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Robert C. Hochmuth and George J. Hochmuth

The evolution of plastic uses (excluding glazing) in the production of greenhouse vegetables is presented. Plastics are used in almost every aspect of crop production, including providing a barrier to the soil, lining crop production troughs, holding soil and soilless media, and providing a nutrient film channel. Irrigation systems have become very elaborate, with various plastic products used to transport water and nutrients and to provide a means of emitting nutrient solution to the crop. The greenhouse environment is managed from several plastic components, including air distribution tubes, shade materials, and energy curtains. Plastics are now common in greenhouse vegetable crop training, insect monitoring, postharvest handling, storage, and marketing.

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Rhuanito S. Ferrarezi, Alan L. Wright, Brian J. Boman, Arnold W. Schumann, Fred G. Gmitter, and Jude W. Grosser

Completely enclosed screen houses can physically exclude contact between the asian citrus psyllid [ACP (Diaphorina citri)] and young, healthy citrus (Citrus sp.) trees and prevent huanglongbing (HLB) disease development. The current study investigated the use of antipsyllid screen houses on plant growth and physiological parameters of young ‘Ray Ruby’ grapefruit (Citrus ×paradisi) trees. We tested two coverings [enclosed screen house and open-air (control)] and two planting systems (in-ground and container-grown), with four replications arranged in a split-plot experimental design. Trees grown inside screen houses developed larger canopy surface area, canopy surface area water use efficiency (CWUE), leaf area index (LAI) and LAI water use efficiency (LAIWUE) relative to trees grown in open-air plots (P < 0.01). Leaf water transpiration increased and leaf vapor pressure deficit (VPD) decreased in trees grown inside screen houses compared with trees grown in the open-air plots. CWUE was negatively related to leaf VPD (P < 0.01). Monthly leaf nitrogen concentration was consistently greater in container-grown trees in the open-air compared with trees grown in-ground and inside the screen houses. However, trees grown in-ground and inside the screen houses did not experience any severe leaf N deficiencies and were the largest trees, presenting the highest canopy surface area and LAI at the end of the study. The screen houses described here provided a better growing environment for in-ground grapefruit because the protective structures accelerated young tree growth compared with open-air plantings while protecting trees from HLB infection.

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Pai-Tsang Chang and William M. Randle

Onion is classified as a salt-sensitive crop, though it is found in production on saline soils around the world. While onion flavor intensity has been studied in response to various growing conditions, little is known about its response to salt stress. To understand if NaCl affects growth, flavor development, and mineral content in onion, `Granex 33' plants were grown to maturity with six different concentrations of NaCl ranging from 0 (control) to 125 mm in nutrient solutions. NaCl affected onion fresh weight and altered onion flavor intensity and quality. Plants did not survive the 125 mm NaCl treatments and are not included in the results. As bulb Na+ and Cl- content increased in response to increasing NaCl concentrations, leaf and bulb fresh weight of mature plants decreased. Total bulb S content also decreased with increasing NaCl solution concentrations, while bulb SO4 2- content increasing linearly, indicating that less S was entering the S metabolic stream. Though bulb soluble solids content was not influenced by NaCl concentrations, pungency increased, but only at the highest NaCl concentration. Total flavor precursors and methyl cysteine sulfoxide content increased in response to NaCl, but only at the 100 mm treatment. 1-Propenyl cysteine sulfoxide was generally unresponsive to the salt treatment. Propyl cysteine sulfoxide content decreased then increased in responses to increasing NaCl levels, but was found as a minor flavor precursor. Peptide intermediates measured in the pathway leading to 1-propenyl cysteine sulfoxide and propyl cysteine sulfoxide decreased linearly with increasing NaCl exposure. While NaCl affected onion flavor in this study, severe reductions in growth would prevent onion production under similar saline conditions. For practical purposes, the effects of NaCl on flavor are, therefore, minimal.

