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  • Author or Editor: M.L. Parker x
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A problem facing the peach industry is the ability to harvest field-ripened peaches and get them to market without significant softening or damage. However, getting mature peaches into marketing channels before significant softening occurs is a challenge. Our objectives were to evaluate two growth regulators to determine the effect on fruit quality and softening at harvest and after 1, 2, or 3 weeks in cold storage and to evaluate the effect on harvest date. The two products evaluated in this study were ReTain (aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG)—Abbott Labs) and EthylBloc (1-methylcyclopropene (MCP)—Biotechnologies for Horticulture). ReTain is a growth regulator that inhibits ethylene production and is used in commercial apple production to delay harvest. EthylBloc is applied as a gas and attaches to ethylene receptor sites which inhibits ethylene effects. A trial with preharvest foliar applications of ReTain and postharvest gassing with EthylBloc was initiated in July 1998 on `Contender' peaches. ReTain applications were made at 3-day intervals beginning 19 days before first harvest at the rate of 50 g a.i./acre. Applications 3 days before harvest resulted in increased flesh firmness at harvest and decreased ethylene evolution, which continued for up to 3 weeks in cold storage. Fruit were also gassed with 1 μl•L-1 (1ppm) EthylBloc in the laboratory the day following harvest for 24 h. Fruit treated with ReTain and EthylBloc had twice the flesh firmness of peaches that were not treated after 1 week in storage. ReTain applied 3 days before harvest delayed maturity. Further evaluation will be conducted in 1999.

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The root distribution of peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch cv. Redhaven/Halford] as affected by six orchard floor management treatments was evaluated after 3 years of growth. Two treatments were maintained vegetation-free and four had vegetative covers in the alleyway with a 1.2-m-wide herbicide strip in the tree row. The profile wall method was used to determine root distribution. Trees maintained vegetation-free with herbicide had the most roots. Trees in the vegetation-free plots, maintained with herbicide or cultivation, produced more roots 1.2 m from the tree than trees in the vegetative covers. The number of roots, 1.2 m from the tree, was lowest in the tall fescue treatment. The number of roots were higher in the Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) or alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) than with tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea, Schreb.).

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Containerized seedlings of Fraser fir [Abies fraseri (Pursh) Poir.], momi fir (A. Firma Sieb. & Zucc.), and Siberian fir (A. siberica Ledeb. var. argentea) were tested for resistance to Phytophthora cinnamomi Rands (two experiments). Fraser fir was very susceptible, with many plants dead after 4 to 5 weeks. Symptoms developed more slowly in Siberian fir, but most plants were dead or dying after 10 weeks. Momi fir appeared somewhat resistant to the pathogen. Though undesirable as a Christmas tree, momi fir might be useful as a rootstock for grafting better quality species in areas affected by root rot.

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Researchers have collected a considerable amount of data relating to apple (Malus ×domestica) cultivars and rootstocks over the past 30 years, but much of this information is not easily accessible. The long-term goal of our working group is to increase access to this information using online technology available through eXtension. In eXtension, researchers and extension personnel are developing a community of practice (CoP) to increase the quality and amount of online information for individuals interested in our work [referred to as a community of interest (CoI)]. For this project, our CoI is broadly defined as commercial apple producers, nursery professionals, county extension educators, Extension Master Gardeners, home gardeners, and consumers. Our CoP is developing diverse educational tools, with the goals of increasing productivity, profitability, and sustainability for commercial apple production. Additionally, we will provide other members of our CoI access to research-based, reliable information on the culture of apples. We chose to begin our focus on cultivars and rootstocks adapted to the eastern United States and will add other U.S. regions as our resources and interest in our project grows.

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