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Kyle R. Bading*, Garry V. McDonald, Michael A. Arnold, Wayne A. Mackay, and Jerry M. Parsons

Texas maroon bluebonnets (Lupinus texensis Hook. `Texas Maroon') grown for fall planting may be germinated as early as September. Plant growth regulators are commonly applied to control excessive stem elongation during production, but may potentially result in adverse responses in the landscape due to residual effects. In October 2003, an experiment was initiated to observe potential landscape residual effects of paclobutrazol (formulated as Bonzi) applied during the production phase to retard internode elongation. Seedlings were received in six-pack cell units. On 30 Oct. 2003, while still in six-packs, bluebon-nets were sprayed with paclobutrazol. Paclobutrazol was applied at concentrations of 0, 5, 10, and 15 mg·L-1 a.i. at a coverage rate of 10 mL per 0.93 m2. After treatment, half of the plants were transplanted from six-packs to 0.73 L pots and the other half remained in six-packs. Plants were grown in a nursery until they reached a marketable stage (13 Nov. 2003 for six-packs, 20 Nov. 2003 for 0.73-L pots). At the end of nursery production, one half of the plants (both container sizes) were then planted to landscape plots (0.3 m centers) at either College Station, Texas or Dallas, Texas. During the production phase, bluebonnets grown in 0.73-L pots had slightly larger growth indices than those produced in six-packs. As application rates of paclobutrazol increased, growth indices decreased. Possible residual effects on growth and flowering will also be discussed.

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Jeremy S. Cowan, Arnold M. Saxton, Hang Liu, Karen K. Leonas, Debra Inglis, and Carol A. Miles

The functionality of biodegradable mulch can be evaluated in agricultural field settings by visually assessing mulch intactness over time (a measure of deterioration), but it is unclear if mulch deterioration is indicative of mulch degradation as measured by mechanical properties (like breaking force and elongation). This 3-year study (2010–12) examined mulch percent visual deterioration (PVD) during the summer growing season in open-field and high tunnel production systems, and compared these to mulch mechanical properties at mulch installation (12–30 May), midseason (22 July–9 Aug.), and season end (6–25 Oct.), to determine if the field-based measures reliably predict degradation as revealed by changes in mulch mechanical properties. Four different types of biodegradable mulches [two plastic film mulches marketed as biodegradable (BioAgri and BioTelo); one fully biodegradable paper mulch (WeedGuardPlus); and, one experimental spunbonded plastic mulch designed to biodegrade (SBPLA)] were evaluated against a standard nonbiodegradable polyethylene (PE) mulch where tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L. cv. Celebrity) was planted as the model crop. Each year for the 3 years, PVD increased earlier for WeedGuardPlus than the other mulches in both the high tunnel and open field, and WeedGuardPlus had the greatest PVD in both high tunnels and the open field (6% and 48%, respectively). Mechanical strength of WeedGuardPlus also declined by the end of the season both in the high tunnel (up to 46% reduction) and in the open field (up to 81% reduction). PVD of BioAgri and BioTelo reached a maximum of 3% in the high tunnel and 28% in the open field by the end of the season. Mechanical strength of BioAgri and BioTelo did not change over the course of the season in either the open field or high tunnel, even though the ability of these mulches to elongate or stretch declined 89% in the open field and 82% in the high tunnel. SBPLA and PE mulches did not show a change in PVD or mechanical properties in either the high tunnel or the open field. Overall, PVD was three to six times greater by midseason in the open field than in the high tunnels. Although there were significant relationships between visual assessments and various mechanical properties for each mulch except SBPLA, the relationships differed for each mulch when evaluated separately and had coefficients of determination (R 2) below 30%. Furthermore, PVD overestimated mechanical deterioration of BioAgri and BioTelo. Results of this study indicate that mulch visual assessments may reflect general trends in changes in certain mechanical properties of the mulch; however, visual assessment and mechanical properties provide different information on deterioration. Each should be used as needed, but not as a substitute for each other.

