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J.M.S. Scholberg, L.R. Parsons, and T.A. Wheaton

The interactive effects of irrigation rate and nitrogen concentration of the irrigation water on the growth of seedlings of two citrus rootstocks were studied. Four-month old seedlings of Swingle citrumelo [Citrus paradisi Macf. × Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf.] and Volkamer lemon (C. volkameriana Ten. & Pasq.) were grown for ≈10 months in square citripots filled with a Candler fine sand. Plants were irrigated at 0.5, 0.75 or 1.0 times the evapotranspiration rate. Irrigation was applied using water containing 0, 7, 21, or 63 ppm nitrogen. Plant growth increased with irrigation rate and nitrogen concentration. Evapotranspiration rates, as determined from weight losses of reference plants, increased with nitrogen rate. Overall plant growth and weekly evaporation rates were greater with Volkamer than with Swingle. Leaf senescence of Swingle was more pronounced at low irrigation rates and/or low nitrogen concentrations than it was with Volkamer. Increasing nitrogen concentration of the irrigation water during the winter months reduced leaf senescence of both Swingle and Volkamer seedlings, and also promoted continuous growth in Volkamer. Leaf growth of Swingle ceased during the winter months, regardless of the nitrogen concentration of the irrigation water.

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T.K. Danneberger, M.B. McDonald Jr., C.A. Geron, and P. Kumari

This study evaluates the effects of seed osmoconditioning on germination and seedling growth of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.). Seeds were osmoconditioned in polyethylene glycol 8000 with water potentials ranging from 0 to -1.4 MPa for 48 hours. Osmoconditioning for this crop at -1.1 MPa resulted in a 35% germination increase after 48 hours under optimum (15/25C) germination conditions. This promotive effect was observed until 104 hours for percentage germination and root growth and 118 hours for shoot growth. Rate of seed germination and seedling root growth of osmoconditioned seeds also was enhanced when seeds were placed under suboptimum germination temperatures of 5, 10, and 15C. These results suggest that while osmoconditioning enhanced initial germination rate and seedling root growth under laboratory conditions, it did not do so under prolonged favorable conditions. However, the promotive effects of osmoconditioning were more beneficial when seeds were exposed to less favorable germination conditions.

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Robert Wiedenfeld

Onion production requires N fertilization, yet use efficiency of applied N is low. Improvements may be possible with a better understanding of plant growth and nutrient requirements over time. Onion growth and nutrient uptake was extremely slow during the winter months following planting, then increased substantially in the spring. Onion leaf N concentrations declined with age, while bulb N concentrations fluctuated with growing conditions but showed no longterm trend. Responses to N application were due primarily to timing and less to rate applied. Nitrogen uptake increased in some cases very quickly following N application, and in other situations was still evident after 6½ months. Yield increases, however, occurred only for preplant and winter fertilizer applications, not for spring application. Yield responses to both timing and rate varied by cultivar, with the later maturing cultivar doing best at the highest rate of preplant and the higher 2 rates of the winter applied N fertilizer.

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Edward Bush, Jeff Kuehny, and Patricia Branch

Three slow-release fertilizer formulations (Osmocote 14–14–14, 18–6–12, and Nutricote 17–6–10) at three rates (1, 2, and 3 lb/yd3) were incorporated into 4 pine bark: 1 sand (by volume) media filling 1-gal nursery containers. Additional treatments included slow-release fertilizer formulations at 1 lb/yd3 fertigated with 100 ppm N 20–10–20 fertilizer. As fertilizer rates increased, vegetative height, width, and dry-weight accumulation generally increased for both pinched and no-pinch mum crops. Fertigated pinch and no-pinch mums were the largest plants with the greatest dry-weight accumulation for each fertilizer formulation. The high rate for all slow-release fertilizers produced the greatest vegetative growth for nonfertigated treatments. This research suggest that higher rates for incorporated slow-release fertilizers and/or fertigation are required to produce maximum vegetative growth.

