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Carl E. Niedziela Jr., Paul V. Nelson, Daniel H. Willits, and Mary M. Peet

Abbreviations: DAS, days after seeding; EC, electrical conductivity; NFT, nutrient film technique; SSC, soluble solids concentration. 1 Graduate Research Assistant. Present address: Cooperative Extension Program, North Carolina Agricultural and

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Samuel Doty, Ryan W. Dickson, and Michael Evans

important decision for bedding plant growers transitioning to edible crop production is whether to invest in new hydroponic equipment or modify existing culture systems ( Chidiac, 2017 ). Nutrient film technique (NFT) and deep water culture (DWC) are common

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Edwin Martinez, Conrad Bonsi, Phili p Loretan, Walter Hill, Desmond Mortley, and Carlton Morris

Sweet potato, selected as a potential food source for future long-term manned space missions, is being evaluated for NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems (CELSS) program. Greenhouse experiments were conducted to determine the effects of two pH treatments on the growth and storage root yield of `T1-155' and `Georgia Jet ' sweet potato cultivars. Vine cuttings of these cultivars were grown in a specially designed Tuskegee University NFT system. Plants were subjected to a continuous pH treatment in which the nutrient solution pH was maintained at 5.00 ± 0.10 throughout the growth period, and a periodic pH treatment in which the nutrient solution pH was adjusted to 6.00 at biweekly changeover intervals and when reservoirs were refilled with deionized water between biweekly changeovers. Results showed that for both cultivars the treatment with periodic pH adjustment had significantly higher storage root yield than treatment with continuous pH adjustment. This experiment is being repeated.

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D.G. Mortley, P.A. Loretan, C.K. Bonsi, W.A. Hill, and C.E. Morris

The effects of within-channel spacings (WCS; 13, 18, 25 cm) and between-channel spacings (BCS; 13, 25,38 cm) on yield and linear growth rate of sweetpotatoes [Ipomoea batalas (L.) Lam.] grown by use of the nutrient film technique (NFT) were evaluated. Storage root count, fresh and dry weights, and linear growth rate, expressed as root area, declined linearly in response to decreased BCS, while fresh and dry foliage weight decreased linearly and quadratically as spacing was reduced within the growth channels. Neither linear growth rate on a canopy area basis nor the edible biomass index was significantly affected by WCS or BCS.

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A.P. Papadopoulos, S. Pararajasingham, and X. Hao

Experiments were carried out to evaluate two salts, K2SO4 and NaCl, as materials to supplement the electrical conductivity (EC) of the basic nutrient solution in nutrient film technique (NFT). The effects of these materials on the growth, yield and fruit quality of greenhouse tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) grown by NFT were quantified. These effects were tested by increasing the recirculating solution EC from a base value of 1500 μS·cm-1 to that suitable for the crop growth stage with normal feed (macronutrients), 0.38 m (0.53 lb/gal) K2SO4 or 1.14 m (0.55 lb/gal) NaCl, at a common pH of 6.2. In 1995 and 1996, there were no significant effects of the treatments on crop growth. In 1995, the early marketable yield was significantly lower when K2SO4 was used but the yield at the end of the season did not differ among the treatments. Furthermore, with K2SO4, the proportion of grade #1 fruit in early total yield was lower than in the control, while, fruit biomass content was higher than in the NaCl treatment. In 1996, the cumulative marketable fruit weight was unaffected by the treatments. A trend toward high number of large grade fruit occurred with the NaCl treatment. The pH and EC of the fruit homogenate were favorably affected by the NaCl treatment. Adding K2SO4 or NaCl in partial substitution of macronutrients in the recirculating solution may have a role in NFT systems in not only reducing environmental pollution (from nitrates and phosphates) and fertilizer costs, but also in improving fruit quality and, therefore, profit margins.

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P.P. David, A.A. Trotman, D.G. Mortley, C.K. Bonsi, P.A. Loretan, and W.A. Hill

Greenhouse studies were conducted to determine the effect of harvesting sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas L. (Lam.)] foliage tips (terminal 15 cm) on storage root yield, edible biomass index (EBI), and linear growth rate. Plants were grown hydroponically from 15-cm vine cuttings planted in 0.15 × 0.15 × 1.2-m growth channels using a recirculating nutrient film technique system. Nutrients were supplied from a modified half-strength Hoagland solution with a 1 N: 2.4 K ratio. Foliage tips were removed at 14-day intervals beginning 42 days after transplanting. Final harvest was at 120 days after planting. At the end of the growing season, harvested foliage tips totaled 225 g/plant (fresh mass). Foliage removal significantly reduced storage root yield, shoot biomass, and linear growth rate expressed on a canopy cover basis. The EBI was higher for plants with foliage removed than for the control.

