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Smiljana Goreta and Daniel I. Leskovar

Areas with mild climate conditions are suitable for growing winter spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.). Successful production depends on choosing slow-bolting cultivars resistant to major diseases in each area. Field experiments with a total of 18 cultivars were conducted during 8 years in the Winter Garden region of Texas, an area known for its high white rust (Albugo occidentalis G.W. Wils) inoculum. Spinach cultivars differed widely in their resistance to both white rust and bolting, and the incidence of both traits was more severe as the season progressed. White rust infection increased linearly with average monthly minimal air temperature. Cultivars Fidalgo, Springfield, and Springer were slow bolting and are suitable for areas with no white rust incidence, while cvs. ASR-318, DMC 66-09, Fall Green, Samish, and San Juan were more white rust resistant.

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Daniel Leskovar, Shinsuke Agehara, and Smiljana Goreta

The objective of this study was to determine the effects of 1-MCP preharvest spray application on harvest synchrony, maturity, fruit quality, and marketable yield of cantaloupe. Seeds were planted in a commercial field on 16 Mar. (early planting, cv. Caravelle) and 4 Apr. (late planting, cv. Mission) 2005. Standard plant population, fertilization, irrigation, and pest control practices were followed. We evaluated three 1-MCP rates (5, 10, or 25 g·ha-1 a.i.) at three preharvest spraying times for the early (22, 15, and 7 days before harvest, DBH) or once for the late planting experiment (4 DBH). An additional test (late planting) compared fruit quality after storage for melons dipped with 1-MCP (0 or 10 mg·L-1). Fruits were harvested six times during June 2005 (early planting) and once on 19 July 2005 (late planting) and fruit quality parameters were measured at harvest and after storage. The preharvest 1-MCP application slightly delayed maturity and improved early harvest synchrony, but did not affect total marketable or yield by fruit size regardless of timing or rate of application. There was no effect of 1-MCP rate or application timing on fruit quality at harvest or after cold storage, except for an increased in fruit firmness (10%) in one of the six harvests. However, fruits treated with 1-MCP spray at 25 g·ha-1 a.i. (late planting) had higher firmness than those treated with lower rates after 9 days of storage. In addition, 1-MCP postharvest dipping significantly improved fruit firmness; however, a `greening' was evident in the fruit surface. Our results suggest that cantaloupe fruit quality was less affected by early preharvest spray application of 1-MCP applied at less than 25 g·ha-1 a.i. as compared to postharvest applications.

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Smiljana Goreta, Kristina Batelja, and Slavko Perica

The effect of thinning to three, four, five, or six lateral shoots on the growth parameters of five differently colored poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) cultivars (‘Christmas Star’, ‘Christmas Feelings’, ‘Cortez Candy’, ‘Marble Star’, and ‘Primero Roso’) was studied by consecutive measurements of growth from September to December. In a separate experiment, the effect of pot size (13-, 15-, or 18-cm diameter) on growth of ‘Christmas Star’ was studied. Cultivars responded similarly to thinning, but during the growing season, apparent differences in vegetative growth parameters between cultivars were observed, with ‘Primero Roso’ evaluated as the most vigorous. At the single-shoot level, the increased number of lateral shoots decreased the number of nodes at the beginning and the stem diameter at the end of the experiment. Leaf area, dry weight of stems, and total plant weight increased as the number of laterals increased at the end of experiment. The most distinctive canopy attribute in this study was the bract color because, according to customer evaluation, significant differences in visual appearance among tested cultivars were observed only for that trait. Pot size differentially affected the vegetative growth parameters of poinsettia ‘Christmas Star’. Increasing pot size from a 13- to 18-cm diameter resulted in an increase of plant canopy diameter, stem diameter, and the number of nodes on lateral shoots. There were no other substantial benefits on the measured growth parameters that could justify the use of pots larger than a 13-cm diameter for a poinsettia crop established at the beginning of September.

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Daniel I. Leskovar, Smiljana Goreta, and Jose A. Franco

The aim of this study was to determine whether aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG), an inhibitor of ethylene synthesis, would affect earliness, increase yield, and improve overall at harvest and postharvest quality of melon (Cucumis melo L. group Cantalupensis, `Sol Real'). Field experiments were conducted during two seasons with AVG (124 g·ha–1 a.i.) applied as spray or soil injected into the root zone with a single or double application between 7 d and 21 d before harvest. The AVG soil injection method increased earliness compared with AVG spray in one season. Total marketable yield increased with AVG injection but not with the AVG spray method compared with the control. Regardless of method of application, AVG did not affect fruit firmness, rind thickness, netting, or soluble solids content when measured at harvest. However, AVG spray decreased fruit size and seed cavity in one season. Similarly, AVG spray did not affect fruit quality after storage, whereas AVG soil injection increased fruit firmness. Overall, melon yield and fruit quality responses to preharvest AVG applications were superior for the soil injection than the spray method.

