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Senay Ozgen, Mustafa Ozgen, and Jiwan P. Palta

Several recent studies, including from our laboratory, have provided evidence that by improving tuber calcium level, we can improve tuber quality such as low internal defects and better storability. The purpose of this study was to be determine the influence of supplemental calcium fertilization on tuber size and tuber number. For this purpose, plantlets of Solanum tuberosum cv. Russet Burbank raised in tissue culture were planted in 20-L pots filled with sandy loam soil with pH of 6.9 and soil calcium level of 350 ppm. All treatments received same total amount of nitrogen (at the rate of 280 kg·ha–1). Five treatments were evaluated: i) nonsplit nitrogen (from ammonium nitrate), ii) split nitrogen (from ammonium nitrate), iii) split nitrogen + gypsum, iv) split nitrogen (from liquid nitrogen) + calcium chloride, and v) split nitrogen (from calcium nitrate). The total calcium was applied at the rate of 168 kg·ha–1. Gypsum application was made at 4 weeks after planting, and other sources of calcium were applied on a split schedule (equally split at 4, 6, 8 weeks after planting). Four months after planting, tubers were harvested and evaluated. In general, all calcium treatments had lower tuber number and greater tuber size compared to the nonsplit nitrogen control. The percentage of total A-grade tubers as well as the percentage yield from A-grade tubers was increased by all calcium applications. These results suggest that calcium content I the soil can influence both potato tuber number and tuber size.

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Mustafa Ozgen, Senay Ozgen, and Jiwan P. Palta

Recent studies from our laboratory have demonstrated that lysophoshatidylethanolamine (LPE) is able to accelerate fruit ripening while at the same time promoting shelf life. LPE is a natural lipid and is commercially extracted from egg yolks and soybeans. We studied the influence of LPE on the pattern of anthocyanin accumulation and storage quality of cranberry fruit (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait. cultivar Stevens). For this purpose 2 x 2-m plots were established in cranberry beds at two separate locations near Wisconsin Rapids. Experiments were conducted in 1997 and 1998 seasons. Plots were sprayed with LPE (extracted from egg yolk and soybean) 3 to 4 weeks before harvest. Spray solution included 200 ppm LPE, 3% ethanol, and 0.1% detergents (either Tergitol or Sylguard). Fruit samples were taken from a part in the plot periodically to determine the changes in the fruit. The rest of the plots were commercially wet harvested with a machine and stored in cold storage. Marketable fruit were counted at various times of cold storage to determine effect of LPE on shelf life of cranberries. In general, application of LPE from both sources resulted in 20% to 35 % increase in fruit anthocyanin contents. Also LPE treatment resulted in 10% to 20% increase in marketable fruit in cold storage. A postharvest dip of cranberry fruit with 50 ppm LPE solution for 15 min also resulted in about a 20% to 30% increase in marketable berries during cold storage. The results of this study shows that pre- and postharvest applications of LPE can add value to cranberry crop including better and more uniform colored fruit, enhance self life, and earlier harvest.

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Senay Ozgen and Jiwan P. Palta

Tuberization in potato is known to be under complex biochemical control involving hormones. A number of studies have provided evidence for a critical role of GA in tuberization. There is also evidence that GA in plants can be modulated by a Ca/calmodulin pathway. The purpose of the present study was to determine the influence of supplemental Ca fertilization on tuber size and tuber number. Plantlets of Solanum tuberosum `Russet Burbank' raised in tissue culture were planted in 20-L pots filled with sandy loam field soil with the pH of 6.9 and exchangeable soil Ca level of 350 ppm. All treatments received the same total amount of N (equivalent to the rate of 280 kg·ha-1). Four treatments were evaluated: nonsplit N (from ammonium nitrate), split N (from ammonium nitrate), split N+Ca (from calcium nitrate), split N+Ca (50% N from urea, 50% N from ammonium nitrate and Ca from calcium chloride). The total Ca was applied at the rate equivalent to 168 kg·ha-1 on a split schedule (equally split at four, six, eight and ten weeks after planting). Four months after planting tubers were harvested and evaluated. As expected tuber tissue Ca was increased by Ca application from 144 to 245 μg·g-1. In general, the two Ca treatments had significantly lower tuber number per plant as compared to the nonsplit and split N treatments. A plot of mean tuber Ca and tuber number for individual plants showed a significant negative relationship. Both Ca treatments produced tubers with higher mean tuber weight compared to nonsplit N. This increase in tuber size with Ca application was not apparent when compared with split N treatment. These results show that Ca application to soil can decrease tuber number suggesting that soil Ca may influence tuberization in potato.

