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Kellie J. Walters, Allison A. Hurt, and Roberto G. Lopez

Foliage annuals are primarily grown for the aesthetic appeal of their brightly colored, variegated, or patterned leaves rather than for their flowers. Once foliage annuals become reproductive, vegetative growth of many species diminishes or completely ceases and plants can become unappealing. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to quantify how growth and development during production and stock plant cutting yield of bloodleaf (Iresine herbstii), Joseph’s coat (Alternanthera sp.) ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ and ‘Red Threads’, Persian shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus), and variegated potato vine (Solanum jasminoides) are influenced by photoperiod and night interruption (NI) lighting with or without far-red (FR) radiation. Photoperiods consisted of a 9-hour short day (SD) or a 9-hour SD extended to 10, 12, 13, 14, or 16 hours with red (R):white (W):FR light-emitting diode (LED) lamps (R:FR = 0.8) providing a total photon flux density (TPFD) of ≈2 µmol·m−2·s–1 of radiation. In addition, two treatments consisted of a 9-hour SD with a 4-hour NI from lamps containing the same R:W:FR or R:W LEDs (R:FR = 37.4). Bloodleaf plant and Joseph’s coat ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ and ‘Red Threads’ developed inflorescences or flowers under photoperiods ≤12 to 13 hours and were classified as obligate SD plants. Under LEDs providing R:W:FR radiation, stem elongation of reproductive bloodleaf and Joseph’s coat ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ and ‘Red Threads’ increased as photoperiod increased from 9 to 12 hours. In addition, stem elongation of bloodleaf, Joseph’s coat ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ and ‘Red Threads’, and Persian shield and growth index (GI = {plant height + [(diameter 1 + diameter 2)/2]}/2) of bloodleaf and Persian shield was significantly greater under NI with FR radiation than without FR radiation. Fewer or no cuttings were harvested from Joseph’s coat ‘Brazilian Red Hots’ and ‘Red Threads’ under photoperiods ≤12 or ≤13 hours, respectively. To prevent unwanted flowering of bloodleaf plant and Joseph’s coat, a photoperiod ≥14 hours or 4-hour NI must be maintained with LEDs providing either R:W or R:W:FR radiation, however; stem elongation is significantly reduced under R:W LEDs.

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Diane M. Camberato, James J. Camberato, and Roberto G. Lopez

Four complete water-soluble fertilizer (WSF) formulations including micronutrients applied at 200 mg·L−1 nitrogen (N) at each irrigation [Peters Excel (21N–2.2P–16.5K), Daniels (10N–1.8P–2.5K), Peters Professional (15N–1.3P–20.8K), and Jack’s Professional (20N–1.3P–15.7K)] were compared with two controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) products (also containing micronutrients) substrate incorporated at transplant at a rate of 3000 g·m−3 of substrate [Osmocote Plus (15N–4P–9.9K, 90 to 120 days longevity at 21 °C) and Osmocote Bloom (12N–3.1P–15K, 60 to 90 days longevity at 21 °C)] in the greenhouse production of four commonly produced bedding plant species with high alkalinity irrigation water (pH 7.1, 280 mg·L−1 CaCO3 equivalent). Species included Argyranthemum frutescens (L.) Sch. Bip. ‘Madeira Cherry Red’ and iron-inefficient Calibrachoa Cerv. hybrid ‘Cabaret Pink Hot’, Diascia barberae Hook. f. ‘Wink Coral’, and Sutera cordata Roth ‘Abunda Giant White’. Additional treatments included a combination of 100 mg·L−1 Excel and 2100 g·m−3 Osmocote Plus and an Osmocote Plus treatment irrigated with reduced alkalinity water (acidified to pH 6.3, 92 mg·L−1 CaCO3 equivalent). Bedding plants were evaluated at the end of a finish or market stage (3 or 5 weeks depending on species) for shoot dry mass (SDM) and root dry mass (RDM), tissue nutrient concentrations, and visual quality rating (0 to 4). At 3 weeks, there were no significant differences in SDM and RDM between fertilizer treatments for any of the four species. Shoot dry mass significantly increased at 5 weeks in the WSF and combination treatments over the three CRF only treatments for Argyranthemum and over the non-acidified Osmocote Plus treatment only for Calibrachoa. At finish, 3 weeks for Sutera and Diascia and 5 weeks for Argyranthemum and Calibrachoa, visual quality rating for all species was lowest when using Osmocote Plus with or without acidified irrigation water compared with the WSF treatments, except the Daniels treatment in Argyranthemum, which also resulted in a low visual quality rating. Leaf tissue N for all species and phosphorus (P) for all except Diascia were below the recommended range for bedding plant crops in the CRF treatments, which was reflected by the lower substrate electrical conductivity (EC) for the CRF alone and combination treatments. Leaf tissue N and P were related to visual quality rating for all species, leaf tissue potassium (K) for Argyranthemum and Calibrachoa only, and leaf tissue iron (Fe) for Diascia only.

