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Don C. Wilkerson, Dan R. Lineberger, and Priscilla J. Files

In response to the goals set forth in Target 2000, a long-range environmental plan for the Texas/Floral Industry developed by the TAMU Nursery/Floral Management Team in cooperation with the Texas Association of Nurserymen (TAN), an interactive, World Wide Web-based integrated pest management program (hortIPM) has been developed for commercial nursery and greenhouse growers. The objective of Target 2000 is to assist growers in initiation of innovative cultural and structural practices, which will result in the following changes by the year 2000: 1) reduce water consumption to 1990 levels; 2) reduce current fertilizer and pesticide usage by 50%; 3) lower current energy consumption by 25%; 4) reduce current solid wastes from agricultural plastics by 75%; 5) develop applications for municipal wastes and composted materials for nursery and floral crop production. More so than in any other cropping system, ornamental stock producers apply pesticides on a calendar basis regardless of pest damage to prevent cosmetic injury to their crops, thus reducing their marketability. As justification for this misuse of insecticides, growers cite the extraordinary low damage thresholds associated with their crops. Nursery and floral crops producers that have better access to educational resources and recommendations may be more inclined to follow biologically sound pest management principles. HortIPM is designed as a tool to facilitate access to pest management information and enhance IPM programs already in place. Currently, hortIPM is in the developmental phase, on the cusp of release to a number of sites for preliminary evaluation.

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Neil O. Anderson, Peter D. Ascher, and James J. Luby

The change from asexual to sexual propagation for annual and perennial bedding plants has been successfully accomplished for floral crops, e.g., Pelargonium. Seed-propagated cultivars do not necessarily possess the clonal uniformity of vegetatively propagated cultivars. In the development of F1 hybrid garden chrysanthemums, this lack of uniformity was assessed with the use of consumer sensory evaluations. Seedlings (n = 10–20 plants/cross) were transplanted for field trials in St. Paul and five Minnesota branch stations each year during 1988–94 to test for G × E. Early flowering F1 hybrids, developed from inbred parents with general combining ability, were evaluated for flowering earliness, plant uniformity, and a general rating. Consumer rankings of top performers were not significantly different (5% level) from mum breeders. The top performers for all three ratings were selected each year for repeat evaluation the next year. The two highest performing F1 hybrids were submitted for All American Selection Trials in 1995.

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Bin Liu and Royal D. Heins

The objectives of this study were to quantify the effects of the radiant-to-thermal energy ratio (RRT) on poinsettia plant growth and development during the vegetative stage and develop a simple, mechanistic model for poinsettia quality control. Based on greenhouse experiments conducted with 27 treatment combinations; i.e., factorial combinations of three levels of constant temperature (19, 23, or 27°C), three levels of daily light integral (5, 10, or 20 mol/m2 per day), and three plant spacings (15 × 15, 22 × 22, or 30 × 30 cm), from pinch to the onset of short-day flower induction, the relationship between plant growth/development and light/temperature has been established. A model for poinsettia quality control was constructed using the computer software program STELLA II. The t-test shows that there were no significant differences between model predictions and actual observations for all considered plant characteristics; i.e., total, leaf and stem dry weight, leaf unfolding number, leaf area index, and leaf area. The simulation results confirm that RRT is an important parameter to describe potential plant quality in floral crop production.

