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Daniel Leskovar and Yahia Othman

Effective nutrition and irrigation are important nursery strategies to produce high-quality seedlings able to withstand heat and drought stress in the field. The objectives of this study were 2-fold, first to identify the influence of two nitrogen (N) levels (75 and 150 mg·L−1) and two fertigation (FR) methods, overhead (OH) and flotation (FL) of artichoke (Cynara cardunculus cv. Green Globe Improved) transplants on root/shoot growth and leaf physiology during the nursery period. A repeated greenhouse experiment was conducted and morphophysiological measurements were determined at 4 and 7 weeks after seeding (WAS). The second objective was to determine the impact of the nursery treatments (FR method and N level) on the subsequent crop growth and yield under three field irrigation methods [surface drip, subsurface drip, and overhead-linear system (OH-L)]. Field measurements were conducted at 50 and 150 days after field transplanting (DAT) during Fall–Winter 2015. Transplants fertilized with 75 mg·L−1 N (low N) had improved root components as compared to those with 150 mg·L−1 N (high N), especially at 4 WAS. The low N transplants had higher root surface area, root length, root branching, thinner root diameter, and less shoot area than the high N transplants. Wilting for low N transplants was 13.5% less than that for high N at 5 DAT, with a total yield similar or slightly higher than those of high N. Although growth of OH and FL transplants was statistically similar at transplanting, those irrigated with OH (greenhouse) had a 10% higher yield than FL irrigated transplants, regardless of the field irrigation method evaluated. Overall, low N level (75 mg·L−1 N) applied with OH irrigation in the nursery positively improved the transplant root system and transplant quality of artichoke seedlings.

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Daniel Leskovar and Yahia A. Othman

The impact of nitrogen application on the growth of olive trees has been well studied. However, little is known about the role of levels and forms of N on the development of roots and physiological traits during establishment of young trees. The objective of this 2-year study was to evaluate the influence of N source and level on shoot morphology (tree height, stem diameter, and branch number) and physiology [leaf area and fresh weight, photosynthesis (Pn), transpiration (E), and stomatal conductance (g s)], root components (length, diameter, surface area, and fork number) and N content of young olive (Olea europaea cv. Arbequina) cuttings. Three-month-old olive cuttings were planted in 15-L pots filled with a growing substrate composed of peatmoss + bark + sand (2:1:1/by volume) and placed in a screen house. Two N levels, 2.8 and 5.6 g/tree, and control (0 N) and four N sources, calcium nitrate (CN, 12%N, 17%Ca+2), ammonium nitrate (AN, 35%N), urea (46%N), and the slow-release Osmocote (OSC, 18%N, 6%P, 12%K) were evaluated. Effects of low– (2.8 g/tree) and high N (5.6 g/tree) levels on shoot components (plant height, diameter, branch number, leaf area, and fresh weight) and gas exchange (Pn, g s and E) were similar implying that the low rate of N was adequate for the establishment of young olive cuttings. Nitrogen sources, particularly AN and CN had significant effects on shoot and root morphology, physiology, and leaf and root N concentration. In fact, AN and CN were the best fertilizer sources for olive transplants in term of root and shoot growth. Overall, 2.8 g/tree N level and AN or CN sources were the best treatments for newly established olive ‘Arbequina’ trees. Root components treated with high N rate (5.6 g/tree N) using the slow-release fertilizer (OSC) was similar to those treated with the low AN rate (2.8 g/tree N). Therefore, for nursery containerized olive trees of ‘Arbequina’ or other cultivars with comparable growth rates, we recommend to apply the CN or AN source at 2.8 g/tree N or the controlled-released fertilizer OSC at 5.6 g/tree N.

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Yahia Othman, Dawn VanLeeuwen, Richard Heerema and Rolston St. Hilaire

Demand for New Mexico’s limited water resources coupled with periodic drought has increased the necessity for tree water status monitoring to guide irrigation scheduling of pecan (Carya illinoinensis) orchards. The objectives of this study were to assess the impact of water status developed during the flood irrigation dry-down cycles on photosynthesis (P n), and gas exchange [stomatal conductance (g S) to H2O (g H2O), transpiration (E), and intercellular CO2 (c i)] and to establish values of midday stem water potential (Ψsmd) that are needed to maintain P n and gas exchange of pecan. We conducted the study simultaneously on two southern New Mexico mature pecan orchards from 2011 through 2013. Flood irrigation as determined by grower practice was used on both orchards and P n, g H2O, E, and c i were assessed at Ψsmd of –0.4 to –2.0 MPa. Photosynthesis and gas exchange were higher in pecan trees shortly after irrigation than trees exhibiting water deficit near the end of a flood irrigation dry-down cycle. The decline in P n was markedly noticeable when Ψsmd dropped below –0.9 MPa. We attributed the reduction in P n mostly to stomatal limitation. The decline in P n and g H2O exceeded 50% when Ψsmd ranged from –1.5 to –2.0 MPa. For those reasons, we recommended that pecan orchards be maintained at Ψsmd higher than –0.90 MPa to prevent significant reductions in carbon assimilation and gas exchange.

