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Open access

Mary Lewis, Matthew Chappell, Donglin Zhang and Rebekah Maynard

We documented a successful embryo rescue (ER) protocol for butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), a member of the milkweed family (Asclepiadaceae). Milkweed (Asclepias sp.) includes more than 100 species native to the United States, is an important pollinator plant, and has many commercially desirable traits. However, there is little commercial production outside of native plant nurseries because milkweed species are typically seed-grown and suffer from low seed set during pollination, late-term abortion of seed pods, and nonuniform germination. This project determined the optimal growing media (study one) and embryo maturity (study two) to recover mature seedlings from excised embryos and compared the results to those of traditional methods of seed germination (in soilless substrate). Study one investigated three different media: Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium at full strength and half strength and woody plant medium. MS medium at half strength was optimal for butterfly weed germination and maturation, with greater root and shoot lengths at the time of harvest. In study two, the effects of MS medium at half strength on embryo maturation 90, 60, and 30 days after pollination (DAP) were investigated. The optimal time to harvest embryos was 60 DAP; embryos at 30 DAP were capable of germination but not maturation. A mean germination rate of 97.4% was observed when using embryo rescue, but it was 72.3% with mature seed germinated in soilless substrate typical of commercial production. A similar increase in germination rates was observed for all embryo maturities when compared with seed germinated using soilless substrate. The protocol developed for this study should help to standardize production, reduce propagation time, and improve the commercial acceptance and profitability of milkweed.

Open access

Chase Jones-Baumgardt, David Llewellyn and Youbin Zheng

Low natural daily light integrals (DLIs) are a major limiting factor for greenhouse production during darker months (e.g., October to February in Canada). Supplemental lighting (SL) is commonly used to maintain crop productivity and quality during these periods, particularly when the supply chain demands consistent production levels year-round. What remains to be determined are the optimum SL light intensities (LIs) for winter production of a myriad of different commodities. The present study investigated the growth and yield of sunflower (Helianthus annuus L., ‘Black oil’), kale (Brassica napus L., ‘Red Russian’), arugula (Eruca sativa L.), and mustard (Brassica juncea L., ‘Ruby Streaks’), grown as microgreens, in a greenhouse under SL light-emitting diode (LED) photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) levels ranging from 17.0 to 304 μmol·m−2·s−1 with a 16-hour photoperiod (i.e., supplemental DLIs from 1.0 to 17.5 mol·m−2·d−1). Crops were sown in a commercial greenhouse near Hamilton, ON, Canada (lat. 43°14′N, long. 80°07′W) on 1 Feb. 2018, and harvested after 8, 11, 12, and 12 days, resulting in average natural DLIs of 6.5, 5.9, 6.2, and 6.2 mol·m−2·d−1 for sunflower, kale, arugula, and mustard, respectively. Corresponding total light integrals (TLIs) ranged from 60 to 188 mol·m−2 for sunflower, 76 to 258 mol·m−2 for kale, 86 to 280 mol·m−2 for arugula, and 86 to 284 mol·m−2 for mustard. Fresh weight (i.e., marketable yield) increased asymptotically with increasing LI and leaf area increased linearly with increasing LI, in all genotypes. Hypocotyl length of mustard decreased and hypocotyl diameter of sunflower, arugula, and mustard increased with increasing LI. Dry weight, robust index, and relative chlorophyll content increased and specific leaf area decreased in kale, arugula, and mustard with increasing LI. Commercial microgreen greenhouse growers can use the light response models described herein to predict relevant production metrics according to the available (natural and supplemental) light levels to select the most appropriate SL LI to achieve the desired production goals as economically as possible.

