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J. Jiao, X. Wang, and M.J. Tsujita

Uniconazole was applied as a drench or spray to six hybrid lily (Liliurn sp.) cultivars. Spray application was generally more effective than drench in reducing shoot elongation rate in the first few weeks, and then the efficacy decreased and was less effective than the drench at later stages of plant development. At flowering, a uniconazole drench at 0.1 mg/pot was ineffective for height reduction in `Bravo', `Juliana', and `Sunray' lilies. At higher rates, uniconazole drench was similar to spray in reducing shoot growth in `Bravo' and 306-1 but less effective than spray in `Juliana', `Star Gazer', and `Sunray' lilies. Uniconazole spray reduced plant height at flowering in all the lilies compared to control plants. Days to flower was not affected in `Bravo', `Juliana', and `Sunray' but was increased in `Star Gazer', 306-1, and 306-2 by uniconazole spray treatments. Flowering duration was decreased only in 306-1 by uniconazole spray at 0.2 mg/pot. Chemical name used: (E)-1-(4-chlorophenyl) -4,4 -dimethyl-2-(l,2,4 -triazol-1-yl)-1-penten-3 -ol (uniconazole).

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Lauren C. Garner and Thomas Björkman

Excessive stem elongation reduces plant survival in the field and hinders mechanical transplanting. Mechanical conditioning is an effective method for reducing stem elongation during transplant production. This investigation examined the consequences of mechanical conditioning, using brushing and impedance, on subsequent field performance of tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.). Mechanically conditioned transplants of processing tomatoes resumed growth after transplant shock as quickly as did untreated plants, and subsequent canopy development was also equal. In 4 years of field trials, yield was not reduced by mechanical conditioning. Transplants for fresh-market tomatoes may be more sensitive to injury than those for processing tomatoes because they flower sooner after the conditioning treatments. Nevertheless, neither earliness nor defects in the fruits of the first cluster were affected by mechanical conditioning. Early and total yields were equal in both years that fresh-market crops were tested. Thus, there were no adverse effects on field performance of either processing or fresh-market tomatoes as a result of reducing stem elongation by mechanical conditioning before transplanting. Improved wind tolerance was tested both in a wind tunnel and in the field. In wind-tunnel tests, brushed and impeded plants resisted stem bending at wind speeds 4 to 12 km·h–1 higher than did untreated plants. A 70 km·h–1 wind after transplanting killed 12% of untreated plants but only 2% of treated plants. Mechanical conditioning with brushing and impedance produced transplants with desirable qualities without adverse effects on field performance.

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N.K. Damayanthi Ranwala, Anil P. Ranwala, and William B. Miller

One of the problems associated with preplant bulb dips into plant growth regulator (PGR) solutions is the lack of knowledge of solution efficacy as an increasing number of bulbs are treated. We evaluated the effectiveness (“longevity”) of paclobutrazol (Bonzi) and uniconazole (Sumagic) solutions repeatedly used to dip hybrid lily (Lilium sp.) bulbs. Experiments were conducted over a 2-year period, using sequential 1-minute dips into paclobutrazol (100 or 200 mg·L–1) or uniconazole (2.5 mg·L–1). No difference in plant height occurred as the number of bulbs dipped into PGR solutions increased to at least 55 bulbs per liter. This was true whether bulbs were washed (with tap water to remove soil particles attached to the bulbs) or unwashed prior to the PGR dip. These findings have an important impact on cost effectiveness of bulb dips, as the more times the solution can be used, the lower the cost. Washed bulbs were taller than unwashed bulbs due to lower PGR liquid uptake in washed bulbs (about 1 mL less per bulb) compared to the unwashed bulbs. These results indicate that the hydration condition of bulbs prior to dipping can affect the amount of PGR liquid uptake and therefore final plant height.