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B.K. Duffy and G. Défago

Host nutritional variables were evaluated for their effects on the severity of crown and root rot of tomato caused by Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. radicis-lycopersici. Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seedlings (cv. Bonnie Best) were grown in a pathogen-infested, soilless rockwool system in the greenhouse and were fertilized with a nutrient solution that was amended with macro- and microelements at various rates. Disease was evaluated after 2 weeks using an index of 0 to 4, and plant fresh weight was measured. Regression analysis indicated that disease severity was significantly increased by ammonium-nitrogen [NH4Cl, (NH4)6Mo7O24, and (NH4)2SO4], NaH2PO4·H2O, Fe-EDDHA, MnSO4, MoO3, and ZnSO4·7H2O. Disease severity was reduced by nitrate-nitrogen [Ca(NO3)2·4H2O] and CuSO4·H2O. Low rates of NH4NO3 (39 to 79 mg·L-1 N) reduced disease, but rates above 100 mg·L-1 N increased it. Disease was not affected by MgSO4·7H2O. In all cases, plant growth was inversely related to disease severity. Mineral fertilizers had no effect on nutrient solution pH. This information sheds new light on environmental factors that influence plant-pathogen interactions, and may be applied to develop a management strategy for Fusarium crown and root rot based on host nutrition.

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Changhoo Chun, Machiko Tominaga, and Toyoki Kozai

We recently showed that spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.) transplants produced under a short photoperiod and low air temperature were characterized by a delay of bolting and short flower-stalk length at harvest (Chun et al., 2000a). The present study was conducted to determine whether these changes are caused by the short photoperiod itself or by the lower integrated photosynthetic photon flux (IPPF). Shoot and root dry weights of transplants increased significantly with increasing IPPF, but were not affected by a change in the photoperiod. However, the floral development indices of transplants were significantly greater under a 16-than under a 10- or 13-hours/day photoperiod, but were not affected by a change in IPPF. The percentage of bolted plants 3 days after transplanting (DAT) increased significantly with increasing photoperiod (from 0% at 10 hours/day to more than 85% at 16 hours/day). Flower-stalk length increased with increasing photoperiod (e.g., at 14 DAT, from 15 mm at the shorter photoperiods to 80 mm at 16 hours/day), but was not affected by a change in IPPF. These results show that the delay of bolting that occurs when the photoperiod is reduced during transplant production is due to the delay of floral development and not to retarded vegetative growth as a result of reduced IPPF.

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Wlodzimierz Bres and Leslie A. Weston

`Buttercrunch', `Grand Rapids', and `Summer Bibb' lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) seedlings were grown with the nutrient film technique (NIT). The influence of two K concentrations (150 and 225 mg·liter-1) and four solution pH levels (5.0, 5.5, 6.0, and 6.5) on lettuce tipburn was investigated in four experiments. Additionally, the influence of pH on foliar nutrient concentration was examined. Even though tipburn was observed in `Buttercrunch' and `Summer Bibb' lettuce, neither K nor pH level consistently affected tipburn incidence. No tipburn was observed in `Grand Rapids'. Solution pH generally did not affect concentration of total N and NO3-N in lettuce tissue. Increasing the pH increased K concentration and resulted in increased proportions of K compared to Mg or Ca. Although the influence of solution pH on P, Ca, and Mg concentration was significant, nutrient accumulation differences were not reflected in lettuce fresh-weight differences. The influence of K solution concentration and pH on lettuce yield was not significant. Tipburn incidence in NIT-produced lettuce appears to be primarily affected by environmental conditions maintained during greenhouse growth.

