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Lucas O’Meara, Marc W. van Iersel, and Matthew R. Chappell

Irrigation is an essential component of ornamental plant production, yet relatively little is known about how much water nursery crops require to maintain optimal growth rates. Our objectives were to precisely determine the daily water use (DWU) of Hydrangea macrophylla and Gardenia jasminoides grown in 6-L containers, quantify how this is affected by environmental conditions, develop a quantitative model describing DWU, evaluate this model with an independent data set, and determine the feasibility of using crop coefficients (Kc) for irrigation scheduling. In 2010, we quantified the DWU of two Hydrangea macrophylla cultivars, Fasan and Pia. There was little difference in DWU of the two cultivars, which ranged from 50 to 300 mL/plant/day depending on plant age and environmental (hoophouse) conditions. In 2010, daily light integral (DLI) had the greatest influence on DWU with DWU increasing with increasing DLI. The combination of plant age, final leaf area, DLI, and their interactions explained 83.2% and 90.8% of day-to-day variation in DWU of ‘Fasan’ and ‘Pia’, respectively. In July 2011, a follow-up study was conducted using Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Fasan’ and Gardenia jasminoides ‘Radicans’. DWU of ‘Fasan’ ranged from 50 to 200 mL/plant/day and DWU of ‘Radicans’ ranged from 50 to 560 mL/plant/day. The lower DWU of ‘Fasan’ in 2011 compared with 2010 was the result of stunted growth of the hydrangeas, a result of elevated temperatures within the hoophouse during the plants initial growth flush. Vapor pressure deficit (VPD) explained more of the daily fluctuations in DWU in 2011 compared with 2010. Predicting DWU of the 2011 ‘Fasan’ crop using 2011 environmental conditions and the model developed using the 2010 data resulted in DWU estimates that were on average 64% too high. This discrepancy is likely the result of slower overall growth rate and a 15.4% reduction in ‘Fasan’ total growth in 2011 compared with 2010 and points to the challenges of modeling DWU. There were distinct seasonal changes in Kc values for the crops, but the trends differed between 2010 and 2011. Our results suggest that an accurate measure of canopy size may improve performance of predictive water use models.

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Matthew R. Chappell*, Carol Robacker, Sherrod Baden, and Allen Byous

Azalea Lace Bug (ALB) is a significant pest on azalea species. ALB feeding injury causes a stippled appearance on the leaves of susceptible genotypes from late spring until leaf drop. To determine whether leaf surface lipids are a factor in determining resistance or susceptibility to ALB, epicuticular leaf wax was extracted from the leaves of eight azalea genotypes, half with resistance and half susceptible to ALB. Leaf wax from each genotype was extracted and re-suspended in an 2 ethanol: 1 water solution for application to all entries in a full diallel manner, including a control of solution only. Each treatment included three replications. The leaf wax solution was applied to each replication (single leaf) by painting the solution on one side of the midrib, on both abaxial and adaxial surfaces. By applying solution to one side of the leaf, the untreated leaf surface served as a control. Each leaf and two female ALB were placed in separate 50-mL sealed tubes at 24 °C and 12-hour daylength for 48 hours, at which time the number of live adults, frass spots, and eggs were counted. Frass and egg data were recorded separately for treated and untreated sides of each leaf. The application of leaf wax solution had an impact on the level of frass and egg deposition by ALB in all genotypes. The effect was most pronounced when solution of resistant genotypes was placed on susceptible genotypes, resulting in lower numbers of frass spots and eggs. The solution alone had little effect on frass or egg numbers. This research acknowledges that a major constituent of an azalea's resistance or susceptibility to ALB is via epicuticular wax components.

