In the first century CE, two Roman agricultural writers, Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella and Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), referred to proto-greenhouses (specularia) constructed for the Emperor Tiberius (42 BCE–37 CE) presumably adjacent to his palace, the Villa Jovis on the Isle of Capri. Pliny stated in Historia Naturalis (Book 19, 23:64) that the specularia consisted of beds mounted on wheels that were moved into the sun, and on wintry days withdrawn under the cover of frames glazed with transparent stone (lapis specularis) to provide fruits of cucumis. According to Pliny, this was “a delicacy for which the Emperor Tiberius, had a remarkable partiality; in fact there was never a day on which he was not supplied it.” The cucumis fruits described by Columella and Pliny, long mistranslated as cucumbers, Cucumis sativus, were in fact long-fruited melons, Cucumis melo subsp. melo Flexuosus Group. They are known today as vegetable melons, snake melons, and faqqous, and were highly esteemed in Rome and ancient Israel.
Jules Janick and Harry Paris
Modern greenhouses are intensive farming systems designed to achieve high efficiency and productivity. Plants are produced year-round in greenhouses by maintaining the environment at or near optimum levels regardless of extreme weather conditions. Many scientific discoveries and technological advancements that happened in the past two centuries paved the way for current state-of-the-art greenhouses. These include, but are not limited to, advancements in climate-specific structural designs and glazing materials, and temperature control, artificial lighting, and hydroponic production systems. Greenhouse structures can be broadly grouped into four distinct designs, including tall Venlo greenhouses of the Netherlands, passive solar greenhouses of China, low-cost Parral greenhouses of the Mediterranean region, and gutter-connected polyethylene houses of India and African countries. These designs were developed to suit local climatic conditions and maximize the return on investment. Although glass and rigid plastic options are available for glazing, the development of low-cost and lightweight plastic glazing materials (e.g., polyethylene) enabled widespread growth of the greenhouse industry in the developing world. For temperate regions, supplemental lighting technology is crucial for year-round production. This heavily relies on advancements in electro-lighting during the 19th and 20th centuries. The development of hydroponic production systems for the controlled delivery of nutrients further enhanced crop productivity. This article addresses important historical events, scientific discoveries, and technological improvements related to advancements in these areas.
Cary A. Mitchell
The most recent platform for protected horticultural crop production, with the shortest history to date, is located entirely indoors, lacking even the benefit of free, natural sunlight. Although this may not sound offhand like a good idea for commercial specialty-crop production, the concept of indoor controlled-environment plant growth started originally for the benefit of researchers—to systematically investigate effects of specific environmental factors on plant growth and development in isolation from environmental factors varying in uncontrolled ways that would confound or change experimental findings. In addition to its value for basic and applied research, it soon was discovered that providing nonlimiting plant-growth environments greatly enhanced crop yield and enabled manipulation of plant development in ways that were never previously possible. As supporting technology for indoor crop production has improved in capability and efficiency, energy requirements have declined substantially for growing crops through entire production cycles in completely controlled environments, and this combination has spawned a new sector of the controlled-environment crop-production industry. This article chronicles the evolution of events, enabling technologies, and entrepreneurial efforts that have brought local, year-round indoor crop production to the forefront of public visibility and the threshold of profitability for a growing number of specialty crops in locations with seasonal climates.
Shih-wen Lin, Tsung-han Lin, Cynthia Kung Man Yee, Joyce Chen, Yen-wei Wang, Manoj Kumar Nalla, and Derek W. Barchenger
High temperature stress is a major limiting factor for pepper productivity, which will continue to be a problem under climate change scenarios. Developing heat tolerant cultivars is critical for sustained pepper production, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. In fruiting crops, like pepper, reproductive tissues, especially pollen, are the most sensitive to high temperature stress. Typically, pollen viability and germination are assessed through staining and microscopy, which is tedious and potentially inaccurate. To increase efficiency in assessing pollen traits of pepper, the use of impedance flow cytometry (IFC) has been proposed. We conducted three independent experiments to determine the most effective methodology to use IFC for evaluating pollen traits for heat tolerance in pepper. Seven floral developmental stages were evaluated, and stages 3, 4, and 5 were found to best combine high pollen concentration and activity. Flowers in development stages 3, 4, or 5 were then heat treated at 41, 44, 47, 50, and 55 °C or not heat treated (control). The critical temperature to assess heat tolerance using IFC was found to be 50 °C, with a reduction in pollen activity and concentration occurring at temperatures greater than 47 °C. Twenty-one entries of pepper were then accessed for pollen traits using the staining and IFC methods over 2 months, April (cooler) and June (hotter). Growing environment was found to be the greatest contributor to variability for nearly all pollen traits assessed, with performance during June nearly always being lower. PBC 507 and PBC 831 were identified as being new sources of heat tolerance, based on using IFC for assessing pollen. Pollen viability determined by staining and pollen activity determined using IFC were significantly positively correlated, indicating that IFC is an efficient and accurate method to assess pollen traits in pepper. This work provides a basis for further research in this area and supports more efficient breeding of heat-tolerant cultivars.
The increased popularity of jujube (Ziziphus jujuba) combined with the difficulty of grafting have limited supplies of grafted trees in the United States. From 2011 to 2020, grafting was practiced for cultivar amplification after importation and cultivar trials in frost-prone northern New Mexico. Grafting success was related to not only grafting techniques but also climate factors. Bark grafting, whip/tongue grafting, and cleft grafting were commonly used in nurseries. Low temperatures had a critical role in jujube grafting success in marginal regions and were more important than the grafting technique. If frost occurs before or near the leafing time, then grafting should be delayed until the rootstocks are determined to be healthy and alive. If frost occurs after grafting, then grafting failure and/or thin and small plant percentages increased. If only branchlets appear after grafting, then pinching branchlets could stimulate new shoot growth.
