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  • Author or Editor: Jose Linares x
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Lack of effective weed control may hamper organic citrus establishment. Cover crop/weed biomass (CCW) indices were used to assess the effectiveness of annual and perennial cover crops (CC) in reducing weed growth. The CCW values for perennial peanut (PP) were 0.06, 0.14, 0.4, and 0.5 during 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005, respectively (very poor to poor weed control). Initial PP growth was slow and repeated mowing was required, but, over time, PP became more effective in controlling weeds. Weed biomass with sunn hemp was 0.3 Mg/ha in 2002 (CCW = 25, outstanding weed control) compared to 1.4 Mg/ha with use of cowpea (CCW = 1) in 2004. In 2004, the dry weights (Mg/ha) for different summer CC were: hairy indigo = 7.6, pigeon pea = 7.6, sunn hemp = 5.3, cowpea = 5.1, alyce clover = 2.9, velvet bean = 1.3, and lablab bean = 0.8. Corresponding 2005 values were: 9.5, 3.7, 12.6, 1.0, 1.9, and 1.4. Respective CCWI values were: 7, 4, 2, 16, 28, 0.6, and 0.3 (2004) vs. 17, 2, 64, 80, 0.5, 2, and 14. In 2004, winter CC production (Mg/ha) was radish (R) = 3.2, crimson clover (CR) = 1.7, oats (O) + lupine = 1.6, and rye (WR)/vetch (V) mix = 1.1. Results for 2005 were: CR + R + WR = 8.0, WR = 6.0; CR + WR = 5.3, CR = 5.0, CR + O + WR = 5.0, R = 4.3, and O = 3.6 Mg/ha. Corresponding values for CCW-indices were 15, 2, 1, and 3 (2004) and 100, 25, 76, 35, 62, 11, and 16 (2005). Although OMRI-approved herbicides showed up to 84% weed injury for selected species, none of these products provided long-term weed control. Combination of repeated tillage, use of compact/reseeding CC mixes in tree rows, more vigorous annual CC and/or perennial PP in row middle and repeated use of organic herbicides near sprinklers and tree trunks are thus required to ensure effective weed suppression in organic citrus.

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Citrus is one of the most important crops in Florida. During the past decade, increased international competition and urban development, diseases, and more stringent environmental regulations have greatly affected the citrus industry. Citrus growers transitioning to organic production may benefit from premium prices, but they also face many challenges, including development of effective weed management strategies. Cover crops (CC) may constitute an environmentally sound alternative for improved weed management in organic systems. Two field experiments were conducted at Citra in north central Florida from 2002 to 2005, to evaluate the effectiveness of annual and perennial CC to suppress weeds in organic citrus groves. To quantify and compare the effectiveness of CC to suppress weed growth, a new weed suppression assessment tool, the cover crop/weed index (CCWI), was developed using the ratio of biomass accumulation of CC and weeds. Annual summer CC accumulated more biomass in comparison with winter CC. Sunnhemp (Crotalaria juncea L.), hairy indigo (Indigofera hirsuta L.), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp.), and alyceclover (Alysicarpus vaginalis L.) all provided excellent weed suppression, which was superior to tillage fallow. Single-species winter CC did not always perform consistently well. Use of winter CC mixtures resulted in more consistent overall CC performance, greater dry matter production, and more effective weed suppression than single species of CC. Initial perennial peanut (PP) growth was slow, and summer planting of PP (Arachis glabrata Benth.) was determined to be the most effective date in terms of weed suppression, which was improved gradually over time, but all planting dates resulted in slow initial growth compared with annual CC. For both PP and annual CC, weed biomass typically was inversely related to CC dry weight accumulation resulting from competition for resources. The CCWI was a suitable tool to quantify CC performance in terms of weed suppression.

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Infecting cucurbits around the world, Papaya ringspot virus (PRSV) and Zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV) are members of the genus Potyvirus and family Potyviridae. Tropical pumpkin is grown globally in the lowland humid tropics. In Puerto Rico, tropical pumpkin is the second most important vegetable crop in economic value. In trials in Puerto Rico in 2016 and 2017, susceptible genotypes ‘Waltham’, Mos166, ‘Taína Dorada’ (2016 only), ‘Soler’ with moderate resistance to ZYMV, and resistant ‘Menina’ and ‘Nigerian Local’ were inoculated with PRSV and ZYMV and evaluated in the greenhouse and field. Mock-inoculated (buffer) controls were included. Puerto Rico strains of PRSV and ZYMV were originally collected from plants of Cucurbita moschata in Puerto Rico. Presence of virus was determined by Double Antibody Sandwich (DAS) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and symptom severity was evaluated on a 0 to 5 scale in both trials. Days to anthesis of first staminate and pistillate flower were recorded for each plot. Number of fruits, fruit weight per plant, average fruit weight, fruit and mesocarp diameter, mesocarp color, °Brix, and percentage dry matter were measured in 2017. ‘Waltham’, Mos166, ‘Taína Dorada’, and ‘Soler’ tested positive for PRSV when inoculated with PRSV and positive for ZYMV when inoculated with ZYMV. For both PRSV and ZYMV, symptom severity was less (severity = 0) in resistant genotypes ‘Menina’ and ‘Nigerian Local’ than in all other genotypes. ‘Soler’ inoculated with ZYMV exhibited less symptom severity than that of susceptible genotypes. The degree of symptom severity of ‘Soler’ inoculated with PRSV was similar to susceptible genotypes. Symptom severity in plants inoculated with ZYMV was generally greater than when inoculated with PRSV. Compared with controls, yield per plant was unaffected by inoculation with potyvirus in resistant cultivar ‘Menina’. Unexpectedly, yield in resistant ‘Nigerian Local’ was reduced an average of 45% over control plots. Yield loss was 100% in inoculated plots of susceptible ‘Waltham’. Yield reduction ranged from 35% to 80% for susceptible Mos166 and moderately resistant ‘Soler’. There was little evidence that days to anthesis, average fruit weight, fruit diameter, and fruit quality (mesocarp thickness, chroma, hue angle, °Brix and dry matter) of plants inoculated with virus were different from that of uninoculated control plants. The exception was moderately resistant ‘Soler’ where plants inoculated with ZYMV produced fruits with a 32% reduction in average weight, as well as reductions in diameter, mesocarp thickness, and color saturation (chroma) compared with controls. This was unexpected given that ‘Soler’ has some resistance to ZYMV. Greenhouse evaluations by ELISA or symptom severity were generally useful in predicting field resistance to PRSV and ZYMV. In summary, yield reductions of up to 100% can be expected in C. moschata genotypes susceptible to PRSV or ZYMV, but fruit quality traits are usually unaffected. Moderate resistance to ZYMV in ‘Soler’ was observed to reduced symptom severity but not negative effects on yield and other traits. ‘Soler’ was not resistant to PRSV. ‘Menina’ rather than ‘Nigerian Local’ appears to be the best source of resistance because yield of the former was not impacted by inoculation with either potyvirus.

Open Access