The objective of this study was to determine the dry weight, height, and leaf area growth responses of impatiens (Impatiens walerana Hook. f.) plug seedlings to air temperatures ranging from 18 to 29C. The conditions maintained in the controlled-environment growth rooms (CEGR) were ambient C02 levels, 24-h lighting, and photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) ranging from ≈215; to 335 μmol·m-2·s-1. Mean daily temperatures of the plug medium ranged from 19.6 to 27.7C. At the higher PPF level, shoot dry weight decreased at plug medium temperatures (PMT) > 25C; at lower PPF levels (<300 μmol·m-2·s-1), shoot dry weight continued to increase with PMT > 25C. The mean relative growth rate (MRGR) of shoot dry weight was positively correlated with PMT during the initial growth period (up to 14 days from sowing) and was negatively correlated thereafter. The maximum MRGR was predicted to occur at 11.7 days from sowing for a PMT of 19.6C, at 10.8 days for a PMT of 21.6C, and at 9.7 days for a PMT of 23.6C. Linear regression coefficients of shoot height as a function of PMT were substantially higher for seedlings grown at lower PPF than those for seedlings from the highest PPF level. Seedling leaf area consistently increased with increasing temperature. Net assimilation rate (NAR) decreased with increasing seedling age NAR increased with increasing PPF. A decrease in NAR was apparent at 29C relative to values at the lower temperatures. Leaf area ratio (LAR) declined with increasing seedling age and PPF; a quadratic relationship of LAR as a function of PMT indicates a minimum LAR at 22.5C. The seedlings grown at 29C were excessively tall, had thin succulent leaves, and were judged unacceptable for shipping and transplanting. Maximum quality indices (i.e., dry weight per height) were found at PMT of 24.3 to 25.OC for 10- to 14-day-old seedlings and at PMT of 23.0 to 24.OC for 16- to 20-day-old seedlings.
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