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Dean A. Kopsell, Kimberly J. Whitlock, Carl E. Sams, and David E. Kopsell

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a succulent weedy annual in much of the United States. In other parts of the world, purslane is grown as a specialty crop, valued for its nutritional quality. As a leafy crop, purslane contributes carotenoid phytochemicals in the typical Mediterranean diet. Nitrogen (N) influences plant growth and alters pigment composition and accumulation. However, little is known about the impact N fertility may have on pigment concentrations in purslane shoot tissues. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of N fertility levels on biomass and concentrations of nutritionally important carotenoid and chlorophyll pigments in purslane. Green Leaf and Golden Leaf purslane cultivars were grown in nutrient solution culture under N concentrations of 13, 26, 52, or 105 mg·L−1. Plants were harvested at 45 days after planting (DAP), and measured for concentrations of shoot pigments using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) methodology. There was no influence of N treatment concentration on purslane shoot tissue fresh weight (FW) accumulation. Nitrogen treatment significantly influenced shoot tissue β-carotene (BC), lutein (LUT), neoxanthin (NEO), total carotenoids, chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, total chlorophyll, and the chlorophyll a to b ratio in purslane shoot tissues. Concentrations of LUT, NEO, violaxanthin (VIO), chlorophyll b, total xanthophyll cycle pigments, and the chlorophyll a to b ratio differed between the purslane cultivars. Increases in N concentrations acted to increase concentrations of nutritionally important shoot tissue carotenoid pigments in only the Green Leaf purslane cultivar. Therefore, N fertility management and cultivar selection should be considered when producing purslane as a nutritious specialty vegetable crop.

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Brian A. Krug, Brian E. Whipker, Jonathan Frantz, and Ingram McCall

Pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams.), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida hort. Vilm.), and gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii Bol. ex Adlam.) plants were grown hydroponically to characterize the deficiency symptoms caused by the absence of calcium (Ca) or boron (B). Primary symptoms occurred on the youngest tissue for both elements, but distinct differences between Ca and B deficiencies were observed. Plants responding to Ca deficiency exhibited discoloration and upward rolling of leaves and ultimately necrosis. Plants responding to B deficiency exhibited minor chlorosis, upward curling, and thickening of leaves, distorted meristems, and strap-like leaves. A second experiment investigated how a temporary disruption of Ca or B affects the plant throughout the crop cycle. Either Ca or B was removed from the nutrient solution for a 7-day period from Day 15 to Day 21, Day 22 to Day 28, or Day 29 to Day 35 after sowing. After the 7-day disruption, the respective element was reintroduced to the plants. Regardless of when the plants were deprived of Ca or B, the symptoms of the respective deficiency were present at the end of the experiment. These studies have shown that a temporary disruption of either Ca or B can cause lasting symptoms throughout the plug production cycle. Also, the symptoms that have been observed in plug production were most similar to those symptoms caused by B deficiency, not Ca deficiency.

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Christopher B. Cerveny and William B. Miller

Ethylene effects were investigated on two tulip (Tulipa gesneriana L.) cultivars, Markant and Carreria. Pre-cooled bulbs were treated with ethylene (flow-through) for 1 week at 0, 0.1, 1.0, or 10 μL·L−1 (± 10%) in a modified hydroponic system. After ethylene exposure, plants were either destructively harvested for root measurements or forced in a greenhouse for flower measurements. Ethylene exposure at concentrations as low as 1 μL·L−1 during the first week of growth reduced shoot and root elongation and subsequently increased flower bud abortion. At 10 μL·L−1, root growth was essentially eliminated. In a second experiment, bulbs were treated overnight with 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) before a 7-day exposure to 1 μL·L−1 ethylene. 1-MCP pretreatment eliminated the harmful effects of ethylene on root and shoot growth. This study illustrates the effects of ethylene exposure during hydroponic tulip production and demonstrates a potential benefit to treating bulbs with 1-MCP before planting.

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Chad T. Miller, Krystal Snyder, and Mark P. Bridgen

The National Floriculture Forum (NFF) is an annual meeting that brings together floriculture focused industry members from greenhouse growers and industry leaders and experts, to university faculty and graduate students, along with government scientists from various institutions and agencies. Attendance varies from year to year, averaging 45–50 attendees. The forum was first convened in 1999, meeting annually, (with the exception of 2010 and 2012) at important industry-related locations around the United States. The NFF has even gone international with meetings in the Netherlands, Germany, and one in Canada (Table 1). The meetings are generally advertised through emails, social