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Xinhua Yin, Jinhe Bai and Clark F. Seavert

Single broadcast application of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) on the soil surface results in low use efficiency of applied N and P in pear (Pyrus communis) production systems in Oregon and the Pacific northwestern United States. A field experiment was conducted from 2005 through 2006 to evaluate the effects of split fertigation and band placement as alternate N and P management practices in ‘Anjou’ pears growing on a Parkdale loam soil near Parkdale, OR. Measurement and analysis of tree nutrition, fruit yield, quality, and storability, as well as indigenous soil nutrient supply was the scope of the experiment. To evaluate fertilizer management practices on pear growth and productivity, the following four treatments were tested with a randomized complete block design replicated four times: 1) broadcast application of N and P on the soil surface in a 10-ft-wide, weed-free strip centered on the tree row, 2) band placement of N and P on both sides of tree rows in 1 × 1-ft ditches (width × depth), 3) 1 × 1-ft ditches were dug using the band placement equipment, the dug soil was completed returned to the ditch without any fertilizer, and the broadcast application of N and P on the soil surface was applied on a 10-ft-wide, weed-free strip centered on the tree row, and 4) fertigation of N and P split into five equal applications throughout the growing season. Nitrogen and P fertilizers were applied to treatments 1, 2, and 3 at 100 lb/acre N and 55 lb/acre P, while treatment 4 received only 80 lb/acre N and 44 lb/acre P. The 2-year average results show leaf N and P concentrations in the fall were increased by 10.0% and 10.6%, respectively, with split fertigation compared with broadcast application on the soil surface. Band placement increased leaf N by 7.1% relative to broadcast application on the soil surface with soil disturbance caused by band placement. Split fertigation and band placement slightly increased fruit yield, but increased marketable fruit (the total of excellent and very slightly scalded fruit) by 20.9% and 11.1% (absolute value) when compared with broadcast application of N and P and broadcast application of N and P with soil disturbance caused by band placement, respectively, and after 3 months of cold storage. No detrimental effects on fruit weight or reduction in soil amino sugar N were observed from lowering the N and P application rates by 20% with split fertigation. Overall, split fertigation and band placement of N and P can be used to replace single broadcast application on the soil surface on pear orchards to reduce fruit superficial scald during cold storage and improve the use efficiency of applied N and P in the mid-Columbia region of Oregon.

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Xinhua Yin, Clark Seavert and Jinhe Bai

Responses of adult pear to the integrated N fertigation and drip irrigation system have not been documented in Oregon. A field trial was conducted on adult pear at the Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Hood River, Ore., in 2005. Two N and water management systems (integrated N fertigation and drip irrigation system; and broadcast application of dry N fertilizer to the soil surface and microsprinkler irrigation system) were compared on pear cultivars of Bartlett and Golden Russet Bosc, and rootstocks of OH×F97 and OH×F87. The responses of these cultivars and rootstocks to the integrated N fertigation and drip irrigation system were similar. The integrated N fertigation and drip irrigation system consumed 1450 m3·ha-1 of irrigation water during the entire season from May to September, reducing irrigation water use by 73% compared with 5297 m3·ha-1 under the current system—broadcast application of dry N fertilizer to the soil surface and microsprinkler irrigation system averaged over the four cultivar and rootstock combinations. The fruit yield was statistically similar for the integrated N fertigation and drip irrigation system and the broadcast application of dry N fertilizer and microsprinkler irrigation system on the average of the four cultivars and rootstocks. Differences in fruit size and color were negligible between the two N and irrigation management systems. Overall, our results suggest that adopting the integrated N fertigation and drip irrigation system does not cause significant reduction in yield or quality of adult pear; the integrated N fertigation and drip irrigation system could be a profitable and environmentally sound management alternative for pear production.

