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  • Author or Editor: William F. Clark x
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Beach plum is a shrub native to Atlantic coastal sand dunes from Maine to Maryland, where it is subject to drought and low nutrient and water holding soil. Since colonial times beach plum fruit has been collected from the wild for the production of preserves, an activity that endures today as a cultural tradition and cottage industry. Currently, the supply of fruit from wild stands does not meet the market's demand; hence, beach plum could be a new crop for many growers in the Northeastern U.S. For the past 4 years, a partnership of growers, Univ. of Massachusetts Extension, and Cornell Univ. has experimented with standard orchard cultural methods for beach plum production in coastal Massachusetts. During Aug. 1999, we harvested the first crop from our experimental orchard. The factorial experiment evaluates the effects of irrigation, mulch, and fertilizer on growth and yield of beach plum. Basal and axial growth were strongly correlated and were greater in fertilized than unfertilized treatments. Within fertilizer regime irrigation and mulch had less effect on growth than fertilizer. Fruit yield (dry weight and fresh weight) was greater in fertilized plots. Irrigation had no positive influence on yield. Average fruit diameter and °Brix were greater in the fertilized and unirrigated treatments.

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Assessing consumer acceptance is an important aspect of cultivar evaluation. Since 2002, about 2700 consumers have participated in pear preference surveys. Surveys were conducted on multiple dates and at multiple venues from 2002 to 2005 in Oregon and northern California. Survey participants were asked to indicate their preference for pears based on size, appearance, taste, and overall preference. They were also asked to indicate what attributes they liked or disliked about their favorite and least favorite varieties and to indicate their level of purchase intent. Each survey consisted of four to six cultivars, including at least one standard commercial comparison; i.e., Bartlett, Bosc, or Anjou. Data was analyzed (RCBD; Friedman Analysis of Rank or ANOVA/Tukey's HSD) at the OSU Food Innovation Center Experiment Station using Compusense® five v.4.6 software (Guelph, Ont., Canada). Results indicated several alternative possibilities for both summer and winter sales. Among the most preferred cultivars (variable between states) were Anjou (commercial standard winter pear), Bartlett (commercial standard summer pear and most-consumed cultivar), Blake's Pride, Cinnamon, Concorde, and 71655-014. Other major findings were preference for large pears for adults and small for children, overall liking based on sweetness and flavor rather than skin color, and general lack of knowledge of many commercial pear cultivars. Sensory evaluation surveys will be continued in 2006 in California, with focus on differential harvest times for selected preferred cultivars. Consumer preference data is being combined with production and postharvest quality data in order to provide the pear industry a comprehensive data set on potential alternative cultivars.

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Each year a wide variety of new cultivars and species are evaluated in the National Cut Flower Trial Programs administered by North Carolina State University and the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers. Stems of promising and productive cultivars from the National Trial Program were pretreated with either a commercial hydrating solution or deionized (DI) water and placed in either a commercial holding solution or DI water. Over 8 years, the vase life of 121 cultivars representing 47 cut flower genera was determined. Although there was cultivar variation within each genus, patterns of postharvest responses have emerged. The largest category, with 53 cultivars, was one in which a holding preservative increased vase life of the following genera and species: acidanthera (Gladiolus murielae), basil (Ocimum basilicum), bee balm (Monarda hybrid), black-eyed susan (Rudbeckia hybrids), campanula (Campanula species), celosia (Celosia argentea), common ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), coral bells (Heuchera hybrids), feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), ladybells (Adenophora hybrid), lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum), lobelia (Lobelia hybrids), obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana), ornamental pepper (Capsicum annuum), pincushion flower (Scabiosa atropurpurea), pinkflower (Indigofera amblyantha), seven-sons flower (Heptacodium miconioides), shasta daisy (Leucanthemum superbum), sunflower (Helianthus annuus), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), sweet william (Dianthus hybrids), trachelium (Trachelium caeruleum), and zinnia (Zinnia elegans). Hydrating preservatives increased the vase life of four basils, coral bells, and sunflower cultivars. The combined use of hydrator and holding preservatives increased the vase life of three black-eyed susan, seven-sons flower, and sunflower cultivars. Holding preservatives reduced the vase life of 14 cultivars of the following genera and species: ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum), false queen anne's lace (Ammi species), knotweed (Persicaria hybrid), lisianthus, pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa), sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), yarrow (Achillea millifolium), and zinnia. Hydrating preservatives reduced the vase life of 18 cultivars of the following genera and species: feverfew, lisianthus, ornamental pepper, pineapple lily, seven-sons flower, shasta daisy, sneezeweed, sweet william, sunflower, trachelium, yarrow, and zinnia. The combined use of hydrating and holding preservatives reduced the vase life of 12 cultivars in the following genera and species: false queen anne's lace, feverfew, pincushion flower, sneezeweed, sunflower, trachelium, yarrow, and zinnia. Data for the remaining 50 cultivars were not significant among the treatments; these genera and species included beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), black-eyed susan, blue mist (Caryopteris clandonensis), calendula (Calendula officinalis), campanula, cleome (Cleome hasserliana), common ninebark, dahlia (Dahlia hybrids), delphinium (Delphinium hybrids), flowering peach (Prunus persica forma versicolor), heliopsis (Heliopsis helianthoides), hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum), himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa), hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata), larkspur (Consolida hybrids), lily of the nile (Agapanthus hybrid), lisianthus, lobelia, ornamental pepper, pineapple lily, scented geranium (Pelargonium hybrid), sunflower, sweet william, and zinnia.

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