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W. Garrett Owen and Roberto G. Lopez

Crown division, tissue culture, and culm cuttings are methods for propagating purple fountain grass [Pennisetum ×advena Wipff and Veldkamp (formerly known as Pennisetum setaceum Forsk. Chiov. ‘Rubrum’)]. However, propagation by culm cuttings is becoming an economically attractive method for quick liner production. Our objective was to quantify the impact of propagation daily light integral (PDLI) and root-zone temperature (RZT) on root and culm development of single-internode purple fountain grass culm cuttings. Before insertion into the rooting substrate, cuttings were treated with a basal rooting hormone solution containing 1000 mg·L−1 indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) + 500 mg·L−1 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA). The cuttings were placed in a glass-glazed greenhouse with an air temperature of 23 °C and benches with RZT set points of 21, 23, 25, or 27 °C. PDLIs of 4 and 10 mol·m−2·d−1 (Expt. 1) or 8 and 16 mol·m−2·d−1 (Expt. 2) were provided. After 28 d, culm and root densities (number) increased as the RZT increased from 21 to 27 °C, regardless of PDLI during Expt. 1. Compared with 4 mol·m−2·d−1, a PDLI of 10 mol·m−2·d−1 generally resulted in the greatest root biomass accumulation. For example, as PDLI increased from 4 to 10 mol·m−2·d−1, root dry mass increased by 105%, 152%, and 183% at RZTs of 21, 25, and 27 °C, respectively. In Expt. 2, as the RZT increased from 21 to 23 °C, root dry mass increased by 70% under a PDLI of 8 mol·m−2·d−1. However, root dry mass was similar among all RZTs under a PDLI of 16 mol·m−2·d−1. Our results indicate that single-internode culm cuttings of purple fountain grass can be most efficiently propagated under PDLIs of 8–10 mol·m−2·d−1 together with RZT set points of 23 to 25 °C for quick liner production.

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Wesley C. Randall and Roberto G. Lopez

Annual bedding plant seedlings or plugs are considered high quality when they are compact, fully rooted transplants with a large stem caliper and high root dry mass. Greenhouses in northern latitudes rely on supplemental lighting (SL) from high-pressure sodium lamps (HPS) during winter months to achieve high-quality, finished plugs. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) offer higher energy efficiencies, a long operating life, and precise waveband specificity that can eliminate wavebands not considered useful. Seedlings of Antirrhinum, Catharanthus, Celosia, Impatiens, Pelargonium, Petunia, Tagetes, Salvia, and Viola were grown at 21 °C under a 16-hour photoperiod of ambient solar light and SL of 100 μmol·m−2·s–1 from either HPS lamps or LED arrays with varying proportions (%) of red:blue light (100:0, 85:15, or 70:30). Height of Catharanthus, Celosia, Impatiens, Petunia, Tagetes, Salvia, and Viola was 31%, 29%, 31%, 55%, 20%, 9%, and 35% shorter, respectively, for seedlings grown under the 85:15 red:blue LEDs compared with those grown under HPS lamps. Additionally, stem caliper of Antirrhinum, Pelargonium, and Tagetes was 16%, 8%, and 13% larger, respectively, for seedlings grown under the 85:15 red:blue LEDs compared with seedlings grown under HPS lamps. The quality index (QI), a quantitative measurement of quality, was similar for Antirrhinum, Catharanthus, Impatiens, Pelargonium, and Tagetes grown under LEDs and HPS lamps. However, it was significantly higher for Petunia, Salvia, and Viola under 85:15, 70:30, and 100:0 red:blue LEDs than under HPS lamps, respectively. These results indicate that seedling quality for the majority of the species tested under SL from LEDs providing both red and blue light was similar or higher than those grown under HPS lamps.

