Splice grafting with both cotyledons removed from the rootstock may significantly increase watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. and Nakai] grafting efficiency, eliminate rootstock regrowth, and reduce costs of watermelon transplant production. We evaluated the efficacy of antitranspirant and sucrose treatments on the survival of splice-grafted transplants and assessed the effects of grafting method and rootstocks on fruit yield and quality. First, in a greenhouse experiment, four commercial antitranspirants, applied to rootstock seedlings before splice grafting, increased transplant survival 21 days after grafting (DAG) from 7% to 35% to 68% (P < 0.0001). In a second greenhouse experiment, survival of splice-grafted seedlings was 91% for plants that received 2% sucrose solution + antitranspirant, compared with 67% for plants receiving 2% sucrose alone and 25% for plants that received only water (P < 0.0001). Finally, in a field experiment we compared splice- vs. one-cotyledon grafting with two rootstocks (‘Shintosa Camelforce’ and ‘Tetsukabuto’) vs. nongrafted plants. At 54 days after transplanting (DAT), survival of all grafted transplants averaged 96% with a plant vigor rating of 7.7/10 (10 = most vigorous), compared with 84% survival (5.8/10 vigor rating) for nongrafted transplants. Flowering was delayed by an average of 2 days for splice-grafted watermelon (37 DAT) vs. one-cotyledon grafted and nongrafted plants (P < 0.0001), but harvest date was the same for all treatments (70 DAT). Fruit were harvested 0, 7, and 14 days after fruit reached physiological maturity, and there was no difference in total yield or fruit quality between grafted and nongrafted treatments, with two exceptions. Fruit with splice-grafted ‘Shintosa Camelforce’ rootstock had the firmest flesh (8.2 N) compared with nongrafted transplants (5.3 N), and lycopene increased from 16.7 µg·g−1 at physiological maturity to as high as 31.4 µg·g−1 when harvested 7 days after physiological maturity (P = 0.0002). These results indicate that application of sucrose with antitranspirant to rootstock seedlings before grafting can increase the survival of splice-grafted watermelon, and splice-grafted watermelon perform similarly to one-cotyledon grafted and nongrafted watermelon plants in field production.
Pinki Devi, Scott Lukas, and Carol A. Miles
Scott B. Lukas, Joseph DeFrank, and Orville C. Baldos
In Hawaii, Waltheria indica (uhaloa) has been identified for expanded usage as a roadside groundcover in lowland dry ecosystems. Seed dormancy through lack of germination of viable seeds was identified in uhaloa. The presence of physical dormancy in uhaloa seeds was determined and dormancy relief methods were evaluated including hand scarification, dry heat temperature exposure, hot water exposure, and mechanical abrasion in an electric drum scarifier. As a compliment to dormancy relief, long-term storage parameters were evaluated for scarified and nonscarified seeds. The elucidation of physical dormancy was determined through hand scarification, resulting in 96% germination compared with 8% of nonscarified seeds, but is not practical on a large-scale basis. The greatest practical dormancy relief was achieved with a mechanical electric drum scarifier lined with 80-grit sandpaper for a duration of 15 or 30 seconds producing 95% and 99% germination, respectively. Seeds immersed in boiling water for 3 and 5 seconds resulted in 58.6% and 57.7% germination, respectively. Dormancy relief through dry heat exposure was inferior to other relief methods, producing 39% germination at 75 °C for 60 minutes. Nonscarified seeds exhibited minimal loss of viability during 10 months of storage at 5 °C at 12% and 50% relative humidity (RH), but a significant decline in viability of scarified seeds was detected.
Scott B. Lukas, Joseph DeFrank, Orville C. Baldos, and Ruijun Qin
Seed dormancy is an evolutionary adaptation for increasing seedling survival by delaying germination and is found in many families of seed plants. Although dormancy is ecologically important, it becomes problematic during agronomic production and restoration. Torrid panicgrass (Panicum torridum) is a native Hawaiian annual grass that has been identified as a re-vegetation candidate for seasonally dry areas. Torrid panicgrass seed appears to possess a nondeep to intermediate physiological dormancy. This research aimed to characterize dormancy relief parameters by 1) evaluating exogenous hormonal, reactive oxygen intermediates, and simulated combustion product treatments; and 2) determining optimized storage conditions of relative humidity (RH) and temperature over a 10-month duration. Results indicate that all exogenous chemical treatments tested were not effective at relieving the dormancy present in torrid panicgrass. Optimal storage conditions to relieve dormancy were found with seeds equilibrated to 12% RH, stored at 30 °C for a period of 8 months resulting in 55% germination. Maintenance of viability for long-term storage up to 10 months was best achieved with seeds stored at 12% RH at 10, 20, or 30 °C.
