Experiments were conducted to determine the effect of varying solution N concentrations on fruit yield and NO3-N concentration in leachate from rockwool-grown `Midal' peppers (Capsicum annuum L.) in Florida. Treatment 1 plants received a series of nutrient solutions containing N at 60, 90, and 120 mg·liter–1 (60–90–120 mg·liter–1) during their growth cycle. Plants in treatments 2 and 3 were grown with N at 120 or 175 mg·liter–1, respectively, throughout their entire growth cycle. Two trials were conducted; trial 1 from 17 Nov. 1991 to 1 July 1992, and trial 2 from 31 July 1992 to 23 Feb. 1993. In both trials, total marketable fruit weight was significantly (P ≤ 0.05) higher (16% to 67%) for plants grown with N at 175 than with 60–90–120 mg·liter–1. In trial 2, plants receiving N at 175 mg·liter–1 produced significantly more fruit (8%) and 14% higher total fruit weight than plants receiving N at 120 mg·liter–1. The trend toward higher yield with N at 175 rather than 120 mg·liter–1 also occurred during trial 1, but differences were not significant. Nitrogen concentration did not significantly affect the percentage of total fruit having blossom-end rot in either trial (41% in trial 1; 13% in trial 2). Nitrogen at 175 mg·liter–1 resulted in 10% to 40% increases in total nutrient solution use and 2.5- to 3.5-fold increases in leachate NO3-N concentration compared to N at 120 mg·liter–1.
Growth chamber experiments were conducted to study the physiological and growth response of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] to either 50% or 85 % relative humidity (RH). Vine cuttings of T1-155 were grown using the nutrient film technique in a randomized complete-block design with two replications. Temperature regimes of 28/22C were maintained during the light/dark periods with irradiance at canopy level of 600 μmol·m-2·s-1 and a 14/10-hour photoperiod. High RH (85%) increased the number of storage roots per plant and significantly increased storage root fresh and dry weight, but produced lower foliage fresh and dry weight than plants grown at 50% RH. Edible biomass index and linear growth rate (in grams per square meter per day) were significantly higher for plants grown at 85 % than at 50% RH. Leaf photosynthesis and stomatal conductance were higher for plants at 85 % than at 50% RH. Thus, the principal effect of high RH on sweetpotato growth was the production of higher storage root yield, edible biomass, growth rate, and increased photosynthetic and stomatal activity.
Four cultivars of greenhouse tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were grown in the greenhouse and two cultivars were grown in growth chambers in order to study the effects of root and air temperature on the elemental composition (N, P, K, Ca, and Mg) of leaf tissue. Most of the variation observed in the nutrient composition of leaves was due to air temperature and the cultivar used; only few root temperature effects were significant. Low air temperatures (24°/14°C, 24°/8°, 19°/14°; day/night) resulted in higher N concentrations in the leaf tissue, whereas root temperature had little effect on N. Response to air temperature was similar for P or for N. However, response to high root temperature (27° and 24° in the greenhouse and the growth chamber, respectively) was greater for P than for N. Air and root temperatures had little effect on K concentration in tomato leaves. Consistently high Ca and Mg levels resulted with low air temperatures (24°/8°, 19°/14°, 13°/8°), whereas root temperature had no effect on accumulation of these two nutrients. The incidence of blossom-end-rot in the fruit of all cultivars used in the study was associated with low Ca and Mg levels in the leaf tissue.
Several levels of photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) were tested for effects on growth of 4 cultivars of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) under controlled-environment conditions. Growth of ‘Salad Bowl’, ‘Bibb’, and ‘Ruby’ was greater at 932 µmol s -1m-2 than at ≤ 644 µmol s-1m-2 under a 16-hour photoperiod. Thirty mM NO3 - or 5 mM NH4 + + 25 mM NO3 - increased leaf dry weight while reducing leaf chlorosis in ‘Salad Bowl’ and ‘Grand Rapids’ relative to that with 15 mM NO3 -, and reduced leaf purpling in ‘Bibb’ and ‘Ruby’ with little or no effect on yield. Continuous illumination with 455 or 918 µmol s-1 m-2 stimulated yield of ‘Salad Bowl’ and ‘Bibb’ when 30 mM N as NH4 + + NO3 - was used relative to that with 15 mM NO3 -.
Cultivars of greenhouse tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were grown in the greenhouse and in growth chambers to study the effects of root and air temperature on flowering and yield. A low air temperature of 19° (day)/14°C (night), during the fall crop, caused no reduction in yield when compared with the commonly used 22°/17° air temperature. A 13°/8° air temperature during the spring crop drastically reduced yield compared with the 19°/14°C air temperature. Flowering of ‘Ohio MR-13’ in growth chambers was delayed significantly at air temperatures of 24°/8° compared to 24°/17°, but the flowering of ‘Vendor’ was unaffected by air temperature treatments. Marketable yield of ‘Vendor’ was significantly higher at 24°/8° compared to the 24°/17° treatment, while the marketable yield of ‘Ohio MR-13’ was unaffected. At a constant, day air temperature of 24°, the amount of small fruit decreased as night air temperature was lowered from 17° to 8° and maturity was delayed as night air temperature was lowered from 14° to 8°. The effect of low air temperature on flowering and yield of tomatoes was large and could not be offset by increasing root temperatures. At air temperatures of 24°/17°, 24°/14°, and 24°/8°, marketable yields were affected adversely by the absence of root thermoperiodicity (day to night root temperature variation).
