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  • Author or Editor: Jim Downer x
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Mulches can exert positive (disease controlling) or negative (disease enhancing) potential when applied to young avocado (Persea americana) trees. Regulation of root disease in avocado is a complicated process that is affected by host resistance, inoculum density, temperature, soil salinity and soil water potential. There are short-term immediate effects from mulching and subtle long-term effects that regulate disease caused by the root rot pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi. Short-term effects include increased soil moisture and soil temperature moderation. Long-term effects include increases of: soil mineral nutrients, soil aggregation and drainage; microbial activity; and cellulase enzyme activities. Biological control of Phytophthora in mulched soil is partially regulated by cellulase enzyme activities. This soil enzyme concept of biological control is discussed in regard to the classical Ashburner method of biological control.

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Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteers are central to expanding the outreach and engagement of extension staff. A workshop format was used at the Annual Conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science on 31 July 2012 in Miami, FL to identify successful management techniques and projects that expand EMG volunteer outreach, leading to increased extension effectiveness. One program leader described how EMGs manage a farmer’s market that has been thriving for more than 30 years, generating income for the EMG program as well as the county extension office. Another program leader described a beneficial partnership between EMGs and the university in which EMGs grow plants for demonstration gardens and classroom use, facilitating learning for university students, EMGs, and the public. EMGs in another program have assumed much of the management role of the university orchard, using it for teaching and demonstrations. The final discussion focused on extension programs that used volunteers to assist in conducting research to expand extension’s capabilities, and also increasing EMGs’ understanding of the research process. All projects emphasized the need for extension agents to empower volunteers to take on leadership and decision-making roles as well as the value of EMGs to extension.

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