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Xinhua Yin, Clark Seavert and Jinhe Bai

The effects of in-row groundcover and drip irrigation on mineral nutrition and productivity of sweet cherry are largely unknown in the Pacific Northwest. A field experiment was initialized on the Mel Omeg orchard at The Dalles, Ore., in 2005. This orchard had been managed under microsprinkler irrigation and in-row herbicide application since its establishment in 1998. Two irrigation systems (drip irrigation, microsprinkler irrigation) and four in-row ground management systems (straw mulch, white fabric cover, black fabric cover, and no cover with herbicide applications) were evaluated in a split-plot design with four replicates. Drip irrigation reduced irrigation water consumption by 74% relative to microsprinkler during the entire season from May to September. Compared with no cover, black fabric lowered water use by 8%, and straw mulch and white fabric had a 1% to 3% reduction in water use. Fruit yield was similar for drip irrigation and microsprinkler. There was a trend of yield increase with groundcovers relative to no cover. Fruit firmness, size, and sugar content did not differ regardless of irrigation or groundcover systems. Drip irrigation increased marketable fruits by 5% (absolute value) via reducing fruit surface pitting compared with microsprinkler. Differences in soil-available N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Zn, Mn, Cu, pH, and organic matter were negligible between the two irrigation systems and among the four groundcover treatments. However, drip irrigation resulted in slightly lower concentrations of N, P, K, Ca, B, and Mn in leaf than microsprinkler. Overall, our results suggest that in-row straw mulch and fabric covers and drip irrigation could be feasible management alternatives for sweet cherry production in the Pacific Northwest.

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Jinhe Bai, Xinhua Yin, Bruce D. Whitaker, Kristi Deschuytter and Paul M. Chen

Superficial scald of ‘Anjou’ pears (Pyrus communis) usually develops after cold storage of ≥3 months. Ethoxyquin has been used to control scald commercially. However, only a small amount of fruit can be treated within 7 days after harvest as recommended, and sometimes ethoxyquin causes phytotoxicity. Application of 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) showed excellent scald control potential, with rapid and mass treatment feasible. However, fruit may lose normal ripening ability at a dosage of 1-MCP as low as 30 nL·L−1, whereas a dosage of ≤20 nL·L−1 is not enough to control scald. In this investigation, ‘Anjou’ pears treated with 25 nL·L−1 1-MCP immediately after harvest were stored at −1 °C for up to 5 months. After 1, 7, 30, or 60 days of cold storage, part of the fruit were treated with 1000 μL·L−1 ethoxyquin and the remainder was left untreated as nonethoxyquin controls. The incidence of superficial scald, the concentrations of α-farnesene and its conjugated triene (CT) oxidation products, and the ripening ability of fruit were measured after 3-, 4-, and 5-month storages. All fruit ripened properly within 7 days of shelf life at 20 °C regardless of treatment. 1-MCP treatment at harvest or ethoxyquin alone applied within 7 days adequately controlled scald for only 3 months. By contrast, 1-MCP + ethoxyquin controlled scald for 5 months, regardless of when ethoxyquin was applied from 1 to 60 days after the start of cold storage. Thus, a combination of 25 nL·L−1 1-MCP, which is easily applied and does not influence ripening ability, and a delayed application (up to 60 days) of 1000 μL·L−1 ethoxyquin, which is a low dosage that does not cause phytotoxicity on fruit, controlled scald sufficiently. Scald is linked with accumulation of CT oxidation products of α-farnesene. 1-MCP and ethoxyquin inhibited accumulation of CT in fruit peel by different mechanisms. 1-MCP inhibited the production by reducing α-farnesene synthesis and the oxidation to CT, whereas ethoxyquin worked by inhibiting the latter.

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Xinhua Yin, Clark F. Seavert, Janet Turner, Roberto Núñez-Elisea and Helen Cahn

