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  • Author or Editor: Mark L. Gleason x
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Eighteen cultivars of hosta (Hosta spp.), selected to represent a wide range of size, leaf shape and color, and genetics, were evaluated for reaction to Sclerotium rolfsii var. delphinii in a greenhouse in Ames, Iowa in 2000 and 2001. Bare-root, single-eye plants were planted in 15.2-cm (6-inch) pots in a soil-containing (2000) and soilless (2001) mix and grown in a greenhouse for 3 months. Plants were then inoculated by placing a carrot disk infested with mycelium of S. rolfsii at the base of the plant. Disease severity was assessed weekly for 6 weeks as percent symptomatic petioles. Disease development varied significantly (P < 0.05) among cultivars. Overall, `Lemon Lime', `Munchkin', `Nakaiana', `Platinum Tiara', and `Tardiflora' had the most severe symptoms and `Halcyon' showed the least disease.

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Recently, roses (Rosa spp.) that require relatively little maintenance have gained in popularity in the United States. One group of these roses is the Griffith Buck roses, which were selected to survive the extremely cold winters of the north-central United States. Many of these roses were rated qualitatively as having disease resistance when they were released, but their resistance levels to black spot (Marssonina rosae) have not been quantified, compared with each other, or rated against other resistant or susceptible roses. In a field trial in Iowa in 2005 and 2006, 24 Griffith Buck roses that were originally described as disease resistant were compared with susceptible and resistant control cultivars for susceptibility to black spot. No fungicides were applied in either year. Plants were rated five times each year for black spot incidence, and also to assess overall plant appearance. Griffith Buck roses ‘Carefree Beauty’, ‘Aunt Honey’, ‘Honeysweet’, ‘Earthsong’, and ‘Pearlie Mae’ had significantly less black spot than many of the other cultivars. In addition, these cultivars also remained attractive and could be used in low-maintenance landscapes in the north-central United States, even under moderate black spot pressure.

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Field plots of four production systems of `Tristar' dayneutral and `Earliglow' June-bearing strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.), established in 1993, included conventional practices (CONV), integrated crop management practices (ICM), organic practices using granulated corn gluten meal, a natural weed control product, (ORG-CGM), and organic practices using a natural turkey manure product (ORG-TM). `Earliglow' total yield from CONV plots in 1994 was similar to ICM and ORG-CGM, but greater than ORG-TM. Average berry weight and marketable yield were greater in the CONV system than both organic systems. CONV, ICM, and ORG-CGM plots had more runners and daughter plants than ORG-TM. Plots with CONV herbicide treatments were similar to ICM and ORG-CGM for percentage weed cover 1 month after renovation. `Tristar' crown number, crown and root dry weights, yield, and berry number were reduced when plants were grown under straw mulch in ORG-CGM and ORG-TM compared to CONV and ICM plots with polyethylene mulch.

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Irradiated cut Rosa × hybrida `Royalty' flowers were used to determine the efficacy of electron-beam irradiation for extending flower postharvest life by reducing native and inoculated populations of Botrytis cinerea. In preliminary experiments, roses received irradiation dosages of 0.00, 0.50,1.00, 2.00, and 4.00 kilogray (kGy), along with an untreated control, to establish killing dosages. Irradiation dosages of 1.00 kGy or greater irreversibly damaged rose petal tissue. In subsequent experiments, roses irradiated at dosages of 0.00, 0.25, 0.50, 0.75, and 1.00 kGy, and an untreated control, were used for evaluating postharvest events. We have found that irradiation dosages of 0.25 and 0.50 kGy slowed the rate of flower bud opening slightly and did not decrease postharvest quality or longevity. Inoculated and uninoculated roses irradiated at 0.00, 0.25, 0.50, and 0.75 kGy were used to determine if electron-beam irradiation could reduce Botrytis infection and proliferation during postharvest storage, and these results also will be presented.

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Field plots of four production systems of `Tristar' dayneutral and `Earliglow' Junebearing strawberry (Fragaria xananassa Duch.) were established in 1993. Productions systems included conventional practices (CONV), best-management practices including integrated crop management (ICM), organic practices using corn gluten meal, a natural weed control product, (ORG-CGM), and organic practices using a natural turkey manure product (ORG-TM). `Earliglow' plants grown with ORG-CGM showed the highest number of runners and total vegetative biomass. Plots with CONV and ICM systems using standard herbicide treatments had lower total weed numbers (11 and 18, respectively) than ORG-CGM (63) and ORG-TM (58). `Tristar' plant growth, yield and berry number were reduced when plants were grown under straw mulch in ORG-CGM and ORG-TM compared to CONV and ICM plots with polyethylene mulch.