Open access

Ronald C. Stephenson, Christine E.H. Coker, Benedict C. Posadas, Gary R. Bachman, Richard L. Harkess, John J. Adamczyk and Patricia R. Knight

Due to difficulty in monitoring insect pests, applications of insecticides are frequently conducted on a calendar schedule. However, seasonal variability in pest populations leads to these calendar schedules sometimes being inaccurate. Threshold-based insect management strategies, including use of thresholds with conventional pesticides and with use of organic pesticides only, were compared with a conventional calendar approach for yield, management cost, and production value of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). Effect of cultivar was considered by inclusion of the long season cultivar Celebrity and the short season cultivar Early Girl Bush. These factors were compared for spring and fall seasons during two production years. Greatest total and marketable yields were obtained from use of conventional pesticides according to action thresholds. Use of organic insecticides according to thresholds did not affect yields in comparison with a calendar-based approach. Proportion of fruit rated unmarketable was greater with use of organic insecticides due to reduced efficacy and residual of control. Production costs for the organic threshold-based approach were greater due to increased number of insecticide applications required. Gross margin for both conventional and organic threshold-based insect pest management was greater than for the conventional calendar method. Increased economic return for conventional threshold-based management was due to increased yields. Increase in return for organic threshold management was based on premiums received for organically grown tomatoes. Adoption of conventional threshold-based insect pest management by small-scale producers has the potential to increase production efficiency and value, as well as increase environmental sustainability of production. Economic feasibility of organic production requires access to markets willing to pay significant premiums for organic produce. Further research to evaluate economic and yield impacts of production practices for small-scale farms is needed.

Open access

Akide Özcan

The objective of this study was to analyze the effects of low storage temperatures on the quality of pollen obtained from the sweet cherry cultivars 0900 Ziraat, Regina, Starks Gold, and Sweet Heart. The pollen was stored at 4 °C, –20 °C, and –80 °C for 12 months, and its viability and germinability were determined at 3-month intervals. The results demonstrated that the initial pollen viability varied between 73.62% and 79.37%, while pollen germinability varied between 41.24% and 53.56%. The percentage of pollen viability declined remarkably from the third to 12th month by almost 3% in 4 °C storage. The pollen viability for the other two storage temperatures (–20 °C and –80 °C) was greater than 50% by the end of the 12th month. It can be concluded that the pollen quality of these cultivars can be preserved sufficiently at temperatures less than –20 °C.

Open access

Liang Zheng, Zibin Xiao and Weitang Song

In this study, Dianthus caryophyllus L. was used as the experimental plant to investigate the effects of rooting substrate and exogenous auxin concentration on the adventitious rooting of the stem cuttings. Our results showed that the formulated substrates with different physicochemical properties significantly affected the root formation. The substrate with a ratio of cocopeat to perlite at 1:1 (v:v) resulted in the optimum rooting of D. caryophyllus cuttings. Different Indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) and 1-naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) concentrations affected the rooting percentage and seedling rate of D. caryophyllus. Application of NAA at 1000 mg·kg−1 with IBA at 100 mg·kg−1 resulted in the greatest rooting percentage and improved breeding speed. The rooting percentage and seedling rate did not increase with the increase in auxin concentration. Based on these results, we concluded that an appropriate rooting substrate is required to fulfill proper rooting of D. caryohhyllus cuttings, whereas an exogenous application of IBA and NAA at 1000 mg·kg−1 and 100 mg·kg−1 promoted the rooting and a higher auxin concertation inhibited rooting.