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Smiljana Goreta, Slavko Perica, Gvozden Dumicic, Lovre Bucan, and Katja Zanic

Suggested watermelon planting densities and N rates vary on a large scale, indicating that there is insufficient knowledge about their effects. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of N rate and planting density on growth, yield and quality of watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum & Nakai] grown on black polyethylene mulch. The field experiments with `Crimson Sweet' watermelon were conducted in two climatologically different growing regions. The treatments were factorial combinations of three in-row plant spacings (0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 m) and three N rates (115, 195, and 275 kg·ha-1). Part of the N (35 kg·ha-1) was applied preplant and the remainder was fertigated. Vine length increased linearly up to 7 weeks after planting (WAP) as N rate increased from 115 to 275 kg·ha-1, and up to 9 WAP as plant spacing increased from 0.5 to 1.5 m. Total and marketable yields per ha or per plant did not increase with N rates above 115 kg·ha-1. Average fruit weight and fruit size distribution were generally unaffected by N rate. Leaf N concentration increased as N rate increased, although leaf N concentrations at the lowest N rate (115 kg·ha-1) even at 9 WAP were relatively high (43.3 to 47.3 g·kg-1). Total and marketable yields per ha were linearly decreased with an increase in plant spacing from 0.5 to 1.5 m, and the same was noticed with the total and marketable number of fruit per ha. With increased plant spacing average fruit weight increased and fruit size distribution shifted to larger categories.

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Smiljana Goreta, Daniel I. Leskovar, and John L. Jifon

Successful field establishment of vegetable transplants often depends on the ability of young seedlings to tolerate various biotic and abiotic stresses after transplanting. Treatments that limit transpirational water loss could improve plant survival and stand establishment. In this study we evaluated growth and physiological responses of pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) seedlings to foliar application of chemical plant regulators [abscisic acid (ABA) and aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG)] or physical film-forming barriers [AntiStress (AS), Transfilm (TF), and Vapor Gard (VG)] during transient 4-day water deficit cycles. During two 4-day water deficit cycles, stomatal conductance (g s) and net CO2 assimilation rate (ACO2) were unaffected by the application of physical materials, but differed for ABA and AVG. Compared with untreated control plants, ABA reduced g s (47% to 69%) and ACO2 (37% to 57%) by the end of the second water deficit cycle, whereas AVG increased gs (27% to 60%) during the first desiccation cycle. Leaf (ψlf) and stem (ψst) xylem water potential of plants treated with film-forming materials generally decreased at the same rate as those of untreated plants, whereas application of AVG caused earlier and more pronounced decline of ψlf. Application of ABA enabled the maintenance of ψlf and ψst during two desiccation cycles, and thus prevented an increase of electrolyte leakage and leaf abscission. Growth rates of all plant components were reduced after ABA applications. However, allometric relationships showed similar patterns of dry matter allocation in leaves and shoots among ABA, TF, VG, and untreated control plants. Application of AS reduced allocation of dry matter to leaves, whereas AVG enhanced it at the expense of roots. These data indicate that water deficit tolerance of pepper seedlings only occurred with foliar application of ABA. This effect was associated with improved plant water relations, increased cell membrane stability, reduced leaf abscission, and a transient reduction in plant growth rates.

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Smiljana Goreta, Lovre Bucan, Gvozden Dumicic, and Daniel I. Leskovar