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Michael A. Ortiz, Krystyna Hyrczyk, and Roberto G. Lopez

The U.S. specialty cut flower market has grown over the last several years because stems of many specialty cut flower species cannot be transported long distances and therefore need to be grown regionally. High tunnel production of cut flowers is an alternative to field and greenhouse production that has several benefits. Specialty cut flower species Antirrhinum majus L. ‘Potomac Orange’ and ‘Rocket Red’, Celosia argentea L. var. cristata Kuntze ‘Chief Red’, Dahlia ×hybrida Cav. ‘Karma Thalia Dark Fuchsia’, Dianthus barbatus L. ‘Amazon Neon Cherry’, Eustoma russellianum Salisb. ‘Mariachi Blue’, Helianthus annuus L. ‘Premier Lemon’ and ‘Sunrich Yellow’, Matthiola incana (L.) W.T. Aiton ‘Katz Lavender Blue’, and Zinnia elegans Jacq. ‘Benary Giant Scarlet’ were grown in both field and high tunnel environments in the midwestern United States. High tunnel production resulted in a first week’s harvest of 44.8 (46%), 115, and 21.1 (110%) more stems for Antirrhinum ‘Rocket Red’, Dianthus, and Zinnia, respectively. Compared with field production, high tunnel production yielded a greater number of stems/m2 for Antirrhinum ‘Potomac Orange’, Celosia, Dianthus, and Zinnia and longer stems for Antirrhinum ‘Potomac Orange’ and ‘Rocket’, Eustoma, Matthiola, and Zinnia. For example, high tunnel production yielded 185 (39%) and 192 (59%) more stems/m2 and 12.6 (34%) and 8.9 (32%) cm longer stems for Mathiola and Zinnia, respectively. Other stem characteristics such as inflorescence length and flower width showed more variation among cultivars. Our results indicate that cut flower yield and/or quality of Antirrhinum ‘Rocket Red’, Dianthus, Matthiola, Zinnia, Dahlia, Eustoma, and Helianthus ‘Sunrich Yellow’ and ‘Premier Lemon’ significantly increases when produced in high tunnels located in the Midwest.

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Ariana P. Torres, Michael V. Mickelbart, and Roberto G. Lopez

Well-established protocols exist for using the pour-through extraction method to estimate substrate pH and electrical conductivity (EC) values for small root volumes. However, little work has been done to test the accuracy and consistency of these measurements in large containers. Our objective was to determine if the amount of distilled water applied to #1, #3, #5, and #10 (2-, 8-, 11-, and 27-L media volume, respectively) containers would affect leachate pH and EC values or consistency of measurements. Boxwood (Buxus ×koreana ‘Green Velvet’) was selected for this study because it is a common container-grown nursery crop. Distilled water was poured evenly over the media surface in each container 1 h after irrigation to obtain a leachate volume of either 50 mL or 2.5% of media volume and leachate EC and pH were measured. Media pH values were 0.1 to 0.3 points higher when 50 mL leachate was collected, but the difference was only significant during the first 2 weeks of measurements. There were no consistent differences in pH over container sizes or leachate volume. Leachate EC values were similar when measured in leachate collected as 50 mL total volume or 2.5% of media volume in 8- and 11-L containers. However, in 27-L containers, obtaining 50 mL leachate resulted in higher EC values than when 2.5% media volume was obtained. Both pH and EC values obtained from 50-mL leachate fractions over container sizes were more consistent than when 2.5% of the media volume was collected. Growers should collect 50 mL of leachate to test media pH and EC regardless of container size.