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A. Shiferaw, M.W. Smith, R.D. Eikenbary, and Don C. Arnold

Perennial legumes ground covers were evaluated in pecan (Carya illinoinensis) orchards to supply nitrogen and increase beneficial arthropods. Ground covers were `Kenland' red clover (Trifolium pratense), `Louisiana S-1' white clover (Trifolium repens), a mixture of these two legumes, or bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), each in 5 ha plots. Nitrogen was applied at 0-200 kg·ha-1 N in 50 kg intervals to bermuda grass plots, and was omitted on the legumes. Aphids feeding on the legumes attracted lady beetles; however, lady beetle populations in the tree canopies were not affected by ground cover treatment. The most abundant lady beetle species in legumes were Coleomegilla maculata lengi (77%) and Coccinella septempunctata (13%); whereas, dominant species in tree canopies were Coleomegilla maculata lengi (33%). Olla v-nigrum (20%). Cycloneda munda (18%) and Coccinella septempunctata (15%). Several other beneficial arthropods were sampled in legumes and tree canopies. Aphid populations feeding on pecans were low (peak population ≈ 2 aphids/leaf), and not affected by ground cover treatment. Legumes supplied the equivalent of applying 68-156 kg·ha-1 N.

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W. Todd Watson, David N. Appel, Charles M. Kenerley, and Michael A. Arnold

Effects of washing and storing soil core samples of apple [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf. (syn. M. domestica Borkh. non Poir.)] roots were studied to determine root losses from processing samples. Root losses were assessed by measuring root lengths before and after elutriation and storage at 4 °C (39.2 °F). The accuracy of the automated root length scanner to measure individual fine roots [<1 mm (0.04 inch) diameter] of varying lengths was evaluated by first measuring roots, then cutting the roots into 2 to 3 cm (0.79 to 1.18 inch) lengths and rescanning. There was a significant relationship between the measurement of cut and noncut roots (r 2 = 0.93). Losses from elutriating samples with cut and noncut roots indicated a mean loss of50% for samples with cut roots and 34% for samples with noncut roots (P ≤ 0.01). Total mean root loss (elutriation loss of noncut roots and degradation loss in cold storage) for the 12-month period ranged from 34% at month 0% to 53% at month 12 (P ≤ 0.01). Mean root degradation losses from long-term cold storage ranged from 6% at month 1 to 19% at month 12 (P ≤ 0.01). No losses were identified for roots with diameters of 1 to 5 mm (0.04 to 0.20 inch) and 5 to 10 mm (0.20 to 0.39 inch). A data correction curve was developed to correct root length data (<1 mm) for root losses associated with processing of soil cores.

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Wesley T. Watson*, David N. Appel, Michael A. Arnold, Charles M. Kenerley, and James L. Starr

Several techniques have been used to study root growth and pathogen movement along roots between trees, including profile walls, micro-rhizotrons, and soil cores. These assessments can be very time consuming, cost prohibitive, and ineffective when studying soilborne pathogen movement across overlapping roots between adjacent trees in an orchard. Three aboveground rhizotrons were designed and constructed to study the movement of Phymatotrichopsis omnivora (Duggar) Hennebert (syn. Phymatotrichum omnivorum Duggar) along overlapping apple roots [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf. (syn. M. domestica Borkh. non Poir.)] in simulated orchard conditions. Two experiments involved boxes using either observation windows or micro-rhizotron observation tubes between trees. A third experiment utilized 45-gallon containers (171,457 cm3) joined by innovative observation windows. The container rhizotrons reduced labor and material costs, were more effective at monitoring roots, were more convenient than field measurements, and more closely simulated orchard growing conditions. This method provides several advantages to better study and manipulate the rooting environment of orchard-grown trees.

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Shuresh Ghimire, Arnold M. Saxton, Annette L. Wszelaki, Jenny C. Moore, and Carol A. Miles

Biodegradable mulches (BDMs) provide a unique advantage to growers in that they can be tilled into the soil after use, eliminating disposal costs that include time, labor, and equipment needs. Biodegradation of BDMs in the soil can be assessed by the presence of visible mulch fragments; although this is not a direct measure of biodegradation, it provides an initial estimation of mulch biodegradation. We carried out three field experiments to develop a protocol for quantifying BDM fragments in the soil after soil incorporation of mulch. Expt. 1 was done at Mount Vernon, WA, and Knoxville, TN, using five BDMs in four replications, including a polyethylene (PE) mulch reference treatment (three replications and at Mount Vernon only), and a ʽCinnamon Girl’ pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) test crop. At the end of the growing season, mulches were tilled into the soil to a depth of 6 inches and within 16 days, five soil samples were collected with a golf hole cutter (4 inches diameter and 6 inches deep). Fifty-nine percent of the PE mulch fragments were recovered from the reference treatment. Among the remaining treatments, there was a high plot-to-plot variation as to the percent of the BDM recovered (3% to 95% at Mount Vernon, 2% to 88% at Knoxville). To exclude the possibility of mulch degradation impacting mulch recovery, in Expts. 2 and 3 (at Mount Vernon only), one BDM was laid, then tilled into the soil and sampled using the same sampling core as in Expt. 1, but all in 1 day. In Expt. 2, 15 soil samples were collected per plot, which recovered 70% of the mulch, and in Expt. 3, the entire plot was sampled by collecting 128 soil samples per plot, which recovered 62% of the mulch. In summary, sampling with a relatively large core recovered less than 70% of tilled-in mulch, there was high variability between plots within each treatment because of uneven distribution of the mulch fragments in the plot, and even 50 samples per plot did not provide an accurate estimate of the amount of mulch remaining in the field. Thus, soil sampling with a large core was ineffective, and new sampling methods are needed to assess the amount of BDM remaining in the field after soil incorporation.

