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  • Author or Editor: Michael E. Wisniewski x
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Frost damage to `Jersey Giant' asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) spears was evaluated in noncovered and black plastic-covered field plots following a spring frost episode. In the noncovered plots, 78% of spears were killed as compared to only 17% under the plastic rowcovers. Laboratory studies using natural frost simulations indicated that the spears of both treatments were frost hardy to -2.8C. Air temperature data in the field plots during the frost episode indicated that spears in noncovered plots were at lower temperatures (-4.0 to -4.8C vs. -2.8C) ≈4 to 5 hours longer than spears under rowcovers. The large difference in the spear-kill may be due to the difference in the combined effect of the degree and duration of freezing to which the spears had been exposed.

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An apparatus was designed and built to deliver micronized dust particles to the foliage of mature orchard trees under a mobile canopy. The dust is propelled by compressed air (about 1120 kPa), which is pulsed through sand-blast guns using the Bernoulli effect. The canopy consists of steel pipes that support the cover and serve as a conduit for compressed air that flows to the guns. Quick-coupling fittings on the canopy pipes allow for easy attachment and removal of multiple guns at various, optional positions. The support structure for the canopy is attached to a mobile trailer, which transports it over mature orchard trees while the dust is being applied. The canopy reduces drift and enhances the coverage of dusts while they are being applied. This innovative apparatus can be used to apply pesticides, growth promoters and regulators, fertilizers, and biocontrol agents in powdered form. The distribution of corn starch on apple foliage is assessed using this invention.

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Hydathodes of young, folded strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa Duch.) leaves had unoccluded water pores With various sized apertures, as observed by low-temperature scanning electron microscopy. Hydathodes of fully expanded leaves were brownish and the water pores within the hydathodes were covered with a solid material, presumably comprised of epicuticular waxes and substances excreted through the hydathodes. The entire water pore area of the hydathode was occasionally covered with a shield-like plate. The shield-like plate over the hydathode water pores impeded water flow even with an induced positive pressure. Mechanical scraping of the hydathode area eliminated impedance to water conduction. These observations suggest that external occlusion of water pores in the hydathodes is the resistance component associated with the absence of guttation in older strawberry leaves.

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A seasonal study was conducted to assess the freezing injury of `Boskoop Giant' black currant (Ribes nigrum L.) samples from Oct. 1991 through Mar. 1992. Buds were subjected to either differential thermal analysis (DTA) or one of a series of temperatures (0 to -36C). Freeze injury was then assessed either visually or with TTC. Results indicated that black currant floral buds have multiple low-temperature exotherms (LTE). Freeze injury in intact buds could not be visually quantified because of the lack of visible browning, nor assayed with TTC reduction. Excised floral primordia incubated in TTC, however, developed colored formazan following exposure to nonfreezing and sublethal freezing temperatures, but remained colorless when exposed to lethal temperatures. The percentage of floral primordia that were colored and colorless were tabulated and a modified Spearman-Karber equation was used to calculate the temperature at which 50% of floral primordia were killed (T50 The T50 temperature was correlated with the temperature at which the lowest LTE was detected (R2 = 0.62). TTC reduction assay using excised floral bud primordia was a good indicator of viability in frozen blackcurrant buds. Chemical name used: 2,3,5-triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC).

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Reduced availability of water for agricultural use has been forecast for much of the planet as a result of global warming and greater urban demand for water in large metropolitan areas. Strategic improvement of water use efficiency (WUE) and drought tolerance in perennial crops, like fruit trees, could reduce water use without compromising yield or quality. We studied water use in apple trees using ‘Royal Gala’, a relatively water use-efficient cultivar, as a standard. To examine whether genes useful for improving WUE are represented in a wild relative genetically close to M. ×domestica, we surveyed Malus sieversii for traits associated with WUE and drought resistance using material collected from xeric sites in Kazakhstan. This collection has been maintained in Geneva, NY, and surveyed for various phenotypes and has been genetically characterized using simple sequence repeats (SSRs). These data suggest that most of the diversity in this population is contained within a subpopulation of 34 individuals. Analysis of this subpopulation for morphological traits traditionally associated with WUE or drought resistance, e.g., leaf size and stomata size and arrangement, indicated that these traits were not substantially different. These results imply that some of the genetic diversity may be associated with changes in the biochemistry, uptake, and/or transport of water, carbon, or oxygen that have allowed these trees to survive in water-limited environments. Furthermore, genes responding to drought treatment were isolated from ‘Royal Gala’ and categorized according to the biological processes with which they are associated. A large fraction of upregulated genes from roots were identified as stress-responsive, whereas genes from leaves were for the most part associated with photosynthesis. We plan to examine expression of these genes in the M. sieversii population during water deficit in future studies to compare their patterns of expression with ‘Royal Gala’.

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In response to environmental cues plants undergo changes in gene expression that result in the up- or down-regulation of specific genes. To identify genes in peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch.] trees whose transcript levels are specifically affected by low temperature (LT) or short day photoperiod (SD), we have created suppression subtractive hybridization (SSH) libraries from bark tissues sampled from trees kept at 5 °C and 25 °C under short day (SD) photoperiod or exposed to a night break (NB) interruption during the dark period of the SD cycle to simulate a long day (LD) photoperiod. Sequences expressed in forward and reverse subtractions using various subtracted combinations of temperature and photoperiod treatments were cloned, sequenced, and identified by BLAST and ClustalW analysis. Low temperature treatment resulted in the up-regulation of a number of cold-responsive and stress-related genes and suppression of genes involved in “housekeeping” functions (e.g., cell division and photosynthesis). Some stress-related genes not observed to be up-regulated under LT were increased in response to SD photoperiod treatments. Comparison of the patterns of expression as a consequence of different temperature and photoperiod treatments allowed us to determine the qualitative contribution of each treatment to the regulation of specific genes.

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