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Mongi Zekri and Lawrence R. Parsons

We determined whether the ability of sour orange seedlings to withstand saline irrigation water could be improved by the addition of calcium to the water. Sour orange (Citrus aurantium L.) seedlings were treated for 4 months with a nutrient solution containing either no NaCl, 40 mm NaCI, or 40 mm NaCl plus various concentrations of CaSO4, CaCl2, or KCl. After 4 months, the NaCl alone reduced root and shoot dry weights by ≈ 30% with no leaf necrosis. Addition of 1, 5, or 7.5 mm CaSO4 to solutions containing 40 mm NaCl significantly inhibited the NaCl-induced reductions in shoot dry weight. Addition of 7.5 mm CaCl2 or 7 mm KCl to the NaCl solution reduced leaf Na, but increased Cl to the toxicity level; hence, growth was not improved. The beneficial effect of CaSO4 was mainly attributed to a reduction in the accumulation of Na and Cl below the toxicity level in the leaves (0.4% and 0.5%, respectively) without a major increase in total dissolved salts. This study demonstrated that the beneficial effect of adding Ca depended on the anion associated with the Ca salt. Calcium sulfate, but not CaCl2, was able to overcome the damaging effect of NaCl to sour orange seedlings.

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Mongi Zekri and Lawrence R. Parsons

The development of improved equipment for measuring soil water content has created the need for a better understanding of soil water drainage and movement. Without this understanding, it is impossible to know if an observed decrease in soil water content at a particular depth is due to evapotranspiration and/or continual drainage. This study was designed to determine the length of time for different soil depths of a Florida Candler fine sand to reach field capacity. A field site with no vegetation on it was saturated with water and covered with a plastic tarp to prevent evaporation. At 6- to 24-hour intervals, soil water content was measured gravimetrically in the top 15 cm (6 inches) and with the neutron probe from 30 to 150 cm (12 to 59 inches). The 15-cm depth reached field capacity after one day, but it took 4 days for the 30- to 150-cm depths to reach field capacity because of rewetting by water draining form higher horizons. The time required for drainage to stop must be considered when evaluating changes in soil water status at a particular depth. This is important for distinguishing between plant water uptake and drainage for different soil layers.Soil water characteristic curves of undisturbed soil samples, bulkdensity, porosity, and field capacity in situ were also determined for this soil. Field capacity values found in situ were compared to those found using the pressure plate technique. Laboratory values were higher than field values because the laboratory data were closer to hydrostatic conditions than the field data and the degree of saturation provided during wetting of the cores was higher in the laboratory. Water was not readily retained in Candler fine sand because the soil was very porous, infiltration rates were high, drainage was rapid, and water storage capacity was limited. Using field measurements, field capacity values of soil at different depths ranged from 4.8% to 6.2% volume for Candler fine sand. These are considered to be low values when compared to other types of soil.

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Lawrence R. Parsons, T. Adair Wheaton and George Yelenosky

Handwarmers placed inside conventional insulating tree wraps increased trunk temperatures and improved tree survival under freeze conditions. Handwarmers generate heat by oxidation of Fe powder. In freeze-chamber tests with air temperature as low as –7.1C for 4 hours, wraps plus handwarmers kept trunk temperatures above freezing. Handwarmers increased minimum temperatures by 7C during a one-night freeze. Benefit of the handwarmer decreased the second night of a simulated two-night freeze but still increased minimum temperature by 1.3C. Tree survival was significantly improved by handwarmers in the freeze-chamber tests. In a field test during a mild freeze, handwarmers increased the minimum temperature by 3.5C the first night but provided no benefit the second night.

