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  • Author or Editor: James A. Miller x
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Application of a complete nutrient solution (CNS) on apple seedling leaves reduced stomatal conductance (gs). Tween 20 and CaCl2 were components of the CNS which induced gs reduction. Tween 20 alone, however, did not cause stomatal closure, but CaCl2 (24.8 mm) had a consistent, negative effect on gs when applied alone. Application of CaCl2 in combination with one of the other macrocomponents of the CNS (MgSO4, urea, or K2SO4 + KH2PO4) produced less consistent gs reductions indicating that the CaCl2 effect on gs can be modified by the presence of these compounds. Urea, MgSO4, or K2SO4 + KH2PO4 had little effect on gs when applied separately. Application of MgCl2 or KCl, which were not the CNS components, decreased and had no effect on gs, respectively. In addition to gs reduction, CaCl2 sprays reduced net photosynthesis (Pn). The equivalence of intercellular CO2 concentration in sprayed and unsprayed seedlings implied that the Pn drop following CaCl2 sprays resulted from decreased capacity of mesophyll for CO2 fixation and not from reduction in the stomatal aperture. Two possible explanations for stomata closure are discussed: a direct effect of CaCl2 on stomata and an indirect effect of CaCl2 spray through changes in mesophyll CO2 fixation capacity. Reductions in gs and Pn following treatments with different salts were not associated with visible leaf injury.

Open Access

One challenge of conducting research regarding agricultural production systems is that field trials are time consuming and expensive, limiting their scale and scope. Thus, policymakers and producers benefit from researchers extracting as much information as possible from each trial. We used the Monte Carlo techniques and the sensitivity analyses to enhance our analysis of the competitiveness of steam as an alternative to fumigation for preplant soil disinfestation in California strawberry production. Chloropicrin + 1,3-dichloropropene 59.6:39 (CP + 1,3-D) resulted in higher mean net returns than did steam. However, the Monte Carlo analysis showed that in one field trial there was a high probability that steam would be more profitable, whereas in the other it was quite unlikely. We also assessed the change in economic performance of steam when it was applied combined with soil amendments of mustard seed meal (MSM). Switching from steam to steam + MSM would have reduced mean net returns. The Monte Carlo results showed that steam + MSM performed at least as well as steam alone around half the time. We evaluated factors that were likely to affect the net returns, defined as total returns minus treatment, weeding, and harvest labor costs, of using steam in the near future. Reductions in application time increased net returns. A decrease in the price of propane increased net returns.

Free access

Peach (Prunus persica L. Batsch) thinning is a costly and time-consuming but necessary practice to produce a crop of marketable size fruit. A number of mechanical devices and methods have been developed and evaluated to reduce the cost and time required for hand thinning peach. This report provides additional evidence that a Darwin string thinner can effectively thin peach at bloom and a spiked drum shaker can thin at bloom or at the green fruit (pit hardening) stage. Five trials were conducted over 2 years in grower orchards with trees trained to a perpendicular V system. A Darwin string thinner at 60% to 80% full bloom (FB) reduced crop load (fruit/cm2 limb cross-sectional area) on scaffold limbs by 21% to 50% compared with a hand-thinned control. At the 60% FB stage, a USDA-designed double-spiked drum shaker reduced crop load by 27% and in another trial, a USDA prototype single-drum shaker reduced crop load by 9%. Across all trials, the spiked drum shakers (single or double units) removed an average of 37% of the green fruit. All mechanical devices reduced the time required for follow-up hand thinning. Follow-up hand-thinning costs (US$/ha) were reduced an average of 27% by mechanical thinning devices over hand-thinned control trees. Fruit size was increased over hand-thinned controls by mechanical thinning in most, but not all, trials. A combined treatment of the Darwin string thinner at bloom followed by a drum shaker (single or double unit) at the green fruit stage produced the greatest net economic impact in a number of the trials. Despite overthinning in some trials, the mechanical thinning devices described provide a potential alternative to hand thinning alone in peach production.

Free access

A test of Michigan half-sib progeny of paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) and European white birch (B. pendula Roth.) was conducted in Michigan to examine species variation in growth, bark color, and resistance to bronze birch borer (Agrilus anxius Gory). Paper birch was superior to European white birch in height and borer resistance at age 12 years from seed. Families of paper birch were identified that grew exceptionally well, had developed white bark within 6 years, and exhibited borer resistance. The magnitude of additive genetic variance and narrow-sense family heritability estimates for paper birch indicated that sufficient genetic variation and inheritance exist to support selection and breeding for height. Paper birch may be an acceptable substitute for European white birch as a landscape species in northeastern North America.

Free access

Many consumers do not buy peaches due to the fuzzy skin and seed stone and because out-of-season peaches do not possess optimum tree-ripe flavor. The feasibility of using a non-browning freestone peach to deliver high-quality fresh-cut products was investigated. Changes in fresh-cut flavor, texture, and postharvest attributes of commercial-ripe (CR) vs. tree-ripe (TR) harvested and shipped `Bounty' peach was assessed. Fresh-cut CR wedges had an initial firmness of 20.9 N, whereas TR wedges had 11.2 N. On day 2, firmness decreased roughly 3% to 12% and 35% to 45% for CR and TR wedges held at 1 °C, respectively. By day 5, CR wedges hardened (24.5 N) whereas TR did not return to their initial firmness; increasing marginally through day 7. Sensory panel hardness for CR did not change through storage, but with TR wedges, hardness decreased through day 2 then increased until day 7. Little variation was noted in the initial soluble solids for CR vs. TR wedges (11.7, vs. 11.4 °Brix, respectively). After 7 days storage, °Brix decreased 7.5% to 12% in CR and 4.5% to 12% in TR wedges. Yellow flesh color (b*) decreased in all CR and TR treatments through storage. Flavor compounds in expressed juice were analyzed by solid phase microextraction with GC-MS. Several peaks were identified that may be associated with flavor-related changes that occurred during storage. For example, low molecular weight acetates and 6C compounds almost disappeared during storage, whereas short chain fatty acids, lactones, and palmitic acid increased markedly through storage. In TR, the “fruity” descriptor decreased throughout storage and “sweet aromatic” increased slightly (day 2) then decreased through day 7.

Free access