The impacts of synthetic polypropylene groundcover in the row area of young sweet cherry (Prunus avium L.) trees (Regina on Gisela 6) on soil nutrient availability, tree mineral nutrition and productivity, and cash costs and returns were investigated on a Van Horn fine sandy loam soil at Hood River, Ore., from 2001 to 2005. Treatments included 2.44-m wide synthetic fabric groundcover made of black, woven polypropylene over the row area of cherry trees and no groundcover but with herbicide applications in the row area with the same width as the polypropylene groundcover. Soil-available NO3 , P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Zn, Mn, and Cu contents in 0 to 30 cm in August did not differ significantly between the cover and no cover treatments in any year except 2005, when soil N and K levels were lower with polypropylene cover. Leaf N concentration in August was enhanced by 11% to 19% each year in the polypropylene cover treatment. However, leaf P concentration was lowered by 19% to 37% with polypropylene cover each year; and leaf Ca and Mg concentrations were reduced by 9% to 13% and 6% to 24%, respectively, as a result of polypropylene cover in 3 of 5 years. Reduced leaf P, Ca, and Mg concentrations in the cover treatment were attributed to the diluting effects of enhanced tree growth and fruit yield. Cumulative cash costs for the orchard within the first 4 years before fruit production were $5246/ha higher with polypropylene cover relative to no cover. However, these costs were offset quickly by increased returns from enhanced fruit yields. In the long-term, more fertilizers may need to be applied on polypropylene groundcovered trees to compensate for the enhanced tree growth and fruit production.

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Xinhua Yin, Janet Turner, Clark Seavert, Roberto Nunez-Elisea and Helen Cahn

Theinfluences of a synthetic fabric cover in the row area of sweet cherry trees on soil fertility and plant nutrition are largely unknown. A field trial has been conducted on young `Regina' sweet cherry on a sandy loam soil at the Mid-Columbia Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Hood River, Ore., since 2001. The difference in soil NO - 3, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, Zn, Mn, Cu, pH, or organic matter was nonsignificant between the covered and non-covered treatments in any year. Leaf N content was 11% to 16% greater with the covered treatment compared with the non-covered treatment in 2002 and 2003, but leaf N was similar for the two treatments in 2001. Leaf P content was similar for the two treatments in 2001, but was about 36% less with the covered treatment than the non-covered treatment in 2002 and 2003. Leaf Ca content was decreased by 11% to 17% due to a synthetic fabric cover in 2002 and 2003. Leaf Mg content was 13% to 24% less with the covered treatment than the non-covered treatment in 2002 and 2003. However, the decreased leaf P, Ca, and Mg contents with the covered trees were due to the dilute effects of increased tree growth. The effects of a fabric cover on leaf K, S, B, Zn, Mn, and Cu contents were primarily nonsignificant. Our results suggest that although nutrient availability in the soil is not reduced by a wide synthetic fabric cover, higher rates of fertilizers may be needed for the covered sweet cherry trees due to the elevated tree growth and fruit production from a long-term perspective.

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Xinhua Yin, Lynn E. Long, Xiao-Lan Huang, Ngowari Jaja, Jinhe Bai, Clark F. Seavert and Jac le Roux

A field trial was conducted on a Cherryhill silt loam soil at The Dalles, OR, from 2006 to 2008. The impacts of switching from the traditional micro sprinkler irrigation (MS) to double-lateral drip irrigation (DD) and from no groundcover with herbicide control of weeds (NC) to in-row wheat (Triticum aestivum) straw mulching (ST) were evaluated in a split-plot design with four replicates. Irrigation water use, mineral nutrition, and productivity of ‘Lapins’ sweet cherry (Prunus avium) on ‘Mazzard’ rootstock (P. avium) and soil quality were measured on a plot basis. DD reduced irrigation water consumption by 47.6% to 58.2% compared with MS. Straw mulch lowered irrigation water use by 9.7% relative to NC. Total fruit yield and fruit quality of firmness, size, and sugar at harvest were similar for the irrigation treatments. Straw mulch increased fruit size by 0.6 mm on average relative to NC, which could result in increased grower profitability. The DD system enhanced percentage of marketable fruit by 8.6% relative to MS. Leaf phosphorus (P), boron (B), zinc (Zn), and iron (Fe) concentrations were reduced with DD over MS; consequently, more P, B, Zn, and Fe fertilizers might be needed under DD. Straw mulch markedly decreased the populations of flagellates and amoebae but slightly increased the population of ciliates. Straw mulch resulted in a soil microbial community with remarkably less protozoa. Overall, DD is a viable alternate irrigation system for producing sweet cherry orchards with limited water resources for irrigation. Switching from NC to ST could lower irrigation water use, reduce herbicide runoff, and protect soil from erosion.