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Ricard D. Lardizabal and Paul G. Thompson

Four sweet potato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] cultivars responded differently to growth regulator application for number of flowers produced, percentage capsule set, and number of seeds produced. Gibberellic acid, 2,4-D, and BA application resulted in the highest number of flowers by `Jewel', `Shore Gold', and `Vardaman) plants, respectively. Application of GA3 to `Jewel', 2,4-D or ethephon to `Shore Gold', and BA to `Vardaman' produced the highest number of seeds. Grafting to rootstock of Z. carnea Jacq. spp. fistulosa (Mart. ex Choisy) D. Austin increased flower numbers, percentage capsule set, and number of seeds in all cultivars. The effects of growth regulators and grafting were additive for flower numbers, percentage capsule set, and number of seeds. Chemical names used: N-(phenylmethyl)-1H-purin-6-amine (BA), (2,4-dichlorophenoxy) acetic acid (2,4-D), (2-chloroethyl) phosphoric acid (ethephon), and (1α, 2β, 4a α, 4b β, 10)-2,4a,7-trihydroxy-1-methy1-8-methylenegibb-3-ene-1,10-dicarboxylic acid 1,4a-Iactone (gibberellic acid; GA3).

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Masahumi Johkan, Tomoko Chiba, Kazuhiko Mitsukuri, Satoshi Yamasaki, Hideyuki Tanaka, Kei-ichiro Mishiba, Toshinobu Morikawa, Masayuki Oda, Chihiro Yamamoto, and Hiroshi Ohkawa

There is concern that high temperatures resulting from global warming could reduce fruit set of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum). However, fruit set of parthenocarpic tomato genotypes, which often bears seedless fruit, is not reduced when grown under a high temperature. The cause of seedless fruit development was studied with the aim of increasing the seed number in parthenocarpic tomato. Ovule number at anthesis in parthenocarpic and non-parthenocarpic fruit did not differ, but the proportion of undeveloped ovules increased with time after anthesis in parthenocarpic tomato, whereas most ovules in non-parthenocarpic tomato developed normally. Pollen grains germinated on the stigma and extruded pollen tubes in parthenocarpic and non-parthenocarpic tomatoes, but in parthenocarpic tomato, pollen tube elongation was markedly inhibited in the style base. Elongation of pollen tubes on agar containing indoleacetic acid (IAA) was depressed in parthenocarpic and non-parthenocarpic tomato plants. p-Chlorophenoxyisobutyric acid (PCIB), which inhibits auxin action, did not affect the fruit set and fresh weight in either type of tomato, although seed number per fruit in parthenocarpic tomato was significantly increased from 13 ± 2 to 74 ± 6 seeds by PCIB treatment. These results indicated that a high IAA concentration in the ovary of parthenocarpic tomato inhibited pollen tube elongation, and that poor fertilization resulted in failure of ovule development. Moreover, floral organs in parthenocarpic tomato were normally developed as in non-parthenocarpic tomato, and seed development could be induced in parthenocarpic tomato by PCIB treatment.

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Ayman F. Abou-Hadid, Abo-Elfotouh M. Abd-Alla, and Richard A. Jones

Cucumber plants )Cucumis sativa cv. Beta-al-pha) were grown in a glasshouse in pots of sand with 3 NaCl levels in the nutrient solution (0.40 and 60 mM) and placed in four large water baths controlled at different temperatures (13, 18,23, and 28°C). The increase of NaCl levels decreased the vegetative growth, seed yield, and seed quality, while the increase of root zone temperature up to 23C° increased the vegetative growth, seed yield and quality. Whereas, 28°C showed lower effect than 23°C. Ethylene production and the content of proline and free amino acids were increased with increasing NaCl levels. The increase of root zone temperature till 23°C decreased ethylene production, proline, and free amino acids contents. Zero NaCl (as control) obtained with 23°C root zone temperature appeared to be the best for the over-all growth, seed yield and seed quality of cucumber plants.

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M. Aneja, T.J. Gianfagna, S.A. Garrison, and E.F. Durner

Precocious flowering can be induced in asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) seedlings with N-phenylcarbamate herbicides, such as n-propyl N-(3,4-dichlorophenyl) carbamate (NPC); however, only ≈50% of the treated seeds produce flowering plants because these compounds inhibit germination and seedling emergence. We have improved the treatment method by determining the environmental conditions, timing, dose, and duration needed to maximize the percentage of germination, emergence, and flowering. Imbibing seeds in water for 5 days, and then treating germinated seeds with 0.4 mm NPC for 5 days after radicle emergence, with seedling aeration in the light, resulted in the production of flowering seedlings from >90% of the treated seeds. For freshly harvested seeds, in which germination rates are more variable than aged seeds, individual seedlings must be transferred to NPC within 1 day after radicle emergence to produce a high percentage of flowering plants. For seven male asparagus cultivars, chemical induction of flowering in seedlings with NPC produced a sex ratio similar to that of field-grown plants, demonstrating that NPC induces flowering without altering floral differentiation or sex expression. This method can be used for rapidly and accurately identifying the percentage of females in “male” cultivars.

