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Jiunn-Yan Hou, William B. Miller, and Yao-Chien Alex Chang

Phalaenopsis is one of the most important ornamental crops and is frequently transported between continents. In this study, the effects of the duration and temperature of simulated dark shipping (SDS) and the temperature difference between cultivation greenhouses and shipping containers on the carbohydrate status and post-shipping performance were investigated. With a prolonged SDS from 0 to 40 days at 20 °C, the percentage of the vegetative Phalaenopsis Sogo Yukidian ‘V3’ plants with yellowed leaves increased from 0% to 50%, and the total carbohydrate contents in the shoot and roots gradually decreased over time. Furthermore, roots had greater reductions in glucose and fructose concentrations than the shoot after 40 days of SDS. After 7 days of SDS, the youngest bud and the nearly open bud on blooming plants of Phalaenopsis amabilis were found to be the most negatively affected among flowers and buds of all stages. These buds had lower soluble sugar concentrations and flower longevities compared with those of unshipped plants. The results of a temperature experiment showed that yellowing of the leaves and chilling injury (CI) occurred in Phalaenopsis Sogo Yukidian ‘V3’ after 21 days of SDS at 25 and 15 °C, respectively, regardless of pre-shipping temperature acclimation. However, 10 days of acclimation at 25/20 °C (day/night) before SDS reduced CI and reduced the time to inflorescence emergence. Higher accumulations of sucrose in the shoot and glucose and fructose in roots were found after 21 days of SDS at 15 °C compared with those at 25 and 20 °C. In conclusion, the carbohydrate status of Phalaenopsis was positively related to the post-performance quality. A reduction in the commercial quality after SDS may be attributed to a decline in carbohydrates. The optimal temperature for long-term dark shipping is 20 °C, and we recommend providing 10 days of lower-temperature acclimation (25/20 °C) before shipping to enhance the chilling tolerance and to promote early spiking of Phalaenopsis plants.

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Kelly J. Prevete, R. Thomas Fernandez, and William B. Miller

Drought stress durations of 2, 4, and 6 days were imposed on Boltonia asteroides `Snowbank', Eupatorium rugosum, and Rudbeckia triloba to determine the effects on carbohydrate partitioning in the plant. Drought stress was imposed on 19 Sept. 1997 on 1.9-L containerized plants. Plants were planted in the field the day following release from stress. Crown and leaf samples of the three species were collected 21, 23, 25 Sept. 1997 and 30 Jan. and 4 May 1998 and were analyzed for low molecular weight sugars and fructans. The species differed in the time it took for longer chain fructans to break down to shorter chain fructans and low molecular weight sugars (glucose, fructose). The drought tolerant Boltonia and Rudbeckia had shifts from longer chain to shorter chain fructans by day 4 of stress. Boltonia had a change in carbohydrate partitioning in the leaf tissue, while Rudbeckia had a change in crown tissue carbohydrate partitioning. Eupatorium did not have a shift in longer chain fructans to shorter chain fructans in crown tissue until day six of stress. The slower shift from longer chain fructans to shorter chain fructans by Eupatorium, compared to Boltonia and Rudbeckia, could explain the lack of drought tolerance of Eupatorium. The shift from high molecular weight sugars to low molecular weight sugars suggests that the higher molecular weight sugars broke down to lower molecular weight sugars in response to drought stress.

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Joseph P. Albano, William B. Miller, and Mary C. Halbrooks

A specific physiological disorder, bronze speckle (J.P.A.'s nomenclature), was consistently induced in `First Lady' and `Voyager' marigold with Fe-DTPA concentrations greater than 0.018 mm Fe-DTPA (1 ppm) applied to a soilless medium. The disorder was characterized by specific symptomology distinguished visually by speckled patterns of chlorosis and necrosis, and downward curling and cupping of leaves. The percentage of total leaf dry weight affected with symptoms generally increased with increasing Fe-DTPA treatments. Symptomatic leaf tissue had a greater Fe concentration than corresponding asymptomatic leaf tissue. Leaf Mn concentrations in symptomatic and asymptomatic tissue were similar. In `First Lady', older leaf tissue accumulated more total Fe and was associated with more severe symptoms than younger tissue. Media leachate Fe concentrations increased over 6 weeks and were larger at greater Fe-DTPA treatments. Adjustment of nutrient solution pH to 4.0, 5.25, or 6.5 did not alter media pH, nor did it prevent disorder symptoms. Application of Fe-DTPA containing nutrient solution to a soilless medium resulted in leachate Fe levels 3 times greater than for FeSO4 treatments. Chemical names used: ferric diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid, monosodium salt (Fe-DTPA).

