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  • Author or Editor: G.E. Boyhan x
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Disease is a major factor limiting production of watermelons in Alabama. Gummy stem blight, anthracnose, and Fusarium wilt are three of the most serious diseases, causing reduced yields of melons in certain fields in Alabama. Although satisfactory control of gummy stem blight and anthracnose may be accomplished with the proper application of organic fungicides during normal weather conditions, no control measure is effective during periods of high humidity and high rainfall. The discovery that certain plant introductions were resistant to gummy stem blight and race 2 anthracnose led to development of multiple disease resistant breeding lines that produce high yields of excellent quality fruit. This research resulted in the 1991 release of AU-Golden Producer and Au-Sweet Scarlet varieties that are resistant to gummy stem blight, Fusarium wilt, and anthracnose (Colletotrichum laginarium race 2). Both melons are superior to current varieties of their type in yield, quality, and disease resistance.

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The dwarfing characteristics of St. Julien and Pixy rootstocks, measured by shoot growth, were evident with `AU-Amber' and `AU-Producer' plum (Prunus salicina Lindl.) scions. Dwarfing did not occur with `AU-Rubrum'. Trunk cross-sectional area (TCA) was reduced with `AU-Amber', `AU-Producer', and `AU-Rubrum' scions on St. Julien and Pixy rootstocks. After 3 years, tree survival was 94% for Lovell; 89%, Halford; 57%, Nemaguard; 75%, Nemared; 83%, St. Julien; and 47%, Pixy. Tree survivability was significantly lower on Nemaguard and Pixy rootstocks than on Lovell and Halford. Multiple regression of total shoot growth, TCA, and survivability against foliar nutrient content resulted in the following significant equations: 0.460Mg - 0.210Mn, 0.236B - 0.487Mn, and 0.359N + 0.398Ca - 0.267P - 0.360Fe for each, respectively. Growth, survivability, and foliar nutrient content are significantly affected by rootstock in plum production.

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Plum production in the Southeastern United States is limited because cultivars are susceptible to bacterial canker (Pseudomonas syringae), bacterial fruit and leaf spot (Xanthomonas pruni), black knot (Apisporina morbosa) and plum leaf scald (Xylella fastidiosa). Evaluation of four new cultivars developed by the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station indicated that AU-Rubrum, AU-Rosa and AU -Cherry were resistant to all the diseases listed, and AU-Amber was resistant to all excapt A. morbosa. Disease ratings were made on trees in six experimental plantings in Alabama, in Georgia test plantings and in grower trials.

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Forty eight cultivars and seedlings of plum involving the species Prunus americana, P. auqustifolia, P. cerasifiera, P. munsoniana, P. salicina, P. simoni, and P. triflora were evaluated for the presence of xylem limiting bacteria (Xyllela fastidiosa) and tree longevity. Plum leaf scald (PLS) ratings, based on the percent of scalded leaves in the tree were correlated with the concentrations of bacteria in the twigs and leaf petioles. Observations of symptoms of PLS and monitoring of progeny from interspecific crosses, cultivars, and seedlings indicate that resistance to the PLS organism is present in the Auburn material and heritable. Uniform infection of seedlings was made by double budding of one year whips with buds from infected trees. Resistance to PLS has been incorporated into horticultural types and seedlings are currently being evaluated for possible release for commercial and home use.

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Plum leaf scald (PLS) caused by the organism Xylella fastidiosa is one of the most serious diseases of plum. After X. fastidiosa was identified as the causal agent for PLS, a feral source (Starcher no. 1) was used extensively in the breeding program. Microscopic (phase contrast) examinations of vacuum extracts and petiole squashes and later ELISA were used to determine PLS infection and later were correlated with a rating index for PLS and tree longevity. Cultivars, species, and their progeny, including Prunus americana, P. angustifolia, P. cerasifera, P. munsoniana, P. salicina, P. simoni, P. bullata, and P. triflora were evaluated. Observations indicate that resistance is heritable and controlled by recessive genes. ELISA and visual observation indicated that an Auburn Univ. seedling (CD 122) was free from this disease.

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The dwarfing characteristics of St. Julien and Pixy rootstocks as measured by shoot growth and trunk cross-sectional area (TCSA) was evident. Tree survival was significantly reduced after 3 years on Nemaguard and Pixy rootstocks. None of the elements measured by foliar nutrient analysis were below the minimum for plums; however, significant multiple regression equations for total shoot growth, TCSA, and survivability were evident with R 2 of ≈0.30 in all three cases.

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Naturally infected plum leaves were collected during Aug. and Sept. 1994 to evaluated for the presence of Xylella fastidiosa, the causal agent of plum leaf scald (PLS). Leaves were from trees at least 4 years old in variety trials at four locations in Alabama. ELISA tests for X. fastidiosa were used to determine the presence of the organism in infected trees. The symptoms also were evaluated with a rating index for PLS. Some plum cultivars (i.e., `AU-Producer', `Morris', `Explorer', and `AU-Cherry') showed high tolerance to PLS. Both ELISA tests and visual observation indicated that an Auburn Univ. seedling (CD-l 22) was free from this disease. PLS infection was lower in North Alabama compared to Central Alabama.

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Seed harvested from 41 entries in the 1994 southernpea variety trial was grown in a greenhouse for evaluation of seedborne mosaic viruses. When second trifoliate leaves were fully expanded, 100 plants per plot per block (4) were evaluated for blackeye cowpea mosaic virus (B1CMV), cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), cowpea severe mosaic virus (CSMV), and southern bean mosaic virus (SBMV). The average number of plants with virus symptoms ranged from 2% (Pinkeye Pinkpod) to 44% (Bettergreen). Plants with symptoms were assayed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). At least one virus was detected with ELISA in all entries, except for `Zipper Cream' in which none were evident. All viruses were detected in seven entries. B1CMV and CMV were present in 13. CMV was present in all but `Zipper Cream', `Mississippi Cream', and `Texas Pinkeye'. Symptomatology was poorly correlated to ELISA results: six entries having all four viruses had symptoms on less than 13% of their plants.

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Changes in the activities of sucrose-metabolizing enzymes as related to ontogeny and ripening were studied in fruit mesocarp tissues of watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum & Nakai, cvs. A.U. Producer and Sweet Scarlet]. The levels of soluble sugars and the activities of sucrose synthase (SS; EC 2.4.1.13), sucrose-phosphate synthase (SPS; EC 2.4.1.14), and invertase (INV; EC 3.2.1.26) were measured. The temporal pattern of these enzymes relative to the levels of soluble sugars were similar for both cultivars. `Sweet Scarlet' was characterized by having higher INV and SPS activities, while SS activities tended to be similar in both cultivars during fruit development. During later stages of ripening, `Sweet Scarlet' tended toaccumulate reducing sugars, while `AU Producer' tended to accumulate sucrose and therefore had lower sucrose-cleaving enzyme activity. Results indicate that SPS and INV appear to play a prominent role in carbohydrate metabolism in developing and ripening tissues of watermelon.

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A spectrophotometric assay for pyruvic acid in onion has been adapted to a microplate reader. Correlations between the spectrophotometer and microplate reader ranged from 0.991 to 0.997 for sodium pyruvate standards and 0.899 to 0.934 for onion samples. Onion pungency values were slightly higher with the microplate reader for both sample and background compared to the spectrophotometer when both are used in the single wavelength mode. Comparing the spectrophotometer in the single wavelength mode to the microplate reader in the dual wavelength mode resulted in no statistically significant difference between them. Standards for both the microplate reader and spectrophotometer followed a quadratic function.

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