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Mustafa Özgen, Karim M. Farag, Senay Ozgen, and Jiwan P. Palta

Highly colored cranberries are desired for both fresh and juice markets. Berries accumulate more color when allowed to stay on the vines longer. However, early fall frosts often force growers to harvest before the fruit has reached its optimal color. This is especially true for the berries under the canopy. No product is currently available for grower to accelerate the color development in cranberries. Result from recent studies suggests that a natural lipid, lysophosphatidylethanolamine (LPE), can accelerate color production in fruit and, at the same time, promote shelf life. LPE is a natural lipid and is commercially derived from egg and soy lecithin. The influence of LPE on anthocyanin accumulation and storage quality of cranberry fruit (Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait. `Stevens') was studied. Cranberry plants were sprayed with LPE at about 4 weeks before commercial harvest at multiple locations. Experiments were conducted in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Fruit samples were taken at 2 and 4 weeks after spray application to determine the changes in the fruit color. Plots were wet harvested using a standard commercial method and stored in a commercial cold storage facility. Marketable fruit were evaluated at 1 and 2 months after cold storage to determine effect of LPE on shelf life of cranberries. In general, a preharvest application of LPE resulted in a 9% to 27% increase in fruit anthocyanin concentration compared to the control. LPE treatments also resulted in 8% to 12% increase in marketable fruit compared to the control following cold storage. Influence of LPE on fruit quality was more apparent after 1 month of storage. These results are consistent with the observed effects of LPE on tomatoes. Interestingly ethanol application also enhanced storage quality. Our results suggest that a preharvest application of LPE may have the potential to enhance color and prolong shelf life of cranberry fruit.

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James S. Busse, Senay Ozgen, and Jiwan P. Palta*

Calcium deficiency in the potato shoot results in sub-apical necrosis. This is a physiological condition whereby necrotic lesions form a few millimeters below the shoot apex ultimately causing shoot tip senescence, loss of apical dominance, and the release of axillary buds. Using a Dark Red Norland tissue culture system, we studied the relationship of root zone calcium levels to shoot tip maintenance. Root zone calcium levels lower than 50 ppm resulted in shoot tip death and prolific branching from axillary buds. Chelator studies with EGTA and tracer studies with 45 Ca, indicated a direct involvement of calcium at the shoot tip for shoot tip maintenance. Interestingly, low root zone calcium deficiency syptoms could be mitigated with 0.001 to 0.01 μM of the auxin analog NAA. Developmental studies of calcium deficiency symptoms indicate no anatomical relationship with shoot tip necrosis as xylem conducting elements were found near the shoot apex regardless of the root zone calcium level. These results have important implications for potato shoot development especially during the early development stage from the seed piece.

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Senay Ozgen, Christopher Gunter, Bjorn Karlsson, and Jiwan Palta

Potato tuber tissue is calcium-deficient. Consequently, increasing Ca concentration is desirable to improve tuber quality. The purpose of the present study was to determine the influence of supplemental Ca and N fertilization on internal quality of potato. Three products (calcium nitrate, calcium chloride, and gypsum) were used to increase tuber calcium concentration. We tested combinations of both soluble sources of calcium and gypsum. Each treatment had five replications and received same total amount of N, supplied either from ammonium nitrate, liquid N (UAN: 50% urea + 50% ammonium nitrate) and calcium nitrate or combination of these sources (at rate of 225 kg·ha–1). The total Ca was applied at the rate of 168 kg·ha–1. Application of N at emergence and hilling (nonsplit) was compared to split application of N and Ca at hilling, 2, 4, and 6 weeks after hilling. At harvest, ≈100 tubers from each replication were cut in half along longitudinal axis and visually inspected for internal defect in both years. Application of Ca, especially in split schedule and from soluble sources, significantly increased tuber tissue Ca concentration. In 1998, the incidences of hollow heart (HH) and internal brown spots (IBS) were very low. The treatment containing calcium nitrate and calcium chloride combination produced the lowest total defects, whereas application of gypsum was not effective at reducing defects. In 1999, application of all Ca sources including gypsum, reduced HH and IBS. Data from these studies suggest that tuber calcium level is increased by field applications of moderate amount of Ca and tuber quality is impacted by N and Ca application. Furthermore, seasonal climatic variations appear to have dramatic influence on the incidence of internal defects in potato tubers.

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Christopher Gunter, Senay Ozgen, Bjorn Karlsson, and Jiwan Palta

An increase in calcium concentration of potato tuber tissue has been shown to reduce soft rot severity and the incidence of internal physiological defects. Higher tuber calcium also seems to increase sprout vigor and maintain apical dominance by reducing subapical necrosis and sprout tip death. Preemergent applications of calcium at a rate of 0 and 26.5 kg·ha–1 from ammonium nitrate (PreAmNit), ammonium nitrate plus calcium nitrate (PreCaN), or calcium chloride plus calcium nitrate plus urea (PreCUC). A group of post-emergent split calcium nitrate plus calcium chloride plus urea (PostCUC) applications beginning with hilling and proceeding at 3, 6, and 8 weeks after hilling were also made at a rate of 56 kg·ha–1 calcium at each application time. From visual ratings of stand quality taken 64 days after hilling, we found plants receiving a preemergent application of nutrients or PostCUC had higher stand ratings than paired control plots. Internal tuber quality ratings revealed less internal brown spot in the PostCUC application in 168–364-g tubers. Yield of 112–168-g tubers was greatest from plants treated with PreCaN or PreCUC followed by PostCUC. PreAmNit plots had higher culls than the PreCUC plots. The non-split ammonium nitrate control (all nitrogen by hilling) produced a higher number of B-sized tubers than the PostCUC treatment. Also the PreAmNit+PostCUC had more B-sized tubers than PreCaN+PostCUC. In general the PostCUC treatment produced fewer small tubers and more large tubers than other treatments. These results suggest application of a small amount of calcium prior to emergence but after the sprouts have begun to develop improves seed performance. Furthermore these data show that supplemental calcium application during the season may improve tuber grade.

