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Pamela D. Adams, Nancy Kokalis-Burelle and William H. Basinger

Plantpro 45, an iodine-based compound, was evaluated as a seed treatment for management of fusarium wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. basilici on basil (Ocimum basilicum) in greenhouse assays and for effects on growth of the pathogen in vitro. Plantpro 45 at a concentration of 300 mg·L-1 (ppm) prevented fusarium hyphal growth in vitro. Seed treatments of 800 to 1000 mg·L-1 eliminated fungal contamination of seed and increased germination by 27% compared to the nontreated control. Basil transplants grown from seed treated with 400, 800, and 1000 mg·L-1 were significantly taller, weighed more, exhibited larger leaf area, and had reduced wilt severity in the greenhouse compared to the nontreated control. Transplants grown in soil treated with increasing concentrations of Plantro 45 had correspondingly decreased wilt severity, regardless of whether or not the seeds had been previously treated with Plantpro 45. Further research and optimization of soil and foliar applications in combination with seed treatments are needed to provide a complete program for management of fusarium wilt of basil.

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Charles S. Vavrina, Pamela D. Roberts, Nancy Kokalis-Burelle and Esa O. Ontermaa

Six greenhouse trials of five commercial products marketed as systemic resistance (SR) and plant growth promotion (PGP) inducers were evaluated on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) over a 21-month period. The effect of the inducers on treated plants was measured by monitoring plant growth and disease suppression after inoculation with either plant pathogenic bacteria or nematodes. The commercially available SR/PGP inducers included a bacterial suspension [Companion (Bacillus subtilis GB03)], two plant defense elicitors with nutrients (Keyplex 350DP plus Nutri-Phite, and Rezist with Cab'y), natural plant extracts (Liquid Seaweed Concentrate and Stimplex), and a synthetic growth regulator (Actigard 50W). Growth enhancement was noted in some trials, but the parameter of growth affected often varied with trial. Response to Actigard treatment included significant suppression of bacterial spot [Xanthomonas campestris pv. vesicatoria (Xcv)] in three of the six trials. Companion, Keyplex 350DP plus Nutri-Phite, Rezist and Cab'y, and seaweed products induced only partial disease suppression of bacterial spot in inoculated tomato plants. The alpha-keto acids plus nutrients (Keyplex 350DP plus Nutri-Phite) increased plant growth by 14.3% and improved root condition compared to the untreated control following exposure to nematodes. Results are encouraging, if not consistent, and with a greater understanding of the SR system and the conditions related to product efficacy, such materials may become effective tools for production agriculture.

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Nancy Kokalis-Burelle, C.S. Vavrina, M.S. Reddy and J.W. Kloepper

Greenhouse and field trials were performed on muskmelon (Cucumis melo) and watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) to evaluate the effects of six formulations of plant growth-promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR) that have previously been shown to increase seedling growth and induce disease resistance on other transplanted vegetables. Formulations of Gram-positive bacterial strains were added to a soilless, peat-based transplant medium before seeding. Several PGPR treatments significantly increased shoot weight, shoot length, and stem diameter of muskmelon and watermelon seedlings and transplants. Root weight of muskmelon seedlings was also increased by PGPR treatment. On watermelon, four PGPR treatments reduced angular leaf spot lesions caused by Pseudomonas syringae pv. lachrymans, and gummy stem blight, caused by Didymella bryoniae, compared to the nontreated and formulation carrier controls. One PGPR treatment reduced angular leaf spot lesions on muskmelon compared to the nontreated and carrier controls. On muskmelon in the field, one PGPR treatment reduced root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne incognita) disease severity compared to all control treatments.

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Cody L. Smith, Joshua H. Freeman, Nancy Kokalis-Burelle and William P. Wechter

Fusarium wilt [caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum (FON)] has been a consistent problem in watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. and Nakai] production worldwide. One method for combatting this pathogen in the field is to graft a susceptible, high-yielding scion on to a fusarium wilt-resistant rootstock. A concerning issue with rootstocks resistant to fusarium wilt is that they have not been tested for their susceptibility to plant pathogenic nematodes—specifically, root-knot nematodes (RKNs; Meloidogyne spp.) and the reniform nematode (Rotylenchulus reniformis). Preliminary findings have demonstrated that many of these Fusarium-resistant rootstocks are highly susceptible to RKNs. Research was conducted during the Spring and Fall 2015 and 2016 to evaluate the resistance to RKN and reniform nematode in rootstocks with known resistance to fusarium wilt. Six rootstocks were evaluated over the course of four experiments. A nematode-susceptible interspecific hybrid [Cucurbita maxima (Duchesne) × C. moschata (Duchesne)] rootstock ‘Carnivor’ was included as a susceptible control in both years. Results demonstrated that several Citrullus lanatus var. citroides (L.H. Bailey) rootstocks (‘Carolina Strongback’, USVL246-FR2, USVL252-FR2, and USVL-360) and ‘SP-6’ (a commercially available pollinizer cultivar) exhibited resistance to plant parasitic nematodes when compared with the susceptible control. Partial resistance was observed in USVL-482351. When compared with the control, these rootstocks also had fewer Meloidogyne spp. and R. reniformis in root tissue. These findings indicate that rootstocks may be available to manage both fusarium wilt and RKN in grafted cucurbit production system.