A method is described for studying the 3-dimensional distribution of roots grown in a medium consisting of small pieces of glass. After growing to a desired size, the plant is sacrificed by evaporating all water from the media with flowing air. To visualize the undisturbed root system, an immersion oil with the same refractive index as the glass is added to the glass container in which the plant was grown.
Greenhouse tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum Mill.) producers are urged to reduce their environmental footprint. Here, the suitability of biochar produced from tomato crop green waste as a substrate for soilless, hydroponic tomato production was evaluated. Substrates containing different combinations of biochar (BC) and pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) sawdust (SD) were produced (BC0-SD100, BC25-SD75, BC50-SD50, BC75-SD25, and BC100-SD0) and characterized. The effect of these substrates on tomato growth, yield, and fruit quality was studied. Most of the measured properties of substrates containing biochar were suited to use as a soilless substrate. The electrical conductivity (EC) of substrates containing biochar was initially high (>4.6 mS·cm−1), but was easily reduced to <0.5 mS·cm−1 by rinsing with water before use. The pH of substrates containing biochar was higher than is considered acceptable for tomato production (7.5–9.3) but did not significantly (P < 0.05) affect any plant growth, yield, and fruit quality indicators measured compared with those of plants grown in pine sawdust. The results support the concept of creating a closed loop system whereby biochar produced from tomato crop green waste is used as a substrate for soilless, hydroponic tomato production, providing a sustainable means to support the growth of high-value food crops.
Growth and photosynthetic parameters were measured in Eustoma grandiflorum (Raf.) Shinn. ‘Umihonoka’ grown hydroponically under nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), or magnesium (Mg) deficiency in 1/2 strength of modified Johnson’s solution. Plant height, node number, and leaf area were all reduced under N, P, K, and Ca deficiencies but not under Mg deficiency as compared with plants grown in the complete nutrient solution. Shoot and root dry weight were reduced in the N-, P-, K-, and Ca-deficient treatments, whereas root but not shoot dry weight was lowered by Mg-deficient treatment. Shoot-to-root dry weight ratio decreased under N and P deficiencies, increased under K and Mg deficiency, but was not altered under Ca deficiency. Decreased net photosynthetic rate (Pn) of N-, P-, and K-deficient leaves was all related to lower stomatal conductance (g S), whereas N-deficient leaves also accompanied by a higher intercellular carbon dioxide concentration (Ci). The Mg-deficient treatment did not alter chlorophyll fluorescence Fv/Fm, maximal fluorescence (Fm), or minimal fluorescence (Fo). Decreased Fv/Fm of N-, P-, K-, and Ca-deficient leaves was all related to lower Fm, whereas N- and P-deficient leaves also accompanied by lower Fo. A key was developed for the identification of N, P, K, Ca, and Mg deficiency symptoms.
Greenhouse experiments were conducted in 2005 and 2006 near Live Oak, FL, to develop fertilization programs for fresh-cut ‘Nufar’ basil (Ocimum basilicum) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) in troughs with soilless media using inputs compliant with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program (NOP). Four NOP-compliant fertilizer treatments were evaluated in comparison with a conventional control. Treatments and their analyses in nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) contents are as follows: conventional hydroponic nutrient solution [HNS (150 ppm N, 50 ppm P, and 200 ppm K)], granular poultry (GP) litter (4N–0.9P–2.5K), granular composite [GC (4N–0.9P–3.3K)], granular meal [GM (8N–2.2P–4.1K)], and GM plus a sidedress application of 5N–0.9P–1.7K fish emulsion (GM + FE). Electrical conductivity (EC) of the media, fresh petiole sap nitrate (NO3-N) and K concentrations, dried whole leaf NO3-N, P, and K concentrations, and yield and postharvest quality of harvested herbs were evaluated in response to the treatments. Basil yield was similar with HNS (340 g/plant) and GP (325 g/plant) in 2005 and greatest with HNS (417 g/plant) in 2006. Spearmint yield was similar with all treatments in 2005. In 2006, spearmint yields were similar with the HNS and GP yields (172 and 189 g/plant, respectively) and greater than the yields with the remaining treatments. In both years and crops, media EC values were generally greater with the GC than with the GP, GM, and GM + FE treatments but not in all cases and ranged from 1.77 to 0.55 dS·m−1 during the experiments. Furthermore, HNS media EC values were consistently equal to or lower than the GP media EC values except with EC measurements on 106 days after transplanting in both crops in 2005. Petiole NO3-N and K results were variable among crops and years, but provided valuable insight into the EC and yield data. We expected EC, petiole NO3-N, and petiole K to be consistently higher with HNS than with organic treatments, but they were not, indicating a reasonable synchrony of nutrient availability and crop demand among the organic treatments. The postharvest quality of both basil and spearmint was excellent with all treatments with few exceptions.
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.