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Lawrence R. Parsons, Bahman Sheikh, Robert Holden and David W. York

Reclaimed water has been safely and successfully used for more than 40 years in Florida and California. Reclaimed water in these states is regulated with restrictions more stringent than World Health Organization guidelines. In the United States, Florida is currently the largest producer and California is the second largest producer of reclaimed water. Reclaimed water is more highly tested than other sources of irrigation water, and the safety of this water has been demonstrated in these and other states. Very high application rates of reclaimed water to citrus on well-drained Florida sands increased tree growth and fruit production. Although reclaimed water contains some nutrient elements, there is usually insufficient macronutrient content to meet plant nutritional requirements. Most reclaimed waters do not have high salinity levels although they are slightly more salty than the potable waters from which they originated. With an adequate leaching fraction, salts in reclaimed water can be handled with appropriate irrigation management. Use of reclaimed water has steadily increased in Florida since 1992, but other entities besides agricultural irrigation are now competing for its use. Public acceptance of reclaimed water has also increased, and crops grown with reclaimed water in Florida and California have been marketed without a negative public reaction. Recent issues of food safety have caused some to question reclaimed water, but there is no evidence of food safety problems with its use. Although reclaimed water in Florida was initially promoted as a way to improve surface water quality, it has now become an important alternate source of water to help meet water shortages and urban demand. In California, reclaimed water has become a necessary part of statewide water management.

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Robert H. Stamps, Seenivasan Natarajan, Lawrence R. Parsons and Jianjun Chen

Four water-based cold protection systems [under-benches mist (UBM), over-roadways mist (ORM), and two among-plants fog (APF1, APF2)] were evaluated for their water use and effectiveness in protecting ornamental foliage plants from chilling injury (CI) under protected shade structures at three commercial locations in Florida. UBM used a two-stage thermostat-controlled system with mist nozzles on 25-cm above-ground risers combined with an overhead retractable heat curtain. Both ORM and APF1 had seasonally applied polyethylene film cladding and manually controlled irrigation systems. The ORM system had the mist nozzles located 1.8 m high and APF1 and APF2 systems had the low-pressure fog nozzles mounted on 25-cm above-ground risers spaced among the plants. Temperature data loggers were placed outside and inside the northwest sections of the shadehouses. ORM and the two APF systems were evaluated during freeze events in 2006, 2007, and 2008 and UBM only in 2007 and 2008. UBM, ORM, and APF1 successfully kept the shadehouse temperatures above critical chilling temperatures for all of the foliage plants. APF2 protected all foliage crops except for jungle drum “palm” (Carludovica sp.) that sustained CI. At the UBM site, the air temperatures recorded inside the shadehouse were ≈17 °C warmer than outside. Both ORM and APF1 maintained adequately warm temperatures inside the shadehouses; however, the fog system maintained equal or higher temperatures than the mist system and used 86% less water. Inside temperatures were lower with APF2 than APF1 although the emitter type was the same and the water application rates were similar. These temperature differences were attributable to the greater APF2 shadehouse surface area (SA) and volume (V) compared with APF1 and indicate that the SA and V of structures being heated need to be considered when designing water-based low-pressure fog heating systems. The ORM and both fog systems conserved water compared with using the conventional sprinkler irrigation systems. These results show the potential of water-based approaches for maintaining shadehouses above chilling temperatures during freeze events.

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Lawrence R. Parsons, T. Adair Wheaton and William S. Castle

Conversion of wastewater to reclaimed water for crop irrigation conserves water and is an effective way to handle a growing urban problem: the disposal of wastewater. Water Conserv II is a large reclaimed water project developed by Orlando and Orange County, Fla., that presently irrigates ≈1900 ha of citrus. The project includes a research component to evaluate the response of citrus to irrigation using reclaimed water. Citrus trees in an experimental planting responded well to very high application rates of reclaimed water. Irrigation treatments included annual applications of 400 mm of well water, and 400, 1250, and 2500 mm of reclaimed water. The 2500-mm rate is excessive, and since disposal was of interest, this rate was used to determine if citrus could tolerate such high rates of irrigation. The effects of these treatments were compared on `Hamlin' orange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb.] and `Orlando' tangelo (C. paradisi Macf. × C. reticulata Blanco) combined with four rootstocks: Carrizo citrange [Citrus sinensis (L.) Osb. × Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf.], Cleopatra mandarin (C. reticulata Blanco), sour orange (C. aurantium L.), and Swingle citrumelo (C. paradisi × P. trifoliata). Growth and fruit production were greatest at the highest irrigation rate. Concentration of soluble solids in the juice was usually lowered by the highest irrigation rate, but total soluble solids per hectare were 15.5% higher compared to the 400-mm rate, due to the greater fruit production. While fruit soluble solids were usually lowered by higher irrigation, the reduction in fruit soluble solids observed on three of the rootstocks did not occur in trees on Carrizo citrange. Fruit peel color score was lower but juice color score was higher at the highest irrigation rate. Crop efficiency (fruit production per unit of canopy volume) was usually lower at the 2500-mm rate and declined as trees grew older. Weed cover increased with increasing irrigation rate, but was controllable. Irrigation with high rates of reclaimed water provided a satisfactory disposal method for treated effluent, benefited growth and production of citrus, and eliminated the need for other sources of irrigation water. Reclaimed water, once believed to be a disposal problem in Florida, is now considered to be one way to meet irrigation demands.

