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Terril A. Nell, Ria T. Leonard, Jim E. Barrett, and David G. Clark

Production and postproduction factors were examined to evaluate effects on postproduction performance and longevity of several varieties of potted African violets, carnations, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, gerbera, Hiemalis begonia, hibiscus, hydrangea, kalanchoe, and lisianthus. Various N rates (150–600 ppm) and fertilizer termination 2 to 3 weeks prior to flowering were evaluated. Chrysanthemums, hydrangea, and lisianthus had better quality and longevity at N rates ranging from 200 to 300 ppm, while all other crops performed best at 150 ppm N. Terminating fertilizer had no effect on longevity or quality of carnation, gerbera, Hiemalis begonia, hydrangea, or kalanchoe, while chrysanthemum and cyclamen had a significant increase in longevity when terminated. Lisianthus had an increase in quality and longevity when fertilizer was continued to the end of production. Shipping at the proper bud developmental stage significantly influenced flower opening and longevity in the postharvest environment. Lisianthus and hydrangea need to have at least 75% of the buds fully opened, while carnations, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, and kalanchoe need at least 25% to 50% open. Hiemalis begonia, a very long-lasting potted plant, tolerated a range of 10% to 75% open flowers at shipping. Optimum transport temperature and transport duration varied for each crop. Generally, transporting for 3 days at 2 to 7 °C was best for carnation, chrysanthemum, and gerbera, while transporting at 7 to 12 °C was best for cyclamen, Hiemalis begonia, hydrangea, kalanchoe, and lisianthus. Hibiscus performed best when transported at 18 °C. Longevity and quality were maximized when maintained at 18 to 21 °C at 14 μmol·m–2·s–1. Differences in variety performance was a major factor in postproduction performance.

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

Dendranthema×grandiflorum (Ramat.) were grown in either a peat-based or pine bark—based medium and drenched with growth retardants at a range of concentrations to generate dose : response curves. The effect of ancymidol, paclobutrazol, and uniconazole on stem elongation was less in the pine bark—based than in the peat-based medium. Generally, the concentrations required to achieve the same response were 3- to 4-fold as high in the pine bark—based medium as in the peat-based medium. However, chlormequat was slightly more active in the pine bark—based medium than in the peat-based medium. Chemical names used: α-cyclopropyl-α—(4-methoxyphenyl)-5-pyrimidinemethanol (ancymidol); (±)-(R*,R*)-β-[(4-chlorophenyl)methyl]-α-(1,1-di methyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazole-1-ethanol (paclobutrazol); (E)-(RS)-1-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-(1H-1,2,4-triazol-1-yl)pent -l-en-3-ol (uniconazole); 2-chloroethyltrimethylammonium chloride (chlormequat).

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Oswaldo Macz, Ellen T. Paparozzi, Walter W. Stroup, Terril A. Nell, and Ria Leonard

Research on hydroponically grown mums showed that nitrogen (N) levels applied can be reduced when adequate sulfur (S) is also applied. However, changes in stem length, leaf area, and time-to-fl ower can be affected. Our goal was to evaluate whether reduced N levels in combination with S would affect commercial production and post-harvest longevity of pot mums. `White Diamond' was grown in a peat:perlite:vermiculite medium following a commercial production schedule. N levels applied were 50, 100, 150 and 200 mg/L. S levels were 0, 5, 10, 20, and 80 mg/L. The treatment design was a complete factorial 4 × 5 with 20 treatment combinations. The experimental design was a split-plot with N levels as the whole-plot and S levels as the split-plot factor. Variables measured were plant height, leaf area, days to bud set, days to first color, and days to flower opening. Plants were ship to the Univ. of Florida for postharvest evaluation. Data were analyzed using SAS PROC MIXED AND PROC REG. N and S interactions were significant for all variables measured except flower longevity. Plants receiving 0 mg/L S did not produce inflorescences, had shorter stems, and less leaf area regardless of N levels. Plants receiving 50 mg/L N and some S produced inflorescences, but were of inferior quality to plants receiving 100, 150, and 200 mg/L N. Plants receiving 200 mg/L N and 80 mg/L S showed breakdown of plant architecture. Plants of commercial quality were obtained at 100, 150, and 200 mg/L N in combination with either 5, 10, or 20 mg/L S.