Open access

Tripti Vashisth and Taylor Livingston

Huanglongbing (HLB), a bacterial disease, is one of the most destructive citrus diseases. For many decades, it has been known that using heat/high temperatures (thermotherapy) is effective in suppressing plant diseases, particularly the suppression of Candidatus Liberibacter (CLas, casual agent for HLB) when the treated plants are grown in pots (allowing treatment of roots) under controlled conditions. However, in-field thermotherapy has yielded inconsistent results: the tree shows vigorous and symptomless growth for a brief period and then relapses with HLB symptoms. To understand why, this 2-year study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of in-field thermotherapy and its comparison with defoliation. A significant reduction in visible tree health, foliage, and yield was observed over time in all the treatments. The quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) results showed that in-field thermotherapy and other treatments were not effective in reducing CLas titer. Interestingly, the performance of thermotherapy and partial defoliated trees were comparable throughout the course of the experiment, indicating that the short-term effects and vigorous growth after thermotherapy are likely an artifact of defoliation and should not be confused with or considered recovery from disease. In an in-depth molecular and biochemical analysis, we found a few subtle transient (up to 15 days) differences occurring in the in-field thermotherapy trees. Genes associated with stress and plant defense response were observed to be altered by in-field thermotherapy. Overall, our results indicate that in-field thermotherapy is not an effective and reliable strategy for mitigating HLB in commercial citrus production and that its efficacy within in-field conditions is similar to manual defoliation. It is critical that any strategy aimed at mitigating HLB should target the whole plant, including the roots, as the CLas colonizes in shoots and the root system; therefore, it can possibly translocate within the entire plant with the bulk phloem flow.

Open access

Crysta N. Harris, Ryan W. Dickson, Paul R. Fisher, Brian E. Jackson and Anissa M. Poleatewich

Pine (Pinus sp.) wood products have potential to immobilize fertilizer nitrogen (N) and influence plant growth when used in soilless substrates for the production of containerized floriculture crops. Peat substrate was amended with (by volume) 30% pine wood fiber (peat:fiber) during a production phase with fertigation and a simulated consumer retail phase with clear-water irrigation using container-grown ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’ petunia (Petunia ×hybrida). The objective was to evaluate substrate effects on substrate and plant tissue nutrient level and plant growth, with an emphasis on evaluating N immobilization from wood product amendments. Substrates consisting of peat amended with hammer-milled pine wood (peat:wood) or coconut (Cocos nucifera) coir (peat:coir) were used for comparison, and a 100% peat substrate (peat) served as a control. In Expt. 1, amending peat with pine wood fiber had no effect on leaf SPAD chlorophyll index, shoot growth, plant height and width, substrate N, or percent shoot tissue N at the end-of-production. In Expt. 2, plants grown in peat:fiber had reduced flower number, plant height and width, and shoot growth compared with plants grown in the 100% peat control. However, petunia grown in peat:fiber substrates maintained dark-green foliage with high leaf SPAD chlorophyll index values (≥44.4) and ≥45 flowers/plant, and therefore were considered marketable plants. During the production phase in both Expts. 1 and 2, N concentrations remained within the target range for petunia in both the shoot tissue and root-zone for all substrates. In addition, there was no statistical evidence of N immobilization for any substrate blend for either of the N drawdown procedures. In both Expts. 1 and 2, root-zone nutrients became depleted during the consumer phase when irrigation was with clear water (no fertilizer), and petunia developed uniform symptoms of leaf chlorosis and N deficiency. Results of this study indicate that peat amended with 30% pine wood fiber, hammer-milled pine wood, and coconut can be used for production of containerized petunia with minimal effects on plant growth or need to adjust the fertilizer program. However, increasing pine wood to >30% of the substrate volume may require growers to increase fertilization and adjust irrigation practices to compensate for greater risk of N immobilization and changes in substrate physical properties.