Globe artichoke is a native crop of the Mediterranean region with about 80% worldwide production. It is estimated that about 3,000 ha are grown in the U.S., mostly in California. Artichoke crop can be grown as a perennial, by vegetative cuttings, or as annual by seeds. Crop production can be limited by freezing winter temperatures leading to irreversible plant damage or by high summer temperatures causing poor head quality. Successful artichokes production, particularly in areas with constraining climatic conditions, requires proper selection of cultivars and planting dates. Cultivars with low vernalization requirements are more prone to a short growing season. The application of GA3 to overcome the lack of low temperatures and fulfill the vernalization requirements of early cultivars is well known. The goal of this multi-year project is to select production strategies contributing to earliness, extension of harvesting period, and improved yield and head quality under a variety of environmental conditions in Croatia and Texas. Selecting cultivars with different maturity groups and planting dates enabled harvesting period from autumn to late spring depending on locations. When GA3 was applied (12.5 to 125 ppm) on a naturally vernalized crop from autumn planting, early yield was substantially increased without affecting earliness. Conversely, application of GA3 (30 or 45 ppm) on nonvernalized plants established during late spring or summer was necessary for fall harvest in the Croatian locations. Head quality evaluated as head weight and size, or crude protein and total fiber concentration, progressively decreased during late spring harvest in Texas. Shifting the harvesting period towards early spring may be essential for improving head quality and for increasing the market share. To achieve adequate yields, longer harvesting period, and superior head quality, it is necessary to develop and adjust cultural practices for the specific growing area.

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Gabriela Vuletin Selak, Slavko Perica, Smiljana Goreta Ban, Mira Radunic, and Milan Poljak

Olive orchard productivity largely depends on the choice of planted cultivars and their pollination needs. Orchard designs in Croatia are changing because a number of valuable foreign olive cultivars, mostly Italian, have been introduced in this region in the last 30 years. The compatibility relationships of introduced cultivars with autochthonous cultivars are unknown. With the objective of studying reproductive behavior of the most important Croatian cultivars (Drobnica, Lastovka, Levantinka, and Oblica) and their cross-pollination to recently introduced Italian cultivars Leccino and Pendolino, initial and final fruit set in self-pollination versus cross-pollination and free pollination were compared during three flowering seasons. Experiments were conducted in three different orchards (Kastela, Mravince, and Brac) to identify the effect of the environment on reproductive behavior of olive cultivars. The differences of fruit set in five olive cultivars after tested pollination treatments appeared at the time of initial fruit set. Increased final fruit set under cross-pollinations was observed when compared with self-pollination for all olive cultivars in all experimental orchards. In the Mravince orchard, a positive response to cross-pollination was consistent, and fruit set increased under cross-pollination in all cultivars and years with the exception of ‘Levantinka’ in which no significant differences were noticed between self-pollination treatment and cross-pollination treatments in 2005. Variable self-fertility behavior from season to season was found for tested cultivars. A self-incompatibility index (ISI) higher than 0.1 was recorded for ‘Levantinka’ in all experimental years and, therefore, classified it as a partially self-incompatible cultivar. Self-incompatibility response was observed for ‘Lastovka’. The positive response to cross-pollination over self-pollination only in some experimental years classified ‘Drobnica’, ‘Leccino’, and ‘Oblica’ as partially self-incompatible. Results obtained from this study indicated that pollination efficiency is strictly combination-specific. The Italian cultivar, Leccino, was a successful pollen acceptor and pollenizer of most Croatian cultivars. Reciprocal high success in cross-pollination was recorded for ‘Levantinka’ and ‘Oblica’. In the Mravince orchard, ‘Lastovka’, ‘Leccino’, and ‘Oblica’ were efficient pollenizers of ‘Levantinka’ where the simultaneous flowering period was in accordance with their cross-compatibility. ‘Levantinka’ was a good pollenizer for ‘Lastovka’ in the Mravince orchard, and both cultivars entered into the flowering period earlier than other studied cultivars, which was not the case in the other two orchards. The variations in flowering timing among orchards were a consequence of differences in environmental conditions. According to the high fruit sets recorded in ‘Oblica’ after pollination with ‘Leccino’ or ‘Levantinka’, an increase in tree productivity of the acceptor cultivar is expected in the presence of selected pollenizers in all olive-growing regions.

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Daniel Leskovar, Smiljana Goreta, Kil Sun Yoo, Giovanni Piccinni, and Shinsuke Agehara