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Lucas O’Meara, Matthew R. Chappell, and Marc W. van Iersel

As a result of the lack of quantitative data regarding specific water requirements of ornamental species, precision irrigation can be a difficult task for nursery growers. One challenge for growers is that it is not clear how much of the water in soilless substrates is actually available for plant uptake. Substrate moisture release curves (MRC) have been used to predict the amount of plant-available water in soilless substrates, yet there is little information about whether there are differences among species in their ability to extract water from substrates. The objectives of this study were to determine 1) the hydraulic properties of a composted pine bark substrate; and 2) how water uptake in Hydrangea macrophylla and Gardenia jasminoides was affected by decreasing substrate volumetric water content (VWC). As the substrate VWC decreased from 0.38 to 0.17 m3·m−3, substrate matric potential decreased from –4.0 to –69 kPa, whereas hydraulic conductivity decreased from 0.115 to 0.000069 cm·d−1. To measure plant water uptake in a drying substrate, growth chambers were used to provide stable environmental conditions that included continuous lighting to prevent diurnal fluctuations in water use. Water use by H. macrophylla ‘Fasan’ started to decrease at a higher VWC (0.28 m3·m−3) than G. jasminoides ‘Radicans’ (0.20 m3·m−3). Plant water uptake stopped at a VWC of 0.16 m3·m−3 in H. macrophylla and 0.12 m3·m−3 in G. jasminoides. The results show that H. macrophylla is less adept at extracting water from a drying substrate than G. jasminoides. Traditionally, plant-available water in soilless substrates has been studied using substrate MRCs. Our data suggest that substrate hydraulic conductivity may be an important factor controlling water availability to the plants. In addition, there are important differences among species that cannot be detected by only looking at substrate hydraulic properties.

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Michael T. Martin Jr., Geoffrey M. Weaver, Matthew R. Chappell, and Jerry Davis

A study was conducted to observe changes in mineral element concentrations within different sections of leafy stem cuttings of Hibiscus acetosella ‘Panama Red’ (PP20121) during a 21-day propagation period under standard industry propagation conditions. Concentrations of 13 mineral elements were analyzed in leaves, lower stems (below substrate), upper stems (above substrate), and roots at 3-day intervals. Before root emergence (day 0–6), P, K, Zn, Ca, and Mg concentrations decreased in the shoots (including upper stems and leaves), whereas Zn, Ca, and B concentrations decreased in the lower stems. Sulfur increase occurred in lower stems before root emergence. After rooting (day 9–21), N, P, Zn, Fe, Cu, and Ni concentrations decreased in the roots; K, S, B, and Mg concentrations increased. In the lower stems, N, P, K, S, and Zn concentrations decreased, whereas B increased. Potassium concentration decreased in the leaves; P, K, S, and Zn decreased in the upper stems. Calcium and Mg increased in leaves. This study indicates specific nutrients are important in adventitious rooting, and that it is important to analyze rooting as a function of fine-scale temporal measurements and fine-scale sectional measurements.

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Matthew R. Chappell, Sarah A. White, Amy F. Fulcher, Anthony V. LeBude, Gary W. Knox, and Jean-Jacques B. Dubois

In 2014, the Southern Nursery Integrated Pest Management (SNIPM) Working Group published both print and electronic versions of IPM for Shrubs in Southeastern U.S. Nursery Production: Volume I. Five hundred print books (of 3000 copies) were distributed to commercial ornamental growers and extension educators in return for their participation in a follow-up survey. The survey was administered to determine the value of book contents, savings that growers realized from using the book, perceived value of the book had users been asked to pay for it, and demographic information. The survey response rate was 46.2%, with respondents from 18 states. Of 243 respondents, 194 (79.8%) had used the book. Entomology information was most used and most useful, followed by plant pathology, weed science, and cultural information. Collective savings attributed to book use totaled $408,832/year for the 194 nurseries that used the book. Applying the use rate (79.8%) identified in this survey, this represents $5.62 million in savings per year for the 3000 printed books, of which 2394 are estimated to have been used. Savings varied by the type and size of operation. Larger operations had greater savings per year. Container growers saved $44.15/acre and field growers $28.37/acre. The price that growers were willing to pay for the book also varied by operation type and size. Extension educators and growers were willing to pay an average of $41.20, with an additional $0.063/acre for container growers and $0.126/acre for field growers. Return on investment for the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant funding for the project was $187.60 per dollar of funding. This survey demonstrates that collaborative efforts can produce high-value deliverables with significant regional and/or national impact.

