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D.A.J. McArthur and N.R. Knowles

The growth response of potato to infection by vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (VAM) (Glomus dimorphicum, G. intraradices, and G. mosseae), at increasing levels of soil phosphorus (P), was related to VAM-altered mineral status of the plant. In addition, the morphological development of the VAM was characterized using light and scanning electron microscopy.

Four weeks after inoculation, arbuscules and coiled hyphae were the predominate fungal structures within the roots, however, vesicle development increased steadily over the remainder of the 12 week growth period. As expected, the percent infection of roots by VAM decreased with increasing soil-P level. Leaf area, relative growth rate (RGR), lateral branching and root dry weight were increased by VAM, although the relative-response diminished with increasing soil-P level. A similar response to VAM-infection was evident for the concentration of and total shoot N, P and K. Examination of the shoot N status indicated that VAM influenced the rates at which the plant was partitioning N into various N pools. But again, differences between non-VAM and VAM plants tended to decrease with increasing soil-P level. These results indicate that VAM modification of dry matter accumulation and nutrient uptake is mostly a consequence of the alleviation of P-deficiency of the plant and the improved growth of roots, allowing increased mineral absorption.

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Douglas D. Archbold

Plants of a diverse collection of Fragaria clones from a range of native habitats representing F. chiloensis, F. virginiana, F. virginiana glauca, and F. vesca, were grown in a controlled environment at one of three day/night temperatures, 15/15, 23/15, or 31/15°C. Relative growth rate (RGR) and net assimilation rate (NAR) were estimated from plant leaf areas and total dry weights. At 23/15°C, the species mean RGR and NAR values were comparable although clones within species exhibited significant variation. At 15/15 and 31/15°C, RGR and NAR for species were lower than at 23/15°C. At 31/15°C, chiloensis and vesca mean values were reduced more than the others, to less than 50% the 23/15°C values. Also, NAR declined most for chiloensis, to 45% the 23/15°C value. At 15/15°C, virginiana had much higher RGR and NAR values than the other species, and its NAR mean value was greater than at 23/15°C. Although the species means would suggest that there are interspecific differences in temperature response, intraspecific variability was also large. Thus, classifying Fragaria species by temperature response may be an over-generalization.

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Martin M. Williams II, Rick A. Boydston, and Adam S. Davis

Research in dent corn has found significant variation in crop/weed competition for light among hybrids. However, little has been published on the extent of variation in sweet corn competitive ability. Field studies were conducted under weed-free conditions to quantify canopy development and light environment among three sweet corn hybrids and to determine associations among canopy characteristics to crop yield. An early-season hybrid (Spirit) and two midseason hybrids (WHT2801 and GH2547) were grown at experimental sites located near Urbana, Ill., and Prosser, Wash., in 2004 and 2005. Maximum leaf area index (LAI) and intercepted photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) was typically highest for GH2547 and lowest for Spirit. Most differences in vertical LAI among hybrids was observed above 60 and 150 cm in Illinois and Washington, respectively, with WHT2801 and GH2547 having leaf area distributed higher in the canopy than Spirit. Both number and mass of marketable ears were positively correlated with maximum relative growth rate (correlation coefficients 0.60–0.81), leaf area duration (0.68–0.79), total LAI (0.56–0.74) at R1, and intercepted PAR (0.74–0.83) at R1. Differences in canopy properties and interception of solar radiation among Spirit, WHT2801, and GH2547 lead us to hypothesize that variation in weed-suppressive ability exists among hybrids. Future testing of this hypothesis will provide knowledge of interactions specific to sweet corn useful for developing improved weed management systems.

