448 Cutting the Main Stem of Sunn Hemp Plants Increased Flower Production

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  • 1U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, BARC, Beltsville, MD 20705; 2Univ. of Florida, IFAS, Tropical Research and Education Center, 18905 SW 280 St., Homestead FL 33031

Prolific flowering is essential for economic seed production in sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea L.). Since flowers appear as racimes on the distal portions of secondary branches and since the branching is restricted by a strong apical dominance, lifting the apical dominance by cutting the tops of plants should induce more branches and more flowers per plant. We evaluated this concept in a field experiment conducted in 1999 at the Tropical Research and Education Center, Univ. of Florida, Homestead, by cutting main stems of 100-day-old plants in a dense stand (113,000 plants/ha) at 30, 60, and 90 cm above the soil surface. Cutting at all heights induced more branching and flowering than the control. The highest positive response was in plants in which the main stem was cut at 90 cm above soil surface.

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