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Open access

Yu-Wei Liu and Chen-Kang Huang

Hydroponic systems in plant factories can be categorized into recirculating or noncirculating systems. In this study, the effects of various commercially available circulation pumps, including a centrifugal magnetic drive pump, a regenerative self-priming pump, and a submersible pump, were experimentally explored. In addition, the effects of an ultraviolet sterilization system on the ion concentrations in nutrient solutions were examined. The concentrations of sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, nitrate, sulfate, and ferric (Fe3+) ions in the nutrient solution were measured. For all three types of pumps, the results indicated that there was no significant effect on the concentrations of ions in the nutrient solution. However, the concentration of Fe3+ ions decreased significantly after the nutrient solution was treated by a ultraviolet sterilization system for 48 hours. In addition, the effects of the three types of pumps on the growth of butterhead lettuce (Lactuca sativa) were examined. The temperature records during the pump circulation tests showed that the nutrient solution temperature of the regenerative self-priming pump increased by 15.5 °C (from 20.5 to 36 °C), which caused yellow seedling, scorching on the leaves, and browning of the roots. The ion concentration in the nutrient solutions and total fresh weight of butterhead lettuce did not show any noticeable difference between the centrifugal magnetic drive pump and the submersible pump. In this paper, we clarify the cause of the decreasing iron concentration and provide a guideline for selecting the pump for circulating hydroponic systems in plant factories.

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Zhaohui Li, Yan Ma, Wanyuan Yin, Dekui Zang and Xianfeng Guo

Pteroceltis tatarinowii Maxim, the only species of the genus Pteroceltis (family Ulmaceae), is an endemic rare tree species in China. This study was performed to explore vegetative propagation techniques for P. tatarinowii using stem cuttings. First, the effects of exogenous indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) and cutting positions on rooting performance were investigated to screen the appropriate exogenous auxin treatment and to determine the proper cuttings type. The results showed that the control cuttings pretreated with no exogenous IBA, irrespective of whether the stem cuttings were terminal, middle, or basal, rooted in a manner significantly inferior to that of cuttings pretreated with IBA. Their rooting percentage was less than 50%. Among the IBA-treated cuttings, the middle cuttings pretreated with 1000 mg·L−1 IBA rooted best, with the shortest number of days until rooting emergence (20 days), the highest rooting percentage (84.0%), the lowest mortality rate (4.0%), the greatest root number (average of 6.7 per cutting), and the longest roots per cutting (44.4 cm per cutting). Terminal cuttings pretreated with 1000 mg·L−1 IBA acquired satisfactory rooting traits and had the same shortest rooting duration (20 days) and the following parameters: rooting, 70.7%; mortality, 10.7%; average roots per cutting, 5.2; and longest root, 29.1 cm. To further determine the optimum cutting propagation time for this plant, a second experiment was performed and the cuttings were collected beginning in early June, when the growth of the current season was feasible for harvesting cuttings. Stem cuttings collected in late June and middle July had significantly higher rooting percentages (≥80%) compared with those collected in early June (66.7%). The other three rooting parameters were not significantly affected by the collection date. However, according to the overall rooting traits, the cuttings collected in both late June and middle July remarkably outperformed those collected in early June regarding the number of roots and the total root length per cutting. The initial nutrient reserves in the cuttings were also determined. A significant difference in the soluble carbohydrate level was found among collection times, but the nitrogen level in the cuttings was similar. The study revealed that stem cutting propagation of P. tatarinowii was achievable, and it was best achieved with cuttings collected from the terminal and middle positions of the branches of the current season from late June to middle July and treated with 1000 mg·L−1 IBA using the quick dip method.

Open access

Timothy Coolong, Andre Luiz Biscaia Ribeiro da Silva and Justin Shealey

High-value vegetable crops such as bell pepper (Capsicum annuum) are heavily fertilized by growers who seek to maximize yields. Field experiments were conducted in Spring 2016 and 2017 evaluating two liquid fertilizers with and without calcium (Ca), applied at three nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) levels in two varieties of bell pepper to determine whether current fertilizer recommendations were adequate and whether fertilizer source impacted fruit yield and quality. Plants were grown using plastic mulch and drip irrigation following standard production practices for the region. Two liquid fertilizer programs [7N–0P–5.8 (7–0–7) and 4N–0P–6.6K/9N–0P–0K–11Ca (4–0–8/CN9)] were applied twice weekly at three N rates (175, 200, and 225 lb/acre N). Yield, cull rate, and foliar nutrient concentrations were measured. In 2016, total marketable yields were greatest [910 boxes/acre (28 lb/box)] and blossom end rot (BER) incidence (14.4%) lowest in plants grown with the supplemental Ca (4–0–8/C9 fertilizer) at 175 lb/acre N. Cull rates increased in plants grown without supplemental Ca during the season (7–0–7 fertilizer), with BER incidence ranging from 22.9% to 27.2%. Yields ranged from 590 to 740 boxes/acre in plants grown without supplemental Ca in 2016. In 2017, yields ranged from 530 to 790 boxes/acre in plants grown with supplemental Ca at 200 and 175 lb/acre N, respectively. Culls due to BER were lower in 2017 than in 2016. In 2016, BER incidence was greater in ‘PSO9979325’ compared with ‘Antebellum’, despite no differences in total yield. Foliar nutrient levels were largely unaffected by fertilizer program; however, foliar N and K concentrations increased with the rate of N and K fertilization. The results of this study suggest that using liquid fertilizer program containing some Ca may benefit bell pepper growers in some, but not all, growing seasons.