Introduction of artichokes in the Wintergarden of Texas, an area with mild winters and hot summers, depends on the development of strategies that will overcome limiting climatic conditions for bolting, earliness, and length of harvest. Cultivars with different bolting requirements were evaluated at two planting times and irrigation rates. The cultivars Emerald, Experimental Red, Imperial Star, Green Globe, and Purple Romagnia were transplanted in the field on 27 Sept. and 3 Dec. 2004, and evaluated at 100% and 75% crop evapotranspiration rates (ETc) at Uvalde, Texas (29°1' N; 99°5' W). Harvests started on 24 Mar. and 21 Apr. 2005 for the first and second planting dates, respectively. Yield increased more than 3-fold for the first compared to the second planting date. Irrigation rates did not affect yield, water use efficiency, or head quality. The cultivars Emerald, Imperial Star, and Experimental Red were earlier than Green Globe and Purple Romagnia. The highest yield was measured for cv. Imperial Star, while the largest head weight was for cv. Green Globe. Total fibers, crude protein, and phenolic compounds concentration depended on cultivar, whereas the total sugar concentrations in the edible part of the head were similar among cultivars. Head weight, percentage of heart, and crude protein concentration decreased, whereas total fiber content increased as the harvesting season progressed. Integrating environmental and cultivar strategies aimed at earliness, large head size, and enhanced level of health-promoting compounds, will contribute to the potential production of globe artichokes in the region.

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Juan C. Díaz-Pérez, Dan MacLean, Smiljana Goreta, Sarah Workman, Erick Smith, Harwinder Singh Sidhu, Gunawati Gunawan, Anthony Bateman, Jesús Bautista, William Lovett, Maja Jukić Špika, Gvozden Dumičić, and Mira Radunić

Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is a nonclimacteric fruit sold fresh as whole fruit or arils (fleshy seeds). It is also used for the production of juice, wine, and syrup. Pomegranate is popular due to its numerous health benefits. In the United States, it is grown primarily in California and other semi-arid regions, with Wonderful being the most widely grown cultivar. However, preliminary research has shown that ‘Wonderful’ produces low yields in Georgia, thus indicating the need to identify cultivars better suited for warm and humid conditions, such as those of the southeastern United States. The objective of this study was to determine the physical and chemical quality attributes of pomegranate cultivars grown in Georgia. Pomegranate fruit from 40 cultivars were harvested during 2012 to 2017. Individual fruit weight varied from 124 g for ‘Utah Sweet’ to 631 g for ‘C1’. The total fruit weight percentage accounted for by fresh aril weight (aril fraction) ranged from 22% for ‘C8’ to 70% for ‘JC’. Individual aril weight ranged from 174 mg for ‘Utah Sweet’ to 638 mg for ‘Cloud’. Across cultivars, individual fruit weight increased linearly with the increasing number of arils. Aril color varied from white to deep red. The arils L* value ranged from 15.7 (dark arils) for ‘Crown Jewel’ to 46.1 (light arils) for ‘Utah Sweet’. The a* values ranged from 0.6 (white arils) for ‘Cloud’ to 20.5 (red arils) for ‘Crab’. The b* values ranged from 8.7 for ‘DJ Forry’ (from a store) to 62.5 for ‘R9’. The Chroma* values ranged from 13.4 for ‘Cloud’ to 24.3 for ‘Crab’. The hue° values ranged from 29.7 for ‘Wonderful’ (from a store) to 87.1 for ‘Cloud’. Rind color was related to the color of the arils; high a* values in the rind and arils were associated with the red color. The fruit juice content ranged from 174 mL·kg−1 fruit for ‘Utah Sweet’ to 638 mL·kg−1 fruit for ‘Cloud’. Cultivars varied from tart to sweet. The fruit soluble solids concentration (SSC) ranged from 10.8% for ‘Sin Pepe’ to 16.4% for ‘Crown Jewel’. Fruit titratable acid (TA) ranged from 0.27% for ‘Sin Pepe’ to 6.20% for ‘Utah Sweet’. The juice maturity index measured as the SSC/TA ratio ranged from 1.9 for ‘Utah Sweet’ to 39.5 for ‘Sin Pepe’. The juice total phenols (measured as gallic acid equivalents) ranged from 463 mg·L−1 for ‘JC’ to 2468 mg·L−1 for ‘Wonderful’ (Georgia). Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity values of juice ranged from 10,001 µM for ‘King’ to 59,821 µM for ‘I11’. Cupric reducing antioxidant capacity values in juice ranged from 7471 µM for ‘Azadi’ to 20,576 µM for ‘Wonderful’ (Georgia). Juice total anthocyanins varied from 1.7 mg·L−1 for ‘R19’ to 50.0 mg·L−1 for ‘Wonderful’ (Georgia). Pomegranate cultivars showed large variability in physical and chemical attributes. Such pomegranate variability represents opportunities for breeding, for the retail market, and for the development of different products by the food industry.