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M. Bepete and A.N. Lakso

To determine relative dry-matter partitioning to early-season growth of extension shoots vs. fruits under competitive conditions in the shade, heavily cropping branch sections of `Empire' apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) were girdled and shaded to 15%, 40%, and 60% of available light for 9 days, while control branches were girdled and fully exposed. Treatments were applied at both 17 and 27 days after bloom, when fruit diameters averaged 13 and 23 mm, and the number of unfolded leaves on extension shoots averaged 13 and 19, respectively. Fruit diameters, extension shoot lengths, and numbers of unfolded leaves were monitored on the treated branches. Shoot growth was not affected by shading at either growth stage. Fruit growth rate was similar at 100% and 60% available light, but declined 25% at 40% available light and 50% at 15% available light. These results indicate that shoot growth has priority over fruit growth for partitioning in light-limiting conditions early in the season.

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Dougles D. Archbold

Absolute and relative fruit growth rates (AGR and RGR) of 5 cultivars were calculated from the oven-dry weights of fruits harvested periodically throughout the growing season. Both AGR and RGR were higher for larger fruit of different cultivars with similar days to maturity, and for summer- versus fall-ripening cultivars. Seasonal variability in AGR and RGR was observed, Apple fruit cortex disks were incubated in 14C-sorbitol solutions in vitro to determine if uptake rates at the cellular level varied between cultivars. Rates of sorbitol accumulation, expressed es μg sorbitol per mg dry weight cortex tissue, declined as the season progressed. Within a cuitivar, uptake rates were not relatad to fruit size, nor were differences found between cortex tissue samples from competing fruit on a spur. Sorbitol uptake rates were significantly lower for the more slowly-growing cultivar. The osmotic potential of the expressed cortex sap, sampled on several dates, was consistently lower for the more rapidly-growing cultivar. Thus, inherent differences in fruit growth rates among cultivars may be due to variation in regulation of osmotic potential.

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Chieri Kubota, Natsuko Kakizaki, Toyoki Kozai, Koichi Kasahara, and Jun Nemoto

Nodal explants of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were cultured in vitro to evaluate the effects of sugar concentration, photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), CO2 concentration, ventilation rate of the vessel, and leaf removal on growth and photosynthesis. After 20 days of culture, the dry weights of plantlets derived from explants with leaves and cultured photoautotrophically (without sugar in the medium) under high PPF, high CO2 concentration, and high ventilation rate were more than twice as great as those of plantlets derived conventionally from explants without leaves and cultured photomixotrophically (with sugar in the medium) under low PPF, low CO2 concentration, and low ventilation rate (107 and 45 mg per plantlet, respectively). Under photomixotrophic micropropagation conditions, the dry weights of plantlets from explants with leaves increased more than did those of plantlets from explants without leaves. High PPF, high CO2 concentration, and high ventilation rate increased net photosynthetic rate and promoted growth of the plantlets under photomixotrophic micropropagation conditions. Photomixotrophic conditions produced the greatest dry weight and the longest shoots, but photoautotrophic conditions produced the highest net photosynthetic rate. The number of leaves did not differ significantly between photoautotrophically and photomixotrophically cultured plantlets. Thus, photoautotrophic micropropagation is applicable to the production of high quality tomato transplants.

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M. Moriondo, M. Bindi, and T. Sinclair

