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Open access

Kelly M. Gude, Eleni D. Pliakoni, Brianna Cunningham, Kanwal Ayub, Qing Kang, Channa B. Rajashekar, and Cary L. Rivard

The implementation of high tunnels has shown to increase marketability and/or yield of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and lettuce (Lactuca sativa) crops compared with open-field systems. These structures provide the opportunity to alter light intensity and spectral quality by using specific polyethylene (poly) films and/or shadecloth, which may affect microclimate and subsequent crop productivity. However, little is known about how specific high tunnel coverings affect these parameters. The overall goal of this study was to evaluate the impact of various high tunnel coverings on the microclimate and crop productivity of tomato and lettuce. The coverings included standard, ultraviolet (UV)-stabilized poly film (standard); diffuse poly (diffuse); full-spectrum clear poly (clear); UV-A/B blocking poly (block); standard + 55% shadecloth (shade); and removal of standard poly 2 weeks before initial harvest to simulate a movable tunnel (movable). Microclimate parameters that were observed included canopy and soil temperatures, canopy growing degree-days (GDD), and photosynthetic active radiation (PAR), and crop productivity included yield and net photosynthetic rate. Hybrid red ‘BHN 589’ tomatoes were grown during the summer, and red ‘New Red Fire’ and green ‘Two Star’ leaf lettuce were grown in both spring and fall in 2017 and 2018. Increased temperature, GDD, and PAR were observed during the spring and summer compared with the fall. The soil temperatures during the summer increased more under the clear covering compared with the others. For tomato, the shade produced lower total fruit yield and net photosynthetic rate (Pn) compared with the other treatments, which were similar (P < 0.001 and <0.001, respectively). The greatest yield was 7.39 kg/plant, which was produced under the clear covering. For red leaf lettuce grown in the spring, the plants under the clear, standard, and diffuse coverings had significantly greater yield than the movable and shade coverings (P < 0.001). The coverings had less effect on the yield during the fall lettuce trials, which may have been attributed to the decrease in PAR and environmental temperatures. The findings of this study suggest that high tunnel coverings affect both microclimate and yield of lettuce and tomato.

Open access

Jules Janick and Harry Paris

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.

Open access

Krishna Nemali

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.

Open access

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.

Open access

Austin Brown, James Brosnan, Nicholas Basinger, Wesley Porter, and Gerald Henry

Dallisgrass (Paspalum dilatatum Poir.) control with postemergence herbicides is inefficient and inconsistent from year to year. Control with acetolactate synthase (ALS)-inhibiting herbicides may be enhanced through root absorption, but herbicide movement through dense turfgrass canopies may be difficult. The objectives of this research were to evaluate the influence of verticutting on the postemergence control of dallisgrass and the presence of ALS-inhibiting herbicides within the soil profile. Long-term dallisgrass control [17 weeks after initial treatment (WAIT)] was enhanced in response to verticutting at one of two locations. This may be attributed to differences in turfgrass management (mowing height) before trial initiation that impacted dallisgrass carbohydrate content and herbicide absorption. However, dallisgrass control with certain herbicides was enhanced at the second location in response to verticutting at earlier rating dates. Thiencarbazone + foramsulfuron + halosulfuron (TFH) and trifloxysulfuron at 112 g·ha−1 a.i. and carrier volume of 1628 L·ha−1 (TRI High CV) following mowing + verticutting resulted in the greatest long-term control 17 WAIT at one of two trial locations, 86% and 85%, respectively. Greenhouse experiments confirmed that mowing + verticutting dallisgrass before treatment followed by irrigation led to an increase in herbicide presence within the soil profile, regardless of herbicide. Presence of TFH went from 6.4 to 8.2 mm, trifloxysulfuron at 28 g·ha−1 a.i. and carrier volume of 407 L·ha−1 went from 6.7 to 8.5 mm, and TRI High CV went from 8.6 to 11.8 mm.

Open access

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.

Open access

Shengrui Yao

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.

Open access

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.