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Yahia Othman, Caiti Steele, Dawn VanLeeuwen and Rolston St. Hilaire

For large fields, remote sensing might permit plant low moisture status to be detected early, and this may improve drought detection and monitoring. The objective of this study was to determine whether canopy and soil surface reflectance data derived from a handheld spectroradiometer can detect moisture status assessed using midday stem water potential (ψsmd) in pecan (Carya illinoinensis) during cyclic flood irrigations. We conducted the study simultaneously on two mature pecan orchards, one in a sandy loam (La Mancha) and the other in a clay loam (Leyendecker) soil. We were particularly interested in detecting moisture status in the −0.90 to −1.5 MPa ψsmd range because our previous studies indicated this was the critical range for irrigating pecan. Midday stem water potential, photosynthesis (A) and canopy and soil surface reflectance measurements were taken over the course of irrigation dry-down cycles at ψsmd levels of −0.40 to −0.85 MPa (well watered) and −0.9 to −1.5 MPa (water deficit). The decline in A averaged 34% in La Mancha and 25% in Leyendecker orchard when ψsmd ranged from −0.9 to −1.5 MPa. Average canopy surface reflectance of well-watered trees (ψsmd −0.4 to −0.85 MPa) was significantly higher than the same trees experiencing water deficits (ψsmd −0.9 to −1.5 MPa) within the 350- to 2500-nm bands range. Conversely, soil surface reflectance of well-watered trees was lower than water deficit trees over all bands. At both orchards, coefficient of determinations between ψsmd and all soil and canopy bands and surface reflectance indices were less than 0.62. But discriminant analysis models derived from combining soil and canopy reflectance data of well-watered and water-deficit trees had high classification accuracy (overall and cross-validation classification accuracy >80%). A discriminant model that included triangular vegetation index (TVI), photochemical reflectance index (PRI), and normalized soil moisture index (NSMI) had 85% overall accuracy and 82% cross-validation accuracy at La Mancha orchard. At Leyendecker, either a discriminant model weighted with two soil bands (690 and 2430 nm) or a discriminant model that used PRI and soil band 2430 nm had an overall classification and cross-validation accuracy of 99%. In summary, the results presented here suggest that canopy and soil hyperspectral data derived from a handheld spectroradiometer hold promise for discerning the ψsmd of pecan orchards subjected to flood irrigation.

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Malik G. Al-Ajlouni, Jamal Y. Ayad and Yahia A. Othman

Soilless substrates enhance growing environment, nutrient content, and water quality in the growing medium. The objective of this study was to assess the influence of substrate particle size on growth and flower quality (flower number and length per plant) of two asiatic hybrid lily (Lilium ×elegans) cultivars Fangio and Ercolano. Plants were grown in 12-L pot under greenhouse conditions. Five grades of particle-size substrate, consisting of granulated volcanic material (tuff) were used as treatments. These sizes were 0 to 2, 0 to 4, 0 to 8, 2 to 4, and 4 to 8 mm. Fertigation was applied daily. Plant morphology, physiology, and flower quality were determined during flowering stage. Treatments of 2 to 4- and 4 to 8-mm tuff had lower water holding capacity (WHC), bulk density, electrical conductivity (EC), and pH compared with 0 to 2- and 0 to 4-mm tuff. In addition, plant height, leaf area, and flower quality of ‘Fangio’ were higher compared with ‘Ercolano’. Chlorophyll content and fluorescence were similar among all treatments. Leaf fresh weight, leaf area, shoot dry weight, root dry weight, and flower quality were higher in sizes of 0 to 4-, 2 to 4-, and 4 to 8-mm than 0 to 2-mm tuff, especially those from ‘Fangio’. The 0 to 4-mm substrate had an optimal and consistent flower quality results in both cultivars when compared with other tuff sizes. Overall, the results presented here suggest that using 0 to 4-mm tuff substrate holds promise for improving growth and flower quality of asiatic hybrid lily grown under soilless culture.