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Carolyn Scagel*

Resource partitioning and plant storage components are important factors that influence the productivity and profitability of geophyte species produced as floral crops. We determined that inoculation with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) can alter different plant characteristics affecting productivity and quality of bulb and cut flower production of several floral geophytes including Brodiaea laxa, Zephyranthes sp., Sparaxis tricolor, Freesia × hybrida, Zantedeschia sp., and Canna sp. Plant growth, flower production, bulb/corm/tuber (bulb) production and composition were measured for two growth cycles after inoculation with Glomus intraradices. In general, shoots and flowers on plants inoculated with AMF emerged earlier than shoots and flowers on non-inoculated plants for species that produced most of their leaf area prior to flower emergence. However for species that produced leaves throughout the growth cycle or large flowers early in the growth cycle, AMF inoculation delayed shoot emergence and flower emergence. Many species that exhibited an earlier flower emergence or produced more flowers in response to AMF inoculation also produced smaller daughter bulbs and more offsets than non-inoculated plants. Across all species, the concentrations and contents of several storage components (Zn, S, and N, amino acids, and carbohydrates) that influence bulb quality were increased by AMF inoculation. Changes in partitioning between bulb and flower production resulting from AMF inoculation altered important aspects of commercial geophyte production for flowers or bulbs. AMF-induced increases in mineral uptake and resource storage are also related to aspects of quality important in the production of vegetative propagates.

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Michael A. Arnold, Bruce Lesikar, Ann Kenimer, Don C. Wilkerson, and Mitchell W. Goyne

The nursery/greenhouse industry is the fastest growing segment of U.S. agriculture. Consumer demand for excellent product quality requires luxury applications of water and agricultural chemicals. These cultural practices tend to yield significant volumes of runoff rich in nutrients and pesticides. A capture and recycle system at the Nursery/Floral Crops Research and Education Center at Texas A&M University was fitted with 12 subsurface flow (SSF) and 12 free-surface flow (FSF) wetland cells. Constructed wetland cells provided substantial reduction of runoff nutrient concentrations without increasing electrical conductivity, an indicator of salinity. Growth of Iris pseudacorus L. and Canna ×generalis L.H. Bailey during spring growth was greater in the FSF wetland cells, while that of Colocasia sp. Fabr. was greater in the SSF wetland cells. Equisetum hyemale L. grew equally well in both cell types. Direct reuse of nursery runoff reduced the number of Ilex vomitoria Ait. `Nana' reaching marketable size in 2.3-L containers. Interactions among irrigation water sources and container media types for growth indices occurred for Juniperus procumbens `Green Mound' and I. vomitoria `Nana', but not for Raphiolepis indica L. `Carmelita'.

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Sabine Green* and Geno Picchioni

Floriculture, among the fastest-growing agricultural segments in New Mexico, is creating job opportunities for graduates. Limited faculty resources restrict growth in floriculture academic programs, particularly for curricular modernization, extracurricular activities, and capacity building of the student:industry relationship. Federal funding has provided a Program Coordinator to lead our floriculture academic programs, responsible for raising technical quality of floriculture courses, recruitment and retention of undergraduates, and establishment of regional alliances with industry to exploit job opportunities. During the first year of the program (2003), deliverable products included course modules, fund raising protocols, and public school workshops. Results demonstrate an affinity for students of Hispanic origin to the program (over 40% of enrollments). Industry support included over a 2-fold increase in 2003 horticultural internship placements, financial aid, and donations of expendable materials. Floriculture student participation in intra-campus governance and off-campus community service projects also defrayed program costs and resulted in institutional gain. Over 80% of the 25 students enrolled in the beginning floral design and floral crops judging class agreed or agreed strongly that they had an obligation to engage in fund raising efforts to strengthen the floriculture academic program. Our intent is to build the floriculture teaching program into a template that can be replicated into the future through sustained institutional commitment. The program can serve as a model for other academic departments seeking diversification of horticulture academic programs and recruitment of a diverse student body, but struggling with limited human resources.

