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Laurie Hodges

A favorite garden flower for centuries, bleeding heart or old-fashioned bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) is also used as a potted plant and in floral arrangements. Most general gardening guides include information on growing conditions but provide few specifics regarding plant growth and development that are important to those interested in commercial cultivation and use in the floral industry. Although uncommon in the U.S. floral industry, the plant is adaptable for use as a flowering potted plant and as cut floral stems with potential for year-around availability. This report provides detailed cultural information for this audience with an overview of the history of the species and its unique characteristics. Despite the popularity of the spectacular flower and plant form, until 1997 it was only available in the common pink and white form or a pure white form and exhibited little phenotypic variability. Three new cultivars, Goldheart, Valentine, and Hordival, are now available with distinctive foliage and flower colors. These new cultivars are poised to create much interest among gardeners and cut flower growers. The history, culture, propagation, forced flowering, use as a cut flower, pest management, and pharmacological potential are presented.

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Laurie Hodges and James R. Brandle

Windbreaks reduce wind speed and modify the microclimate in sheltered areas. Many producers use wind barriers in their production systems, but few producers recognize all of the benefits available or understand the principles involved in windbreak function and design. Wind has direct and indirect effects on plant growth and development. Direct effects include soil abrasion, increased transpiration, and lodging. Indirect effects are based on changes in the crop microclimate, which influence plant growth and yield. Windbreaks increase soil and air temperatures and can extend the growing season in sheltered areas, resulting in increased crop development, earlier crop maturity, and market advantage. Plant-water relations and irrigation efficiency are improved by shelter. Overall, modifications to the microclimate in sheltered areas contribute to 5% to 50% higher crop yields. Winds in excess of about 5 m·s−1 (1.0 m·s−1 = 2.25 miles/h; miles/h × 0.447 = m·s−1) result in wind erosion and soil abrasion and may cause a loss of crop stand. Wind speeds below 5 m·s−1 may have an equally adverse impact on crop quality and marketable yield. In both cases, wind-breaks can reduce damage effectively in sheltered areas. Wind protection reduces certain problems associated with plasticulture under windy conditions.

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Laurie Hodges and Ronald E. Talbert

Samples of soil, mulch, and the soil/mulch interface zone were collected from commercial highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) fields typical in their use of mulch under Arkansas conditions. Mulches included 1-year-old hardwood sawdust, 5-year-old hardwood sawdust, and 1-year-old pine needle mulch. Herbicide adsorption (Kd values) of the samples was determined for diuron, terbacil, and simazine. The soils, mulches, and interfaces adsorbed nearly 10 times as much diuron and more than twice as much simazine as terbacil. Adsorption of the herbicides was three to five times greater to the mulches than to the soils. Adsorption was significantly correlated with the organic matter content of the mulch. Adsorption was not related to herbicide solubility. Although no statistical differences were found among the three mulch materials, adsorption coefficients (Kd values) were numerically lower for each chemical on the 5-year-old hardwood mulch than on the 1-year-old hardwood or pine mulch. Chemical names used: 3-(3,4-dichlorophenyl)-1,1-dimethylurea (diuron); 3- tert -butyl-5-chloro-6-methyluracil (terbacil); 2-chloro-4,6-bis(ethylamine)- s -triazine (simazine).

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Lewis Jett*, Edward Carey and Laurie Hodges

There is great interest by horticulture producers in the Central Great Plains in methods to extend the traditional growing season, increase value of crops and provide more locally grown produce. High tunnels are low-cost, unheated greenhouses that can accomplish these goals. In 2002, the Central Great Plains High Tunnel Project was initiated through funding support by the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS). The Univ. of Missouri, Kansas State Univ., and the Univ. of Nebraska have constructed 24 high tunnels to conduct research on vegetables, small fruits and cut flowers. Each year, a multi-state workshop is conducted along with several on-farm and research center tours. Growers are collaborating with extension personnel on projects ranging from high tunnel temperature management to pest management. A web site for high tunnel information has been constructed (www.hightunnels.org). Production guides on specific high tunnel crops have been printed. From 2002-03, a significant number of high tunnels have been constructed in the Central Great Plains.

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Laurie Hodges, Entin Daningsih and James R. Brandle

Field experiments were conducted over 4 years to evaluate the effects of antitranspirant (Folicote, Aquatrol Inc., Paulsboro, N.J.) and polyacrylamide gel (SuperSorb, Aquatrol Inc., Paulsboro, N.J.) on early growth of transplanted muskmelon grown either protected by tree windbreaks or exposed to seasonal winds. A randomized complete block design (RCBD) with split plot arrangement was used with wind protection (sheltered and exposed) areas as the main treatment and use of an antitranspirant spray or gel dip as subtreatments. Based on destructive harvests in the field, treatments and subtreatments did not affect dry weight or leaf area index in the first 2 years. Specific contrasts, however, showed that gel application significantly increased fresh weight, dry weight, and leaf area index over that of the untreated transplants whereas the spray application tended to reduce these factors during the first 3 weeks after transplanting. Significant differences between gel and spray subtreatments disappeared by 5 weeks after transplanting. Shelterbelts ameliorated crop microclimate thereby enhancing plant growth. Significantly, wind velocity at canopy height was reduced 40% on average and soil temperatures were about 4% warmer in the sheltered plots compared to the exposed plots during the first 5 weeks post-transplant. Muskmelon plants in the sheltered areas grew significantly faster than the plants in the exposed areas in 2 of the 3 years reported, with the 3-year average fresh weight increased by 168% due to wind protection. Overall transplanting success and early growth were enhanced the most by wind protection, followed by the polyacrylamide gel root dip, and least by the antitranspirant foliar spray. We conclude that microclimate modification by wind speed reduction can increase early muskmelon plant growth more consistently than the use of polyacrylamide gel as a root dip at transplanting or the use of an antitranspirant spray. A polyacrylamide gel root dip generally will provide more benefit during early muskmelon growth than the use of an antitranspirant spray.

