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Diana R. Cochran and Amy Fulcher

The objective of these experiments was to evaluate the response of Little Lime™ hardy hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Jane’) across two seasons in response to single foliar applications of three plant growth regulators (PGRs) at two rates: dikegulac sodium at 800 or 1600 ppm, benzyladenine at 300 or 600 ppm, or ethephon at 500 or 1000 ppm. There were two additional treatments: a hand-pruned control leaving three nodes and an unpruned water control (untreated) applied the same day as the PGR applications. To evaluate PGR efficacy, vegetative growth, floral attributes, branch symmetry, and phytotoxicity were assessed. Dikegulac sodium significantly increased branch number (BN) compared with all other treatments. Branch symmetry was greater in dikegulac sodium (800 or 1600 ppm) and hand-pruned treatments compared with the untreated and other PGR treatments (2011 and 2012). Flower number was greater in all PGR treatments compared with hand-pruned plants (2011 and 2012). The only treatment that promoted more symmetrical branching without reducing flower count was dikegulac sodium (800 or 1600 ppm). Phytotoxicity was observed in both seasons; however, no injury symptoms were evident 16 weeks after treatment (WAT), the termination of the experiment.

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Diana R. Cochran, Amy Fulcher and Guihong Bi

Pruning is commonly performed during production of nursery crops to produce symmetrical, compact plants that are pleasing to the consumer’s eye. To achieve the desired results, nursery growers hand prune or apply plant growth regulators (PGRs). However, hand pruning is expensive and is not always effective, and efficacy of PGRs can depend on cultural practices, environmental conditions, irrigation, cultivar, and rate. Therefore, the objective of these experiments was to evaluate the effect of dikegulac sodium applied to pruned or unpruned ‘Limelight’ hardy hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata). Plants were grown at two locations, Tennessee (TN) and Mississippi (MS). The pruned treatment consisted of hand pruning, leaving three nodes followed by applications of dikegulac sodium (400, 800, or 1600 ppm). Applications of dikegulac sodium to pruned or unpruned plants were made the same day using a carbon dioxide backpack sprayer. There were two additional control treatments: hand-pruned untreated (hand-pruned) and unpruned untreated (untreated). Plants were grown outdoors under full sun in TN and under 40% shade in MS. Data were collected at the close of the experiment on the number of branches over 1 inch, final growth index (FGI), floral attributes, branch symmetry, and phytotoxicity. At both locations, pruned and unpruned plants treated with 800 or 1600 ppm dikegulac sodium had more branches than the hand-pruned and unpruned plants. Flower number and size tended to be greater for unpruned plants than pruned plants. Phytotoxicity was observed at 2 and 6 weeks after treatment (WAT). For plants grown in TN, symptoms were more pronounced on plants following treatment with 800 (pruned plants) and 1600 ppm (pruned and unpruned) dikegulac sodium compared with the untreated plants. There were no visible phytotoxicity symptoms at 6 WAT for plants grown in MS, regardless of treatment.

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Diana R. Cochran, Charles H. Gilliam, Glenn Fain and Robert D. Wright

This study evaluated the effects of nine alternative substrates on herbicide efficacy in container-grown nursery crops: 1) VT (pine wood chips hammer-milled to pass a 0.4-cm screen); 2) USDA (pine wood chips hammer-milled to pass a 0.64-cm screen; 3) AUC (Pinus taeda chipped including needles); 4) AUHM (AUC hammer-milled to pass a 0.48-cm screen; 5) 1 VT: 1 commercial grade pinebark (v/v); 6) 1 USDA: 1 pinebark (v/v); 7) 1 AUC: 1 pinebark (v/v); 8) 1 AUHM: 1 pinebark (v/v); and 9) 6 pinebark: 1 sand (v/v). Each substrate was amended with 6.35 kg of 17–6–12 (17N–2.6P–10K) control-release fertilizer, 2.27 kg of lime, and 0.89 kg micromax per cubic meter. Containers (8.3 cm) were filled on 15 June and three herbicides applied the next day: Rout (oxyfluorfen + oryzalin at 2.24 + 1.12 kg·ha-1), Ronstar (oxadiazon at 4.48 kg·ha-1) and a nontreated control. The next day, containers were overseeded with 25 prostrate spurge seed. Data collected included weed counts 30 and 60 days after treatment (DAT) and weed fresh weights at 60 DAT. Spurge occurred less in the two treatments of 100% pine wood chips followed by the AUC treatment. With spurge, the least weed fresh weight occurred with the USDA and AUC treatments. For example, at 30 DAT, spurge count was reduced by 33%, 40%, and 70%, respectively, when comparing VT, USDA, and AUC to pinebark: sand. Spurge fresh weight at 60 DAT followed a similar trend. With all of the substrates except AUHM, the addition of commercially used pine bark resulted in less weed control. Rout provided superior control followed by Ronstar and the nontreated control. These data show that control of prostrate spurge with commonly used preemergent applied herbicides may actually be improved with some of the alternative substrates currently being tested.

