Rockwool is an excellent growing medium for the hydroponic production of tomato; however, the standard size rockwool blocks [4 × 4 × 2.5 inches (10 × 10 × 6.3 cm) or 3 × 3 × 2.5 inches (7.5 × 7.5 × 6.3 cm)] are expensive. The following experiments were conducted with less expensive minirock wool blocks (MRBs), on rayon polyester material (RPM) as a bench top liner, to reduce the production cost of tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) grown in a limited-cluster, ebb and flood hydroponic cultivation system. Fruit yield for single-cluster plants growing in MRBs [2 × 2 × 1.6 inches (5 × 5 × 4 cm) and 1.6 × 1.6 × 1.6 inches (4 × 4 × 4 cm)] was not significantly different from plants grown in larger sized blocks (3 × 3 × 2.5 inches). When the bench top was lined with RPM, roots penetrated the RPM, and an extensive root mat developed between the RPM and the bench top. The fruit yield from plants on RPM was significantly increased compared to plants without RPM due to increases in fruit size and fruit number. RPM also significantly reduced the incidence of blossom-end rot. In a second experiment, single- and double-cluster plants were grown on RPM. Fruit yield for double-cluster plants was 40% greater than for single-cluster plants due to an increase in fruit number, although the fruit were smaller in size. As in the first experiment, fruit yield for all plants grown in MRBs was not significantly different from plants grown in the larger sized blocks. MRBs and a RPM bench liner are an effective combination in the production of limited-cluster hydroponic tomatoes.
Pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams.), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida hort. Vilm.), and gerbera daisy (Gerbera jamesonii Bol. ex Adlam.) plants were grown hydroponically to characterize the deficiency symptoms caused by the absence of calcium (Ca) or boron (B). Primary symptoms occurred on the youngest tissue for both elements, but distinct differences between Ca and B deficiencies were observed. Plants responding to Ca deficiency exhibited discoloration and upward rolling of leaves and ultimately necrosis. Plants responding to B deficiency exhibited minor chlorosis, upward curling, and thickening of leaves, distorted meristems, and strap-like leaves. A second experiment investigated how a temporary disruption of Ca or B affects the plant throughout the crop cycle. Either Ca or B was removed from the nutrient solution for a 7-day period from Day 15 to Day 21, Day 22 to Day 28, or Day 29 to Day 35 after sowing. After the 7-day disruption, the respective element was reintroduced to the plants. Regardless of when the plants were deprived of Ca or B, the symptoms of the respective deficiency were present at the end of the experiment. These studies have shown that a temporary disruption of either Ca or B can cause lasting symptoms throughout the plug production cycle. Also, the symptoms that have been observed in plug production were most similar to those symptoms caused by B deficiency, not Ca deficiency.
Polyurethane foam plugs commonly are used as collars or supports to grow plants in solution culture. Despite their utility, these foam plugs can be quite toxic to plants, particularly to small seedlings. We have observed tissue injury in tests using plugs to support lettuce, red beet, and potato plants in solution culture. Typically, the injury is initiated on the hypocotyl or stem tissue in direct contact with the foam, and appears within 30 hr as a brownish discoloration on the tissue surface. This discoloration can be followed by complete collapse of affected tissue and eventual death of the seedling. When injury does not progress beyond surface browning, the seedling survives but growth is slowed. In this paper, we report on different treatments that can be used to remove the toxicity of these plugs so they can be used in plant research.
`Buttercrunch', `Grand Rapids', and `Summer Bibb' lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) seedlings were grown with the nutrient film technique (NIT). The influence of two K concentrations (150 and 225 mg·liter-1) and four solution pH levels (5.0, 5.5, 6.0, and 6.5) on lettuce tipburn was investigated in four experiments. Additionally, the influence of pH on foliar nutrient concentration was examined. Even though tipburn was observed in `Buttercrunch' and `Summer Bibb' lettuce, neither K nor pH level consistently affected tipburn incidence. No tipburn was observed in `Grand Rapids'. Solution pH generally did not affect concentration of total N and NO3-N in lettuce tissue. Increasing the pH increased K concentration and resulted in increased proportions of K compared to Mg or Ca. Although the influence of solution pH on P, Ca, and Mg concentration was significant, nutrient accumulation differences were not reflected in lettuce fresh-weight differences. The influence of K solution concentration and pH on lettuce yield was not significant. Tipburn incidence in NIT-produced lettuce appears to be primarily affected by environmental conditions maintained during greenhouse growth.
