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Andrew J. Macnish, Ria T. Leonard, and Terril A. Nell

Exposure to 0.1, 1.0, or 10 μL·L−1 ethylene for 4 days at 21 °C reduced the display life of 17 commonly traded potted foliage plant genotypes (Aglaonema ‘Mary Ann’, Anthurium scherzerianum ‘Red Hot’ and ‘White Gemini’, Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Dania’, Chlorophytum comosum ‘Hawaiian’, Codiaeum variegatum pictum ‘Petra’, Dieffenbachia maculata ‘Carina’, Dracaena marginata ‘Bicolor’ and ‘Magenta’, Euphorbia milii ‘Gaia’, Euphorbia splendens ‘Short and Sweet’, Ficus benjamina, Polyscias fruticosa ‘Castor’, Radermachera sinica ‘China Doll’, Schefflera elegantissima ‘Gemini’, Schefflera arboricola ‘Gold Capella’, Spathiphyllum ‘Ty's Pride’). Ethylene treatment hastened leaf and bract abscission or senescence. The responsiveness of plants to ethylene varied considerably; six genotypes were sensitive to 0.1 μL·L−1 ethylene, whereas three genotypes required exposure to 10 μL·L−1 ethylene to trigger visible injury. Four genotypes (Asplenium nidus, Chamaedorea elegans ‘Neathe Bella’, Hedera helix ‘Chicago’, Syngonium podophyllum ‘White Butterfly’) included in our study were insensitive to ethylene. Treating Aglaonema ‘Mary Ann’, Polyscias fruticosa ‘Castor’, and Schefflera arboricola ‘Gold Capella’ plants with 0.9 μL·L−1 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP, provided as EthylBloc™), a gaseous ethylene-binding inhibitor, for 4 to 5 h at 21 °C reduced the deleterious effects of ethylene. The release of 1-MCP from two sachets containing EthylBloc™ into a single shipping box also protected Aphelandra squarrosa ‘Dania’, Euphorbia milii ‘Gaia’, Polyscias fruticosa ‘Elegans’, and Schefflera arboricola ‘Gold Capella’ plants from ethylene injury after simulated transport. Our data reveal the genetic variation in ethylene sensitivity among potted foliage plants and highlight genotypes that benefit from 1-MCP treatment.

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G.H. Pemberton, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

Senescence of gladiolus flowers, like many geophytes, does not involve a climacteric burst of ethylene. Eleven gladiolus cultivars were screened and all were non-climacteric (NC) for both respiration and ethylene production. Average ethylene levels for individual flowers were 0.5 μl C2H4/kg per h or less. As in other NC flowers, protein synthesis may be linked to senescence. Our goal was to identify specific proteins that were involved in the senescence process that could be used as indicators of postharvest longevity. SDS-PAGE protein profiles of cut gladiolus flowers were determined from a tight bud stage to senescence. Both increases and decreases were observed in major polypeptides that may be connected to postharvest flower longevity. Total protein content of gladiolus flower petals decreased by ≈70% during the profile period. This could explain the relatively short postharvest life of 3 to 5 days for individual gladiolus flowers. Total protein profiles were probed with an ACC synthase antibody to establish the relationship of this enzyme in NC senescence.

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Terril A. Nell, Ria T. Leonard, and James E. Barrett

Production irradiance levels on growth, light compensation point (LCP), dark respiration (DR), and interior longevity of potted chrysanthemum (Demfranthema grandiflora Tzvelev. cvs. Iridon and Mountain Peak) and poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Wind. cvs. Annette Hegg Dark Red and Gutbier V-10 Amy) were determined. LCP and DR were measured at anthesis and during acclimatization to interior conditions (10 μmol·s-1·m-2). Days to flowering, inflorescence diameter, total chlorophyll, and interior longevity of chrysanthemum increased when maintained at a mean maximum photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of 500 μmol·s-1·m-2 compared to plants shifted to 300 or 100 μmol·s-1·m-2 8 weeks after planting. LCP and DR were highest at anthesis and were reduced 38% and 49%, respectively, for chrysanthemum and 19% and 42%, respectively, for poinsettia within 3 days in interior conditions. Chrysanthemum plants shifted to 300 μmol·s1·m-2 during production had lower LCP and DR rates at anthesis and throughout time in interior conditions compared to plants maintained at 500 μmol·s-1·m-2. The acclimatization of chrysanthemum to reduced production PPFD is of little significance because interior longevity is reduced. No differences were found in the LCP or DR of poinsettia or chrysanthemum cultivars that differ in interior performance, demonstrating that these physiological characteristics are not good indicators of interior longevity for chrysanthemum and poinsettia.

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Thea M Edwards, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

Increased rates of senescence and ethylene related damage of potted flowering plants have been observed in supermarket produce areas where flowers and climacteric produce are displayed together. Ethylene levels in produce areas were found to average 20 ppb. An open system of clear glass chambers with fiberglass lids was designed to simulate retail supermarket conditions. The chambers were kept in postharvest rooms where light level and temperature could be controlled. In a 3 by 3 by 3 Box-Behnken design, Sunblaze `Candy' miniature potted roses were exposed to three levels of ethylene, 20, 40, and 80 ppb, for 1, 2, and 4 days. The three light levels used were: 0, 7, and 14 μmol·m-2·s-1. Ethylene damage was based on leaf and bud drop and decreased flower longevity.