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A. Naor, I. Klein, I. Doron, Y. Gal, Z. Ben-David, and B. Bravdo

The interaction between irrigation and crop load with respect to fruit size distribution was investigated in a `Golden Delicious' apple (Malus domestica Borkh) orchard located in a semi-arid zone. Irrigation levels during the main fruit expansion phase ranged from 0.42 to 1.06 of the Class A pan evaporation coefficient. Crop load was adjusted to 100 to 450 fruit/tree in the 1250 trees/ha orchard by hand thinning. Total yield was not affected by irrigation level up to a crop load of 200 fruit/tree. Yield of all grades >65 mm was affected by irrigation level for higher crop densities. The yield of fruit of diameter <75 mm was not affected by increasing the Class A pan evaporation coefficient above 0.75. Our data indicate that availability of assimilates may limit the size of fruit with potential to grow larger than 70 mm in diameter at all crop loads higher than 200 fruit/tree. This limitation increases with decreasing irrigation level. The volumetric relative growth rate (VRGR) increased with irrigation level and with decreasing crop load. VRGR was more affected by crop load than by irrigation level in the ranges studied.

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Martin P.N. Gent

Nutrient availability may depend on method of fertilization particularly when the root medium is cool. The salad greens, arugula, lettuce, and spinach, were grown in spring, fall, and winter using organic or conventional fertilization to test this hypothesis. Field plots were mineral soil fertilized with 10N-10P-10K, or soil was amended with leaf compost and cotton-seed meal. Unheated high-tunnel plantings plots contained either perlite fertilized with a complete soluble fertilizer or a 1 leaf compost: 1 perlite mixture fertilized with cotton-seed meal. There was no consistent difference in growth due to the method of fertilization, either in the field or in high tunnels. Over all plantings in field and high-tunnel plots, concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus were higher in leaves of plants grown with leaf compost. The time of year did not affect the difference in composition between plants grown in compost and perlite in a manner that could be related to the environment or rate of growth. Although relative growth rates were only 5% per day in high tunnels in winter compared to 10% to 18% per day in other seasons, the difference in reduced nitrogen among plants grown in compost and perlite was similar in winter and summer. The changes in composition due to method of fertilization were similar in all three plant species under study.

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Anne K. Hurley and B. Greg Cobb

Cucumis sativus, L., `Poinsett' seedlings were grown under artificial light in 40% modified Hoagland's solution until an average plant plastochron index of 4.73 was reached. Plants were then placed in solutions of (1) 0 mM NaCl, (2) 80 mM NaCl (salt-shock), or (3) placed in a dropwise gradient solution of NaCl and Hoagland's until the final concentration of 80 mM NaCl was reached at 41 hours. Leaves of the 80 mM shock treatment wilted immediately, but recovered turgor within 6 hours. Leaves of 80 mM gradient did not wilt at anytime. The control and gradient treatments had relative growth rates which were similar to each other, but RGR decreased in the shock treatment. Invertase activity was measured in the roots at 24, 41, and 48 hours after initial treatment. Invertase activity of shock treatment increased significantly over the controls at 24 hours. The 80mM gradient was not significantly different than either treatment. Four isozymes of α– galactosidase were detected. The relative intensities of the bands varied with time and treatment. One invertase band was resolved in roots on 8% native acrylamide gels. SDS gels indicated increases in proteins in the gradient treatment compared to the control and the 80 mM shock treatment.

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Michael S. Dosmann, William R. Graves, and Jeffery K. Iles

The limited use of the katsura tree (Cercidiphyllum japonicum Sieb. & Zucc.) in the landscape may be due to its reputed, but uncharacterized, intolerance of drought. We examined the responses of katsura trees subjected to episodes of drought. Container-grown trees in a greenhouse were subjected to one of three irrigation treatments, each composed of four irrigation phases. Control plants were maintained under well-hydrated conditions in each phase. Plants in the multiple-drought treatment were subjected to two drought phases, each followed by a hydration phase. Plants in the single-drought treatment were exposed to an initial drought phase followed by three hydration phases. Trees avoided drought stress by drought-induced leaf abscission. Plants in the multiple- and single-drought treatments underwent a 63% and 34% reduction in leaf dry weight and a 60% and 31% reduction in leaf surface area, respectively. After leaf abscission, trees in the single-drought treatment recovered 112% of the lost leaf dry weight within 24 days. Leaf abscission and subsequent refoliation resulted in a temporary reduction in the leaf surface area: root dry weight ratio. After relief from drought, net assimilation rate and relative growth rate were maintained at least at the rates associated with plants in the control treatment. We conclude that katsura is a drought avoider that abscises leaves to reduce transpirational water loss. Although plants are capable of refoliation after water becomes available, to maintain the greatest ornamental value in the landscape, siting of katsura should be limited to areas not prone to drought.

