Development and Abortion of Flowers in Capsicum annuum Exposed to High Temperatures

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticulture Sciences, Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108

Reduction of floral number in Capsicum annuum has been observed during growth at high temperature. To determine whether decreased flower production or increased flower abscission is a direct response to high temperatures or a response to water stress induced by high temperatures, we compared flowers and fruit produced and flowers aborted to leaf growth rate, osmotic potential, stomatal conductance, and chlorophyll fluorescence of two cultivars. To determine the stage(s) of floral development that are most sensitive to high temperatures, flower buds were wax-embedded and examined at each stage of development during heat treatment. Rate of floral development also was examined. At first visible floral bud initiation, plants were transferred to each of three controlled environment growth chambers with set temperatures and vapor pressure deficits (VPD) of 25°C, 1.1 kPa; 33°C, 1.1 kPa; and 33°C, 2.1 kPa. Flower bud production and leaf growth rate were not significantly affected by high temperatures. Pepper fruit set, however, was inhibited at 33°C at either VPD. Preliminary water relations data suggested that water potentials were more negative under high temperature conditions. Differences in leaf fluorescence were statistically significant for temperature treatments, but not for VPD. Temperature is the primary factor in the decrease of fruit production in pepper. Decreased production is due to flower abortion and not to decreased flower initiation or plant growth.

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