Crop growth simulation models have been mainly developed to simulate final yield reliably. Thus, a main challenge in these models is the definition of a stable method for expressing the growth of harvested organs (e.g., fruit, seed, tuber, etc.). Generally, two approaches have been used: growth rate analysis of harvested organs [yield growth rate (YGR)] and analysis of harvest index (HI) increase over time (dHI/dt). This work aims to: 1) examine whether YGR and dHI/dt increase linearly over much of growing period, and 2) compare the two growth indices in terms of stability across a number of treatments, in order to identify which is the best indicator of harvest-organ growth. This analysis has already been performed for a large number of field crops, including wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), soybean [Glycine max L. (Merr.)], and pea (Pisum sativum L.), but it has never been attempted in crops where final yield is not simply seeds. In this study, YGR and dHI/dt performances for tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum Mill.), potato (Solanum tuberosum L.), and eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) were compared using 21, 18, and 4 datasets, respectively. Results indicated that both descriptors of harvest-organ growth increased linearly for most of the growth period, whilst the comparison among the two variables in terms of stability showed that, although a direct statistical test failed, dHI/dt was more suitable to describe harvest-organ growth (smaller coefficient of variability) under a large range of crop management conditions (e.g., irrigation, sowing date, planting density, and water salt concentration).

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Larry R. Parsons, T. Adair Wheaton, and William S. Castle

Citrus trees in an experimental planting responded well to high application rates of reclaimed water. Irrigation treatments included annual applications of 400 mm of well water and 400, 1250, and 2500 mm of reclaimed water. The effects of these irrigation treatments on two citrus cultivars (`Hamlin' orange and `Orlando' tangelo) combined with four rootstocks were compared. Growth and fruit production were better at the higher irrigation rates. The concentration of soluble solids in juice was diluted at the highest irrigation rate, but total soluble solids per hectare increased due to the greater fruit production. Average soluble solids/ha production was >15% higher at the 2500-mm rate than the 400-mm reclaimed water rate. While fruit soluble solids were usually lowered by higher irrigation, the reduction in fruit soluble solids observed on three of the rootstocks did not occur in trees on Carrizo citrange. Trees on Cleopatra mandarin grew similarly at the different irrigation rates, but canopy volume of trees on Swingle citrumelo was significantly smaller at the 400 mm rate than at the 2500 mm rate. Fruit peel color score was lower but juice color score was higher at the highest irrigation rate. Weed pressure increased with increasing irrigation rate, but was controllable. Both juice and fruit soluble solids were higher on Swingle citrumelo and lower on Cleopatra mandarin rootstock. Total soluble solids/ha, solids/acid ratio, and juice color were higher on Swingle rootstock. Reclaimed water, once believed to be a disposal problem in Florida, can be an acceptable source of irrigation water for citrus on well drained soils at rates up to twice the annual rainfall.

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Brian E. Jackson, Robert D. Wright, and Jake F. Browder

Many industrial and agricultural wastes have been evaluated for use as alternative container substrate components. Recently, a new material produced from ground pine logs (Pinus taeda L.) has been utilized as a substitute for peat moss and pine bark (PB). On 17 Aug. 2005, japanese holly (Ilex crenata `Compacta' Thunb.) plants were potted in milled PB (Pinus taeda L.) and debarked ground pine chips (PC). Pine chips were ground with a hammermill to pass through a 6.35-mm screen. Osmocote Plus 15–9–12 (15N–4P–10K) was incorporated in both PB and PC substrates at the rates of 3.5, 5.9, 8.3, and 10.6 kg·m-3. Plants were greenhouse grown until 22 Nov. 2005. Substrate solution nutrient content and pH were determined for all treatments in each substrate. Shoots were dried, weighted, and tissue analyzed for N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, Fe, Cu, Mn, and Zn. Shoot weights were higher in plants grown in PB than PC at the 3.5 and 5.9 kg·m-3 fertilizer rates. At the 8.3 kg·m-3 rate, shoot dry weight was about the same for each substrate, but at the 10.6 kg·m-3 rate, growth was higher for plants grown in PC than in PB. Substrate EC increased with increasing fertilizer rates and with the exception of Cu, was higher in PB substrates at all fertilizer rates. Plant tissue levels generally increased as fertilizer rate increased in both substrates but were higher in plants grown in PB than PC with the exception of Cu. Therefore, higher rates of fertilizer are required to produce optimal plant growth in PC compared to PB.