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Entin Daningsih, Laurie Hodges and James R. Brandle

Experiments were conducted during summer seasons from 1991 to 1994 to find out the effect of winds on early growth of muskmelon. A randomized complete-block design with sheltered and exposed areas as treatments was used. Sensors for air temperature and relative humidity (model HMP35C or model XN217, Campbell Scientific) were placed at canopy height and 3-cup anemometers (model 12102, R.M. Young, Traverse City, Mich.) were 50 cm aboveground. All sensors were connected to CR10 automatic data loggers and recorded hourly average data. Using regression analysis, we found that the accumulative windspeed frequency below threshold (<4 ms–1) can be used to predict both accumulative hourly heat units of air temperature (GDHT) with R2's more than 0.85 and total muskmelon fresh and dry weight and leaf area index at early growth. Predicted models using accumulative hourly windspeed frequency have R2's >0.80 in sheltered areas. Adding vapor pressure deficit to the model improves the prediction of muskmelon early growth, especially in exposed areas.

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Entin Daningsih, Laurie Hodges and James R. Brandle

Field experiments were conducted in 1991, 1992, and 1993 to evaluate the effects of antitranspirant (Folicote, Aquatrol Inc.) and polyacrylamide gel (Supersorb, Aquatrol Inc.) on early growth of muskmelon. A RCBD with split plot arrangement was used with sheltered and exposed areas as the main treatments and seven combinations of antitranspirant spray and gel dip applications as subtreatments. Two greenhouse experiments were also conducted to simulate field research. A RCBD with seven treatments described as subtreatments in the field research was used in the greenhouse studies. Based on destructive harvests in the field, treatments and subtreatments did not affect dry weight or leaf area index. Specific contrasts, how ever, showed that gel application significantly increased dry weight and leaf area index whereas the spray application tended to reduce these factors during the first three weeks after transplanting. Significant differences between dip and spray subtreatments disappeared by five weeks after transplanting. In both greenhouse experiments, gel dip application increased dry weight and leaf area index of muskmelon at all observations from 2 weeks to five weeks after transplanting. We conclude that gel application generally will provide more benefit during early muskmelon growth compared to the use of antitranspirant spray.

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Douglas C. Sanders, Jacqueline A. Ricotta and Laurie Hodges

We determined if application of certain naturally occurring compounds would stimulate emergence, growth, and development of carrot (Daucus carota L.). The commercially available biostimulants Agro-Lig, Enersol (humic acids), and Ergostim (folic acid) were added at a concentration of 1.5% (w/v) to Laponite 508 (magnesium sulfate) gel used in fluid drilling. Agro-Lig, Enersol and Ergostim increased carrot emergence > 2-fold as measured by number of roots as compared to untreated seed. Number of carrots increased 50% to 75% when biostimulants were incorporated into the gel, compared to fluid-drilled seed without the biostimulants. When biostimulants were applied as a drench over untreated seeds sown conventionally, the average root weight obtained was more than twice that from untreated seeds.

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Cindy Stuefer-Powell, Patrick Shea, Laurie Hodges and Garald Horst

To conserve space in the Lincoln city landfill, a program for composting urban yard waste was initiated in 1992. Analysis of the first year's compost showed pesticide residues, including chlordane, DDT, DDE, and pendimethalin. We are investigating the concerns of the City Health officials regarding the risk of returning the compost to an urban environment, including use as a soil amendment for garden crops. To determine background levels of the contaminants, a survey was conducted of foundation, lawn, and garden soils of Lincoln properties. Sampling was based on the age of the house: 1 to 24, 25 to 49, 50 to 74, and 75 to 100+ years with three samples taken from each foundation, lawn, and garden. Higher residues were found in the soils of the 25 to 100+ houses than were found in the compost. No pesticide residues were found in the soil from the 1- to 24-year-old houses, with the exception of foundation samples. Chlordane (523 ppb) and heptachlor (44 ppb) were detected in these samples. Greenhouse garden crop studies showed no adverse growth of tomato, petunia, marigold, or sweet corn. Root crops are being analyzed for bioaccumulation.

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Laurie Hodges, Roger Uhlinger, Ernesto Brovelli, Susan Cuppett and Anne Parkhurst

Fourteen asparagus cultivars were established in 1988 in eastern Nebraska on a heavy silty clay soil to determine suitability for Nebraska production. Total & marketable yields differed among cultivars with highest total & marketable yields obtained with “UC157-F1”, “Jersey General”, “Jersey Knight”, 44P×22-8, 51×22-8 & Md10×22-8. Production of the cultivars “Jersey Gem”, “Jersey Giant”, & “Jersey General” was additionally compared as green & blanched (white) production under white-on-black plastic blanching frames. Lowest ratio of culls to marketable spears & highest marketable weight was obtained with “Jersey General” for both blanched & green spears. Although total weight was greater for green asparagus, use of blanching frames reduced the number of culls for each cultivar and increased the weight of marketable spears to exceed that of green asparagus.