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  • Author or Editor: Lance. S. Osborne x
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Potted anthurium is becoming an important indoor flowering foliage plant because of its unique attractive appearance and continuous growth and flowering under interior conditions. However, an interior environment, with controlled optimal temperatures and relative humidity and living plants, is an ideal niche for pest development. Pests such as thrips and two-spotted spider mite on Anthurium have been great challenges to the interiorscape industry because many pesticides have been rigorously restricted for interior use. Thus, exploiting the genetic potential of cultivar resistance may be the best approach for the control of these pests. In this study, eight of the most popular Anthurium cultivars were evaluated for their resistance to a natural infestation of thrips (Hercinothrips femoralis) and two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) under three light levels: 4, 8, and 16 μmol·m-2·s-1, temperatures of 23.8 to 26.7 °C and a relative humidity of 60%. Results indicated that significant resistant differences exist among cultivars. The cultivars most resistant to thrips were not the most resistant to mite and vice versa. Cultivars that exhibited moderate resistance to thrips were also moderately resistant to mite. Low light intensity appeared to be a factor influencing thrips infestation since control plants that grew under a light intensity of 200 μmol·m-2·s-1 had no observed thrips damage. On the other hand, two-spotted spider mite infestation was not influenced by light intensity.

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Pepper seedlings can be infested with broad mites prior to transplanting. Transplanted seedlings may not present visible mite damage symptoms and few microscopic mites will be undetected by growers. A rapid increase of the mite population can subsequently result in yield losses in greenhouse-grown crops. Control of broad mites based on biological (N. californicus) and conventional (sulfur) methods were evaluated after infested transplants were introduced into a production greenhouse. Seedlings were artificially infested with two broad mites, 3 days before they were transplanted in mid-September in a passively ventilated greenhouse in Florida. Plants had either two predatory mites released once [4 days after transplanting (DAT)], or twice (4 and 22 DAT), or were sprayed with sulfur (four weekly applications starting 13 DAT when first damage symptoms were noticed). Damage on plants was assessed by an injury scale transformed into percentage values, with 100% being total damage on untreated infested plants. Broad mites were absent in all plants 38 DAT but the damage caused to the plants at this time was negatively correlated (r= –0.95) with marketable yield at 90 DAT. Plants produced no marketable yield where broad mites were not controlled. One or two releases of predators led to respective damages of 56% and 45%, and fruit yields of 2.0 and 3.0 kg·m-2. Plants sprayed with sulfur had a damage of 7% after reaching a maximum of 74% at 18 DAT; however, yields were 4.3 kg·m-2, which was similar to the yield obtained in the uninfested control treatment (4.6 kg·m-2). Releases of predators prior to transplanting and/or higher predator release densities may be needed under similar conditions and will be evaluated in a subsequent experiment.

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Consumer demand for fresh market organic produce combined with the increasing market share of ready-to-eat products indicates the potential for expansion of an organic culinary herb market. Barriers to organic herb greenhouse production are high as a result of lack of available technical information and the low number of producers experienced in this area. There is a critical need for information and technologies to improve the management of organic soil and fertilizer amendments to optimize crop yields and quality, manage production costs, and minimize the risk from groundwater nitrogen (N) contamination. Because of limited information specific to organic culinary herb production, literature on organic vegetable transplants and conventional basil (Ocimum basilicum) production was also considered in this review. Managing N for organic crops is problematic as a result of the challenge of synchronizing mineralization from organic fertilizer sources with crop N demand. A combination of materials, including locally formulated composts, supplemented with standardized commercially formulated fertilizer products is one method to ensure crops have access to mineral N throughout their development. In experimental greenhouse systems, local raw materials are frequently used as media amendments to satisfy partial or complete crop fertility requirements. This makes comparisons among experiments difficult as a result of the wide variety of raw materials used and the frequent interactions of fertilizer source and planting media on nutrient availability. Nitrogen mineralization rates are also influenced by additional factors such as the environmental conditions in the greenhouse and physical and chemical properties of the media and fertilizer. Despite the variability within and among experimental trials, yields and quality of organically grown crops are frequently similar to, and occasionally better than, conventionally grown crops.

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