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Daiichiro Miyajima

Seeds of `Kumamotonokagayaki'(Kk), `Goldenball' (Gb), and `Purple Gem' (PG) (Zinnia violacea Cav.) were harvested at various stages of maturity and subsequent seed and plant performance were evaluated. The largest increase in ovule or embryo length and width occurred from 0 to 10 days after pollination (DAP). The seed weight was unchanged after 23, 25, and 30 DAP for Kk, Gb, and PG, respectively. The pericarp color was completely green from seeds harvested 20 DAP, while the seeds harvested from 30 to 35 DAP contained a mixture of green and brown seeds. Pericarp color change from green to brown was not a reliable index to harvest seeds. The percentage germination increased from seeds harvested from 10 to 19 DAP for all cultivars. From 20 to 40 DAP, germination was unaffected and >90%, while the rate of germination as measured by days to visible germination decreased slightly. Seeds harvested 20 to 40 DAP produced plants with similar growth and quality characteristics. Considering a 20- to 30-day difference between the first and last floret to open in a capitulum, capitula should be harvested 50 days after anthesis for good seed quality and to prevent shattering.

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Eric Watkins and William A. Meyer

Recently, turfgrass breeders have developed many improved turf-type tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) cultivars. Due to the large number of cultivars currently available to turfgrass managers and researchers, we have classified turf-type tall fescue cultivars into six groups based primarily on several morphological measurements. This type of classification is important for turfgrass breeders because many breeding decisions are made based on observations in a spaced-plant nursery. The major objective of this study was to classify tall fescue cultivars and selections based on spaced-plant measurements and to then compare those results with turf performance. A spaced-plant nursery consisting of 36 cultivars and selections was established in September 1998 at Adelphia, N.J. Plant height, panicle length, flag leaf width and length, subtending leaf width and length, and subtending internode length were measured 10 days after anthesis in 1999 and 2000. Additionally, a turf trial was established at North Brunswick, N.J., that included the same 36 cultivars and selections. The turf plots were evaluated for several traits including overall turfgrass quality, density, and susceptibility to brown patch disease. Based on principal component analysis of morphological measurements, along with turf trial data, all cultivars and selections were assigned to one of six groups: forage, early-standard, standard, early semi-dwarf, semi-dwarf, and dwarf. In turf plots, the semi-dwarf, early-semi dwarf, and dwarf groups were the top-performing types in terms of overall turfgrass quality, and the forage and early-standard cultivars had the lowest overall quality ratings. The dwarf types did not perform well under summer stress, especially in terms of brown patch disease incidence. The results of this study suggest that when developing cultivars for higher maintenance situations, turf-type tall fescue breeders should focus on the development of semi-dwarf cultivars.

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Haim D. Rabinowitch, Batya Friedlander, and Ross Peters

Recently, a dwarf scape mutant was found in `Autumn Beit-Alpha' onion (Allium cepa L.). The development of dwarf scape in onion, the genetic control of this attribute, and its response to external application of ethephon and GA3 were studied. Data from segregating populations conclusively showed that a single recessive gene, designated dw1, controls scape dwarfness in onions. Its expression is slightly modified by minor genes. Relatively slow growth and early cessation of cell elongation are the characteristics associated with scape dwarfness. A similar developmental pattern characterized emerging normal flower stalks treated with ethephon. GA3 application at 50 ppm had no effect on scape elongation of dwarf plants. In each of 3 years, dwarf genotypes always produced scapes about half the length of normal ones. The marked expression stability of the dw 1 gene will facilitate its introduction into onion cultivars. Providing there is no negative pleiotropic effect, the dwarfness gene is expected to reduce lodging and, thus, improve mechanical harvest of onion seed. Chemical names used: 2-chloroethyl phosphoric acid (ethephon), gibberellic acid (GA3).

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Timothy W. Miller

Diquat was tested to determine its suitability for use as a preharvest desiccant of selected vegetable seed crops during 1997 and 1998. In separate studies, diquat was applied at 0,0.56, or 1.12 kg·ha-1 ai. to spinach (Spinacia oleracea L.), table beet (Beta vulgaris L.), and coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) plants at usual swathing time. Except for beet seed in 1998, there was no clear trend toward reduced seed weight with increasing diquat rate. Spinach seed germination in 1998 and coriander seed germination in 1997 were reduced by diquat at 1.12 kg·ha-1 compared to seed from nontreated plants or plants treated with 0.56 kg·ha-1. In all crops, diquat at 0.56 kg·ha-1 was adequate for crop desiccation purposes. However, seed producers should consider the potential benefits from chemical desiccation that may potentially lower germination of the harvested seed. Chemical name used: 6,7-dihydrodipyrido[1,2-α:2′,1′-c]pyrazinediium ion (diquat).