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Michel Génard and Claude Bruchou

An approach to studying fruit growth is presented for peach fruit (Prunus persica L. Batsch). It combines a functional description of growth curves, multivariate exploratory data analysis, and graphical displays. This approach is useful for comparing growth curves fitted to a parametric model, and analysis is made easier by the choice of the model whose parameters have a meaning for the biologist. Growth curves were compared using principal component analysis (PCA) adapted to the table of estimated parameters. Growth curves of 120 fruits were fitted to a model that assumes two growth phases. The first one described the pit growth and the first part of the flesh growth. The second described the second part of the flesh growth. From PCA, firstly it was seen that fruit growth varied according to cumulated growth during both growth phases and to date of maximal absolute growth. Secondly, fruit growth varied according to cumulated growth and relative growth rates during each phase. Further examples are presented where growth curves were compared for varying fruit number per shoot and leaf: fruit ratio, and for different sources of variation (tree, shoot, and fruit). Growth of individual fruit was not related to fruit number per shoot or to leaf: fruit ratio. Growth variability was especially high between fruit within shoots.

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John R. Teasdale, Aref A. Abdul-Baki, and William J.E. Potts

Dry weight and leaf area of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) plants grown on raised beds with black polyethylene (BP) or hairy vetch (Vicia villosa Roth) (HV) mulches were measured at weekly intervals during 1993 and 1994. Leaf area and foliage, fruit, and total weight of tomato plants grown in BP were greater early in the season, but less later in the season than plants grown in HV. The relative growth rate of tomatoes in HV was higher throughout most of each year than that in BP. There was little difference between treatments in unit leaf rate (rate of weight gain per unit leaf area). The growth rate of fruit per unit of tomato foliage was greater in BP than HV, whereas the leaf area to weight ratio was greater in HV than BP. These results suggest that tomatoes grown in BP produce greater early yield because of greater early foliage growth and greater partitioning to fruit than HV. However, tomatoes grown in HV eventually outgrow and outyield those in BP because of greater partitioning to and maintenance of leaf area throughout the season.

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Puffy Soundy, Daniel J. Cantliffe, George J. Hochmuth, and Peter J. Stoffella

Although floatation irrigation has numerous advantages for vegetable transplant production, including improved seedling health, lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) transplants grown with floatation (ebb and flow) irrigation can have poor root systems. Floatation fertigation of `South Bay' transplants with K at 15, 30, 45, or 60 mg·L-1 K applied every 2 to 4 days, increased fresh and dry root weight at 28 days. Higher K (24 mg·kg-1) in the medium did not affect root weight. Fresh and dry shoot weight, leaf area, relative shoot ratio (RSR), relative growth rate (RGR), leaf weight ratio (LMR), and root weight ratio (RMR) were unaffected by applied K, regardless of the initial K concentration in the medium. Available K in a vermiculite-containing medium may have supplied all the K required. When 60 was compared with 100 mg·L-1 N at various levels of K, the applied K again did not influence dry root weight; however, at 100 mg·L-1 N, root weight was reduced as compared with 60 mg·L-1 N, regardless of the level of applied K. In a field experiment, pretransplant K had no effect on growth. Transplants grown with no added K in a peat + vermiculite mix with at least 24 mg·L-1 water-extractable K produced yields equivalent to transplants supplied with 15, 30, 45, or 60 mg·L-1 K via floatation irrigation.