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

Chemical plant growth regulators (PGRs) are important tools in greenhouse ornamental crop production because growers must increasingly meet specifications for plant shipping and marketability. However, the role of water quality parameters such as pH or alkalinity (bicarbonate in this study) on final PGR solution pH is not well documented and could impact efficacy. We assessed the interaction of PGR type and concentration on the final spray solution pH when combined with carrier water of varying pH and bicarbonate concentration. Eleven PGRs commonly used in floriculture (ancymidol, benzyladenine, chlormequat chloride, daminozide, dikegulac-sodium, ethephon, flurprimidol, gibberellic acid, gibberellic acid/benzyladenine, paclobutrazol, and uniconazole) at three concentrations (low, medium, and high recommended rates for each product) were added to reverse osmosis (RO) carrier water adjusted to four pH (5.3, 6.2, 7.2, 8.2) levels or added to tap carrier water adjusted to four bicarbonate concentrations (40, 86, 142, 293 mg·L−1 of CaCO3). Resultant solution pH levels were measured. Plant growth regulators were categorized as acidic, neutral, or basic in reaction based on the change of the carrier water pH on their addition. Benzyladenine, chlormequat chloride, gibberellic acid, and gibberellic acid/benzyladenine acted as weak acids when added to RO water, whereas daminozide, ethephon, and uniconazole reduced final solution pH from 1.25 to 5.75 pH units. Flurprimidol and paclobutrazol were neutral in reaction with final solution pH being similar to that of the RO carrier water before their addition. Ancymidol and dikegulac-sodium were basic in reaction, increasing final solution pH in RO carrier water up to 2.3 units. There was an interaction between chlormequat chloride concentration and RO carrier water pH on change in pH. When added to tap carrier water, final solution pH increased for all except the stronger acids, daminozide, ethephon, and uniconazole, where it decreased up to 3.5 units, and benzyladenine, where it decreased 0.35 units at 40 mg·L−1 bicarbonate. There was an interaction between PGR concentration and bicarbonate concentration in tap carrier water for daminozide and ethephon. The magnitude of change in pH (final solution pH minus initial carrier water pH) with the addition of each PGR was greater for RO than for tap water containing 40 to 293 mg·L−1 bicarbonate for all 11 PGRs tested.

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S. Guzman, H. Alejandro, J. Farias, A. Michel, and G. Lopez

Watermelon (Citrullus vulgaris Schrad.) is a widely grown crop throughout the tropics and subtropics. In Mexico, it is an economically important crop. In vitro adventitious shoot regeneration of watermelon has been reported from shoot tip culture, leaf, hypocotyl, and cotyledons. Hence, the objective of this study was to evaluate in vitro plant regeneration from axillary buds of triploid watermelon. Axillary buds explants were prepared from shoot of commercial cultivar in field of 60 old day plants. Explants of 2 to 3 mm were incubated 2 weeks on Murashige and Skoog (MS) shoot regeneration medium containing 2.5 mg/L kinetin (KT) or indole-3-butyric acid (IBA), or gibberellic acid (GA3), followed by 3 weeks on shoot elongation medium supplemented with different combinations of the same phytohormones. The percentage of explants (83% to 90%) that produced shoots, expansion in size of explant (0.81–1 cm) and shoot length (6 mm) were highest in MS medium containing KT or IBA. In the shoot elongation step, shoot length (0.9–1 cm) and leaves number (6–7) were highest in MS medium supplemented with 2.5 mg/L of KT or GA3 and 0.2 mg/L IBA, but the better induction of roots in elongated shoot occurred on MS medium with 2.5 mg/L KT and 0.2 mg/L IBA. The results show that axillary buds from watermelon is an alternative for the micropropagation of this crop.

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Allison Hurt, Roberto G. Lopez, and Joshua K. Craver

In northern latitudes, the photosynthetic daily light integral can be less than 5 mol·m–2·d–1, necessitating the use of supplemental lighting (SL) to reduce bedding plant seedling production time and increase quality. Our objectives were 1) to quantify seedling quality and production time under continuous 16-h or instantaneous threshold SL, continuous low-intensity photoperiodic lighting (PL) for 16 or 24 hours with and without far-red light, or no electric lighting; and 2) to determine whether the described lighting treatments during propagation impact finished plant quality or flowering. Seeds of begonia (Begonia ×semperflorens) ‘Bada Bing Scarlet’, gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii) ‘Jaguar Deep Orange’, impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) ‘Accent Premium Salmon’, petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) ‘Ramblin Peach Glo’, and tuberous begonia (Begonia ×tuberosa) ‘Nonstop Rose Petticoat’ were sown in 128-cell trays and grown under either SL, PL, or no electric lighting (control). SL treatments consisted of high-intensity light-emitting diode (LED) or high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps providing a photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of either 70 µmol·m–2·s–1 on continuously for 16 h·d–1 or 90 µmol·m–2·s–1 based on an instantaneous threshold. PL treatments consisted of low-intensity red:white (R:W) or red:white:far-red (R:W:FR) lamps for 16 h·d–1 or R:W:FR lamps for 24 h·d–1. Seedlings of gerbera, impatiens, and petunia from each treatment were subsequently transplanted and finished in a common greenhouse environment. The highest quality seedlings were grown under SL compared with PL or control conditions. When comparing SL treatments, seedlings produced under HPS or LED SL using an instantaneous threshold were of equal or greater quality compared with those under continuous SL with a 16-h photoperiod. Although the greater leaf area and internode elongation under PL may give growers the perception that seedling production time is reduced, PL did not increase biomass accumulation and seedling quality. Petunia seedlings propagated under HPS lamps using an instantaneous threshold flowered 4 to 11 days earlier compared with the other SL treatments. In addition, petunia propagated under R:W:FR PL for 16 h·d–1 flowered 5 to 7 days earlier compared with LED SL and the other PL treatments.