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Joshua K. Craver, Jennifer K. Boldt, and Roberto G. Lopez

Previous research has shown high-quality annual bedding plant seedlings can be produced in controlled environments using light-emitting diode (LED) sole-source lighting (SSL). However, when only red and blue radiation are used, a delay in time to flower may be present when seedlings of some long-day species are subsequently finished in a greenhouse. Thus, our objective was to evaluate the effects of various radiation qualities and intensities under SSL on the morphology, nutrient uptake, and subsequent flowering of annual bedding plant seedlings with a long-day photoperiodic response. Coreopsis (Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Sunfire’), pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana ‘Matrix Yellow’), and petunia (Petunia ×hybrida ‘Purple Wave’) seedlings were grown at radiation intensities of 105, 210, or 315 µmol·m−2·s−1, achieved from LED arrays with radiation ratios (%) of red:blue 87:13 (R87:B13), red:far-red:blue 84:7:9 (R84:FR7:B9), or red:green:blue 74:18:8 (R74:G18:B8). Four-week-old seedlings were subsequently transplanted and grown in a common greenhouse environment. Stem caliper, root dry mass, and shoot dry mass of seedlings generally increased for all three species as the radiation intensity increased from 105 to 315 µmol·m−2·s−1, regardless of radiation quality. Similarly, stem length of all three species was generally shorter as the radiation intensity increased. Macro- and micronutrient concentrations were also generally lower as the radiation intensity increased for all three species. Pansy seedlings grown under R84:FR7:B9 flowered an average of 7 and 5 days earlier than those under R87:B13 and R74:G18:B8, respectively. These results provide information regarding the specific radiation parameters from commercially available LEDs necessary to produce high-quality seedlings under SSL, with radiation intensity appearing to be the dominant factor in determining seedling quality. Furthermore, the addition of far-red radiation can reduce time to flower after transplant and allow for a faster greenhouse turnover of some species with a long-day photoperiodic response.

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Joshua R. Gerovac, Roberto G. Lopez, and Neil S. Mattson

Commercial bedding plant production in northern latitudes often begins in late winter and continues through spring, when average outdoor temperatures require growers to actively heat their greenhouses (GHs). High tunnels (HTs) offer energy savings as they are passively heated and cooled structures that have a low initial cost. As a result, they have been used in northern latitudes to advance and extend the growing season and improve the quality of high-value horticultural crops. However, there is limited published information on growing bedding plants in HTs in northern latitudes. Our objectives were to quantify the effects of transplant date in an HT with or without a rowcover (RC) compared with a traditional heated GH on the growth and morphology of three cold-tolerant bedding plant species at two northern latitude locations, Purdue University (Purdue) and Cornell University (Cornell). Seedlings of snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus L. ‘Liberty Classic Yellow’), dianthus (Dianthus chinensis L. ‘Telstar Crimson’), and petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Vilm.-Andr. ‘Wave Pink’) were transplanted on weeks 13, 14, and 15 in 2012 (Purdue) and 2013 (both locations) and moved to either a glass-glazed GH or an HT without (HT) or with a rowcover (HT+RC). Several quality measurements increased when plants were grown in the HT compared with those grown in the GH. Dianthus and petunia transplanted at Purdue during week 13 in the HT and HT+RC were 33% and 47% shorter and had 51% and 31% more visible buds, respectively, compared with those grown in the GH. Similarly, petunia transplanted at Cornell during week 13 in the HT and HT+RC were 45% and 43% shorter, respectively, than their GH counterparts. The shoot dry mass of dianthus and snapdragon at Purdue was significantly higher when grown in the HT compared with the GH, regardless of transplant week or the use of RC likely because of increased daily light integral (DLI) in the HT environment. There was about a 1-week delay from transplant to first open flower for week 13 dianthus (at Purdue) and petunia (at both locations) when finished in the HT or HT+RC vs. their GH counterparts. Such a delay would be acceptable to growers who want to reduce the use of chemical growth regulators and heating costs. However, at both locations snapdragon transplanted on week 13 to the HT or HT+RC environments were delayed by 22 to 26 days compared with the GH. A delay of over 3 weeks could interfere with a grower’s production schedule, possibly making this crop unsuitable for production in northern latitude HTs.

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A. Michel-Rosales, J. Farias, S. Guzman, G. Lopez, and G. Valdovinos

In western Mexico, banana is traditionally multiplied by vegetative reproduction in the orchard; recently, micropropagation of this species has increased considerably. Banana has been shown to give a positive response to AM fungal inoculation. However, the selection of efficient AM fungi species, currently propagated in vitro, has not been documented. The selection of the most-effective arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi for growth enhancement of banana vitroplants is the first step toward development of an AM inoculation system. This work reports the effect of nursery inoculation of Glomus aggregatum, G. clarum, G. etunicatum, G. intraradices, G. monosporum, G. mosseae, and Gigaspora margarita on the banana vitroplants growth. Pots (4 kg) containing a mixture of soil and coconut fiber (1:1) sterilized with methyl bromide were used. Treatments were arranged under a fully randomized experimental design with eight replications. The plants were harvested 120 days after inoculation and plant height, number of leaves, leaf area, fresh weight of roots, mycorrhizal colonization, and intensity of infection were measured. Glomus etunicatum, G. monosporum, G. mosseae, and G. aggregatum were shown to be the most-effective endophytes. Plant height was increased, as well as the production of banana roots in response to mycorrhizal inoculation with these fungi. On the other hand, G. intraradices and G. clarum showed low levels of colonization. The data clearly show the most efficient AM fungi for future inoculation studies in nursery banana production.

