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Jonathan H. Crane

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Jeffrey G. Williamson and Jonathan H. Crane

A wide variety of temperate, subtropical, and tropical fruit crops are grown commercially in Florida. Farm size ranges from large commercial operations exceeding 100 acres to small 1- or 2-acre “estate” farms. Irrigation and fertilization practices vary widely with crop, soil type, and management philosophy. However, many growers are adopting practices such as microirrigation, fertigation, and other technologies, which, if properly used, should reduce water and fertilizer inputs and minimize leaching and runoff of fertilizers and pesticides. Although fertilizer and irrigation recommendations exist for major crops such as avocado (Persea americana), mango (Mangifera indica), and blueberry (Vaccinium spp.), there is little research-based information specific to Florida for many minor crops, including muscadine (Vitis rodundifolia), blackberry (Rubus spp.), sapodilla (Manilkara zapota), guava (Psidium guajava), papaya (Carica papaya), and others. Even where recommendations exist, refinement of irrigation and fertilization practices is needed because of changes in technology.

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Thomas E. Marler and Jonathan H. Crane

Lateral branches arising from the primary bud complex on limbs of containerized `Gefner' atemoya (Annona squamosa L. × A. cherimola Mill.) plants were removed to determine the influence of branch regrowth on the crotch angle. Pruning the lateral branches to a stub (cl cm) was more effective in inducing regrowth and increasing branch angle of the regrowth than stripping lateral branches by hand. Following lateral branch removal, regrowth did not develop from every node along a stem axis. In a second study, the angle of branch regrowth from tagged nodes following pruning of lateral branches was determined. The mean crotch angle of the primary lateral branches was 58°. Regrowth from the second and third supernumerary buds within each node produced branches with an average crotch angle of 72° and 88°, respectively. The largest increase in attachment angle following pruning was obtained at nodes with narrow primary lateral branches and at nodes located closest to the base of a major axis. The increase in branch crotch angle was not correlated with the size of the preceding lateral branch at a node. These results indicate that pruning off lateral branches with narrow crotch angles may be performed during training atemoya plants to produce scaffold limbs from supernumerary buds within the same nodes with desirably wide crotch angles.

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Roberto Nuñez-Elisea and Jonathan H. Crane

Carambola (Averrhoa carambola L.) is native to the humid tropics of southeastern Asia, where it bears fruit year-round. In south Florida, winter conditions (strong winds and night temperatures below 15 °C) repress growth and flowering of the main commercial cultivar, Arkin, and fruit is produced from July to February. Off-season fruit would reach premium prices. We have previously demonstrated that selective pruning stimulates flowering of carambola at any time of the year. However, flowers produced during cool, windy weather have consistently failed to set fruit. This study was conducted in 1994–1995 to determine whether protected cultivation would help obtain off-season fruit. Four-year-old `Arkin' trees growing in 80-L containers were placed in a glasshouse or outdoors and pruned in November or December to force flowering during December–January. Glasshouse night temperatures during the winter were above 20 °C. All trees flowered in response to pruning. Outdoor trees produced less than one fruit per tree in late March to late April. Glasshouse trees produced 2.3 to 6.1 fruit per tree, 2 to 3 weeks earlier than trees outdoors. In the glasshouse, more than 98% of fruit were seedless, whereas all fruit produced outdoors were seeded. Production of seedless fruit indoors was achieved in the absence of insect pollinators, and yields were low compared to those of outdoor trees during the summer (at least 25 fruit per tree). We speculate that, under protected cultivation, the use of synthetic bioregulators during anthesis and insect pollinators may help increase production of off-season seedless and seeded fruit, respectively.

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Edward A. Evans, Fredy H. Ballen and Jonathan H. Crane

This article assesses the profitability of a hypothetical 5-acre tahiti lime (Citrus latifolia) orchard in southern Florida in the presence of citrus canker (Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. citri) and citrus greening [Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus (LAS)]. To account for the uncertainty associated with the presence of these diseases, a stochastic budgeting technique was employed in the analysis, incorporating stochastic prices and yields based on discussions with industry experts and researchers. The analysis focused on three possible types of management strategies currently practiced by citrus (Citrus sp.) growers in Florida: 1) production without any specific control activities for citrus canker and citrus greening, 2) canker and greening management without removal or replacement of infected/suspicious trees, and 3) canker and greening management with removal and replacement of infected trees. The analysis was carried out for a 20-year time horizon and average net return per acre and rate of return on investment were considered. The results suggest that despite the presence of disease, it would be profitable to produce tahiti limes in southern Florida. This is because the tahiti lime offers some resistance to both citrus greening and canker and will produce even if minimal attention is paid to controlling the diseases. Of the three management strategies investigated, strategy 2 offers the best prospect in terms of high net returns and highest probability of achieving or surpassing the desired rates of return on investment of 12% per annum. The key finding from the study is that the production of tahiti limes in southern Florida can be profitable if steps are taken to manage the diseases, but contrary to popular view, it might be better to wait until the trees become fully unproductive before disposing of them.