David R. Bryla, Carolyn F. Scagel, Scott B. Lukas, and Dan M. Sullivan
Excess salinity is becoming a prevalent problem for production of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium L. section Cyanococcus Gray), but information on how and when it affects the plants is needed. Two experiments, including one on the northern highbush (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) cultivar, Bluecrop, and another on the southern highbush (V. corymbosum interspecific hybrid) cultivar, Springhigh, were conducted to investigate their response to salinity and assess whether any suppression in growth was ion specific or due primarily to osmotic stress. In both cases, the plants were grown in soilless media (calcined clay) and fertigated using a complete nutrient solution containing four levels of salinity [none (control), low (0.7–1.3 mmol·d−1), medium (1.4–3.4 mmol·d−1), and high (2.8–6.7 mmol·d−1)] from either NaCl or CaCl2. Drainage was minimized in each treatment except for periodic determination of electrical conductivity (EC) using the pour-through method, which, depending on the experiment, reached levels as high as 3.2 to 6.3 dS·m−1 with NaCl and 7.8 to 9.5 dS·m−1 with CaCl2. Total dry weight of the plants was negatively correlated to EC and, depending on source and duration of the salinity treatment, decreased linearly at a rate of 1.6 to 7.4 g·dS−1·m−1 in ‘Bluecrop’ and 0.4 to 12.5 g·dS−1·m−1 in ‘Springhigh’. Reductions in total dry weight were initially similar between the two salinity sources; however, by the end of the study, which occurred at 125 days in ‘Bluecrop’ and at 111 days in ‘Springhigh’, dry weight declined more so with NaCl than with CaCl2 in each part of the plant, including in the leaves, stems, and roots. The percentage of root length colonized by mycorrhizal fungi also declined with increasing levels of salinity in Bluecrop and was lower in both cultivars when the plants were treated with NaCl than with CaCl2. However, leaf damage, which included tip burn and marginal necrosis, was greater with CaCl2 than with NaCl. In general, CaCl2 had no effect on uptake or concentration of Na in the plant tissues, whereas NaCl reduced Ca uptake in both cultivars and reduced the concentration of Ca in the leaves and stems of Bluecrop and in each part of the plant in Springhigh. Salinity from NaCl also resulted in higher concentrations of Cl and lower concentrations of K in the plant tissues than CaCl2 in both cultivars. The concentration of other nutrients in the plants, including N, P, Mg, S, B, Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn, was also affected by salinity, but in most cases, the response was similar between the two salts. These results point to ion-specific effects of different salts on the plants and indicate that source is an important consideration when managing salinity in highbush blueberry.
Scott B. Lukas, Joseph DeFrank, Orville C. Baldos, and Glenn S. Sakamoto
In Hawaii, seashore dropseed (Sporobolus virginicus), a coastal native grass, has been identified as a useful species for roadside revegetation. Cuttings of seashore dropseed covered with a hydromulch cap, irrigated, and managed to control weeds have greater establishment success. In this study, the efficacy and phytotoxicity of the preemergence herbicide oxadiazon applied as a component of the hydromulch cap over seashore dropseed cut stems was evaluated. Oxadiazon in two formulations, granule and suspension concentrate (SC), was applied at two rates of 2.0 and 4.0 lb/acre, resulting in four chemical treatments. Seashore dropseed response was recorded as numerical counts of new shoots, aboveground biomass, and percent visual coverage. The highest new shoot counts of seashore dropseed, aboveground biomass, and visual canopy coverage were recorded in plots treated with the granular (G) formulation of oxadiazon applied at 2.0 lb/acre. All hydromulch cap treatments containing herbicides reduced weed pressure compared with the untreated control treatment. Granular oxadiazon at 2.0 lb/acre in the hydromulch cap provided commercially acceptable weed control while maintaining high levels of rooting and plant vigor during the establishment period.
Amit Bhasin, Joan Davenport, Scott Lukas, Qianwen Lu, Gwen Hoheisel, and Lisa W. DeVetter
Bloom to fruit maturity is a period of rapid growth and nitrogen (N) uptake in northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.). Sufficient plant-available N is critical during this time, and growers often accomplish this through fertilizer applications from bloom through fruit development. For organic production in northern climates like Washington State, postharvest applications of N fertilizer are not recommended for northern highbush blueberry because they may stimulate excessive vegetative growth, reduce floral bud set, and increase the risk of winter injury through delayed acclimation. However, early fruiting cultivars with the potential for an extended growing season after harvest may benefit from postharvest N applications because the additional N may promote shoot and root growth that could support fruit production in future years while still allowing plants to form floral buds and acclimate to winter temperatures. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential impacts of postharvest organic N fertilizer applications on ‘Duke’, an early fruiting northern highbush blueberry cultivar. Specific objectives were to determine the effects of postharvest organic N fertilizer application on plant growth, yield, floral bud set, fruit quality, cold hardiness, tissue macronutrient concentrations, and select soil properties. Four treatments varying in the timing of N application were evaluated in a commercial ‘Duke’ field in eastern Washington using a single fertilizer rate of 130 kg⋅ha−1 N from 2018 to 2020. The organic fertilizer N source was a liquid fertilizer derived from digested plant materials. The experimental design was a randomized complete block design with four replications and treatments included the following: control (100% of N applied preharvest); 80/20 (80% preharvest, 20% postharvest); 70/30 (70% preharvest, 30% postharvest); and 60/40 (60% preharvest, 40% postharvest). Although the year influenced measured variables, including yield, floral bud set, fruit quality, tissue nutrients, and soil properties, few treatment effects were observed across the 3-year study. Cold hardiness was only impacted once (8 Feb. 2020), and floral buds were overall hardy to extreme minimum winter temperatures for the region. This project showed that applying postharvest organic N as a liquid fertilizer had no negative consequences on productivity metrics for an early fruiting blueberry cultivar grown in a region with an extended growing season, thus providing growers with more flexibility when timing their fertilizer applications. Results may differ for other fertilizer sources, and further monitoring of soil NO3-N accumulation should be conducted to gain a better understanding of its dynamics and the potential for risks.