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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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Ricardo González-Ponce, Esther G. López-de-Sá, and César Plaza

Struvite (MgNH4PO4·6H2O) production is widely studied as a way to remove phosphorus (P) from wastewater and generate a potentially marketable P fertilizer, but its effects on crops have yet to be researched more thoroughly. This study was conducted to evaluate struvite recovered by the Spanish Research Council (CSIC) pilot process (STR) as a source of P for lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) by comparing its effectiveness with that of single superphosphate (SUP), a common P fertilizer derived from phosphate rock. In a greenhouse pot experiment, a P-deficient loamy sand soil was amended with either SUP or STR at P rates of 0, 4, 8, 12, 16, and 20 mg·kg−1. Nitrogen and potassium were uniformly supplied to all treatments. The response of lettuce head fresh weight and P uptake to P rate exhibited statistically significant quadratic relationships for both SUP and STR. With respect to SUP, STR was significantly more effective in increasing lettuce yield and P uptake, probably because of the larger amount of magnesium (Mg) incorporated with this material and a synergistic effect on P uptake. This work supports previous findings based on other test crops in suggesting that STR can be a P source attractive to the fertilizer market with additional agronomic and environmental benefits such as providing available Mg and nitrogen, helping attenuate consumption of phosphate rock, and reducing release of P by discharge of treated wastewaters to surface and groundwater systems.

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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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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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Christopher J. Currey, Roberto G. Lopez, Brian A. Krug, Ingram McCall, and Brian E. Whipker

The objective of this research was to quantify how flurprimidol substrate drenches applied to ‘Nellie White’ easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum) affected height at flowering, time to flower, and flower number. In Expt. 1, size 9/10 ‘Nellie White’ easter lilies were treated with a 4-fl oz drench applied to the surface of the substrate when shoots were ≈3 inches tall providing 0.0, 0.02, 0.04, 0.08, 0.16, or 0.24 mg flurprimidol per pot or 0.03 or 0.06 mg uniconazole per pot. In Expt. 2, size 10/12 ‘Nellie White’ easter lilies were treated with 4-fl oz drenches applied to the surface of the substrate when shoots were ≈3 inches tall providing 0.0, 0.01, 0.02, 0.04, 0.06, or 0.08 mg flurprimidol per pot. In Expt. 1, plants treated with flurprimidol or uniconazole were up to 38.9 cm (59%) shorter than untreated plants, while time to flower and flower number remained unaffected by plant growth retardant (PGR) treatments. In Expt. 2, as the amount of flurprimidol increased from 0.01 to 0.08 mg/pot, plant height was suppressed linearly (r2 = 0.63), by up to 23.2 cm (28%), while time to flower and flower number remained unaffected. Additionally, the chemical cost for drenches containing flurprimidol is less than the cost of uniconazole required to achieve comparable height control. Flurprimidol substrate drenches appear to be an effective and economical alternative to control easter lily height.

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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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J. Farías-Larios, J.G. López-Aguirre, J.L. Miranda, and L.A. Bayardo-Vizcaino

Acerola (Malpighia glabra L.) is a small, red fruit that is native to the West Indies, but is also grown in South and Central America. In western Mexico, this crop is very important because acerola is the richest known natural source of vitamin C, with a content of 1000 to 4500 mg/100 g of fruit. In nursery and field conditions, acerola growth is severely affected by root-knot nematode. The objective of this study was to evaluate the use of commercial formulations of Bacillus spp. on root-knot nematode management. This study was carried out in the Farm Santa Clara Maria in Colima State. Acerola plants, 60 days old were used. They were grown in 3-L pots with soil, compost, and pumice stone mixture as substrate. Treatments evaluated were: 5, 10, 15 and 30 mL/pot of Activate 2001, Tri-Mat (5 mL/pot) and control, without application. Activate 2001® is a concentrated liquid in water suspension of Bacillus chitinosporus, B. laterosporus, and B. licheniformis. Initial nematode population was of 3,305 in 50 g of roots. Acerola plants were harvested at 30, 60, and 90 days after application. Results show that Activate 2001 at 10 and 30 mL rates reduce significantly root-knot populations in acerola plants 60 days after application with 135 and 178 nematodes/50 g of roots, respectively. Diameter stem, shoot fresh and dry weight and root production were also increased by rhizobacteria application. These results are promising and confirmed the potential of Bacillus as a biological agent for nematode management.