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James A. Schrader, Diana R. Cochran, Paul A. Domoto and Gail R. Nonnecke

The popularity of grape (Vitis sp.) and wine production in the upper midwest region of the United States is increasing steadily. The development of several cold-climate, interspecific-hybrid grape cultivars (northern hybrids) since the 1980s has improved the probability of success for both new and established vineyards in this area of the country, but long-term data describing the performance of these cultivars in midwestern U.S. climates are needed to both aid growers in their choice of cultivars and to provide them with information about factors important in their management. We characterized the long-term winterhardiness and annual phenology of 12 cold-climate northern hybrid grape cultivars (two established cultivars, five newer cultivars, and five advanced selections) grown in a randomized and replicated field plot in central Iowa, an area that offers a warm growing season and very cold dormant season for grape culture. The established cultivars included in the study were Frontenac and St. Croix. The newer cultivars evaluated were Arandell, Corot noir, La Crescent, Marquette, and Petit Ami, and the advanced selections were MN 1189, MN 1200, MN 1220, MN 1235, and MN 1258. The grape trial was established in 2008, and vines were evaluated from 2011 through 2017 for annual timing of budbreak, bloom, veraison, and harvest, as well as winter survival of vines and primary buds. As a group, the northern hybrids in our trial showed good winterhardiness of vines but variable hardiness of primary buds across the six winters, which ranged from warmer than average to much colder than average. In Iowa climate, buds of northern hybrids were generally most vulnerable to cold temperature damage from late-winter (March) low-temperature events or from extreme midwinter low-temperature events. The bud hardiness of individual cultivars ranged from very hardy (Frontenac, Marquette, and MN 1235) to poor hardiness (Arandell, Corot noir, Petit Ami, and MN 1189), with all 12 cultivars showing good bud survival during Iowa winters that were warmer than average, but the less-hardy cultivars showing poor bud survival during winters that were colder than average. Evaluations of phenology revealed that heat accumulation measured in growing degree days with a threshold of 50 °F was not a reliable index for predicting the timing of annual developmental stages for the cultivars we tested. Our results indicate that northern hybrids rely on other factors in addition to heat accumulation for guiding annual development, and that factors such as photoperiod likely have a strong influence on phenological timing during seasons with unusual weather patterns. We determined that none of the cultivars were vulnerable to cold temperature damage to fruit before harvest in Iowa’s climate, but that three of the cultivars (Arandell, Marquette, and MN 1235) were highly vulnerable to shoot damage from spring freeze events, and four others (Corot noir, La Crescent, MN 1200, and MN 1220) were moderately vulnerable to cold damage to shoots in spring. An itemized summary of the relative hardiness, vulnerabilities, and timing of phenological stages of the 12 cultivars is provided to aid growers in selection and management of grape cultivars for Iowa climate. Based on hardiness and phenology, four of these cultivars (Frontenac, MN 1258, MN 1220, and MN 1200) have the lowest risk of issues related to cold temperatures.

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Diana R. Cochran, Richard L. Harkess, Patricia R. Knight, Maria Tomaso-Peterson, Eugene K. Blythe and Charles H. Gilliam

Regalia®, a commercial extract of giant knotweed [Fallopia sachalinensis F. Schmidt (synonyms: Reynoutria sachalinensis (F. Schmidt) Nakai, Polygonum sachalinense F. Schmidt, Tiniaria sachalinesis (F. Schmidt) Janch.)], was evaluated for its potential to enhance drought tolerance of container-grown impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Hook. f. ‘Super Elfin XP White’). In two separate experiments, Regalia® was foliar-applied once a week for 4 weeks at four different rates (0, 5, 10, or 15 mL·L−1). In Expt. 1, Regalia® was applied to impatiens grown under three target substrate volumetric water contents (TVWCs): 85%, 55%, or 25%. In Expt. 2, Regalia® was applied to impatiens watered with 1, 3, or 6 days between waterings (DBW). In Expt. 1, root dry weight (RDW) of impatiens receiving applications of Regalia® at the 0.5× rate was greater compared with the 0.0× rate across all TVWCs. Additionally, soluble protein content was greater after Regalia® application at the 0.5×, 1.0×, or 1.5× rates compared with the 0.0× rate for plants grown at 55% TVWC. In Expt. 2, leaf greenness (SPAD) and leaf net photosynthetic rate (Pn) were greater with Regalia® applied at the 0.5× and 1.0× rates compared with the 0.0× rate, respectively. Soluble protein content was greater in impatiens treated with Regalia® at the 1.5× rate and 1 DBW and the 0.5× rate with 3 DBW compared with the 0.0× rate with 1 or 3 DBW. However, there was no indication that impatiens grown under different moisture levels had increased drought tolerance after application of Regalia®.