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Ria T. Leonard, Terril A. Nell, Jim E. Barrett, and David G. Clark

The traditional use of poinsettias has been as potted plants. A new poinsettia variety, `Winter Rose Dark Red', is performing well as a cut flower, lasting 2 to 3 weeks. Various postharvest handling procedures were examined, including stem processing methods at harvest, storage and transit conditions, as well as handling practices at the wholesale, retail, and consumer levels, to determine the best handling practices to maximize quality and longevity. At harvest, traditional latex controlling techniques, such as dipping stems in 95% ethanol for 10 min and burning or boiling stem tips were tested. Stems wilted faster when dipped in ethanol or burned. The woody nature of the stem contains little latex compared to traditional varieties; thus, no latex-controlling methods are needed or beneficial. After harvest, there was no benefit found in hydrating stems in a commercial hydration solution compared to plain water. Transport and/or storage conditions between 10 to 15 °C for 3 to 4 days maximized longevity. Chilling injury occurred when transported at 4 °C. Leaves and bracts wilted when stored dry in a box, but recovered within 12 to 24 h when stored for 2 days. Leaves abscised after exposure to short-term wilting but no bract abscission occurred. Storing stems in a 10% bleach solution prevented wilting and reduced bacterial growth. Bracts were sensitive to mechanical injury during transit, resulting in bruising lesions on the bracts, which increased sensitivity to bract edge burn. Stems declined faster when maintained in a floral preservative compared to water during the consumer phase.

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Wilfredo Colón-Guasp, Terril A. Nell, Michael E. Kane, and James E. Barrett

The use of abscisic acid (ABA) as an in vitro prehardening treatment to enhance ex vitro acclimatization of Stage III Aronia arbutifolia plantlets was explored. Effects of ABA (0-4 mg·liter-1) pretreatment on ex vitro shoot growth, leaf carbon assimilation (LCA) and nonstructural carbohydrate content were evaluated during plantlet acclimatization under two photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) levels (450 and 650 μmol·m-2·s-1). Stage III plantlets rooted in the presence of ABA exhibited both shoot growth inhibition and transient negative LCA rates at time of transfer ex vitro. Regardless of treatment, maximum LCA rates were achieved by day 20 post-transplant. Pretreatment with ABA had no effect on stem or leaf starch content at time of transplant, however, leaf and stem soluble sugar content was higher in ABA treated plantlets than controls. Further suppression of shoot growth and alteration in the pattern of stem starch utilization occurred at the higher irradiance level. These results indicate that ABA pretreatments provide no physiological advantage that would facilitate ex vitro acclimatization of Aronia plantlets.

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Erika K. Gubrium, Donna J. Clevenger, David G. Clark, James E. Barrett, and Terril A. Nell

A series of experiments on ethylene-insensitive (EI) petunia plants (Petunia ×hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr.) generated in two genetic backgrounds were conducted to determine the involvement of ethylene in horticultural performance. Experiments examined various aspects of horticultural performance: days to flower, flower senescence after pollination and without pollination, fruit set and ripening, and adventitious root formation on vegetative stem cuttings. The development of EI plants was altered in several ways. Time from seed sowing to first flower anthesis was decreased by a week for EI plants grown at 26/21 °C. Flower senescence in nonpollinated and self-pollinated flowers was delayed in all EI plants compared to wild-type plants. Fruit set percentage on EI plants was slightly lower than on wild-type plants and fruit ripening on EI plants was delayed by up to 7 days. EI plants produced fewer commercially acceptable rooted cuttings than wild-type plants. There was a basic difference in the horticultural performance of the two EI lines examined due to a difference in the genetic backgrounds used to generate the lines. EI plants displayed better horticultural performance when grown with day/night temperatures of 26/21 °C than 30/24 °C. These results suggest that tissue-specific ethylene insensitivity as well as careful consideration of the genetic background used in transformation procedures and growth conditions of etr1-1 plants will be required to produce commercially viable transgenic floriculture crops. EI petunias provide an ideal model system for studying the role of ethylene in regulating various aspects of plant reproduction.