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Kellie J. Walters, Allison A. Hurt and Roberto G. Lopez

Foliage annuals are primarily grown for the aesthetic appeal of their brightly colored, variegated, or patterned leaves rather than for their flowers. Once foliage annuals become reproductive, vegetative growth of many species diminishes or completely ceases and plants can become unappealing. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to quantify how growth and development during production and stock plant cutting yield of bloodleaf (Iresine herbstii), Joseph’s coat (Alternanthera sp.) ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ and ‘Red Threads’, Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus), and variegated potato vine (Solanum jasminoides) are influenced by photoperiod and night interruption (NI) lighting with or without far-red (FR) radiation. Photoperiods consisted of a 9-hour short day (SD) or a 9-hour SD extended to 10, 12, 13, 14, or 16 hours with red (R):white (W):FR light-emitting diode (LED) lamps (R:FR = 0.8) providing a total photon flux density (TPFD) of ≈2 µmol·m−2·s–1 of radiation. In addition, two treatments consisted of a 9-hour SD with a 4-hour NI from lamps containing the same R:W:FR or R:W LEDs (R:FR = 37.4). Bloodleaf plant and Joseph’s coat ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ and ‘Red Threads’ developed inflorescences or flowers under photoperiods ≤12 to 13 hours and were classified as obligate SD plants. Under LEDs providing R:W:FR radiation, stem elongation of reproductive bloodleaf and Joseph’s coat ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ and ‘Red Threads’ increased as photoperiod increased from 9 to 12 hours. In addition, stem elongation of bloodleaf, Joseph’s coat ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ and ‘Red Threads’, and Persian shield and growth index (GI = {plant height + [(diameter 1 + diameter 2)/2]}/2) of bloodleaf and Persian shield was significantly greater under NI with FR radiation than without FR radiation. Fewer or no cuttings were harvested from Joseph’s coat ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ and ‘Red Threads’ under photoperiods ≤12 or ≤13 hours, respectively. To prevent unwanted flowering of bloodleaf plant and Joseph’s coat, a photoperiod ≥14 hours or 4-hour NI must be maintained with LEDs providing either R:W or R:W:FR radiation, however; stem elongation is significantly reduced under R:W LEDs.

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William B. Miller

Experiments conducted over 3 years have indicated the efficacy of preplant paclobutrazol or flurprimidol corm soaks for leaf and scape growth control in potted freesia (Freesia hybrida). A range of cultivars subjected to 30- to 60-min soaks in 60 to 120 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol and 10- to 30-min soaks in 10 to 30 mg·L−1 flurprimidol resulted in significant and commercially relevant height control without reducing the number of flowering scapes. Cultivars varied in their response to the plant growth regulators (PGRs), suggesting that individual grower trials will be necessary to develop an optimum treatment for each location.

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Lav K. Yadav, Edward V. McAssey and H. Dayton Wilde

Rhododendron canescens is a deciduous azalea native to the southeastern United States that is used in landscaping due to its ornamental qualities. A genotyping-by-sequencing (GBS) approach was taken to characterize the genetic structure and diversity of a R. canescens germplasm collection. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were identified by two software platforms, STACKS and GBS-SNP-CROP. Three distinct R. canescens populations were detected by STRUCTURE analysis with GBS-SNP-CROP data, whereas two populations were distinguished using STACKS data. Principal component analysis (PCA) with data from both SNP pipelines supported the presence of three populations. Statistical results indicated that there was low genetic differentiation between the populations, but relatively high genetic diversity within populations. The inbreeding coefficient of the R. canescens accessions was low, which would be expected with an outcrossing species. These results suggest that there may be a significant level of gene flow between populations of R. canescens.

