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  • Author or Editor: Jennifer K. Boldt x
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Multilayer vertical production systems using sole-source (SS) lighting can be used for the production of microgreens; however, traditional SS lighting methods can consume large amounts of electrical energy. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) offer many advantages over conventional light sources, including high photoelectric conversion efficiencies, narrowband spectral light quality (LQ), low thermal output, and adjustable light intensities (LIs). The objective of this study was to quantify the effects of SS LEDs of different light qualities and intensities on growth, morphology, and nutrient content of Brassica microgreens. Purple kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea L. var. gongylodes L.), mizuna (Brassica rapa L. var. japonica), and mustard [Brassica juncea (L.) Czern. ‘Garnet Giant’] were grown in hydroponic tray systems placed on multilayer shelves in a walk-in growth chamber. A daily light integral (DLI) of 6, 12, or 18 mol·m−2·d−1 was achieved from commercially available SS LED arrays with light ratios (%) of red:green:blue 74:18:8 (R74:G18:B8), red:blue 87:13 (R87:B13), or red:far-red:blue 84:7:9 (R84:FR7:B9) with a total photon flux (TPF) from 400 to 800 nm of 105, 210, or 315 µmol·m−2·s−1 for 16 hours. Regardless of LQ, as the LI increased from 105 to 315 µmol·m−2·s−1, hypocotyl length (HL) decreased and percent dry weight (DW) increased for kohlrabi, mizuna, and mustard microgreens. With increasing LI, leaf area (LA) of kohlrabi generally decreased and relative chlorophyll content (RCC) increased. In addition, nutrient content increased under low LIs regardless of LQ. The results from this study can help growers to select LIs and LQs from commercially available SS LEDs to achieve preferred growth characteristics of Brassica microgreens.

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Dolomitic lime (DL) is the primary liming agent used for increasing pH in peatmoss-based substrates. Steel slag (SS) is a byproduct of the steel manufacturing industry that has been used to elevate field soil pH. The objective of this research was to determine the pH response of a peatmoss-based greenhouse substrate to varying rates of DL or SS. Two experiments were conducted with an 85 peatmoss : 15 perlite substrate. In the first experiment, the substrate was amended with 0, 2.4, 4.8, or 7.1 kg·m−3 of either DL or SS. Half of the containers remained fallow and the other half were potted with a single sunflower (Helianthus annuus L. ‘Pacino Gold’). In the second experiment, fallow containers were only used with the substrate amended with 0, 2.4, 4.8, 9.5, or 14.2 kg·m−3 DL or SS. Sunflower were measured for relative foliar chlorophyll content, shoot mass, root ratings, and foliar nutrient concentrations. Substrate electrical conductivity (EC) and pH were measured weekly using the pour-through procedure. All sunflower plants grew vigorously, although nonamended controls had less shoot dry weight than those amended with DL or SS. There were minor differences in foliar concentration of N, Ca, Mg, and Mn; however, these differences did not adversely affect plant growth. Summarizing across both experiments, EC was affected by treatment and time, although all substrates had EC readings within the range recommended for floriculture crop production (1.0–4.6 mS⋅cm−1). Substrate pH differed slightly in Expt. 1 between fallow and planted containers. Substrate pH increased exponentially with increasing rates of either DL or SS. Maximum pH in fallow DL and SS amended substrates was 6.57 and 6.93, respectively, in Expt. 1 and 6.85 and 7.67, respectively, in Expt. 2. The SS used in this experiment resulted in a greater pH response than DL with higher application rates. SS is a viable material for raising pH of soilless substrates.

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Multiple types of flesh browning can occur as storage disorders in ‘Honeycrisp’ apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) fruit. Predicting its occurrence is hindered by differing definitions of the types of browning, incomplete understanding of their etiologies, and difficulty in assessing harvest maturity of ‘Honeycrisp’ fruit. In 2013, of ‘Honeycrisp’ fruit grown, harvested over multiple weeks, and stored in Maine, Minnesota, Ontario, and Quebec, only the Quebec fruit developed diffuse flesh browning. A detailed comparison showed that the Quebec fruit differed in size, but not in other quality attributes, from fruit of the other locations. The Quebec fruit experienced lower temperatures during active fruit growth and were increasing in cell size up to harvest. Analyses of climate data from 2009 to 2015 indicated that accumulated growing degree-days (GDD) 50–60 day after full bloom (DAFB) could account for 31% of the variation in diffuse flesh browning, and seasonal GDD <500 are associated with a greater likelihood of injury. Fruit that exhibited diffuse flesh browning had higher magnesium and lower fructose levels than unaffected fruit. As these measurements were made after browning was assessed, the timing of the onset of these characteristics in relation to browning cannot be determined.

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