Butterhead lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. ‘Montana’) plants were grown in recirculating solution culture in growth chambers under various combinations of day temperatures (TD; 12°, 15°, 19.5°, or 22.5°C) and night temperatures (TN; 5° or 14°) and root-zone temperature (TR; 20°, 23°, 26°, or 29°) Photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) was 3.8 mol·day−1·m−2. Leaf area and weight were determined at 7-day intervals. The final harvest followed 28 days of treatments. There were no significant interaction effects between TD and TN. An increase of TD from 12° to 19.5° increased fresh and dry leaf weight and leaf area at final harvest, but increasing TN from 5° to 14° had little effect. Specific leaf area and leaf area ratio increased with increasing TD and TN. Leaf weight ratio increased with TD but remained constant with TN. The overall effect of TR on plant size was minor. Dry weight of roots decreased with increasing TR at the 14- and 21-day harvests, but fresh and dry leaf weights were not affected. Leaf area increased with TR up to 26°. Increases in TR resulted in increased values for specific leaf area, leaf area ratio, and leaf weight ratio at final harvest. The results suggest that some butterhead lettuce cultivars may be grown satisfactorily under low daily PPF by allowing TN to decline to 5° while maintaining TD at ≈ 19°C. In ‘Montana’, increasing TR above 20° under those conditions had little beneficial effect on plant size at harvest.
Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are chemicals used on a wide range of horticultural crops. These exogenous chemicals, similar to endogenous plant hormones, regulate plant development and stimulate a desired growth response, such as control of plant height. One such PGR is abscisic acid (ABA), which has been used effectively to improve fruit quality, specifically sugars and phytonutrients. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of exogenous applications of ABA on tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) fruit quality, such as carotenoids, soluble sugars and organic acids, and ABA on tomato leaf chlorophylls and carotenoids. Furthermore, this study compared how ABA and calcium (Ca) treatments together affect fruit quality and whether there are added benefits to treating plants with both simultaneously. ABA treatments proved effective in increasing tomato fruit soluble sugars and decreasing organic acid concentrations. This study demonstrated that ABA is a viable PGR to significantly improve tomato fruit quality, specifically pertaining to carotenoids, soluble sugar, and organic acid concentrations.
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a succulent weedy annual in much of the United States. In other parts of the world, purslane is grown as a specialty crop, valued for its nutritional quality. As a leafy crop, purslane contributes carotenoid phytochemicals in the typical Mediterranean diet. Nitrogen (N) influences plant growth and alters pigment composition and accumulation. However, little is known about the impact N fertility may have on pigment concentrations in purslane shoot tissues. The objective of this study was to evaluate the influence of N fertility levels on biomass and concentrations of nutritionally important carotenoid and chlorophyll pigments in purslane. Green Leaf and Golden Leaf purslane cultivars were grown in nutrient solution culture under N concentrations of 13, 26, 52, or 105 mg·L−1. Plants were harvested at 45 days after planting (DAP), and measured for concentrations of shoot pigments using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) methodology. There was no influence of N treatment concentration on purslane shoot tissue fresh weight (FW) accumulation. Nitrogen treatment significantly influenced shoot tissue β-carotene (BC), lutein (LUT), neoxanthin (NEO), total carotenoids, chlorophyll a, chlorophyll b, total chlorophyll, and the chlorophyll a to b ratio in purslane shoot tissues. Concentrations of LUT, NEO, violaxanthin (VIO), chlorophyll b, total xanthophyll cycle pigments, and the chlorophyll a to b ratio differed between the purslane cultivars. Increases in N concentrations acted to increase concentrations of nutritionally important shoot tissue carotenoid pigments in only the Green Leaf purslane cultivar. Therefore, N fertility management and cultivar selection should be considered when producing purslane as a nutritious specialty vegetable crop.
