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  • Author or Editor: Larry R. Stein x
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Five Texas orchards were selected in Spring 1993 in commercial pecan counties for testing three types of soil aeration equipment. Mechanical aeration spikes were either 20 or 46 cm long, and a pneumatic spike was 20 cm long. The mechanical spikes are on a rolling cylinder that can be manufactured in sufficient lengths to fit the tree spacing in different orchards. The pneumatic probe is manually inserted into the soil so that a quick burst of 130-psi air can be delivered to effect soil profile fracturing. The fourth replicated treatment was an nontreated control. There were no differences in trunk diameter increases and yield in 1993 between May-applied replicated treatments. The May treatments and November measurements will continue for two more years to allow for differences in soil aeration to influence growth and yield. Shoot growth measurements will be taken in Spring 1995. Irrigation water has penetrated the soil under aerated trees more readily than in nonaerated controls.

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Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) and habanero pepper (Capsicum chinense Jacq.) growers have observed increased crop yield by placing bees in close proximity to these vegetable crops. However, adding managed bees typically may not be feasible for small-scale farmers or homeowners. Limited studies have demonstrated the potential of pollinator-attracting plants to be used as a lure to enhance the visitation of pollinators to adjacent food crops. This study evaluated the potential of adding pollinator-attracting plants in close proximity to cucumber and habanero plants to improve yields by either establishing permanent perennial companion plantings adjacent to the crops or interplanting annual companion plants within the row anew with each crop. The perennial treatment group consisted of Phyla nodiflora (L.) Greene, Borrichia frutescens (L.) DC., Salvia farinacea Benth. ‘Henry Duelberg’, and Eysenhardtia texana Scheele. The annual treatment group consisted of Cosmos bipinnatus Cav., Zinnia ×marylandica D.M. Spooner, Stimart, & T. Boyle, Borago officinalis L., and Ocimum basilicum L. Multiple cropping cycles were initiated using both spring and fall seasons, and yield was assessed for three successive cropping cycles. Fruit quality was unaffected by pollinator-attracting companion plantings; however total and marketable yields were impacted. Cucumber yields were significantly (P < 0.05) greater during fall harvests with annual companion plantings and with the second fall harvest in perennial companion plant plots. Perennial companion plots initially yielded less than control plots or annual companion plots due to the space allocated to the companion plantings and the fewer pollinators initially attracted to the plots compared with the annual companion plantings. When the perennial plots became more established, they resulted in similar yields as the annual companion planting plots. Although habanero yields were increased by annual companion plantings in spring and fall, cucumbers were unaffected by companion plantings in spring. This suggests a potential seasonality for the efficacy of some pollinator-attracting companion plantings for a given crop that could offer an opportunity to tailor companion plantings to attract specific pollinators at different times of the year.

Open Access

Plant trialing and marketing assistance programs have become popular in recent years with several state and some regional programs emerging. Successful implementation requires considerable labor, facilities, and monetary resources for evaluation of large numbers of taxa over several years to ensure that plants are well adapted to the region of interest. Research and development funds, dedicated facilities, and cooperator commitment to trialing programs can be limiting during the early years of the programs. Involvement in plant trialing programs allows students to be exposed to plot layout planning, statistical design, plant maintenance, data collection and analysis, and professional communication of trial results. Construction of facilities for conducting plant trials, growing plants for use in trials, trial installation, and maintenance of plants all provide practical hands-on horticultural training. Replicated plant trials provide the latest information on regionally adapted taxa for inclusion in classroom instruction and publications. Plant trialing programs benefit from labor assistance, development of dedicated facilities, and the opportunity to share equipment and supplies among teaching, trialing, and student research projects.

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The Coordinated Educational and Marketing Assistance Program identifies outstanding landscape plants for Texas and provides support for the nursery industry, thereby making superior plants available to Texans. CEMAP funding comes directly from industry and from consumers through the sale of plant tags bearing the Texas Superstar logo. Additionally, the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association and Texas Department of Agriculture is conducting a Texas Superstar publicity campaign. An estimated $10 million in new plant sales have been generated during the first 10 years of this program. Because plants are chosen based on their performance under minimal input conditions, Texas SuperStars greatly reduce their impact on the urban environment.

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Two-year-old, field-grown golden kiwifruit (Actinidia chinensis) and fuzzy kiwifruit (Actinidia deliciosa) plants were evaluated for injury following an early freeze event of −4.1 °C on 14 Nov. 2018 in Burleson County, TX. Plant material included seven cultivars: one seed-propagated [Sungold™ (ZESY002)] and three cutting-propagated golden kiwifruit (AU Golden Dragon, AU Golden Sunshine, CK03), and one seed-propagated (Hayward) and two cutting-propagated fuzzy kiwifruit (AU Authur and AU Fitzgerald). Observations were made 5 weeks after the frost event. Base trunk diameter (BD) and maximum trunk diameter damaged (MDD) provided a reference of plant size and crude measurement of damage intensity, as evident by presence of water-soaked necrotic and/or dehydrated tissue following the removal of a thin slice of periderm, vascular cambium, phloem, and xylem. Percent of base diameter damaged (PBDD) was calculated as MDD divided by BD and provided an assessment of damage, unbiased by plant size. Percent of shoot damaged (PSD) was visually evaluated as the percentage of entire shoot system exhibiting damage. In addition, presence of basal damage (DB) and basal cracking (CB) were recorded. A strong cultivar response was observed for BD, MDD, PBDD, and PSD. Mean cultivar values for PSD ranged from 79% and 19% for AU Authur and Sungold™ seedlings, respectively, which represented extremes among cultivars. Fuzzy kiwifruit exhibited greater injury (PBDD, PSD, DB, and CB) as compared with golden kiwifruit cultivars. Basal damage and basal cracking proved unique to fuzzy kiwifruit, as DB ranged from 0% in Sungold™ seedlings to 100% in fuzzy kiwifruit ‘AU Authur’ and ‘AU Fitzgerald’. In spite of having greater vigor, golden kiwifruit plants sustained less injury. Method of propagation had no effect on injury. PBDD and PSD proved to be reliable field assays for documenting injury, based on their strong correlation value (r = 0.92). Greater relative autumn frost tolerance of golden kiwifruit over fuzzy kiwifruit cultivars is previously unreported.

Open Access