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Chieri Kubota, Michael A. McClure, Nancy Kokalis-Burelle, Michael G. Bausher and Erin N. Rosskopf

Grafting of vegetable seedlings is a unique horticultural technology practiced for many years in East Asia to overcome issues associated with intensive cultivation using limited arable land. This technology was introduced to Europe and other countries in the late 20th century along with improved grafting methods suitable for commercial production of grafted vegetable seedlings. Later, grafting was introduced to North America from Europe and it is now attracting growing interest, both from greenhouse growers and organic producers. Grafting onto specific rootstocks generally provides resistance to soilborne diseases and nematodes and increases yield. Grafting is an effective technology for use in combination with more sustainable crop production practices, including reduced rates and overall use of soil fumigants in many other countries. Currently, over 40 million grafted tomato seedlings are estimated to be used annually in North American greenhouses, and several commercial trials have been conducted for promoting use of grafted melon seedlings in open fields. Nevertheless, there are issues identified that currently limit adoption of grafted seedlings in North America. One issue unique to North America is the large number of seedlings needed in a single shipment for large-scale, open-field production systems. Semi- or fully-automated grafting robots were invented by several agricultural machine industries in the 1990s, yet the available models are limited. The lack of flexibility of the existing robots also limits their wider use. Strategies to resolve these issues are discussed, including the use of a highly controlled environment to promote the standardized seedlings suitable for automation and better storage techniques. To use this technology widely in North American fresh vegetable production, more information and locally collected scientific and technical data are needed.

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Francesco Di Gioia, Monica Ozores-Hampton, Jason Hong, Nancy Kokalis-Burelle, Joseph Albano, Xin Zhao, Zack Black, Zhifeng Gao, Chris Wilson, John Thomas, Kelly Moore, Marilyn Swisher, Haichao Guo and Erin N. Rosskopf

Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is considered a promising sustainable alternative to chemical soil fumigation (CSF), and has been shown to be effective against soilborne diseases, plant-parasitic nematodes, and weeds in several crop production systems. Nevertheless, limited information is available on the effects of ASD on crop yield and quality. Therefore, a field study was conducted on fresh-market tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) in two different locations in Florida (Immokalee and Citra), to evaluate and compare the ASD and CSF performances on weed and nematodes control, and on fruit yield and quality. In Immokalee, Pic-Clor 60 (1,3-dichloropropene + chloropicrin) was used as the CSF, whereas in Citra, the CSF was Paldin™ [dimethyl disulfide (DMDS) + chloropicrin]. Anaerobic soil disinfestation treatments were applied using a mix of composted poultry litter (CPL) at the rate of 22 Mg·ha−1, and two rates of molasses [13.9 (ASD1) and 27.7 m3·ha−1 (ASD2)] as a carbon (C) source. In both locations, soil subjected to ASD reached highly anaerobic conditions, and cumulative soil anaerobiosis was 167% and 116% higher in ASD2 plots than in ASD1 plots, in Immokalee and Citra, respectively. In Immokalee, the CSF provided the most significant weed control, but ASD treatments also suppressed weeds enough to prevent an impact on yield. In Citra, all treatments, including the CSF, provided poor weed control relative to the Immokalee site. In both locations, the application of ASD provided a level of root-knot nematode (Meloidogyne sp.) control equivalent to, or more effective than the CSF. In Immokalee, ASD2 and ASD1 plots provided 26.7% and 19.7% higher total marketable yield as compared with CSF plots, respectively. However, in Citra, total marketable yield was unaffected by soil treatments. Tomato fruit quality parameters were not influenced by soil treatments, except for fruit firmness in Immokalee, which was significantly higher in fruits from ASD treatments than in those from CSF soil. Fruit mineral content was similar or higher in ASD plots as compared with CSF. In fresh-market tomato, ASD applied using a mixture of CPL and molasses may be a sustainable alternative to CSF for maintaining or even improving marketable yield and fruit quality.