Mary Vargo and James E. Faust
The effect of average daily temperature (ADT) on flower bud development and subsequent time to flower was investigated on hybrid impatiens (Impatiens ×hybrida) cultivars Compact Electric Orange, Compact Hot Coral, and Compact Orchid Blush. Plants with a visible flower bud measuring 2 mm in width were placed in one of the four greenhouses with temperature setpoints ranging from 16 to 28 °C. Flower bud width was measured every 3 days in each ADT treatment until flowering. The subsequent days to flower (DTF) from the onset of a visible bud decreased from 36 to 27 days as the ADT increased from 17 to 28 °C. The DTF from visible bud varied by <3 days among the three cultivars across all temperatures; therefore, cultivar data were pooled to create a stronger prediction model. A logistic formula was used to predict the remaining DTF as a function of flower bud width and ADT. The model accurately described the effect of bud width and ADT on flowering time within ±3 days for 87% of the actual DTF across all three cultivars. The resulting flower development model provides greenhouse growers with a guide for manipulating temperature to produce flowering plants for specific market dates based on flower bud width measurements.
Wei-Ling Chen and Chun-Jung Shen
Asparagus is a potential greenhouse crop, and its production is considerably affected by temperature and light, especially in the summer season. This study investigated the effects of the application of near-infrared (NIR)-reflective diffusion coating on a simple plastic greenhouse on microclimatic conditions, plant response, spear yield, and quality of the asparagus plant in central Taiwan. The results showed that NIR-reflective diffusion coating reduced the mean air temperature inside the greenhouse by 0.3 to 0.9 °C and leaf temperature by 2.3, 2.4, and 2.4 °C at a canopy height of 50, 100, and 50 cm, respectively. Although the accumulated daily light integral (DLI) transmitted in the coated greenhouse exhibited an 18.9% reduction compared with a 16.8% reduction in the noncoated greenhouse, a more uniform spatial light distribution was noted. Therefore, photosynthesis improved in the middle and bottom canopy, and plants could maintain a higher transpiration rate, thus resulting in atmospheric cooling. The average spear yield increased by 31.4% in summer and by 10.1% during the following harvest with a lower crude fiber (CF) content and higher Ca as well as Mg contents. In addition, the number of newly emerged shoots increased by 48.8% after the removal of the mother stalk under coating. NIR-reflective diffusion coating can be used as an energy-saving method for enhancing cooling and improving light use efficiency, thus increasing asparagus production in a greenhouse in summer.
David G. Tork, Neil O. Anderson, Donald L. Wyse, and Kevin J. Betts
The genus Linum L. contains ≈200 primarily blue-flowered species, including several ornamentals, yet no reports exist regarding the cut flower potential of this genus. The objective of this study was to evaluate the cut flower potential of perennial flax cultivars (L. perenne L. ‘Blue Flax’ and ‘Sapphire’; Expt. 1, 2018) and accessions (L. austriacum L., L. lewisii Pursh., and L. perenne; Expt. 2, 2019), and record traits that will enable breeding and selection for improved cut flower performance. The mean vase life across both cultivars in Expt. 1 was 9.2 days. In Expt. 2, L. perenne had the longest average vase life (9.3 days), followed by L. austriacum (9.1 days) and L. lewisii (8.3 days). The floral preservative (Floralife 300) significantly increased vase life by an average of 1.7 days in Expt. 1, and 1.6 days in Expt. 2, and resulted in a significantly greater number of flowers (≈2x) in both experiments. Significant variation was observed among genotypes for most traits, including vase life (6.2 to 11.3 days) and number of flowers (1.3 to 10.5), highlighting the opportunities for improving the potential of cut flower perennial flax through breeding.
Shing-Shan Tsai and Yao-Chien Alex Chang
In the commercial production of phalaenopsis orchids, the cultivation time after deflasking is used to describe the plant age and maturity. Carbon-to-nitrogen (C/N) ratio is often used as an indicator of plant growth and flowering potential. High C/N ratios are considered to promote reproductive growth, and low C/N ratios are associated with the early vegetative growth or even inhibiting flowering. This study investigated how plant age and maturity affected flowering ability and flower quality of phalaenopsis and their relationship to C/N ratio. The plant materials of various ages were the purple, small-flowered Phalaenopsis Sogo Lotte ‘F2510’ and white, large-flowered P. Sogo Yukidian ‘V3’, which were 2 to 7 months and 10 to 20 months after deflasking, respectively. Plants were placed under 25/20 °C for 4 months to force flowering and investigate the flowering-related parameters. The leaf C/N ratio of both varieties increased in general with the increase of plant age. The spiking (flower-stalk emergence) rate of P. Sogo Lotte ‘F2510’ 2 months after deflasking was only 42%, which indicates that these plants were not completely out of their juvenile phase, whereas that of those 3 to 7 months after deflasking was 100%, indicating that plants had acquired full flowering ability. No linear correlation was found between the C/N ratio and days to spiking, to first visible bud, to first flower open, and to 90% flower opening in the white, large-flowered P. Sogo Yukidian ‘V3’. However, there was a positive correlation between the C/N ratio and inflorescence length, flower-stalk diameter, first flower diameter, and flower count. Thus, the C/N ratio is feasible to be used as an indicator for assessing the flowering quality in phalaenopsis.