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Wesley T. Watson*, David N. Appel, Michael A. Arnold, Charles M. Kenerley, and James L. Starr

Phymatotrichopsis omnivora (Duggar) Hennebert (syn. Phymatotrichum omnivorum Duggar) is a recalcitrant soilborne pathogen that causes serious root rot problems on numerous plant species in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Apple trees [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf. (syn. M. domestica Borkh. non Poir.)] are highly susceptible to P. omnivora with most tree death occurring in the summer months. Studies were conducted from 1996 to 1999 to examine when and at what rate infection and colonization of roots of apple trees by P. omnivora actually occurs. In three-year-old trees growing in orchard soils in 45-gallon containers (171,457 cm3) and inoculated with sclerotia in August 1997, infection occurred in the nursery after 12 weeks. For trees inoculated with sclerotia in February 1998, infection occurred within 15 weeks. After 18 weeks, 100% of trees were infected after inoculation in August and 80% of trees were infected after the February inoculation. This information is vital to understanding the epidemiology of Phymatotrichum root rot in apple orchards.

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A. Shiferaw, M.W. Smith, R.D. Eikenbary, and Don C. Arnold

Perennial legume ground covers were evaluated to supply N and increase beneficial arthropod densities in pecan orchards. Treatments were pure stands and a mixture of `Kenland' red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) and `Louisiana S-l' white clover (Trifolium repense L.). The control plot was a grass sod. Nitrogen was applied at 0 to 200 kg·ha–1 in 50-kg intervals to the trees in the grass plots, but no N was applied to the legume plots. Aphids and beneficial arthropods were monitored in legumes and pecan canopies. Beneficial arthropods monitored were Coccinellidae, Chrysopidae, Nabis, Syrphid, and spiders. The most abundant beneficial arthropods were spiders, Coccinellidae, Chrysopidae, and Nabis respectively. In pecan canopies, spiders, Coccinellidae, Chrysopidae were the most abundant. The legumes supplied ≤156 kg N/ha to the pecan trees.

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M. Haque, M. Baker, C. Roper, C. Carver Wallace, M. Whitmire, S. Zabel, J. Arnold, L. Petty, A. Dabbs, B. Jordan, R. Keydoszius, and L. Wagner

The term Ethnobotany describes the study of people's relationships to plants as foods, fibers, medicines, dyes, and tools throughout the ages. Using the student active technique of experiential learning, undergraduate students enrolled in landscape design and implementation classes at Clemson University planned and installed an Ethnobotany garden in partnership with the South Carolina Botanical Garden (SCBG) staff, volunteers, and Sprouting Wings children. Sprouting Wings is an after-school gardening and nature exploration program for under-served elementary school students. College students and faculty working on this service-learning project contributed over 1,000 hours to their community while learning more about both the art and the science of landscape design and implementation. Students enrolled in the landscape Implementation class were surveyed to evaluate their perceptions on a variety of possible learning outcomes for this class. Students indicated that their service learning experience with the Ethnobotany project allowed them to acquire and practice new skills, broadened their understanding of the surrounding community, increased their ability to work in real world situations, introduced new career possibilities, gave students a better understanding of their course work, increased their ability to work on a team, increased their knowledge of environmental sustainability, and allowed them to discover or develop leadership capabilities. In a survey question regarding preference for service learning rather than traditional classes, the majority of students prefer the service learning pedagogy. In addition, most students reported a high degree of initiative for this project in their reflections.