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N.K. Lownds

Good written communication skills are essential for the success of our graduates. To promote good writing, students in Ornamental Plant Identification classes have been required to write mini-essays, one-page responses to real-world scenarios. Student's responses have been good and their writing has been very acceptable. The mini-essays were, however, just assignments to complete. In an attempt to get students truly involved and passionate about their writing, assignments were designed to illicit creative, fun responses. Students were asked to explain concepts to fourth graders. This brought responses that ranged from exercises where kids were to stick out their tongues to imitate humming birds, to a short play demonstrating the importance of plant nomenclature. Another assignment asked students to complete a story about the famous detective, Hortus paradoxa. Student responses were incredibly creative, and some of the best writing I have ever seen. In addition, students had fun. It seems clear that, if students know that it is OK to be creative, they will greatly exceed your expectations. Just be prepared to have lots of fun while learning. Samples of the assignments, responses, and what is next will be presented.

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N.K. Lownds

Bring together a university landscape horticulture professor who believes in school gardens, a landscape design class, a landscape construction class, enthusiastic elementary school teachers and a willing principal, and you can create wonderful teaching gardens. The interactions among university students, elementary teachers, and students were a true learning experience for everyone. University students were involved in a true problem-solving project, being forced to look at problems and solutions through the eyes of elementary school children. Their expertise was valued as they were asked to explain horticulture to first and second graders. For some, this was the first time they really understood some of the concepts. Teachers and students were active participants throughout the process. Sharing thoughts and ideas was dynamic throughout the design and construction. Ways to initiate and maintain university–school partnerships will be presented.

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R.D. Berghage and N.K Lownds

Writing is an integral part of a career in horticulture. Most successful horticulturists write not only in communicating with peers, but also in keeping extensive journals or records of their activities. These tasks use different writing skills. Writing in horticulture classes should reflect, encourage, and provide practice in both types of writing. Assignments should reflect the students' career choices and provide writing practice in an appropriate genre.

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N.K. Lownds and W.A. Mackay

Water loss of Nerium oleander growing in two soil types was determined from mid-June through mid-October. Plants (1 year old, 3.8 liter) were obtained from a local nursery and transplanted in May into 18.9-liter Iysimeter pots containing either clay loam or bluepoint sand. Controls were lysimeter pots containing each soil type but without plants. Irrigation was applied at two rates, approximately field (pot) capacity and 50% of that amount. Irrigation frequency was determined by visual inspection of the plants and was held constant for both irrigation rates in a given soil type. Frequency ranged from 2 to 3 days for the sand and 2 to 5 days for the clay loam. Water loss was determined every 24 h. Plant water loss was higher at the higher irrigation rate. Decreasing irrigation rate by 50% resulted in a 20% to 40% reduction in plant water use in clay loam and a 15% to 30% reduction in sand without affecting plant quality. Plant water loss in the sandy soil was ≈50% greater than in clay loam 48 h after irrigation. Implications of these findings in developing an optimum irrigation model for landscape plants will be considered.

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M.J. Ricci, N.K. Lownds and R.D. Berghage

Studies were conducted to determine postharvest longevity of field grown Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata) and perennial Aster (Aster bigelovii) cut flowers. Flower stems were cut and placed into storage at 4, 7, 15 and 24C in the dark. Storage treatments included DI water, citric acid (CA), floralife (F), silver thiosulfate (STS) and modified atmosphere packaging (MAP). Flowers were rated daily using a scale of 1 (optimum condition) to 4 (unsaleable). Postharvest longevity of Baileya decreased quadratically with increasing temperature, (r2=0.67, P=0.001) between 4 and 24C. For Aster, postharvest longevity was greatest at 7C (13.3 days), slightly less at 4C (10.5 days) and only 5 days at 15 and 24C. Postharvest longevity of Baileya at 4C was doubled using STS, but was not affected by CA or F. MAP increased postharvest longevity of Aster 1.6- to 2.2-fold at each temperature. Other storage treatments for Aster were ineffective. The results suggest MAP may have potential as a storage technique for commercial cut flowers.

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N.K. Lownds, M. Banaras and P.W. Bosland

Physical characteristics [initial water content, surface area, surface area: volume (SA: V) ratio, cuticle weight, epicuticular wax content, and surface morphology] were examined to determine relationships between physical properties and water-loss `rate in pepper fruits. `Keystone', `NuMex R Naky', and `Santa Fe Grande' peppers, differing in physical characteristics, were stored at 8, 14, or 20C. Water-loss rate increased linearly with storage time at each temperature and was different for each cultivar. Water-loss rate was positively correlated with initial water content at 14 and 20C, SA: V ratio at all temperatures, and cuticle thickness at 14 and 20C. Water-loss rate was negatively correlated with surface area and epicuticular wax content at all temperatures. Stomata were absent on the fruit surface, and epicuticular wax was amorphous for each cultivar.

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N.K Lownds, M.G. White and R.D. Berghage

Previous work has shown that container grown landscape plants use, and likely need, much less water than is typically applied. Therefore, studies were conducted to quantify the relationships between water loss and water stress responses using several drought tolerant (Cassia corymbosa, Leucophyllum frutescens, Salvia greggii) and traditional landscape plants (Euonymus japonicus, Pyracantha coccinea). Water stress was induced by withholding water and water loss measured gravimetrically. The shape of the water loss curve was similar for all species being, Y = a + bx + cx2 (r2 > 0.95). The rate of ethylene production began to increase 24 hr after irrigation, reaching a maximum 36-48 hr after irrigation and then decreasing. Maximum ethylene production occured at 35-47% water loss irrespective of species or rate of water loss. Stress symptoms (wilting leaf discoloration and abscission) followed a similar pattern. The potential for monitoring gravimetric water loss to schedule container irrigation will be discussed.

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N.K Lownds, M.G. White and R.D. Berghage

Previous work has shown that container grown landscape plants use, and likely need, much less water than is typically applied. Therefore, studies were conducted to quantify the relationships between water loss and water stress responses using several drought tolerant (Cassia corymbosa, Leucophyllum frutescens, Salvia greggii) and traditional landscape plants (Euonymus japonicus, Pyracantha coccinea). Water stress was induced by withholding water and water loss measured gravimetrically. The shape of the water loss curve was similar for all species being, Y = a + bx + cx2 (r2 > 0.95). The rate of ethylene production began to increase 24 hr after irrigation, reaching a maximum 36-48 hr after irrigation and then decreasing. Maximum ethylene production occured at 35-47% water loss irrespective of species or rate of water loss. Stress symptoms (wilting leaf discoloration and abscission) followed a similar pattern. The potential for monitoring gravimetric water loss to schedule container irrigation will be discussed.

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N.K. Lownds, M. Banaras and P.W. Bosland

Nine pepper cultivars (Capsicum annuum L.) representing five pepper types were studied to determine water-loss rates, flaccidity, color, and disease development when stored at 8,14, or 20C for 14 days. Water-loss rate was markedly higher at 14C than at 8C, and was somewhat lower at 20C than at 14C. There were significant differences in water-loss rates between pepper cultivar with `NuMex R Naky', `NuMex Conquistador', and `New Mexico 6-4' (New Mexican-type peppers) having the highest water-loss rates. Flaccidity followed a pattern similar to water loss at each storage temperature, suggesting a direct relationship. Color development was cultivar- and package-dependent, and ratings increased with temperature. Placing pepper fruit in perforated polyethylene packages reduced water-loss rates 20 times or more, so that water loss no longer limited postharvest storage. Packaging also eliminated flaccidity and reduced color development across cultivars at 14 and 20C. Packaged fruit, however, developed diseases that limited postharvest longevity.