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John R. Stommel* and Robert J. Griesbach

Anthocyanins contribute to color development in economically important vegetables, fruits and floral crops. Their expression is critical to product sensory quality attributes, potential nutritive value, and stress response. Anthocyanins are synthesized in response to numerous environmental factors including temperature and light stress and pathogen attack. We have developed several Capsicum lines, including `02C27', expressing anthocyanin pigmentation differentially in various tissues (leaf, stem, fruit and flower). HPLC analysis demonstrated that the anthocyanins within the fruit, flower and leaves of Capsicum `02C27' were identical and that the major anthocyanidin was a delphinidin glycoside. Line `02C27' exhibits anthocyanin foliar pigmentation that is accumulated differentially in response to temperature stress. Under unfavorable low temperature (20 °C day/18 °C night), mature Capsicum leaves contained 4.6 times less anthocyanin per gram fresh weight than under high (30 °C day/28 °C; day/night) temperatures. Besides containing less anthocyanin in mature leaves, young immature leaves did not develop color as quickly under the lower temperature. Utilizing cloned and sequenced gene fragments of pepper chalcone synthase (CHS), dihydroflavonol 4-reductase (DFR), and anthocyanidin synthase (ANS), we evaluated the role of transcription in regulation of flavonol biosynthesis. Analysis of anthocyanin composition and gene expression data indicated that the block in anthocyanin formation in less pigmented leaves occurred at anthocyanin synthase. In contrast to wild tupe plants, this mutant also exhibited reduced flowering and failed to set fruit under high temperature, long day conditions.

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Yanjun Guo, Terri Starman, and Charles Hall

Retail environments are rarely optimal for ornamental plants, and wilting caused by water stress is a major cause of postproduction shrinkage. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of two levels of substrate moisture content (SMC) applied during greenhouse production on angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) ‘Angelface Blue’ and heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens) ‘Simply Scentsational’ growth and physiological parameters and subsequent postproduction quality during simulated retail conditions. At the end of production, angelonia total plant shoot dry weight (DW) was reduced with 20% SMC compared with 40% SMC, and plants grown with 20% SMC had higher shoot coloring percentage, reduced internode length, and required less irrigation labor–related costs compared with 40% SMC. Heliotrope grown at 20% SMC produced the same size plant as 40% SMC, but had a higher shoot coloring percentage at the end of production and postproduction, indicating lower SMC resulted in higher visual quality compared with 40% SMC. For both species, 20% SMC increased plant visual quality compared with 40% SMC and reduced irrigation water input throughout production, resulting in reduced production costs and increased floral crop economic value.

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Mario Valenzuela-Vazquez and Geno A. Picchioni

Lupinus havardii (Big Bend bluebonnet) is a winter annual plant indigenous to the semiarid southwestern U.S. with potential to become a new cut flower commodity. Nothing is presently known about the mineral nutrition of bluebonnet in greenhouse conditions, either in the whole plant or its short-lived cut racemes, and its possible relationship with vase life longevity. At first appearance of floral buds, supplemental Ca treatments (0, 2.5, 5.0, and 10.0 mm Ca using CaCl2) were added to the nutrient solution over a 2-month growing period, to evaluate the influence of Ca on plant nutrient allocation patterns, nutrient uptake and utilization, and raceme physiology after cutting. Ca supplementation increased net Ca uptake per plant by 40%, 77%, and 95% over the control (2.5, 5.0, and 10.0 mm Ca, respectively; P < 0.05). The increased Ca uptake per plant increased Ca concentration in racemes (a weak Ca sink), which resulted in marginal increases in vase life duration (1 day). This positive influence on vase life duration was not significant due to limited number of raceme replicates. When plants were supplemented with 5 mm Ca, the net accumulation of Ca, P, K, and Mg in roots increased by 4 to 5 times over the control roots. These increases occurred in parallel to an increase in root dry matter production. Similar patterns were observed in the net accumulation of Ca, P, K, and Mg per plant. In our conditions, Ca supplementation (5 mm) enriched raceme Ca concentration as well as whole-plant consumption of Ca, P, K, and Mg in bluebonnet plants. These data will be useful in developing fertilization strategies for this new and promising greenhouse floral crop.

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Karen L. Panter

(vegetables, small fruit, tree fruit, and floral crops) in protected culture in high tunnels. The second was to present and discuss research results on growing under high tunnels. Plasticulture technology and season-extending technology such as high tunnels