Location: Southern Horticultural Research2011 Annual Report
1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
Develop strategies for developing new and improved germplasm, cultural practices, pest control, and management techniques for ornamental and vegetable crops adapted to the Gulf States Region which will increase yields and net income, minimize production losses, improve crop quality, and conserve use of natural resources.
1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Develop new and superior methods of germplasm improvement, pest control, planting systems, irrigation, and crop production management strategies for ornamental and vegetable crops adapted to the Gulf Coast Region. Determine factors that regulate plant diseases, growth characteristics, and tolerance to environmental stress in ornamentals and vegetable crops.
3. Progress Report
Spring/summer variety trials were conducted at the South Mississippi Branch Experiment Station to evaluate new flower varieties for landscape performance in the warm, humid climate of south Mississippi. Outstanding varieties were featured at the annual Ornamental Horticulture Field Day in October 2010. A study evaluated the rooting response and tissue sensitivity of leafy cuttings of twelve cultivars of evergreen azalea to treatment with hot water, with all twelve azalea cultivars being tolerant of submersion long enough to eliminate Rhizoctonia from stem and leaf tissue. A study identified the rate at which the thickening agent sodium cellulose glycolate could be used in preparation of liquid root-promoting solution to maximize adhesion of these solutions to cuttings in commercial propagation. A study found that the essential oil of dog-fennel exhibited weak antifungal activity against selected plant pathogens, promising repellent activity against the yellow fever mosquito, and more potent activity than malathion against azalea lace bug. A study examined the performance of 34 clones of crapemyrtle grown at four southeastern U.S. locations, establishing new or revised measures of performance (e.g. height) that will be of use to breeders, landscape professionals, and consumers. A study with Auburn University evaluated foliar application of selected colors of tempera paint as an alternative to plastic mulches for commercial tomato production. Total marketable fruit weight from painted plants showed no significant reduction in most crops, there was an indication of reduction in thrips numbers on painted plants prior to (but not after) start of flowering, and no significant reduction in tomato spotted wilt virus. The annual Vegetable Field Day at the Beaumont Horticultural Unit in June 2010 included a panel discussion on the elements of high tunnel production, including design and construction, production, harvest, and maintenance. A study evaluated the effectiveness of producing early cantaloupes in a high tunnel. Vegetation developed early and fruit set was achieved; however, the fruits did not fully develop, possibly due to low temperatures and/or incomplete pollination. Six colored bell peppers were evaluated by consumers for visual appearance, perceived flavor based on appearance, and actual flavor preferences. Perceived flavor acceptability was closely correlated with appearance acceptability of whole fruit, but there were no standouts on flavor. ‘Valencia’ and ‘Colossal’ received high scores for overall acceptability. A public demonstration garden was planted at the Beaumont Horticultural Unit for display and education, highlighting use of plastic mulch and drip irrigation, and production of traditional vegetable cultivars, heirloom varieties, and Asian vegetables. A cucurbit sentinel plot was established to monitor for the occurrence of powdery mildew in the southern part of Mississippi; no occurrences were reported from the site. A horticulturist and engineer team created a high tunnel production demonstration in Beaumont for grower visitation. The ADODR met monthly with the cooperating scientist, and these meetings included site visits.