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  • Author or Editor: S. Edward Law x
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Pollination is essential in the production of many agricultural crops. Insufficient pollination can lead to reduced yield and lower harvest quality in many fruit and vegetables. Recent declines in insect pollinators and the use of cultural systems where compatible pollen is limiting have caused pollen-related production problems in many crops. Supplemental mass pollination (SMP) may be beneficial in such cases. However, the high cost of pollen may prohibit its use unless pollen is efficiently and uniformly applied. Our objective was to evaluate the feasibility of using selected dry particulate materials as pollen diluents for SMP. Viability was assessed in apple pollen mixed and held with selected powders (i.e., two formulations of Rilsan® nylon, polyester resin, diatomaceous earth, wheat flour, and CaCO3). Also, an assessment of inhibitory substances was made using in vitro germination tests with extracts obtained from liquid suspensions of the different particulates. Several powders, viz., Rilsan® nylon formulations, polyester resin, and wheat flour were identified as nontoxic to pollen held for 1 h as dry pollen: particle mixtures. Likewise, leachates from these diluents had no significant effect on pollen germination. Diatomaceous earth exhibited slight, but statistically significant, inhibitory effects on germination, while CaCO3 completely inhibited germination. The morphology and size of particulates were evaluated using scanning electron microscopy and will be discussed vis-a-vis pollen dispersion and metering requirements.

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Ozone is a highly oxidizing phytotoxic air pollutant, whose effects are documented to adversely affect crop growth and productivity. In contrast to the large body of published work investigating the effects of atmospheric ozone on outdoor agronomic and forestry crops, relatively few studies have addressed the effects of ozone exposure on greenhouse-grown crops. Outdoor concentrations of ozone can commonly attain concentrations in the 50–150 ppb range, which are known to detrimentally impact plant growth. The objective of this study was to characterize ozone exposure in commercial greenhouses as a prelude to the determination of dose–response effects on specific greenhouse crops and the development of ozone abatement methods, if appropriate. This study documented the levels and diurnal fluctuations in atmospheric ozone concentrations over two annual June–October “ozone seasons.” Measurements were taken every 10 min. for both indoor and outdoor ozone concentration, solar radiation, and temperature. Unexpectedly, indoor ozone concentrations often exhibited elevated levels that were 25% to 35% higher than outdoor concentrations, even in well-ventilated houses. These findings suggest that additional ozone production may occur within the greenhouse environment. Evaluations of causative factors and ozone effects on commercial crop production are warranted.

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Stigma characteristics and morphology can be useful in taxonomic and phylogenetic studies, indicate relationships in stigma function and receptivity, and be valuable in evaluating pollen–stigma interactions. Problematic is that in some taxa, copious stigmatic exudate can obscure the fine structural details of the stigmatic surface. Such is the case for Citrus, which has a wet stigma type on which abundant exudate inundates surface papillae. The components of stigmatic surface compounds are highly heterogeneous and include carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, glycoproteins, and phenolic compounds. This study evaluated the efficacy of several pre-fixation wash treatments on removing surface exudate to visualize the underlying stigmatic surface. Wash treatments included various buffer solutions, surfactants, dilute acids/bases, and solvents. Stigmas prepared using conventional fixation methods in glutaraldehyde had considerable accumulations of reticulate surface deposits with stigmatic cells obscured. Pre-fixation washes containing solvents such as methanol, chloroform, and ethanol left accumulations of incompletely removed exudate and crystalline deposits. Alkaline water washes produced a crust-like deposit on stigma surfaces. Buffer washes left residues of plaque-like deposits with perforated areas. In contrast, excellent removal of stigmatic exudate was obtained with a pre-fixation wash composed of 0.2 M Tris buffer, pH 7.2, containing 0.2% Triton X-100 surfactant and allowed clear imaging of the stigma and surface papillae morphology. A central sinus and radially arranged openings on the stigmatic surface were clearly visible and shown for the first time using scanning electron microscopy (SEM).

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Use of electrostatic spray deposition for the control of insect infestation in broccoli (Brassica oleracea L., Italica group) resulted in equal or greater control in comparison to conventional methods, and utilized ½ to 1/3 the quantity of insecticide with an 8-fold reduction in application volume. Laboratory tests documented a 1.86-fold improvement in the quantity of spray tracer deposited electrostatically onto broccoli plants as compared with conventional application.

Open Access

In almond [Prunis dulcis (Mill.) D.A. Webb.], fungicide sprays are required to prevent blossom blight, which can infect open flowers. Numerous studies have reported detrimental effects of agrochemical sprays on pollination, fruit set, and yield in tree fruit crops. However, effects of fungicides on pollen germination and growth in almond are little known, particularly those from recently developed active ingredients. In this study we evaluated the effects of commercial formulations of 10 fungicides on pollen germination and tube growth in almond using in vitro assays. Assays conducted at 1/100 recommended field rates (RFR) were effective in delineating differences in almond pollen sensitivity to different fungicides. Captan and azoxystrobin were the most inhibitory, with germination percentages of less than 1% of the no-fungicide control. Germination was not significantly affected by propiconazole and benomyl. Intermediate inhibitory effects on pollen germination were observed with ziram, cyprodinil, maneb, thiophanate-methyl, iprodione, and myclobutanil. In contrast to germination, tube growth was less affected by the presence of fungicide. In pollen that germinated, tube elongation was the same as in controls in five of 10 of the fungicides evaluated. Nonetheless, azoxystrobin and captan reduced tube elongation by ≈90%. Some fungicide treatments also influenced tube morphology. In the absence of field evaluation studies, in vitro germination data may provide insight on how specific chemicals may impact pollination processes and further guide in vivo studies, particularly in the case of new chemical formulations.

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