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W. Garrett Owen and Roberto G. Lopez

Under low-light greenhouse conditions, such as those found in northern latitudes, foliage of red leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) varieties is often green and not visually appealing to consumers. Our objective was to quantify the effect of end-of-production (EOP; prior to harvest) supplemental lighting (SL) of different sources and intensities on foliage color of four red leaf lettuce varieties, ‘Cherokee’, ‘Magenta’, ‘Ruby Sky’, and ‘Vulcan’. Plants were finished under greenhouse ambient solar light and provided with 16-hours of day-extension lighting from low intensity light-emitting diode (LED) lamps [7:11:33:49 blue:green:red:far red (control)] delivering 4.5 μmol·m−2·s−1, or 16-hours of EOP SL from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps delivering 70 μmol·m−2·s−1, or LED arrays [100:0, 0:100, or 50:50 (%) red:blue] delivering 100 μmol·m−2·s−1, or 0:100 blue LEDs delivering 25 or 50 μmol·m−2·s−1. Relative chlorophyll content (RCC) and foliage L* (lightness), and chromametric a* (change from green to red) and b* (change from yellow to blue) values were significantly influenced by EOP SL and days of exposure. Generally, RCC of all varieties increased from day 3 to 14 when provided with EOP SL from the HPS lamps and LEDs delivering 100 μmol·m−2·s−1. End-of-production SL providing 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 of 100:0, 0:100, or 50:50 red:blue light for ≥5 days resulted in increasing a* (red) and decreasing L* (darker foliage), b* (blue), and h° (hue angle; a measure of tone) for all varieties. Our data suggests that a minimum of 5 days of EOP SL providing 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 of 100:0, 0:100, or 50:50 red:blue light enhanced red pigmentation of ‘Cherokee’, ‘Magenta’, ‘Ruby Sky’, and ‘Vulcan’ leaves when plants are grown under a low greenhouse daily light integrals (DLIs) <10 mol·m−2·d−1.

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Christopher J. Currey and Roberto G. Lopez

Increasing photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) by supplementing with high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps during propagation has been shown to enhance photosynthesis and biomass accumulation of cuttings. The development of high-intensity light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is a promising technology with potential as a greenhouse supplemental lighting source. Our objective was to quantify the impact of narrow spectra supplemental lighting from LEDs on growth, morphology, and gas exchange of cuttings compared with traditional HPS supplemental lighting. Cuttings of Impatiens hawkeri W. Bull ‘Celebrette Frost’, Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey ‘Designer Bright Red’, and Petunia ×hybrida Vilm. ‘Suncatcher Midnight Blue’ were received from a commercial propagator and propagated in a glass-glazed greenhouse at 23 °C air and substrate temperature set points. After callusing (≈5 mol·m−2·d−1 for 7 days), cuttings were placed under 70 μmol·m−2·s−1 delivered from HPS lamps or LED arrays with varying proportions (%) of red:blue light (100:0, 85:15, or 70:30). After 14 days under supplemental lighting treatments, growth, morphology, and gas exchange of rooted cuttings were measured. There were no significant differences among Impatiens and Pelargonium cuttings grown under different supplemental light sources. However, compared with cuttings propagated under HPS lamps, stem length of Petunia cuttings grown under 100:0 red:blue LEDs was 11% shorter, whereas leaf dry mass, root dry mass, root mass ratios, and root:shoot ratio of cuttings grown under 70:30 red:blue LEDs were 15%, 36%, 17%, and 24% higher, respectively. Supplemental light source had minimal impact on plants after transplant. Our data suggest that LEDs are suitable replacements for HPS lamps as supplemental light sources during cutting propagation.

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Roberto G. Lopez and Erik S. Runkle