Open access

Mary Jane Clark and Youbin Zheng

Commercially available Canadian retail potting mixes were evaluated for physical and chemical properties, as well as for plant performance of petunia (Petunia ×hybrida ‘Storm Pink’), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Better Bush’), and zonal geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum ‘Savannah Red’) plants grown outdoors at the Vineland Research and Innovation Center in the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. Chemical properties, but no physical properties, resulted in significant correlation with plant growth index, overall appearance, and yield (i.e., flower, fruit, or inflorescence number for petunia, tomato, and zonal geranium, respectively). The performance of all species was best when initial potting mix pH and electrical conductivity (EC) values were in the ranges of 5.20 to 6.17 and 2.76 to 4.33 mS·cm−1, respectively. The physical properties of the container capacity, total porosity, air space, and bulk density were acceptable for all plants in this study and ranged from 71% to 80%, 78% to 96%, 8% to 20%, and 0.08 to 0.22 g·cm−3, respectively. The minimum concentrations of the initial nitrate (NO3 ), ammonium (NH4 +), phosphorus (P), and potassium that were acceptable were 104.4, 61.3, 47.9, and 150.5 ppm for petunia and 96.8, 61.3, 51.7, and 143.3 ppm for tomato, respectively. The minimum concentration of NO3 that was acceptable was 66.1 ppm for zonal geranium. Overall appearance at 4, 8, and 10 weeks after transplanting was correlated with initial potting mix EC, NO3 , and calcium for all species, with pH, NH4 +, and P for petunia, with P for tomato at all time points, and with P for zonal geranium after 10 weeks. Although it is difficult to discern how each nutrient impacts plant performance, this study indicated that it is essential to have a balanced and adequate supply of nutrients in consumer potting mixes. The ability of a potting mix to maintain an appropriate pH for the duration of the growing season may prevent nutrient deficiency symptoms, especially for pH-sensitive species like petunia. This study is the first to provide a benchmark of currently available retail potting mixes for Canadian consumers.

Open access

Xuewen Gong, Shunsheng Wang, Cundong Xu, Hao Zhang and Jiankun Ge

Studies on dual crop coefficient method in a greenhouse require accurate values of reference evapotranspiration (ETo). This study was conducted in a solar greenhouse at the experimental station of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences during 2015 and 2016. An automatic weather station was installed in the center of the same greenhouse to record weather parameters at 30-minute intervals. Five ETo models (Penman-Monteith, Penman, radiation, pan evaporation, and Priestley-Taylor) were employed, and their performance was evaluated using the dual crop coefficient method. The basal crop coefficient K cb and soil evaporation coefficient K e were adjusted according to the surrounding climate inside the greenhouse. Crop evapotranspiration (ETc) was continuously measured using sap flow system combined with microlysimeter in 2015 and weighing lysimeters in 2016. Daily ETo was simulated from the five models and compared with the measurements. Results show that the adjusted K cb values were 0.15, 0.94, and 0.65 in 2015 and 0.15, 1.02, and 0.70 in 2016 at initial, midseason, and late-season, respectively. The K e varies between 0.10 and 0.45 during the whole growth period. The ETc was ≈345 mm for drip-irrigated tomato in solar greenhouse at the whole growth stage. The radiation and pan evaporation models tend to overestimate ETo values. Results of the Penman-Monteith, Penman, and Priestley-Taylor models show comparatively good performance in estimating ETo. Considering the robustness and simplicity, the Priestley-Taylor was recommended as the first choice to estimate ETo of tomato grown in a solar greenhouse. This work can help farmers to optimize the irrigation scheduling based on an ETo model for solar greenhouse vegetables in northern China.

Open access

En-chao Liu, Li-fang Niu, Yang Yi, Li-mei Wang, You-wei Ai, Yun Zhao, Hong-xun Wang and Ting Min

Ethylene response factor (ERF) genes have been characterized in numerous plants, where they are associated with responses to biotic and abiotic stress. Modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) is an effective treatment to prevent lotus root browning. However, the possible relationship between ERF transcription factors and lotus root browning under MAP remains unexplored. In this study, the effects of phenol, phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), polyphenol oxidase (PPO), and peroxidase (POD) enzyme activities; and PPO, PAL, POD, and ERF gene expression on fresh-cut lotus root browning were studied with MAP. The expression pattern of ERF2/5 correlated highly with the degree of browning. It is suggested that NnERF2/5 can be used as an important candidate gene for the regulation of fresh-cut lotus root browning under MAP, and the correlation of each gene should be studied further.