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Amy Fulcher, Sarah A. White, Juang-Horng (JC) Chong, Joseph C. Neal, Jean L. Williams-Woodward, Craig R. Adkins, S. Kristine Braman, Matthew R. Chappell, Jeffrey F. Derr, Winston C. Dunwell, Steven D. Frank, Stanton A. Gill, Frank A. Hale, William E. Klingeman, Anthony V. LeBude, Karen Rane, and Alan S. Windham

Mobile device applications (apps) have the potential to become a mainstream delivery method, providing services, information, and tools to extension clientele. Testing, promoting, and launching an app are key components supporting the successful development of this new technology. This article summarizes the considerations and steps that must be taken to successfully test, promote, and launch an app and is based on the authors’ experience developing two horticulture apps, IPMPro and IPMLite. These apps provide information for major pests and plant care tasks and prompt users to take action on time-sensitive tasks with push notifications scheduled specifically for their location. App testing and evaluation is a continual process. Effective tactics for app testing and evaluation include garnering focus group input throughout app development and postlaunch, in-house testing with simulators, beta testing and the advantages of services that enhance information gained during beta testing, and postlaunch evaluations. Differences in promotional and bulk purchasing options available among the two main device platforms, Android and iOS, are explored as are general preparations for marketing the launch of a new app. Finally, navigating the app submission process is discussed. Creating an app is an involved process, but one that can be rewarding and lead to a unique portal for extension clientele to access information, assistance, and tools.

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Amy Fulcher, Juang-Horng (JC) Chong, Sarah A. White, Joseph C. Neal, Jean L. Williams-Woodward, Craig R. Adkins, S. Kristine Braman, Matthew R. Chappell, Jeffrey F. Derr, Winston C. Dunwell, Steven D. Frank, Stanton A. Gill, Frank A. Hale, William E. Klingeman, Anthony V. LeBude, Karen Rane, and Alan S. Windham

With increased mobile device usage, mobile applications (apps) are emerging as an extension medium, well suited to “place-less” knowledge transfer. Conceptualizing, designing, and developing an app can be a daunting process. This article summarizes the considerations and steps that must be taken to successfully develop an app and is based on the authors’ experience developing two horticulture apps, IPMPro and IPMLite. These apps provide information for major pests and plant care tasks and prompt users to take action on time-sensitive tasks with push notifications scheduled specifically for their location. Topics such as selecting between a web app and a native app, choosing the platform(s) for native apps, and designing the user interface are covered. Whether to charge to download the app or have free access, and navigating the intra- and interinstitutional agreements and programming contract are also discussed. Lastly, the nonprogramming costs such as creating, editing, and uploading content, as well as ongoing app management and updates are discussed.

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Amy Fulcher, Anthony LeBude, Sarah A. White, Matthew R. Chappell, S. Christopher Marble, J.-H (J.C.) Chong, Winston Dunwell, Frank Hale, William Klingeman, Gary Knox, Jeffrey Derr, S. Kris Braman, Nicole Ward Gauthier, Adam Dale, Francesca Peduto Hand, Jean Williams-Woodward, and Steve Frank

Extension and research professionals in the southeastern United States formed the Southern Nursery Integrated Pest Management working group (SNIPM) to foster collaboration and leverage resources, thereby enhancing extension programming, increasing opportunity, and expanding the delivery of specialized expertise to nursery crop growers across a region. Building a productive and lasting working group requires attracting a group of research and extension faculty with complementary expertise, listening to stakeholders, and translating stakeholder needs into grant priorities to help solve problems, all hallmarks of effective teamwork principles. SNIPM has now grown to include 10 U.S. states and 11 institutions and has been awarded seven grants totaling $190,994 since 2009. A striking benefit of working group membership was observed over time: synergy. Greater awareness of individual expertise among SNIPM members, each of whom were focused on different aspects of the nursery production system stimulated multistate extension publications, electronic books (eBooks), mobile device applications (apps), popular press articles, and spin-off research projects when separate foci were combined and directed toward complex challenges. Deliverables achieved from this faculty collaboration include nine peer-reviewed publications, four manuals and books and 23 book chapters, and a combined total of 11 abstracts, conference proceedings and extension publications. To date, the return on investment for SNIPM is one deliverable produced to every $2265.89 in grant funding. SNIPM has also been honored with multiple American Society for Horticultural Science publication awards as well as the Southern Region Integrated Pest Management Center Bright Idea Award for the quality and originality of their project outputs. Continuing to work together toward common goals that bridge technology and serve the nursery industry while supporting each individual member’s program will be crucial to the long-term success of this working group.