Ethylene effects were investigated on two tulip (Tulipa gesneriana L.) cultivars, Markant and Carreria. Pre-cooled bulbs were treated with ethylene (flow-through) for 1 week at 0, 0.1, 1.0, or 10 μL·L−1 (± 10%) in a modified hydroponic system. After ethylene exposure, plants were either destructively harvested for root measurements or forced in a greenhouse for flower measurements. Ethylene exposure at concentrations as low as 1 μL·L−1 during the first week of growth reduced shoot and root elongation and subsequently increased flower bud abortion. At 10 μL·L−1, root growth was essentially eliminated. In a second experiment, bulbs were treated overnight with 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) before a 7-day exposure to 1 μL·L−1 ethylene. 1-MCP pretreatment eliminated the harmful effects of ethylene on root and shoot growth. This study illustrates the effects of ethylene exposure during hydroponic tulip production and demonstrates a potential benefit to treating bulbs with 1-MCP before planting.
Copper (electrolytically generated or from cupric sulfate) is increasingly used to control diseases and algae in the greenhouse industry. However, there is a shortage of information regarding appropriate management strategies for Cu2+ (Cu) in greenhouse hydroponic production. Three greenhouse studies were conducted to examine the growth and yield responses of sweet pepper (Capsicum annuum L., Triple 4, red) to the application of Cu in hydroponic production systems. In the first two experiments, plants were grown on rockwool and irrigated with nutrient solutions containing Cu at concentrations of 0.05, 0.55, 1.05, 1.55, and 2.05 mg·L–1. Copper treatments were started either when plants were 32 days old and continued for 4 weeks, or when plants were 11 weeks old and continued for 18 weeks, respectively. In the third experiment, roots of solution cultured pepper seedlings were exposed to Cu (1.0, 1.5, and 2.0 mg·L–1) containing nutrient solutions for 2 hours per day for 3 weeks. Higher Cu treatment initialized when plants were 32 days old significantly reduced plant leaf number, leaf area, leaf biomass, specific leaf area, stem length and shoot biomass. The calculated Cu toxicity threshold was 0.19 mg·L–1. However, when treatment initialized at plants were 11 weeks old, Cu did not have significant effects on leaf chlorophyll content, leaf area or specific leaf area. Copper started to show significant negative effects on leaf biomass and shoot biomass at 1.05 mg·L–1 or higher levels. Copper treatments did not have any significant effect on fruit number, fresh weight or dry weight. Under all the Cu levels, fresh fruit copper contents were lower than 0.95 mg·kg–1 which is below the drinking water standard of 1.3 mg·kg–1. Seedling growth was significantly reduced by exposing roots to Cu (≥1.0 mg·L–1) containing solutions even for only 2 h·d–1.
The present study was conducted to determine the critical optimum and toxic concentrations of potassium (K) using segmented analysis and its relationship with some physiological, anatomical, and nutritional responses to increasing K in hydroponically grown Lilium sp. L. cv. Arcachon. Plants were fertigated with nutrient solutions containing K (Kext) at 0, 2.5, 5.0, 7.5, 12.5, 17.5, 22.5, and 30 mmol·L−1. Maximum flower diameter occurred when, on a dry mass basis, shoot K (Kint) ranged from 504 to 892 mmol·kg−1; however, a lower Kint was required to obtain maximum biomass accumulation and shoot length (384 and 303 mmol·kg−1, respectively). Potassium increased in all plant organs as K in the nutrient solution increased. Nitrogen increased in young leaves and magnesium (Mg) decreased as Kext increased. Concentrations of Kext from 5 to 17.5 mmol·L−1 increased the size of chlorenchyma and occlusive cells; however, metaxylem vessels were unaffected. Net photosynthetic rate was higher in young leaves, whereas water potential increased in both young and mature leaves when Kext was greater than 22.5 mmol·L−1. Critical concentrations varied according to the growth parameter. Optimum Kint ranged from 303 to 384 mmol·kg−1 for vegetative parts, whereas parameters related with flower growth ranged from 427 to 504 mmol·kg−1. Concentration of 504 mmol·kg−1 Kint was associated with optimum growth for all the parameters assessed, whereas a Kint greater than 864 mmol·kg−1 was associated with a decline in growth; thus, these concentrations were considered as the critical optimum and critical toxicity levels, respectively. The optimum and toxicity critical Kint were estimated when Kext in the nutrient solutions was 5.6 and 13.6 mmol·L−1, respectively.