Controlling Height with Temperature

in HortTechnology
Author:
Robert BerghageDepartment of Horticulture, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802.

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Temperature management has emerged as an important tool for plant height control in greenhouse production systems. This is particularly important in vegetable transplant production where chemical controls for plant height are limited or not legal. Plant height is a function of the number of nodes and the length of each internode, and both are strongly influenced by greenhouse temperatures. Node number, or formation rate, is primarily a function of the average greenhouse temperature, increasing as the average temperature increases. Internode length is strongly influenced by the relationship between the day and night temperature, commonly referred to as DIF (day temperature - night temperature). As DIF increases, so does internode length in most plant species studied. Although the nature and magnitude of temperature effects vary with species, cultivar, and environmental conditions, these two basic responses can be used to modify transplant growth. Although data are limited, controlling transplant height with temperature does not appear to adversely influence plant establishment or subsequent yield.

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