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Bruce Schaffer, Frederick S. Davies and Jonathan H. Crane

The effects of flooding calcareous soil on physiology and growth have been studied for several subtropical and tropical fruit crops including avocado (Persea americana Mill.), mango (Mangifera indica L.), carambola (Averrhoa carambola L.), and several Annona species. In calcareous soils that have a high pH, short-term flooding can actually be beneficial to subtropical and tropical fruit crops by increasing the solubility of particle-bound nutrient elements such as Fe, Mn and Mg due to flooding-induced decreases in soil pH. Additionally, flooding reduces the redox potential in the soil, resulting in Fe being reduced from Fe3+ to Fe2+, which is the cation metabolized by plants. As with other woody perennial crops, one of the early physiological responses of subtropical and tropical fruit trees to flooding is a decrease in stomatal conductance and net CO2 assimilation. If the flooding period is prolonged, lack of O2 (anoxia) in the soil results in a reduction of root and shoot growth, wilting, decreased nutrient uptake and eventual death. The flooding duration required to cause tree mortality varies among species, among cultivars within species, and with environmental conditions, particularly temperature. Several tropical and subtropical fruit crops have anatomical or morphological adaptations to tolerate prolonged flooding, such as development of hypertrophied stem lenticels, adventitious rooting or formation of porous aerenchyma tissue. For grafted trees, flooding-tolerance is conferred by the rootstock and not the scion. Therefore there is a possibility to increase flood tolerance of subtropical and tropical fruit crops by identifying or developing flood-tolerant rootstocks.

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Jonathan H. Crane, Bruce Schaffer and Richard J. Campbell

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Jonathan H. Crane, Bruce Schaffer and Richard J. Campbell

Southern Florida has experienced numerous hurricanes, of which Hurricane Andrew was the most recent. Six years after this storm, nearly one-third of the 8093 ha of tropical fruit that existed in Miami–Dade County before the storm has never been replanted. The damage, reaction, and recovery from the storm varied among fruit species. The effect of heat stress and high light intensity was minimal on avocado, `Tahiti' lime, carambola, mamey sapote, guava, sapodilla, and longan. In contrast, mango trees experienced severe heat stress. Root damage caused by toppling and subsequent re-setting of sugar apple, atemoya, mango, and grafted `Tahiti' lime trees was severe; thus, trees not re-set were less likely to recover than trees left toppled or leaning. The extent and rate of recovery from hurricane-related wind stress also varied among species. Avocado, carambola, guava, and longan refoliated within 3 to 4 weeks after Hurricane Andrew. In contrast, mango, sugar apple, and atemoya trees went through two or more cycles of refoliating and dying back until tree death occurred. Iron and nitrogen deficiencies were common for mango, sugar apple, atemoya, and guava. Other consequences of hurricanes in south Florida include increased weed and vine growth and increased susceptibility to drought stress and insect infestations. Recovery to prehurricane crop production levels has varied among crops. For example, avocado and carambola production is near and exceeds pre-1992 levels, respectively. In contrast, `Tahiti' lime and mango production are about 20% pre-1992 levels. The long-term effect of the most recent hurricane on fruit production in south Florida has been a change in the crop species and/or cultivars planted.

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Thomas E. Marler, Bruce Schaffer and Jonathan H. Crane

Growth and leaf physiology responses of container-grown `Arkin' carambola (Averrhoa carambola L.) trees to long-term exposure of ≈25%, ≈50%, or 100% sunlight were studied in four experiments in Guam and Florida. Shading increased rachis length and leaflet area, and decreased leaflet thickness. Shaded trees also had a more horizontal branch orientation. Shading reduced dark respiration (Rd) and light compensation and saturation points but increased chlorophyll concentration and N-use efficiency. Light-saturated net CO2 assimilation (A) was not affected by developmental light level. Trees in full sun had smaller total leaf area, canopy diameter, and shoot: root ratio and exhibited leaflet movement to avoid direct solar radiation. Also, trees grown in 100% sunlight had a more vertical branch orientation and greater stomatal density than shaded trees. The ratio of variable to maximum fluorescence (Fv/Fm) declined during midday in 100% sunlight trees. This pattern was accompanied by a midday suppression of A in 100% sunlight-grown trees in Guam. `Arkin' carambola trees exposed to ≈25%, ≈50%, or 100% sunlight for up to 39 weeks exhibited physiological and morphological adaptations that resulted in similar growth. These results indicate that carambola efficiently adapts to different developmental light intensities.

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Roberto Núñez-Elisea, Bruce Schaffer, Mongi Zekri, Stephen K. O'Hair and Jonathan H. Crane

Most tropical fruit trees in southern Florida are grown in calcareous gravelly soil that is mechanically trenched to a depth of about 50 cm (about 20 inches). Fruit trees are often planted at the intersections of perpendicular trenches to provide space for root development. Tree root systems are concentrated in the top 10 to 20 cm (about 4 to 8 inches) of soil. Extreme soil rockiness has made it difficult to obtain consistent and reliable measurements of soil water status and to collect soil samples for constructing soil-water characteristic curves in the laboratory. Multisensor capacitance probes andlow-tension [0 to 40 kPa (centibars) (0 to 5.8 lb/inch2)] tensiometers were installed adjacent to star fruit (Averrhoa carambola L.) and avocado (Persea americana Mill.) trees in trenches to simultaneously measure volumetric soil water content and soil matric potential in situ. Capacitance probes consisted of four sensors centered at depths of 10, 20, 30, and 50 cm (3.9, 7.9, 11.8, and 19.7 inches). Tensiometers were installed at 10- and 30-cm depths, adjacent to the 10- and 30-cm deep capacitance sensors. Measurements obtained with both instruments were used to generate in situ soil-water characteristic curves. Rock fragments were more abundant at 30 cm than at 10 cm (71% to 73% versus 26% to 38% of bulk soil volume, respectively) soil depth, which limited the precision of tensiometers at the greater depth. In situ soil water characteristic curves for the 10-cm soil depth can be used to determine parameters needed for irrigation scheduling by techniques such as the water budget method.