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D.G. Mortley, C.K. Bonsi, P.A. Loretan, W.A. Hill, and C.E. Morris

Growth chamber experiments were conducted to study the physiological and growth response of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] to either 50% or 85 % relative humidity (RH). Vine cuttings of T1-155 were grown using the nutrient film technique in a randomized complete-block design with two replications. Temperature regimes of 28/22C were maintained during the light/dark periods with irradiance at canopy level of 600 μmol·m-2·s-1 and a 14/10-hour photoperiod. High RH (85%) increased the number of storage roots per plant and significantly increased storage root fresh and dry weight, but produced lower foliage fresh and dry weight than plants grown at 50% RH. Edible biomass index and linear growth rate (in grams per square meter per day) were significantly higher for plants grown at 85 % than at 50% RH. Leaf photosynthesis and stomatal conductance were higher for plants at 85 % than at 50% RH. Thus, the principal effect of high RH on sweetpotato growth was the production of higher storage root yield, edible biomass, growth rate, and increased photosynthetic and stomatal activity.

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D.G. Mortley, C.K. Bonsi, P.A. Loretan, W.A. Hill, and C.E. Morris

Growth chamber experiments were conducted to study the physiological and growth response of peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) to 50% and 85% relative humidity (RH). The objective was to determine the effects of RH on pod and seed yield, harvest index, and flowering of peanut grown by the nutrient film technique (NFT). `Georgia Red' peanut plants (14 days old) were planted into growth channels (0.15 × 0.15 × 1.2 m). Plants were spaced 25 cm apart with 15 cm between channels. A modified half-Hoagland solution with an additional 2 mm Ca was used. Solution pH was maintained between 6.4 and 6.7, and electrical conductivity (EC) ranged between 1100 and 1200 μS·cm–1. Temperature regimes of 28/22 °C were maintained during the light/dark periods (12 hours each) with photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) at canopy level of 500 μmol·m–2·s–1. Foliage and pod fresh and dry weights, total seed yield, harvest index (HI), and seed maturity were greater at high than at low RH. Plants grown at 85% RH had greater total and individual leaflet area and stomatal conductance, flowered 3 days earlier and had a greater number of flowers reaching anthesis. Gynophores grew more rapidly at 85% than at 50% RH.

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D.G. Mortley, C.K. Bonsi, W.A. Hill, and C.E. Morris

`Georgia Red' peanut (Arachis hypogaea L.) was grown hydroponically at 20/16 °C, 24/20 °C, 28/24 °C, and 32/28 °C, day/night air temperatures to evaluate effects on pod and seed yield, flowering, harvest index, and oil content. Ten-day-old peanut seedlings were transplanted into rectangular nutrient film technique troughs (0.15 × 0.15 × 1.2 m) and grown for 110 days. Growth chamber conditions were as follows: photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) mean of 436 μmol·m-2·s-1, 12 h light/12 h dark cycle, and 70% ± 5% relative humidity. The nutrient solution used was a modified half-Hoagland with pH and electrical conductivity maintained between 6.5 to 6.7, and 1000 to 1300 μS·cm-1, respectively, and was replenished weekly. Vegetative growth (foliage, stem growth, total leaf area, and leaf number) was substantially greater at increasingly warmer temperatures. Reproductive growth was significantly influenced by temperature. Flowering was extremely sensitive to temperature as the process was delayed or severely restricted at 20/16 °C. The number of gynophores decreased with temperature and was virtually nonexistent at the lowest temperature. Pod yield increased with temperatures up to 28/24 °C but declined by 15% at the highest temperature (32/28 °C). Seed yield, maturity, and harvest index were highest at 28/24 °C. Oil content (percent crude fat) increased an average of 23% and was highest at the warmest temperature (32/28 °C). These results clearly suggest that vegetative and reproductive growth, as well as oil content of peanut in controlled environments, are best at warmer temperatures of 28/24 °C to 32/28 °C than at cooler temperatures of 20/16 °C to 24/20 °C.

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Shannon M. Coleman, Bledar Bisha, Steven E. Newman, Marisa Bunning, and Lawrence D. Goodridge

Hydroponic greenhouse tomato production’s popularity has grown in the United States to meet the demands for year-round availability of fresh tomatoes. Although Salmonella has been the cause of several foodborne illness outbreaks linked to tomatoes, the potential for contamination in hydroponic production is not well understood. The objectives of this study were to determine whether biweekly inoculation of Salmonella in a hydroponic tomato nutrient solution would lead to Salmonella survival and contamination of the tomato fruit and plants, hydroponic nutrient film technique (NFT) troughs, and water receptacles. An avirulent strain of Salmonella Typhimurium was used to contaminate the nutrient solution at a concentration of 105 colony-forming units (CFU)/mL. Inoculation was conducted on day 0 and biweekly until the termination of project at 12 weeks; samples were filtered and plated on selective media. Leaves and biofilm coupons were collected on day 0 and every 2 weeks postinoculation. Leaf samples were analyzed using culture methods. The biofilm coupons were analyzed using tape fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) method. Fruit samples were collected 6 weeks postinoculation until termination of project and analyzed using culture methods. Typical Salmonella morphology of colonies on plates streaked from overnight cultures from plant samples were confirmed by automated ribotyping. A 2-log10 reduction of cells was observed in water samples 2 days post initial inoculation. Reduction continued over the 2-week period with few cells surviving until the next inoculation. S. Typhimurium was observed on the surface of the root systems. However, a splash incident resulted in low-level contamination of selected leaves and fruit samples. The results of the study indicate that although contaminated hydroponic nutrient solution led to surface contamination of roots, such an event may not pose a high risk of contamination of hydroponically grown fruit.