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William B. Miller, P. Allen Hammer, and Terri I. Kirk

Commercial greenhouse operators are increasingly using “negative DIF” temperature regimes for crop height control. A negative DIF exists where the night temperature (NT) is greater than day temperature (DT). Large differences in DT-NT strongly suppress stem elongation in many crops, and have been used to reduce labor and material costs for chemical growth regulator applications on Easter lily. We have explored some of the biochemical effects of negative DIF temperature regimes. 'Nellie White Easter lilies were grown (1989 and 1991) at Purdue under a +10 or -10 DIF regime with temperatures adjusted so that daily averages were equal. Plants were harvested at visible bud (VB) and anthesis. Carbohydrates in stems, leaves and flowers were analyzed by HPLC With both temperature regimes, timing data indicated equal daily temperature averages were achieved. Negative DIF severely reduced stem length, and leaf and stem dry weight. Negative DIF reduced leaf and stem total soluble carbohydrate (TSC) content 39-46% at VB and anthesis, while flower TSC was reduced 10-13%. These results indicate negative DIFs have potentially detrimental biochemical effects on Easter lilies. Other techniques, such as early morning temperature drops, were not a part of this study, and their physiological effects should be evaluated as well.

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Christopher B. Cerveny, William B. Miller, Thomas Björkman, and Neil S. Mattson

The published literature is inconsistent with recommendations for hydrating Ranunculus asiaticus (L.) dried tuberous roots, a common practice in commercial production systems for this ornamental geophyte. Imbibition rate increased with hydration temperature but to lower equilibrium moisture content than when hydrated at cooler temperatures. In the greenhouse, survival was predicted to be greatest when tubers were hydrated at 20 °C. Plant height, visual quality, and foliar dry weight followed a similar trend 4 weeks after planting. These results demonstrate that a hydration temperature between 15 and 25 °C is required to obtain good quality when growing R. asiaticus from its dried tuberous roots.

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Anil P. Ranwala, Garry Legnani, Mary Reitmeier, Barbara B. Stewart, and William B. Miller

We evaluated preplant bulb dips in three commercial plant growth retardants [ancymidol (A-Rest), paclobutrazol (Bonzi), and uniconazole (Sumagic)] for height control in seven oriental hybrid lily (Lilium) cultivars (Aubade, Berlin, Casa Blanca, Muscadet, Sissi, Star Gazer, and Tom Pouce), and seven LA-hybrid lily [hybrids resulting from crosses between easter lily (Lilium longiflorum) and Asiatic hybrids] cultivars (Aladdin's Dazzle, Best Seller, Cebeco Dazzle, Royal Dream, Royal Parade, Royal Perfume, and Salmon Classic) grown in containers. A 1-min dip into a range of concentrations of each product was used to determine the optimum concentrations for height control. The results indicate that bulb dips, especially with uniconazole and paclobutrazol, can be a highly effective means of height control in hybrid lilies. Cultivars varied in their response to growth retardant treatments. In general, LA-hybrid lilies were much more responsive to the growth retardant treatments than oriental hybrids and required lower rates for comparable height control. Delays in flowering, increased bud abortion and leaf yellowing were observed only with high concentrations of uniconazole or paclobutrazol where the height reduction was also too excessive for a commercially acceptable crop.

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Shawn D. Lyons, William B. Miller, H. Christian Wien, and Neil S. Mattson

When grown in containers, pineapple lily (Eucomis sp.) can produce excessively long foliage and tall scapes, particularly in cultivars with tall pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa) parentage. Height control, through the use of plant growth regulators (PGRs), is necessary to improve crop quality of potted pineapple lily. In year 1 of these trials, bulbs of cultivars Reuben, Tugela Jade, and Tugela Gem were given substrate drenches of flurprimidol or paclobutrazol, each at 2, 4, or 6 mg per 6-inch pot. Drenches were applied at the “visible inflorescence” stage. As concentration increased, scapes were generally shorter in all cultivars for both PGRs, but there was no effect on foliage length or production time. At the rates tested, the reduction in scape length was insufficient to produce marketable plants of the three cultivars. In the second year, substrate drenches were applied at an earlier stage than in year 1, at “leaf whorl emergence,” when shoots were about 7 cm tall. The PGR treatments were notably more effective at controlling plant height in the second year. As concentration increased, scape and foliage length was reduced relative to the controls in all three cultivars for both PGRs. For all cultivars, inflorescence leaning and toppling were sharply reduced at all application rates compared with untreated controls. The reduction in plant height observed in year 2, particularly in plants treated with 4 or 6 mg/pot, resulted in plants with compact scapes and foliage proportional with their 6-inch containers.

