Potted Gerbera Production in a Subirrigation System Using Low-concentration Nutrient Solutions

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  • 1 Controlled Environment Systems Research Facility, Department of Environmental Biology, University of Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada

To determine whether currently used commercial nutrient solution concentrations can be reduced during the final stage (last 4 to 5 weeks) of production of potted gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii `Shogun') under recirculating subirrigation conditions, plants were grown under one of four nutrient levels (10%, 25%, 50%, and 100% of full strength). Nutrient concentration levels did not affect leaf area, flower number and appearance, and plant total dry weight. There were no significant differences in the greenness (as measured by SPAD meter) of leaves from plants that received the 50% and 100% strength nutrient solutions. However, leaves from plants that received the 10% and 25% strength solution showed significantly less greenness than that of the plants that received 50% and 100% strength nutrient solutions. There were interveinal chlorosis symptoms on the younger leaves of some plants in the 10% and 25% strength nutrient treatments. It is suspected that this interveinal chlorosis was due to iron (Fe) deficiency caused by the increased substrate pH. It is concluded that the nutrient solution concentrations typically used for potted gerbera production in commercial greenhouses at the final stage (4 to 5 weeks) under recirculating subirrigation conditions, can be safely reduced by at least 50% without adversely affecting crop production. Nutrient salts accumulated in the top section of the growth substrate under all treatments levels; however, no phytotoxic effects were observed. No differences in water use (141 mL per plant per day) were observed amid the various nutrient levels. Fertilizer inputs were reduced in the 50%, 25%, and 10% treatments by 54%, 75%, and 90% respectively, relative to the 100% treatment. After 4 weeks under recirculating conditions, the qualities of the nutrient solutions were still within acceptable limits.

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To whom correspondence should be addressed; e-mail yzheng@uoguelph.ca.
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