A majority of commercial propagation of herbaceous ornamental cuttings occurs during the winter when the photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) is relatively low. We quantified how the mean DLI influenced rooting and subsequent growth and development of two popular vegetatively propagated species, New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri Bull.) and petunia (Petunia ×hybrida hort. Vilm.-Andr.). Three cultivars of each species were propagated under a mean DLI ranging from 1.2 to 10.7 mol·m−2·d−1. Cuttings were rooted in a controlled greenhouse environment maintained at 24 to 25 °C with overhead mist, a vapor-pressure deficit of 0.3 kPa, and a 12-h photoperiod. Rooting and growth evaluations of cuttings were made after 8 to 16 d. In a separate experiment, rooted cuttings under DLI treatments were then transplanted into 10-cm containers and grown in a common greenhouse at 21 ± 2 °C under a 16-h photoperiod to identify any residual effects on subsequent growth and development. In both species, rooting, biomass accumulation, and quality of cuttings increased and subsequent time to flower generally decreased as mean propagation DLI increased. For example, root number of petunia ‘Tiny Tunia Violet Ice’ after 16 days of propagation increased from 17 to 40 as the propagation DLI increased from 1.2 to 7.5 mol·m−2·d−1. In addition, cutting shoot height decreased from 6.3 to 4.5 cm, and root and shoot dry biomass of cuttings harvested after 16 days of propagation increased by 737% and 106%, respectively. Subsequent time to flower for ‘Tiny Tunia Violet Ice’ from the beginning of propagation decreased from 50 to 29 days as propagation DLI increased from 1.4 to 10.7 mol·m−2·d−1 regardless of the DLI provided after propagation. In New Guinea impatiens ‘Harmony White’, root and shoot dry weight of cuttings increased by 1038% and 82%, respectively, and subsequent time to flower decreased from 85 to 70 days as the propagation DLI increased from 1.2 to 10.7 mol·m−2·d−1. These experiments quantify the role of the photosynthetic DLI during propagation on the rooting and subsequent growth and development of vegetatively propagated herbaceous ornamental cuttings.

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Christopher J. Currey and Roberto G. Lopez

During the propagation of herbaceous stem-tip cuttings, the photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) inside greenhouses can be low (≈1–4 mol·m−2·d−1) during the winter and early spring when propagation typically occurs. The mechanisms by which cuttings adapt biomass allocation patterns, gas exchange, and starch accumulation in response to the photosynthetic DLI are not clearly understood. Our objectives were to quantify the impact of DLI on growth, photosynthesis, and carbohydrate concentration during the root development phase of cutting propagation. Petunia (Petunia ×hybrida ‘Suncatcher Midnight Blue’), geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum ‘Fantasia Dark Red’), and new guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri ‘Celebration Pink’) cuttings were propagated in a glass-glazed greenhouse with 23 °C air and substrate temperature set points. After callusing (≈5 mol·m−2·d−1 for 7 days), cuttings of each species were placed under either no shade or one of the two different fixed-woven shade cloths providing ≈38% or 86% shade with 16 hours of supplemental light for 14 days, resulting in DLIs of 13.0‒14.2, 5.5‒6.0, and 2.0‒2.4 mol·m−2·d−1, respectively. Leaf, stem, and root biomass accumulation increased linearly with DLI by up to 122% (geranium), 118% (petunia), and 211% (new guinea impatiens), as DLI increased by ≈11‒12 mol·m−2·d−1, while relative biomass allocation into roots increased under increasing DLI. Compared with cuttings rooted under low DLIs (2.0‒2.4 mol·m−2·d−1), cuttings of all three species generally had greater maximum gross photosynthesis under high DLIs (13.0‒14.2 mol·m−2·d−1) starting 5 or 8 days after transfer. Starch concentration increased with DLI by up to 946% (impatiens) during propagation. Taken together, the increased growth of cuttings appears to be a result of increased carbohydrate availability from elevated photosynthesis and/or photosynthetic capacity.

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Christopher J. Currey, Roberto G. Lopez, and Neil S. Mattson

Energy accounts for one of the largest costs in commercial greenhouse (GH) production of annual bedding plants. Therefore, many bedding plant producers are searching for energy efficient production methods. Our objectives were to quantify the impact of growing annual bedding plants in an unheated high tunnel (HT) compared with a traditional heated GH environment at two northern latitudes. Ten popular bedding plants [angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia), vinca (Catharanthus roseus), celosia (Celosia argentea), dianthus (Dianthus chinensis), geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), french marigold (Tagetes patula), viola (Viola ×cornuta), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), and osteospermum (Osteospermum ecklonis)] were grown both in an unheated HT and a glass-glazed GH with an 18 °C temperature set point beginning on 1 Apr. 2011 at both Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) and Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN). Although seven of the species exhibited a delay in flowering in the HT as compared with the heated GH, there were no differences in days to flower (DTF) for geranium, osteospermum, and viola grown at Cornell and viola at Purdue. The remaining species exhibited delays in flowering in the HT environment, which varied based on species. At Purdue, several species were lost because of a cold temperature event necessitating a second planting. For the second planting, osteospermum was the only species grown that flowered significantly later in the HT; 7 days later than the GH-grown plants. Production of cold-tolerant annuals in unheated or minimally heated HTs appears to be a viable alternative for commercial producers aiming to reduce energy costs.