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Brent M. Chapman, James E. Barrett, and Terril A. Nell

Catharanthus roseus `Cooler Peppermint' were grown under four different watering regimes [well-watered (WW), wilt plus 1 day (W+1), wilt plus 3 days (W+3), and wilt plus 1 day during the last 2 weeks only (L W+1)] and two different light levels [1100 and 750 μmol·m–2·s–1]. Stress treatments affected finished plant size and leaf area as well as stomatal conductance, water potential and time to wilt during two dry-down periods imposed at the end of an 8-week production cycle. W+3 plants were 50% smaller with 50% less leaf area compared to WW plants. During the second dry-down period, WW plants in high light wilted in 2 days vs 4 days for the W+3 plants. Similarly, WW plants in low light wilted in 3 days vs 6 days for the W+3 plants. The W+3 plants maintained significantly higher water potentials and greater stomatal conductances than the other treatments throughout both dry-down periods.

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Richard K. Schoellhorn, James E. Barrett, and Terril A. Nell

Effects of photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) and temperature on quantitative axillary budbreak and elongation of pinched chrysanthemum [Dendranthema ×grandiflorum (Ramat.) Kitamura] plants were studied in three experiments. In Expt. 1, 12 commercial cultivars were compared under fall and spring environmental conditions. Spring increases in lateral shoot counts were attributable to increased PPF and air temperature. Cultivars varied from 0 to 12 lateral branches per pinched plant and by as much as 60% between seasons. There was a linear relationship between lateral branches >5 cm at 3 weeks after pinching and final branch count (y = 0.407 + 0.914(x), r 2 = 0.92). In Expt. 2, air was at 20 or 25C and the root zone was maintained at 5, 0, or –5C relative to air temperature. With air at 20C, lateral branch counts (3 weeks after pinch) declined by ≤50% with the medium at 15C relative to 25C. At 25C, lateral branch count was lower with medium at 30C than at 20C. Cultivars differed in their response to the treatments. Experiment 3 compared the interactions among temperature, PPF, and cultivar on lateral branch count. Depending on cultivar, the count increased the higher the PPF between 400 and 1400 μmol·m–2·s–1. Air temperature had no effect on lateral branch count. PPF had a stronger effect on lateral branch count than air temperature, and cultivars differed in their response.

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Michelle H. Williams, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

It is generally accepted that ethylene production is centrally located in petal senescence, however, non-climacteric flowers senesce irrespective of the presence of ethylene. The regulation of flower senescence may well be linked to protein synthesis. Our objective was to develop a simple tool which can be used in breeding programmes and\or the market place to determine potential longevity of a flower. Here, SDS-PAGE protein profiles of both potted and cut chrysanthemum flowers were determined from flowering to senescence. Generally, only minor changes in both protein content and the proportion of the major polypeptides were observed in the potted flowers. However, polypeptides at 40, 45 and 65 kDa increased during flower senescence and are of particular interest because they could be linked to flower longevity. The apparent stability of the proteins may contribute to the long postharvest life of the potted chrysanthemum.

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William M. Womack, James E. Barrett, and Terril A. Nell

`Prize' and `Gloria' azaleas were budded at 29C day/24C night without growth regulators. Dormant-budded plants were held at 2, 7, 13, or 18C for 0, 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 weeks and then forced in walk-in growth chambers (29C day/24C night). A model was developed to describe the effect of cooling temperature and duration on days to marketability (eight open flowers) and percent of buds showing color. Holding at temperatures below 7C, increases days to marketability up to 7 days. Extended cooling (beyond 6 weeks) at temperatures <7C increases percent of buds showing color. Extended holding at temperatures >7C decreases buds in color due to development of bypass shoots during cooling and increased bud abortion. Plants not receiving a cool-treatment or cooled for <2 weeks do not flower uniformly. Furthermore, the percentage of plants reaching marketability dramatically decreases for plants held longer than 6 weeks at temperatures >7C. Both cultivars show similar trends, but `Gloria' has greater variability.

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Terril A. Nell, James E. Barrett, and Ria T. Leonard

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Jeff B. Million, James E. Barrett, and Terril A. Nell

Drench applications of paclobutrazol (PBZ) are becoming increasingly popular as a means for controlling height in potted plants, and research is being conducted to quantify the distribution of PBZ following applications. In one trial, 120 ml of 0 or 1 mg 1-1 PBZ were applied to 15-cm pots filled with either Vergro Klay Mix (no bark) or Metro Mix 500 (bark). A bioassay using broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. Italica) seedlings was used to quantify PBZ in leachates and media following treatment drenches. Leachate PBZ concentrations were lower for Vergro than for Metro Mix 500; however, leachates for both media were <0.1 mg·liter–1. Concentrations of PBZ in media decreased with depth and were four to 10 times higher in the uppermost 2.5 cm than in lower horizons. For the uppermost 2.5 cm of media, higher PBZ concentrations were recovered in Metro Mix 500 than in Vergro. A follow-up study will compare surface vs. subsurface application methods on the movement of PBZ into pots.