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Qiansheng Li, Jianjun Chen, Robert H. Stamps and Lawrence R. Parsons

This study evaluated chilling sensitivity of eight popular Dieffenbachia cultivars. Tissue culture liners were potted in 15-cm diameter pots using Vergro Container Mix A and grown in a shaded greenhouse under maximum photosynthetically active radiation of 285 μmol·m−2·s−1 for 5 months. After determining growth indices, the plants were chilled in walk-in coolers at 2, 7, or 12 °C for 6, 12, or 24 h. Chilled plants were placed back in the shaded greenhouse for chilling injury and growth evaluation. Visible symptoms of injury included chlorosis, necrosis, water-soaked patches on leaves, or complete wilting. In addition to leaf injury, stems of some cultivars chilled at 2 °C for 24 h became water-soaked at the base, which resulted in the death of either entire shoots or entire plants depending on cultivars. Leaf injury occurred in all cultivars chilled at 2 °C, except for ‘Panther’; and the longer the exposure at this temperature, the greater the injury. No visual injury was observed among plants chilled at 7 and 12 °C except ‘Tropic Honey’ that had 26% of leaves injured at 7 °C. Based on the percentage of injured leaves 12 days after chilling at 2 °C for 24 h, the sensitivity of the eight cultivars ranked as follows: Tropic Honey > Sterling > Carina ≥ Octopus > Camille > Camouflage > Star Bright > Panther. In addition to visual injury, plant growth was also affected by chilling during the subsequent 3 months of growth. All ‘Tropic Honey’ chilled at 2 °C died regardless of the tested chilling duration. Growth indices of all other cultivars except for ‘Panther’ chilled at 2 °C for 24 h significantly decreased compared with those of controls. ‘Camille’, ‘Camouflage’, ‘Carina’, and ‘Sterling’ also exhibited significant growth reduction after chilling at 2 °C for 12 h. This study showed that genetic variation in chilling sensitivity exists among cultivated Dieffenbachia. The identified chilling-tolerant cultivars could be used for breeding of new chilling-tolerant cultivars. The use of chilling-tolerant cultivars in production may reduce the chance of injury during heating outages and shipment.

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T. Adair Wheaton, Lawrence R. Parsons and K.T. Morgan

A water use simulation for citrus (Citrus sinensis) was used to estimate the effects of climate, soil-available water, rooting depth, allowable depletion of available water, and partial coverage irrigation on the annual irrigation requirements. The soil in the study was excessively drained Candler sand (hyperthermic, uncoated Typic Quartzipsamments) of the Central Florida Ridge. Variation of annual rainfall from 667 to 1827 mm had a relatively small impact on annual irrigation requirements. Soil-available water, depth of root zone, and allowable depletion of available water all affected irrigation management and the number of irrigations annually. Simulated annual irrigation requirements varied over a wide range depending on the allowable depletion of soil-available water, irrigation depth, and the fraction of the land area that is irrigated. Effective rain estimated by the TR21 method during months of high rainfall was higher than estimates by the water budget. Monthly irrigation requirements varied seasonally and peaked in normally dry spring months of April and May. The irrigation simulation is a useful tool for examining the range of management strategies that can be considered for citrus.