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Francisco Lopez-Gutierrez, Harrison G. Hughes, and Nicholas C. Carpita

After 6 months of growth in 200,400, and 500 mm NaCl, cultured cells of Distichlis spicata showed a decreased cell volume (size) despite maintenance of turgor pressure sometimes 2-fold higher than that of the control. Tensile strength, as measured by a nitrogen gas decompression technique, showed empirically that the walls of NaCl-stressed cells were weaker than those of nonstressed cells. Breaking pressures of the walls of control cells were ≈68 ± 4 bars, while that of the walls of cells grown in 500 mm NaCl (-25 bars) were 14 ± 2 bars. The relative amount of cellulose per cell remained about constant despite salt stress. However, glucuronoarabinoxylans were more readily extractable, presumably because of a decrease in cross-linkage with phenol substances. Therefore, we suggest that cellulose microfibrils are not the only determinants that confer tensile strength to the primary cell wall, but rather subtle changes in the matrix polysaccharides are likely responsible for this event.

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Diane M. Camberato, Roberto G. Lopez, and Brian A. Krug

The holiday poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch.) is the number two potted flowering crop sold in the United States with a reported wholesale value of $146 million in 2010. Profitability is increasingly threatened as the cost to heat greenhouses has increased by over 90% in the last 10 years. As energy costs continue to increase and poinsettia prices remain relatively constant, growers are seeking cultivars that can be finished under reduced temperatures. Our objectives were to quantify how reduced temperature finishing (RTF) 2 weeks after the start of short days influences height, bract area index, and time to anthesis of poinsettia. Eight red poinsettia cultivars were selected based on their early response attributes (initiate and finish within 6 to 8 weeks), moderate to high vigor, and naturally large bracts. Rooted cuttings were grown at day/night temperature set points (12 h/12 h) of 24/19 °C until 15 Oct. and under a 16-h photoperiod consisting of natural daylengths with day-extension lighting until 1 Oct. On 15 Oct., plants were transferred to day/night temperatures (12 h/12 h) of 20/14, 21/17, or 24/19 °C. Time to anthesis from the start of short days was 60 and 55 days at 24/19 °C and 76 and 68 days at a reduced finishing temperature of 20/14 °C for ‘Prestige Early Red’ and ‘Early Orion Red’, respectively. Final height was not significantly influenced by RTF in either cultivar. Our results indicate that RTF is a viable option that greenhouse growers can use to help reduce energy costs of carefully selected poinsettia cultivars.

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W. Garrett Owen, Alyssa Hilligoss, and Roberto G. Lopez

Production and market value of U.S. grown specialty cut flowers has increased over the past several years due to stem quality issues related to long-distance transport, regional proximity to market centers, and consumer’s willingness to purchase locally. Cut flowers are traditionally grown in field or greenhouse environments; however, high tunnels provide an alternative production environment and a number of cultural and economic advantages. Specialty cut flower species ‘Campana Deep Blue’ bellflower (Campanula carpatica), bells of ireland (Moluccella laevis), ‘Bombay Firosa’ celosia (Celosia cristata), ‘Amazon Neon Purple’ dianthus (Dianthus barbatus), ‘Fireworks’ gomphrena (Gomphrena pulchella), ‘Vegmo Snowball Extra’ matricaria (Tanacetum parthenium), and ‘Potomac Lavender’ snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus) were planted in both field and high tunnel environments during the late season (early summer) in the midwestern United States. Compared with field production, high tunnel production yielded 9.1 stems/m2 (75%) for bells of ireland and 9.5 cm (15%), 16.8 cm (16%), 6.7 cm (44%), and 6.3 cm (19%) longer stems for bells of ireland, celosia, gomphrena, and matricaria, respectively. Additionally, stem length and caliper was greatest for high tunnel–grown bells of ireland, celosia, and dianthus. Our results indicate that late-season planting and production in a high tunnel is suitable for most of the species we investigated.