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Anil P. Ranwala, William B. Miller, Terri I. Kirk, and P. Allen Hammer

The interactions of ancymidol drenches, postgreenhouse cold storage, and hormone sprays on postharvest leaf chlorosis and flower longevity of `Nellie White' Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum Thunb.) were investigated. Ancymidol drenches (0.5 mg/plant twice) during early growth resulted in leaf chlorosis in the greenhouse which intensified further during postharvest. Cold storage (4 °C) of puffy bud stage plants for 2 weeks also accelerated leaf chlorosis. The combination of ancymidol treatment with cold storage resulted in the most severe leaf chlorosis. Promalin (GA4+7 and BA each at 100 mg·L-1) sprays completely prevented postharvest leaf chlorosis, whereas ProGibb (GA3 at 1000 mg·L-1) was ineffective. Cold storage reduced flower longevity and increased bud abortion, however, the degree of bud abortion varied among experiments in different years. Both ProGibb and Promalin sprays increased flower longevity. Compared to positive DIF (difference between day and night temperature) grown plants, forcing under negative DIF (-8 °C) increased the severity of postharvest leaf chlorosis. Leaves were sampled from basal, middle, and upper sections of the stem after 4 and 12 days in a postharvest evaluation room, and analyzed for soluble carbohydrates and N. Total leaf soluble carbohydrates and N concentrations were less in basal and middle sections of negative DIF-grown plants than in positive DIF-grown plants. Leaf chlorosis was associated with depletion of soluble carbohydrates and N in the leaves. Chemical names used: α-cyclopropyl-α-(p-methoxyphenyl)-5-pyrimidinemethanol (ancymidol); gibberellic acid (GA3); gibberellins A4A7 (GA4+7); N-(phenylmethyl)-1H-purine 6-amine (benzyladenine).

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William B. Miller*, Martijn Verlouw, Susan S. Liou, Holly O. Cirri, Karen Snover-Clift, and Chris Watkins

Ethylene evolution is a consequence of Fusarium infection of tulip bulbs, yet little is known about the bulb-pathogen interactions involved in the induction or time course of ethylene synthesis. The resulting ethylene can affect adjacent, non-infected bulbs, and results in a variety of disorders, most notably flower abortion. Earlier work indicates that cultivars vary in their sensitivity to ethylene, but there are few data on ethylene production by cultivar. In this experiment, we assessed Fusarium-induced ethylene production in 36 tulip cultivars. Bulbs were wounded, inoculated with a liquid Fusarium suspension (isolated from infected bulbs) and held at 25 °C. Control bulbs were wounded, but not inoculated. Ethylene production was monitored by headspace analysis and gas chromatography. Ethylene increased rapidly after a lag phase of at least 8 days, but there were large differences in ethylene production among cultivars. Of the cultivars tested, `Furand' evolved more than 340 μL/kg/fwt/hr (≈250 μL/L/bulb/day) on the 11th day after infection, a rate ≈440-fold greater than in non-inoculated bulbs. Inoculated cultivars producing ethylene at rates exceeding 50 μLL/kg/hr included `Mary Belle', `Libretto', `Nashville', `Yonina', `Friso', and `Prominence'. About 25% of the cultivars produced ethylene at rates >10 μL/kg/hr, and ≈40% of cultivars produced less than this rate on day 11. High-ethylene producing tulips could be stored separately from other cultivars, or be given increased ventilation during storage or transportation. Knowledge of cultivar variation might also be useful in breeding programs. Further questions concerning the specific tissue responsible for ethylene synthesis (bulb, fungus, or both?) also arise.

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Shawn D. Lyons, William B. Miller, H. Christian Wien, and Neil S. Mattson

The objective of this study was to determine effects of bulb size on production time and factors influencing crop quality in pineapple lily (Eucomis sp.) cultivars developed originally for cut flower production. The percentage of bulbs producing an inflorescence increased as bulb size increased. One hundred percent of bulbs >18 cm circumference flowered in three of the four cultivars whereas ‘Tugela Jade’ exhibited 88% flowering. The number of flowers per inflorescence increased as bulb size increased. Scape length increased as bulb size increased in ‘Reuben’. Inflorescence length increased as bulb size increased in ‘Reuben’, ‘Tugela Jade’, and ‘Tugela Gem’. Days to anthesis from planting decreased as bulb size increased in ‘Reuben’ and ‘Tugela Jade’. For all cultivars, the largest bulbs produced the greatest number of leaves per plant and the highest quality inflorescences, largely attributable to the larger number of flowers produced per inflorescence compared with smaller bulbs.