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The goal of this study was to develop a systems-based strategy for organic muskmelon (Cucumis melo var. reticulatus) in Pennsylvania (PA), Iowa (IA), and Kentucky (KY) to manage bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila) and nutrients while safeguarding yield and enhancing early harvest. Spunbond polypropylene rowcovers deployed for different timings during the growing season were evaluated for suppressing bacterial wilt and locally available compost was applied based on two different estimated rates of mineralization of organic nitrogen (N) to manage nutrients. In KY only, the use of rowcovers suppressed bacterial wilt incidence compared with not using rowcovers. However, the timing of rowcover removal did not impact wilt incidence. Under lower cucumber beetle [striped cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittatum) and spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi)] pressure in PA and IA, rowcovers did not consistently suppress season-long incidence of bacterial wilt. In four of five site-years in PA and IA, more marketable fruit were produced when rowcovers were removed 10 days after an action threshold (the date the first flower opened in PA; the date when ≥50% of plants in a subplot had developed perfect flowers in IA and KY) than when no 10-day delay was made or when no rowcovers were used. In addition, the no-rowcover treatment consistently had lower weight per marketable fruit. In KY, the same action threshold without the 10-day delay, followed by insecticide applications, resulted in the largest number of marketable fruit, but did not affect marketable fruit weight. In PA, marketable yield was higher using compost compared with the organic fertilizer in 1 year. No yield differences were observed by nutrient treatments in 2 years. In IA, marketable yield was lower with the low amount of compost compared with the organic fertilizer and yields with the high amount of compost were not different from the low amount or the organic fertilizer in the year it was evaluated. In KY, marketable yield was unaffected by the nutrient treatments in the year it was evaluated. Given these results, muskmelon growers in PA, IA, and KY who use compost may choose the lower compost rate to minimize production costs. Overall, these findings suggest that rowcover-based strategies for organic management of bacterial wilt need to be optimized on a regional basis, and that fertilization with compost is compatible with these strategies.

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Organic growers of cucurbit (Cucurbitaceae) crops in the midwestern United States have difficulty managing bacterial wilt—a fatal disease with a pathogen (Erwinia tracheiphila) that is transmitted by striped and spotted cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum and Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi, respectively). Registered organic insecticides lack effectiveness, and host plant resistance is rare in commercial cultivars of many cucurbit crops. Row covers are widely used as barriers to minimize pest access, but the spunbonded polypropylene fabric covering traditional low tunnels must be removed at bloom to prevent overheating and facilitate pollination, thereby exposing the crop for the rest of the season. “Mesotunnels”—nylon mesh fabric covering 3.5-ft-high hoops—provide more space than low tunnels and mitigate overheating. In field experiments at Iowa State University (Ames, IA, USA) during 2016–18, two variations of mesotunnels—full-season tunnels [with purchased bumble bees (Bombus impatiens) added for pollination] and part-season tunnels (with covers removed for 2 weeks during bloom to provide pollinator access)—were compared with low tunnels and a noncovered treatment for organic ‘Athena’ muskmelon (Cucumis melo) production. Based on scouting results, full-season mesotunnels required no insecticides and part-season mesotunnels averaged 0.6 spray per season compared with 1.0 and 5.0 sprays per season for the low-tunnel and noncovered treatments, respectively. Incidence of pest and disease damage was zero for the full-season mesotunnels, 5% to 22% for the part-season mesotunnels, and 37% to 70% for both of the other treatments. Marketable yield for the full-season mesotunnel treatment exceeded the noncovered treatment significantly each year, and mean marketable yields were greater numerically than for the other treatments. Both mesotunnel treatments had a marketable yield that averaged more than twice that of the noncovered treatment in each year. Economic analysis (partial budget and cost-efficiency ratio) indicated that mesotunnels were likely to be more profitable in Iowa, USA, than either the low-tunnel or noncovered systems, but also that the year-to-year differential among treatments in profitability could be substantial. Additional experiments are needed to evaluate the efficacy of these integrated pest management practices and their profitability at spatial scales representative of commercial farms.

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Cut Rosa ×hybrida L. `Royalty' flowers were used to determine the efficacy of electron-beam irradiation for increasing postharvest quality and decreasing petal infection by Botrytis cinerea Pers. In an experiment for determining the injury threshold, roses received electron-beam irradiation of 0, 0.5, 1, 2, and 4 kGy. Irradiation dosages ≥1 kGy caused necrosis on petal tissue and decreased postharvest life at 20 °C. In a second experiment to evaluate postharvest quality, roses were irradiated at 0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1 kGy. Dosages of 0.25 and 0.5 kGy slowed the rate of flower bud opening for 2 days but did not decrease postharvest quality when compared with nonirradiated roses. Roses that received irradiation dosages of 0.75 and 1 kGy showed unacceptable quality. In a third experiment, roses that had or had not been inoculated with B. cinerea were irradiated at 0, 0.25, 0.5, and 0.75 kGy. Irradiation did not control B. cinerea populations, and rose quality decreased as dosage increased. In a fourth experiment to determine the effect of irradiation on B. cinerea, conidia on water-agar plates exposed to dosages ≤1, 2, and 4 kGy germinated at rates of ≈90%, 33%, and 2%, respectively, within 24 h.

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The sooty blotch and flyspeck (SBFS) disease complex causes cosmetic damage but does not affect the safety or eating quality of apples. Treatment for disease is more difficult and costly for organic producers, and consumers' willingness to pay for organic apples needs to be considered in growers' choice of production technologies. A mixed probit model was applied to survey data to evaluate consumers' willingness to buy apples. The results show consumers will pay a premium for organic production methods and for apples with low amounts of SBFS damage. Behavioral variables such as experience growing fruit significantly affect the willingness to buy apples of different damage levels. Consumers have limited tolerance of very blemished apples and trade off production technology attributes for cosmetic appearance. Better understanding of this tradeoff can improve organic producers' decisions about disease control.

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