Photoperiod, Temperature, and Plant Age Interact to Affect Short-day Onion Cold Hardiness

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602
  • | 2 Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Griffin Experiment Station, Griffin, GA 30223

Proper acclimation of onion (Allium cepa L.) seedlings can enhance winter freeze survival; therefore, the effects of photoperiod-temperature combinations, photoperiod, and plant age on the cold hardiness of short-day onions were investigated. Following acclimation at various photoperiod-temperature regimes, different-aged plants were frozen to various subzero temperatures in an ethylene glycol bath and evaluated for cold hardiness. Older plants were more cold hardy than younger plants. An 11-hour photoperiod-decreasing temperature (20/15 to 10/5C day/night) treatment improved plant cold hardiness over other photoperiod-temperature regimes. Various photoperiods (8-, 11-, 14-, and 24-hour) applied during a 14-day, 3C acclimation treatment before freezing had little effect on plant cold hardiness. However, day 7 foliar and day 14 root evaluations indicated that 81-day-old plants given an 8- or 11-hour photoperiod during the 3C acclimation treatment were less cold hardy than older plants (91 or 112 days) given the same acclimation photoperiod.

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