Open access

James A. Schrader, Diana R. Cochran, Paul A. Domoto and Gail R. Nonnecke

Increasing interest in grape (Vitis sp.) and wine production in the upper midwest region of the United States has created a need for science-based information that characterizes the potential of cold-climate cultivars to produce quality grapes with acceptable yields. We evaluated the yield and quality (composition) of grapes from 12 cold-climate, interspecific-hybrid grape cultivars (northern hybrids) grown in a randomized and replicated field plot in central Iowa. The grape trial was planted in 2008, and crop performance of cultivars was evaluated from 2012 through 2017 (yield) and 2014 through 2017 (berry composition). The trial included two established cultivars, five newer cultivars, and five advanced selections. The established cultivars included in the study as controls were Frontenac and St. Croix. The newer cultivars evaluated in this study were Arandell, Corot Noir, La Crescent, Marquette, and Petit Ami, and the advanced selections were MN 1189, MN 1200, MN 1220, MN 1235, and MN 1258. Yield and productivity were characterized by measuring yield per vine, number of clusters per vine, average cluster weight, and pruning weight. The fruit composition indices were soluble solids concentration (SSC), pH, titratable acidity (TA), and sugar:acid ratio (SSC ÷ TA). On the basis of their strong results for both yield and fruit composition measures, ‘Marquette’, MN 1235, and MN 1220 ranked as the top-performing cultivars in Iowa’s climate, followed by Petit Ami and St. Croix. ‘Petit Ami’ had slightly lower yield consistency and slightly lower results for SSC than did the top performing cultivars, and St. Croix had among the highest and most consistent yields of the trial but showed lower results for SSC and sugar:acid ratio than many of the other cultivars. ‘La Crescent’ had midrange yields and high SSC, but the high TA of ‘La Crescent’ fruit resulted in a low sugar:acid ratio at harvest. Two cultivars (MN 1258 and MN 1200) had relatively low yields in Iowa’s climate but achieved good results for composition indices. ‘Frontenac’ had high, consistent yields and achieved high SSC, but the very high TA of ‘Frontenac’ fruit resulted in a very low sugar:acid ratio compared with most other cultivars. The remaining three cultivars (Corot Noir, MN 1189, and Arandell) performed poorly in Iowa’s climate, showing both low yield and undesirable fruit composition indices compared with the other cultivars in the trial. An itemized summary of the relative ratings for yield and fruit composition is provided to aid growers in selection and management of grape cultivars for use in Iowa and other areas of similar climate.

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Xueni Wang, R. Thomas Fernandez, Bert M. Cregg, Rafael Auras, Amy Fulcher, Diana R. Cochran, Genhua Niu, Youping Sun, Guihong Bi, Susmitha Nambuthiri and Robert L. Geneve

Containers made from natural fiber and recycled plastic are marketed as sustainable substitutes for traditional plastic containers in the nursery industry. However, growers’ acceptance of alternative containers is limited by the lack of information on how alternative containers impact plant growth and water use (WU). We conducted experiments in Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Texas to test plant growth and WU in five different alternative containers under nursery condition. In 2011, ‘Roemertwo’ wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) were planted in three types of #1 (≈1 gal) containers 1) black plastic (plastic), 2) wood pulp (WP), and 3) recycled paper (KF). In 2012, ‘Green Velvet’ boxwood (Buxus sempervirens × B. microphylla siebold var. koreana) was evaluated in 1) plastic, 2) WP, 3) fabric (FB), and 4) keratin (KT). In 2013, ‘Dark Knight’ bluebeard (Caryopteris ×clandonensis) was evaluated in 1) plastic, 2) WP, and 3) coir fiber (Coir). Plants grown in alternative containers generally had similar plant growth as plastic containers. ‘Roemertwo’ wintercreeper had high mortality while overwintering in alternative containers with no irrigation. Results from different states generally show plants grown in fiber containers such as WP, FB, and Coir used more water than those in plastic containers. Water use efficiency of plants grown in alternative containers vs. plastic containers depended on plant variety, container type, and climate.

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Robin G. Brumfield, Alyssa J. DeVincentis, Xueni Wang, R. Thomas Fernandez, Susmitha Nambuthiri, Robert L. Geneve, Andrew K. Koeser, Guihong Bi, Tongyin Li, Youping Sun, Genhua Niu, Diana Cochran, Amy Fulcher and J. Ryan Stewart

As high-input systems, plant production facilities for liner and container plants use large quantities of water, fertilizers, chemical pesticides, plastics, and labor. The use of renewable and biodegradable inputs for growing aesthetically pleasing and healthy plants could potentially improve the economic, environmental, and social sustainability of current production systems. However, costs for production components to integrate sustainable practices into established systems have not been fully explored to date. Our objectives were to determine the economic costs of commercial production systems using alternative containers in aboveground nursery systems. We determined the cost of production (COP) budgets for two woody plant species grown in several locations across the United States. Plants were grown in plastic pots and various alternative pots made from wood pulp (WP), fabric (FB), keratin (KT), and coconut fiber (coir). Cost of production inputs for aboveground nursery systems included the plant itself (liner), liner shipping costs, pot, pot shipping costs, substrate, substrate shipping costs, municipal water, and labor. Our results show that the main difference in the COP is the price of the pot. Although alternative containers could potentially increase water demands, water is currently an insignificant cost in relation to the entire production process. Use of alternative containers could reduce the carbon, water, and chemical footprints of nurseries and greenhouses; however, the cost of alternative containers must become more competitive with plastic to make them an acceptable routine choice for commercial growers.