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Temperate fruit. Temperate fruit crops grown commercially in Florida include blueberry, stone fruit [(peach ( Prunus persica ), nectarine ( P. persica var. nectarina ), plum ( Prunus salicina )], muscadine grape, brambles (primarily blackberry

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Plants respond to wind in a manner similar to drought, but, in addition, leaves suffer physical or mechanical damage. Long-term wind stress results in smaller plants, less total leaf area, skewed tree growth because most of the branches grow toward the leeward side, and less yield than plants protected from wind. A simple procedure to simulate abrasion damage to leaves helps growers recognize wind damage to several fruit crops.

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At the University of Georgia, HORT 3020 (Introduction to Fruit Crops) is a two-credit survey of the botanical characteristics, taxonomy, and production practices of the world's major fruit crops. It is offered via traditional classroom instruction, and as a distance education (DE) course through the University System of Georgia Independent Study program. The DE version of the course is designed to be identical in content, final exam, and grading scale. However, due to the nature of independent study, the end-of-topic evaluations are open-book, written assignments in the DE course, whereas students in the classroom version have closed-book quizzes at the end of each topic. Student performance in the two versions of the course was compared over a 3-year period (May 1998 to May 2001) by analyzing scores on end-of-topic evaluations, final exams, and overall course grades. Students in the DE version had higher scores on end-of-topic evaluations in all 3 years, higher scores on a comprehensive final exam in 2 of 3 years, and consequently higher overall course grades than classroom students in all 3 years. Better performance of DE over classroom students may have been related to 1) qualitative differences in end-of-topic evaluations (written assignments versus quizzes), 2) differences in student demographics (nontraditional students in DE, traditional undergraduates in classroom), 3) the elective (DE) versus required (classroom) nature of the courses, or 4) differences in course duration (1 year for DE, 15 weeks for classroom). Equal or better performance of DE students suggests that survey courses such as Introduction to Fruit Crops can be offered via distance education without compromising learning outcomes.

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Zinc (Zn) deficiency is widespread throughout the world causing economic losses on a number of crops. Despite the fact that much information was generated during the last 20 years on Zn soil chemistry and its inorganic phase equilibrium, the mechanism controlling the amount of free Zn+2 present in the soil solution is not yet completely understood. This information is critical for the development of effective techniques of supplying Zn through the soil. As Zn moves very slowly through the soil, however, and a large portion of fruit tree root system occupies deep soil layers, foliar sprays with Zn are generally more effective than soil treatments in alleviating Zn deficiency symptoms. That is why many extension specialists recommend this approach. In view of the poor mobility of foliar-absorbed Zn in plants, however, we may need to reexamine this approach. Zinc foliar sprays may be effective in controlling Zn deficiency in leaves, but not in alleviating Zn deficiency in roots or subsequent flushes of growth. Also, the conditions under which fruit trees are most likely to respond to corrective Zn treatments are not well understood and the critical periods for Zn supply to assure optimal fruit set, fruit growth, and high fruit external and internal quality are not well defined. Field studies on fruit trees suggest that Zn deficiency must be quite severe to make the application of this element economically justifiable. In well-controlled greenhouse studies, however, growth responses were realized on plants only mildly affected by Zn deficiency. If considerable field variability may explain this discrepancy in the data, then future field research must use improved methodologies to properly quantify the impact of various levels of Zn deficiency on tree growth, fruit yield, and fruit quality.

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The TFRUIT·Xpert and CIT·Xpert computerbased diagnostic programs can quickly assist commercial producers, extension agents, and homeowners in the diagnosis of diseases, insect pest problems and physiological disorders. The CIT·Xpert system focuses on citrus (Citrus spp.), whereas the TFRUIT·Xpert system focuses on avocado (Persea americana Mill.), carambola (Averrhoa carambola L.), lychee (Litchi chinensis Sonn.), mango (Mangifera indica L.), papaya (Carica papaya L.), and `Tahiti' lime (Citrus latifolia Tan.). The systems were developed in cooperation with research and extension specialists with expertise in the area of diagnosing diseases, disorders, and pest problems of citrus and tropical fruit. The systems' methodology reproduces the diagnostic reasoning process of these experts. Reviews of extension and research literature and 35-mm color slide images were completed to obtain representative information and slide images illustrative of diseases, disorders, and pest problems specific to Florida. The diagnostic programs operate under Microsoft-Windows. Full-screen color images are linked to symptoms (87 for CIT·Xpert and 167 for TFRUIT·Xpert) of diseases, disorders, and insect pest problems of citrus and tropical fruit, respectively. Users can also refer to summary documents and retrieve management information from the Univ. of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension publications through hypertext links. The programs are available separately on CD-ROM and each contains over 150 digital color images of symptoms.

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CITPATH, a computerized diagnostic key and information system, was developed to identify the major fungal diseases of citrus foliage and fruit in Florida. This software provides hypertext-linked descriptions and graphic displays of symptoms, maps of geographic occurrence, diagrams of disease development, and management strategies, with reference to chemical control methods detailed in the current Florida Citrus Pest Management Guide. Reciprocal lists of citrus cultivars susceptible to specific diseases and diseases affecting specific cultivars are included. Developed for commercial growers, county extension programs, citrus horticulture classes, and master gardeners, this software is available for MS-DOS-based computers and on CD-ROM disks containing other citrus databases.

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Urea-triazone-based nitrogen (N) solutions were evaluated for potential leaf injury on agronomic and horticultural crops at 61 commercial grower sites throughout the United States. Poliar spray solutions containing triazone N were used at concentrations ranging from 1.5% to 15.7%. Safe N concentrations for urea-triazone-based N products ranged from 1.5% for crops such as sweet corn, apple, cherry, and pear, and up to 15.7% for nursery root stocks. Urea-triazone-based N solutions were found to be much safer on crop foliage than ammonium-, nitrate-, and/or all urea-based foliar fertilizer products than reported in the literature.

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Laurel wilt disease, incited by Raffaelea lauricola, has resulted in the death of more than 300 million laurel trees (Lauraceae) in the United States. One such tree is the commercially important avocado (Persea americana), the second largest tree crop in Florida other than citrus (Citrus sp.). This disease affects the industry in South Florida and two larger avocado industries in Mexico and California have taken notice. Trees succumb soon after infection, and once external symptoms are evident, the disease is very difficult to control and contain as the pathogen can spread to adjacent trees via root grafting. Presently, there is no viable, cost-effective method of early diagnosis and treatment. This study was undertaken to evaluate the use of scent-discriminating canines (Canis familiaris) for the detection of laurel wilt–affected wood from avocado trees. Three canines, one Belgian Malinois and two Dutch Shepherds, were trained and studied for this ability. In addition, prevailing weather conditions were recorded and evaluated to determine their effect on canine performance. The results of this evaluation indicated that canines can detect laurel wilt–affected wood and the laurel wilt pathogen and may be useful in the detection of laurel wilt–diseased trees in commercial groves.

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A novel topical spray was developed to increase resistance to both cold damage and cold mortality in plant foliage, flowers, and fruits. In environmental chamber experiments, application of the spray to monocot and dicot foliage lowered the environmental temperatures associated with the first onset of cold injury and with cold mortality from 2.2 to 9.4 °F, compared with controls sprayed with tap water, over an effective temperature range (depending on species) of ≈0 to 32 °F. The threshold temperature for flower mortality was lowered from 2.2 to 3.2 °F depending on species. Mature fruit suffered significantly less freeze damage when pretreated with the spray formulation. The spray is composed of ingredients that are non-toxic to plants, humans, and other animals. The patent-pending formulation has been commercialized under the trade name FreezePruf.

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