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Matthew Kleinhenz, Annette Wszelaki, Sonia Walker, Senay Ozgen, and David Francis

Successful organic farming requires synchronizing soil-based processes affecting nutrient supply with crop demand, variable among and within crops. We report here on two studies conducted in transitional- (TO) and certified-organic (CO) systems containing subplots that, annually, were either amended with compost or not amended prior to vegetable crop planting. Dairy-manure compost was added at rates providing the portion of a crop's anticipated nitrogen requirement not provided by a leguminous rotation crop and/or carryover from previous compost application. In the TO study, potato (2003), squash (2004), green bean (2005), and tomato (2006) were planted in main-season plots in open fields and high tunnels, and beet, lettuce, radish, spinach, and swiss chard were planted in high tunnels in early spring and late fall. Long-term CO open-field plots (±compost) were planted to multiple varieties of lettuce, potato, popcorn, and processing tomato in 2004–2006. Drip irrigation was used in all TO plots and CO lettuce and processing tomato plots. Treatment effects on crop physical and biochemical variables, some related to buyer perceptions of crop quality, were emphasized in each study. Yield in TO, compost-amended plots exceeded yield in unamended plots by 1.3 to 4 times, with the greatest increases observed in high-tunnel-grown mesclun lettuce and the smallest response observed in potato. Similar results were found in CO plots, although compost effects differed by crop and variety. The data suggest that: 1) compost application and the use of specific varieties are needed to maximize yield in organic vegetable systems in temperate zones, regardless of age; and 2) production phase management may influence buyer-oriented aspects of crop quality.

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Senay Ozgen, James S. Busse, and Jiwan P. Palta

The important roles of calcium on plant growth and development including cell division and cell elongation is well documented. The purpose of the present study was to determine the impact of root zone calcium on the growth and health of potato apical meristem and on the maintenance of apical dominance. For this purpose, single-node potato cuttings (Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Dark Red Norland) were grown in sterilized modified Murashige and Skoog (MS) media containing varying concentrations of calcium (1 to 3000 μM). After 13 to 30 d of growth, plantlets were harvested and data for height of the main shoot and for the number of axillary shoots produced were recorded. Plantlets were ashed and tissue calcium concentration was determined. Shoot height was retarded with decreasing concentration of calcium in the media. Calcium deficiency induced shoot tip injury and loss of apical dominance. Tip injury was followed by the development of axillary shoots. The number of axillary shoots increased from one to 21 as calcium concentration in the media decreased from 3000 to 1 μM. At calcium concentration of 1500 μM or higher, there was a single main shoot with no axillary shoots. Addition of ethylene glycol tetra acetic acid (EGTA), a calcium chelator, to the media with 2720 μM calcium (sufficient calcium) resulted in the development of shoot injury and in the formation of axillary shoots. Calcium deficiency injury symptoms were prevented by the addition of a calcium analog, strontium, to MS media deficient in calcium. Strontium has been reported to strongly bind to plant cell walls and the inclusion of strontium prevented injury in shoots of plants grown on calcium-deficient media. These results suggest that strontium is able to mimic the role of calcium in the maintenance of cell wall integrity and supports previous studies that showed that calcium deficiency results from cell wall collapse of the subapical cells.

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James S. Busse, Senay Ozgen, and Jiwan P. Palta

Shoot tip necrosis has been attributed to calcium deficiency in in vitro cultures, resulting in death of the stem tip, the loss of apical dominance, and axillary branch development. Using an in vitro shoot culture system with Solanum tuberosum L. cv. Dark Red Norland, we studied the development of injury symptoms at the microscopic and tissue levels at a range of media calcium concentrations varying from 6.8 to 3000 μm. Light and electron microscopic studies revealed that the primary injury due to calcium deficiency was the death and collapse of expanding pith cells below the shoot apex. The structure and organization of the shoot apical meristem was the same when plants were cultured on sufficient or suboptimal media calcium concentrations. However, the apical meristem senesced following subapical shoot tissue collapse. Death of the shoot apical meristem was a secondary effect of calcium deficiency, resulting in loss of apical dominance. Studies with 45Ca indicated that calcium was distributed in a gradient along the shoot, with highest concentration at the base and the lowest at the apex. Shoot tip necrosis developed after 20 days of culture on the suboptimal calcium concentration medium. The development of these symptoms and axillary shoot growth was associated with the lack of calcium accumulation in the shoots. Our results provide evidence that a primary injury of calcium deficiency is localized in the expanding pith cells below the shoot apical meristem and this injury results in the collapse of subapical cells. Death of the shoot apical meristem is a secondary injury resulting from calcium deficiency.