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William B. Miller and Erin Finan

Ethanol was demonstrated to reduce unwanted floral scape and leaf elongation of `Ziva' paperwhite narcissus (Narcissus tazetta) when plants were grown with traditional pebble culture. Root-zone ethanol concentrations of 1% to 5% (v/v) were effective in reducing height without visible phytotoxicity to the roots. Various ethanol sources, including gin, vodka, whiskey, schnapps, rum, and tequila, were equally effective in reducing growth when supplied at 4%; peppermint schnapps caused somewhat more growth inhibition, providing a safe, effective, and organic method for amateurs to control height of this popular flowering bulb. Beer and wine (white or red) were unsuitable for this use at 4% alcohol concentration.

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Meriam G. Karlsson and Royal D. Heins

The relative progression of lateral shoot elongation from pinch to flower of chrysanthemum [Dendranthema grandiflora (Ramat.) Kitamura `Bright Golden Anne'] plants grown under 2 to 22 mol·day-1·m-2 photosynthetic photon flux and 10 to 20C was modeled using Richards function. Parameters for the function were determined by first transforming data of shoot length and time from pinch (start of short photoperiods) to flower to a relative scale of 0.0 to 1.0 by dividing all intermediate shoot lengths and measurement dates by final shoot length and number of days to flower, respectively. Data used for parameter estimation originated with plants grown at a daily average of ≤20C, since those grown at a daily average above 20C exhibited delayed morphological flower induction and reached 50% of the final shoot length earlier in development. Relative shoot elongation was described by Richards function in the following form: Relative shoot length = SF × {1 + [(SF/SO)N-1] e-SF Kt}-1/N where t (relative time) = 0.0 to 1.0, SF (maximum relative shoot length) = 1.018, SO (relative shoot length at t = o) = 0.0131, N (model parameter related to the shape of the curve) =0.3923, and K (model parameter related to mean relative growth rate) = 5.8138.

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Albert Liptay, Peter Sikkema, and William Fonteno

The theme of this review is modulation of extension growth in transplant production through restraint of watering of the seedlings. The purpose of the modulation is to produce transplants of 1) appropriate height for ease of field setting and 2) adequate stress tolerance to withstand outdoor environmental conditions. Physiological responses of the plant are discussed in relation to the degree of water deficit stress and are related to the degree of hardening or stress tolerance development in the transplants. Optimal stress tolerance or techniques for measuring same have not been fully defined in the literature. However, stress tolerance in seedlings is necessary to withstand environmental forces such as wind and sand-blasting after the seedlings are transplanted in the field. It is also imperative that the seedlings undertake a rapid and sustained rate of growth after outdoor transplanting. Water deficit stress applied to plants elicits many different physiological responses. For example, as leaf water potential begins to decrease, leaf enlargement is inhibited before photosynthesis or respiration is affected, with the result of a higher rate of dry matter accumulation per unit leaf area. The cause of the reduced leaf area may be a result of reduced K uptake by the roots with a concomitant reduction in cell expansion. Severe water deficits however, result in overstressed seedlings with stunted growth and poor establishment when transplanted into the field. In transplant production systems, appropriate levels of water deficit stress can be used as a management tool to produce seedlings conducive to the transplanting process.

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Marc W. van Iersel and Krishna S. Nemali

We examined the effectiveness of an elevated capillary mat system to maintain constant and different moisture levels in the growing medium and verify the potential of drought stress conditioning in producing small and compact bedding plants. To differentiate between plant height and compactness, we determined compactness as the leaf area or dry mass per unit stem length. Marigold `Queen Sophia' (Tagetes erecta L.) seedlings were grown in square, 9-cm-wide, 10-cm-high containers filled with a soilless growing medium. A capillary mat was laid on top of a greenhouse bench which was raised by 15 cm on one side compared to the other side to create an elevation effect. Seedlings were subirrigated by immersing the low end of the capillary mat in a reservoir of water. The amount of water moving to the higher end of the mat progressively decreased with elevation. The moisture content in the growing medium averaged from 26 to 294 mL/pot at different elevations. Regression analysis indicated that growth parameters including, shoot dry mass, leaf area, leaf number, and plant height decreased linearly with decreasing soil moisture content in the growing medium. Of all the measured growth parameters, plant height was found to be least sensitive to decreasing moisture content in the growing medium. Plants in high moisture treatments had more dry mass and leaf area per unit length of the stem compared to those in low moisture treatments. Our results indicate that drought stress can produce small, but not truly compact bedding plants.