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J. Farias Larios, J. G. López Aguirre, E. Rincón Cruz, and F. Radillo Juarez

Since 1980, farmers from western Mexico have cultivated melon cantaloupe; however, during the past few years, they have seen the better advantages of honeydew melon. Some of them represent a good alternative to farmers because chemical products and labor costs are reduced, and because they are tolerant to several diseases. The purpose of this experiment was to evaluate 15 new hybrids of honeydew melon in western Mexico. The hybrids evaluated were: Dey Break, Hmx 4596, Hmx 4595, Hmx 4607, Sunex 7051, Rocio, creme de menthe, Silver world, Emerald sweet, Sme 5303, Sme 5302, Santa Fé, PSR 10994, and PSR 8994, Honey Brew was test. Fifteen -day-old plants were transplanted by hand. Treatments were replicated four times in a randomized complete-block design. Beds 1.2 m wide and 7.0 m long were prepared, 1.5 m between beds, distance plant-plant 0.5 m (plant density ≈13,332 plant/ha). Results show that yield of SME 5302, SME 5303, HMX 4596, Rocío, Dey Break, PSR 8994, Sunex 7051, and HMX 4607 had a yield higher of 50 t/ha, Emerad sweet had more number fruit (59 per 10 plants), whereas SME 5303, SME 5302 and Silver world had higher fruit weight (>1.719 gr). We suggest the evaluation of these hybrids in other regions to know the adaptation to different conditions and to select the best in commercial quality and production.

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Tanya J. Hall, Roberto G. Lopez, Maria I. Marshall, and Jennifer H. Dennis

In recent years, the commercial greenhouse industry has begun to implement sustainable production practices. However, floriculture certification programs for sustainable production practices are a relatively new phenomenon in the United States. Between July and Oct. 2008, a commercial floriculture grower survey was conducted to determine potential barriers to sustainable floriculture certification. Using a logistic regression model, seven potential areas were evaluated: risk, profitability, economic viability, prior experience, education, operation size, and customer types. Although respondents had positive attitudes toward sustainability and had adopted sustainable practices, respondents had little knowledge and interest in U.S. certification.

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Christopher J. Currey, Roberto G. Lopez, Vijay K. Rapaka, James E. Faust, and Erik S. Runkle

After postharvest shipping, the lower leaves of zonal geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum) cuttings often turn chlorotic and necrotic during rooting in a propagation environment. Our objective was to quantify the efficacy of spray applications of the plant growth regulators (PGRs) benzyladenine (BA) and/or gibberellic acid (GA) at various stages in propagation to reduce lower-leaf senescence and evaluate effects on subsequent rooting. In Expt. 1, cuttings of ‘Patriot White’ geraniums were harvested and treated with BA (2.5 or 5.0 mg·L−1), BA + GA4+7 (2.5 or 5.0 mg·L−1 each), or GA3 (0.5 or 2.0 mg·L−1) either before or after a 2-day storage period simulating commercial shipping. Post-shipment application of all PGRs eliminated leaf yellowing compared with cuttings treated pre-shipment, but rooting was inhibited. In Expt. 2, the promotion of rooting from a rooting hormone preceding treatment with BA (1.25 to 5.0 mg·L−1), BA+GA4+7 (1.25 to 5.0 mg·L−1 each), or GA3 (0.25 to 2.0 mg·L−1) was evaluated on ‘Patriot White’ geranium cuttings after a 2-day simulated shipping. Applying rooting hormones increased the percentage of fully rooted cuttings treated with BA and/or GA from 16.4% to 51.8%. In Expt. 3, cuttings of different geranium cultivars from a commercial producer varied in susceptibility and suppression of leaf yellowing after BA + GA4+7 applications. We conclude that foliar applications of BA + GA4+7 can suppress lower-leaf senescence and rooting during propagation of some geranium cultivars, and the inhibition of rooting can be at least partially overcome with an application of rooting hormone.