Predicting Variability in Flowering of Easter Lily Populations in Response to Temperature

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  • 1 1Dept. of Plant Biology, Univ. of New Hampshire, Durham, NH 03824
  • 2 2Dept. of Environmental Horticulture, Univ. of California, Davis, CA 95616
  • 3 3Dept. of Horticulture, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI 48824

The objective was to predict the distribution (mean and variance) of flower opening for an Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum Thunb.) population based on the variability in an earlier phenological stage and the expected average temperature from that state until flowering. The thermal time from the visible bud stage until anthesis was calculated using published data. `Nellie White' grade 8/9 Easter lilies were grown in five research and commercial greenhouse locations during 1995, 1996, and 1997 under a variety of temperature and bulb-cooling regimes. Distributions of visible bud and anthesis were normally distributed for a population growing in a greenhouse with spatially homogenous temperatures. The variance at anthesis was positively correlated with variance at visible bud. The mean and variance at visible bud could therefore be used to predict the distribution of the occurrence of anthesis in the crop. The relationship between bud elongation, harvest, and temperature was also incorporated into the model. After visible bud, flower bud length measurements from a random sample of plants could be used to predict the harvest distribution. A computer decision-support system was developed to package the model for grower use.

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