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Craig M. Hardner, Marisa Wall and Alyssa Cho

Macadamia is a rapidly developing global crop; however, limited cultivation history and size of the industry means many challenges remain to support sustained productivity and profitability of this industry. This paper summarizes oral and poster presentations, and subsequent papers included in this volume, delivered at the 2017 International Macadamia Research Symposium, held in Hilo, HI, in September of that year. This was the first international meeting of macadamia researchers since 1992. The 28 oral and seven poster presentations covered propagation technology, tree physiology, soils and nutrition, pollination, pest and disease, orchard management, genetics and breeding, product development, and new production regions. Notable messages were that micrografting of macadamias is commercially viable; planting density and girdling could increase early yield per hectare; resource availability may limit cross-pollination yield; and yield production of individual branches is not independent. Integrated pest management was described to develop pest-resilient farming systems and manage felted coccid; an international collaborative approach was proposed for effective disease management and early detection; and the concept of integrated orchard management was used to translate research outputs into a common language for grower adoption. In the areas of breeding and genetic resources, research demonstrated that modern macadamia cultivars are two to four generations from wild but do not capture all wild diversity; progress was reported on the Macadamia Genome Project to produce the first macadamia reference genome; and advances in phenotypic selection and cultivar development were described.

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Valéria Santos Cavalcante, Renato de Mello Prado, Ricardo de Lima Vasconcelos, Hilário Júnior de Almeida and Thais Ramos da Silva

Biological damage caused by macronutrient deficiency in watermelon plants is still not known, and may lead to nutritional disorders and alterations in absorption and utilization efficiencies, depending on the evaluated nutrient. In this context, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the growth and nutritional efficiency of watermelon plants grown under macronutrient deficiencies. The experiments were carried out in pots containing an aerated nutrient solution. Treatments consisted of the nutrient solution containing (control) or lacking nitrogen (−N), phosphorus (−P), potassium (−K), calcium (−Ca), magnesium (−Mg), and sulfur (−S), in a completely randomized design with three replications. At the end of the experiment with the onset of symptoms of deficiency, plant growth, green color index, nutrient accumulation, nutrient uptake, nutrient utilization efficiency, root density, and foliar deficiency symptoms were evaluated. P, K, Ca, Mg, and S deficiencies increased plant utilization efficiency and can potentiate watermelon development in environments deficient in these nutrients. The opposite was observed concerning nitrogen deficiency, because this condition induced greater biological damage, with low utilization efficiency, indicating the sensitivity of this species in low N conditions.

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Mobashwer Alam, Craig Hardner, Catherine Nock, Katie O’Connor and Bruce Topp

The Hawaiian cultivars Keaau (HAES660) and Mauka (HAES741) were selected by the University of Hawaii—released in 1966 and 1977, respectively—and have been used extensively in macadamia orchards throughout the world. Recent molecular evidence suggests that these two cultivars are almost identical genetically; however, commercially they have been considered phenotypically different. This study reviews available molecular, historical, and phenotypic evidence to examine the hypothesis that these two cultivars are the same genotype. Phenotypic variability for morphological traits was observed in a replicated trial at Wolvi, QLD. Historical evidence suggests that both ‘HAES660’ and ‘HAES741’ were derived from the same orchard. We identified strong genetic and phenotypic similarities between these cultivars, with variability in some simple traits. This study provides evidence that these two cultivars are isogenic or near isogenic and may have been derived from the same plant source.

Open access

Abdullah Ibrahim, Hesham Abdel-Razzak, Mahmoud Wahb-Allah, Mekhled Alenazi, Abdullah Alsadon and Yaser Hassan Dewir

The present study reports on the effect of humic and salicylic acids on the growth, yield, and fruit quality of three red sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum) cultivars: Barbero, Ferrari, and Imperio. The plants were grown in a greenhouse and the leaves were treated with humic or salicylic acids at 0, 0.5, 1.0, and 1.5 g·L−1 at 20, 40, and 60 days after transplanting. Foliar application of humic or salicylic acids significantly increased vegetative growth, fruit yield, and quality of the three cultivars as compared with the control plants. However, salicylic acid treatment proved more effective than humic acid treatment. Red sweet pepper plants of all three cultivars sprayed with 1.5 g·L−1 salicylic acid showed the greatest vegetative growth; fruit yield components, such as fruit number, diameter, and fresh and dry weights; and fruit quality traits, such as vitamin C content, total soluble solid content, titratable acidity, and total sugar content, than the plants in all other treatments. There were significant differences (P ≤ 0.05) among cultivars in response to humic and salicylic acid foliar application; ‘Ferrari’ showed significantly higher yield and productivity than ‘Barbero’ or ‘Imperio’. ‘Ferrari’ plants sprayed with 1.5 g·L−1 salicylic acid showed the highest fruit weight (202.41 g) and flesh thickness (68 mm), both of which are preferred by consumers, and therefore, have increased market value. This treatment also increased total yield by 27.7% (16.03 t·ha−1), 15.9% (12.38 t·ha−1), and 17.9% (11.88 t·ha−1) in ‘Barbero’, ‘Ferrari’, and ‘Imperio’, respectively. Therefore, salicylic acid foliar application is recommended for enhancing fruit yield and quality of greenhouse-grown red sweet pepper.