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Christopher Ramcharan, Dewayne L. Ingram, Terril A. Nell, and James E. Barrett

Short-term effects of root-zone temperatures (RZT) of 28, 33, 38, and 43C for 6 hours daily on container-grown Musa spp. (AAA) `Grande Naine' and Ixora chinensis L. `Maui' were determined under greenhouse and growth room conditions. Diurnal fluctuation of leaf carbon assimilation (LCA) was altered by treatments. In the growth room at 43C, the maximum LCA occurred about midday for banana, but not until afternoon in ixora. LCA was highest (0.53 mg CO2/m2 per sec) in banana with a 33C RZT under greenhouse conditions, while it was equally high (0.74 mg CO2/m2 per sec) at 33 and 38C in a growth room. In ixora, 33C induced the highest LCA (0.40 mg CO2/m2 per sec) in the greenhouse at 1200 hr, but there were no apparent differences in midday LCA between plants with RZT of 28, 33, and 38C in the growth room. Effects of RZT and environment on the daily fluctuations of gaseous exchange processes raise questions about using measurements at only one time during the day to separate treatment effects.

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Ayumi Suzuki, Ria T. Leonard, Terril A. Nell, Jim E. Barrett, and David G. Clark

It has traditionally been recommended to cut flower stems underwater to reduce blockage and improve water uptake, although little scientific information relates this practice to vase life. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the benefit of this processing technique on quality and longevity of several cut flowers species. Stems were either cut dry or cut wet under deionized water with a stainless steel blade and placed into vases containing a commercial floral preservative. Water samples were obtained from the cutting tank over time during stem processing for bacteria counts. Stems were maintained at 2 °C at 10 μmol·m–2·s–1 (12 h/day). The results were variable from shipment to shipment, possibly due to differences in stem quality or cutting water quality. In most cases, cutting underwater had no effect on longevity of alstroemeria, chrysanthemums, gerbera daisy, roses, or snapdragons. However, in a few instances, cutting underwater improved longevity slightly. Cutting stems underwater was consistently effective in increasing longevity 2-4 days for carnations. Bacteria counts in the cutting tank water after 500 stems were processed were 6/34 × 106 propagules/mL and increased to 1.00 × 107 propagules/mL after 1000 stems. The increase in bacteria decreased leaf quality in roses and reduced the number of snapdragon flowers that opened, but did not affect longevity. In gerberas, however, longevity decreased 2 days. A high concentration of bacteria in the cutting water may effect quality and longevity of many cut flower species and may negate any benefit in cutting stems underwater.

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

Natural variation in the postharvest quality and longevity of ornamental plants can often be related to differences in their response to ethylene. In the present study, we determined the postharvest performance and ethylene sensitivity of cut flowers from 38 cultivated Hybrid Tea rose genotypes. The vase life of the cultivars varied considerably from 4.5 to 18.8 days at 21 °C. There was also substantial variation in the degree of flower opening among genotypes. Exposure to 1 μL·L−1 ethylene for 24 h at 21 °C reduced the longevity of 27 cultivars by 0.8 to 8.4 days (18% to 47%) by accelerating petal wilting and abscission. Ethylene treatment also significantly reduced rates of flower opening in 17 sensitive cultivars and in six cultivars that showed no ethylene-related reduction in vase life. Five cultivars showed no reduction in vase life or flower opening in response to ethylene exposure. Pre-treating stems with 0.2 mm silver thiosulfate liquid or 0.9 μL·L−1 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) gas for 16 h at 2 °C reduced the deleterious effects of ethylene. The release of 1-MCP from two sachets containing EthylBloc™ into individual shipping boxes also protected flowers against ethylene applied immediately after a 6-d commercial shipment. The duration of protection afforded by the 1-MCP sachet treatment was greatest when flowers were maintained at low temperature.

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G.H. Pemberton, Terril A. Nell, Ria T. Leonard, A.A. De Hertogh, Lena Gallitano, and James E. Barrett

Forced `Bumalda' and `Etna' Astilbe were evaluated for postproduction quality and longevity. Plants were sleeved, boxed and held at 9±2C for 3 days to simulate shipping at the following stages of floral development: tight bud (TB), 1-3 florets open, 25% florets open, 50% florets open, and 75% florets open. They were then placed at 21C and 14 μmol·m-2·s-1 (12h daylength) until flower senescence. Percent of inflorescences flowering increased from 34% at TB stage to 94% when shipped with 25 % of the florets open. `Etna' longevity increased from 3 days at TB stage to 12 days at 25% open stage. Optimum quality and longevity occurred when ≥ 25% of the florets were opened at shipping.

In a second experiment, `Bumalda' and `Etna' Astilbe were held at 18, 21 and 24C at irradiance levels of 7 or 14 μmol·m-2·s-1 when 25% of the florets were open. At 18C, longevity increased under 14 μmol·m-2·s-1 from 14 to 17 days. At 24C, longevity was only 10 days for both irradiance levels.