Height control is a major challenge in the production of high quality poinsettia crops. Graphical tracking is a technique where growers make height control decisions by comparing actual measured plant height with a desired height. A computer decision support tool, the Poinsettia Care System, is being developed to combine graphical display of plant height with an expert system to provide height control advice. A simulation model is used to predict future growth of the crop based on greenhouse temperature, growth retardant applications, plant spacing, plant maturity, and light quality. Growth retardant and temperature recommendations are made based on a crop's deviation from the target height, expected future growth rate, and crop maturity. The program was beta tested by 8 Michigan growers over the 1991 poinsettia season. The test growers reacted positively to the program in a follow-up survey. Perceived benefits included improved height control, consistent crop recording, and a `second opinion' when making height control decisions. Improvements were suggested to combine the advice of different crops within the same greenhouse zone, to improve the predictive growth model, and to streamline data entry and output.
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