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Sandra B. Wilson and Nihal C. Rajapakse

Plant response to photoselective plastic films with varying spectral transmission properties was tested using lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum) `Florida Pink', `Florida Blue', and `Florida Sky Blue'. Films were designated YXE-10 (far-red light-absorbing film) and SXE-4 (red light absorbing film). Light transmitted through YXE-10 films reduced plant height compared to control plants by 10% (`Florida Blue'), and stem dry weight by 19% to 40%, but the response varied by cultivar. Internode length was reduced by 10% to 19% when `Florida Pink' and `Florida Sky Blue' plants were grown under YXE-10 films. Leaf and root dry weights were not affected by YXE-10 films, with the exception that `Florida Sky Blue' plants had a lower leaf dry weight than the control plants. Light transmitted through SXE-4 films increased plant height of `Florida Pink' plants by 15% but not of `Florida Blue' or `Florida Sky Blue.' Regardless of cultivar, dry weight of leaf, stem and root tissue was not affected by SXE-4 films as compared to control films. The average number of days to flower and bud number were not affected by YXE-10 or SXE-4 films, regardless of cultivar. The results suggest that selective reduction of far-red wavelengths from sunlight may be an alternative technique for greenhouse production of compact plants, but the magnitude of the response is cultivar specific.

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Paul R. Fisher, Royal D. Heins, and J. Heinrich Lieth

Stem elongation of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Klotz.) was quantified using an approach that explicitly modelled the three phases of a sigmoidal growth curve: 1) an initial lag phase characterized by an exponentially increasing stem length, 2) a phase in which elongation is nearly linear, and 3) a plateau phase in which elongation rate declines as stem length reaches an asymptotic maximum. For each growth phase, suitable mathematical functions were selected for smooth height and slope transitions between phases. The three growth phases were linked to developmental events, particularly flower initiation and the first observation of a visible flower bud. The model was fit to a data set of single-stemmed poinsettia grown with vegetative periods of 13, 26, or 54 days, resulting in excellent conformance (R 2 = 0.99). The model was validated against two independent data sets, and the elongation pattern was similar to that predicted by the model, particularly during the linear and plateau phases. The model was formulated to allow dynamic simulation or adaptation in a graphical control chart. Model parameters in the three-phase function have clear biological meaning. The function is particularly suited to situations in which identification of growth phases in relation to developmental and horticultural variables is an important objective. Further validation under a range of conditions is required before the model can be applied to horticultural situations.

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Hiroshi Shimizu and Royal D. Heins

The effects of photoperiod and the difference between day temperature (DT) and night temperature (NT) (DIF) on stem elongation in Verbena bonariensis L. (tall verbena) were investigated. Plants were exposed to nine treatment combinations of -10, 0, or 10 °C DIF and 8-, 12-, or 16-hour photoperiods. Stem elongation was measured and analyzed by a noncontact computer-vision-based system. Total daily elongation increased as DIF increased; it also increased as photoperiod increased under positive DIF (DT > NT) and zero DIF (DT = NT), but not under negative DIF. Under positive DIF, daily elongation was 90% greater under the 16-hour photoperiod than under the 8-hour photoperiod. DIF affected elongation rate during the daily light span but not during the daily dark span. Total light-span elongation increased as DIF or photoperiod increased. Total dark-span elongation was not influenced by DIF or photoperiod. Elongation rates per hour in the light and dark were not significantly affected by photoperiod but increased in the light as DIF increased. Therefore, for a particular DIF, total elongation during 16-hour photoperiods (long days) was greater than that under 8-hour photoperiods (short days) because there were more hours of light under long days.