples State Natural Area in Texas, and to a lesser extent, provenances from Dripping Springs State Park in New Mexico might hold promise for selecting bigtooth maples for arid environments.

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Walter F. Ray, Geno A. Picchioni, Dawn M. VanLeeuwen and Ryan M. Goss

Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) has desirable attributes as a cool-season turfgrass for the semiarid southwestern United States and the transition zone, but effects of cultural practices on newer cultivars within a desert climate are not adequately known. A field study was conducted between Sept. 1996 and Nov. 1997 to evaluate establishment of 15 turf-type tall fescue cultivars under two mowing heights (2 or 3 inches) and two different annual nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) application rates (N at 13.2 or 26.4 g·m−2, P at 0.9 or 1.8 g·m−2, and K at 11.0 or 22.0 g·m−2). The cultivars included ‘Amigo’, ‘Apache’, ‘Aztec’, ‘Bonanza’, ‘Chieftain’, ‘Cochise’, ‘Confederate’, ‘Coronado’, ‘Crossfire II’, ‘Falcon’, ‘Guardian’, ‘Kentucky 31’, ‘Leprechaun’, ‘Shortstop’, and ‘Virtue’. The fertilizer rate had no effect on turfgrass quality ratings throughout the establishment period, although overall quality was higher in Fall 1997 than during Spring and Summer 1997. The mowing height of 2 inches increased summer quality ratings of 11 of the 15 cultivars as compared with ratings under the 3-inch mowing height. The 2-inch mowing height improved fall quality ratings of seven of the 15 cultivars. No cultivars responded positively to the 3-inch mowing height. Consistently high summer through fall quality ratings were observed when ‘Apache’, ‘Aztec’, and ‘Crossfire II’ were mowed at the 2-inch height as compared with the other cultivar × mowing height treatment combinations. For turf-type tall fescue establishment in semiarid climates, findings support use of a 2-inch mowing height combined with the selective planting of ‘Apache’, ‘Aztec’, and ‘Crossfire II’ over other cultivar × mowing height combinations tested in the study.

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Geno A. Picchioni, Sharon A. Martinez, John G. Mexal and Dawn M. VanLeeuwen

Commercial production of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch.] generates significant woody biomass from hedge prunings with little economic value. Value-added uses could aid pecan growers, and one possible use is wood chips for potting substrates to lessen dependence on peatmoss, thereby aiding greenhouse growers. We evaluated vegetative growth and leaf nutrient responses of ‘Carpino’ garden chrysanthemum (Dendranthema ×grandiflorum) over a 60-day period. Plants were grown in five pecan wood chip substrate levels that substituted 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of peatmoss by volume. Three water soluble fertilizer (WSF) rates—N at 0, 200, or 400 mg·L−1 (0–N, 200–N, and 400–N, respectively)—were applied with each irrigation and to each of the wood substitution treatments. The WSF and wood substitution treatments interacted strongly. In the presence of wood, (25−100% substitution levels), increasing WSF to 400–N increased cumulative evapotranspiration (ET), crop height, total leaf number and area, total leaf and stem dry weight, and leaf N and P concentrations. However, with 0% wood substitution, 400−N provided little or no such enhancements. With 25% to 50% wood substitution, root dry weight increased by 61% to 91% from 0–N to 200–N, which may be an adaptive response to nutrient-limiting conditions at 200–N. Appearance of a white rot fungal species in and atop pecan wood-supplemented substrate supports the likelihood that microbial activity was, at least in part, responsible for the nutrient limitations. High WSF at 400–N in combination with 25% pecan wood substitution maintained adequate fertility and shoot growth that was comparable to the conventional peat-only substrate at 200–N. With low to moderate amounts of pecan wood, further adjustments to WSF rate and irrigation volume would support sustainable fertigation practices, reduce dependence on peatmoss by greenhouse industry, and provide a value-added recycling option for pecan growers.

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Malik G. Al-Ajlouni, Dawn M. VanLeeuwen, Michael N. DeMers and Rolston St. Hilaire

The apparent heterogeneity of human-generated materials in residential urban landscapes sustains concerns that the quantitative classification of urban residential landscapes is impossible. The objective of this research was to develop a method to quantitatively classify urban residential landscapes in a desert environment. Using a purposive sampling procedure, we studied the landscapable area around each of 54 residential homes in Las Cruces, NM. All materials in the landscape were identified, measured, and categorized. Using 30% as the cutoff to indicate that a material was dominant in the landscape, we classified 93% of all landscapes into nine common landscape types. Mulch-dominant landscapes were the most common, and landscape types differed between front- and backyards. Shrubs did not feature prominently in any of the common landscape types. Our classification method clearly identifies multiple landscape types, and for the first time, provides quantitative evidence that landscape types are distributed differently in front- and backyard landscapes in the desert environment of Las Cruces. Information on common landscape types will be valuable to landscape horticulturists wanting to craft water conservation plans that are landscape specific if the common landscape type can be linked to a landscape water budget.