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  • Author or Editor: Bruce L. Dunn x
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Colored shade nets are known to alter the light quality and quantity and thus can influence plant growth and nutritional quality of crops. Lettuce (‘Lollo Antonet’ and ‘Green Forest’) and basil (‘Aroma-2’ and ‘Genovese’) were grown in ebb-and-flow hydroponic tables for 4 weeks. Colored shade nets of aluminet, black, pearl, and red with 50% shading intensity along with a control (no-shade) were used in this experiment. Data for plant growth and leaf quality attributes were collected at harvest time. The no-shade treatment showed increased shoot fresh and dry weight, sugar, and relative chlorophyll content in both lettuce and basil cultivars, whereas plant height and net photosynthesis rates were increased under aluminet, pearl, and red nets. In basil, calcium and sulfur were greatest under no-shade, whereas zinc and copper were greatest under aluminet. Zinc, iron, calcium, magnesium, and manganese concentrations were greatest under no-shade in lettuce. The pearl-colored net increased leaf soluble solids content. No-shade produced the greatest starch values in basil, whereas pearl shade net produced the greatest starch in ‘Lollo Antonet’ in the fall. Light spectra varied with shade net resulting in 90%, 65%, 50%, 30%, and 70% of incident light occurring between 400 and 700 nm for no-shade, pearl, aluminet, black, and red shade nets, respectively. Overall, lettuce and basil plants under no-shade (daily light integral of 20 to 24 mol·m−2·d−1 and temperature of 26 to 30 °C) had increased plant growth and leaf quality in late spring and fall, compared with colored shade nets.

Open Access

Pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana) is a greenhouse crop commonly grown under black shade net; it often requires the use of chemical plant growth regulators to maintain a compact growth habit. Nonchemical efforts to alter plant morphology, such as height, would provide a more sustainable solution than chemical application. The objective of these studies was to evaluate the effects of different colors of shade nets on controlling growth and flowering of pansy. In Expt. 1, ‘Clear Yellow’, ‘Buttered Popcorn’, and ‘Deep Orange’ pansy plugs were placed under 30% blue or black shade net or, as a control group, where grown with no shade net. In Expt. 2, the same three cultivars of pansy were grown under 50% black, red, pearl, or aluminized shade net. Data were collected on plant height, plant width, flower number, plant survival, soil plant analysis development chlorophyll meter (SPAD) readings, and light quality. In Expt. 1, the blue shade net reduced height to flower and height to leaves, but also decreased flower number and plant survival as compared with black shade net. All plants under no shade died. In Expt. 2, SPAD, an indicator of plant quality by estimating leaf greenness, was found to be lower under black shade net, whereas pearl shade net led to a decrease in plant height and no effect on the number of flowers. Light quality, including red-to-far-red ratio, varied among shade treatments, whereas light intensity was reduced under aluminized, black (50%), and red shade nets compared with other shade treatments. Blue and pearl shade nets both reduced plant height, but blue shade net also reduced plant survival and flowering.

Open Access

This research was conducted to investigate the potentials of normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), a Soil-Plant Analyses Development (SPAD) chlorophyll meter, and leaf nitrogen (N) concentration [% dry matter (DM)] for rapid determination of N status in potted geraniums (Pelargonium ×hortorum). Two F1 cultivars were chosen to represent a dark-green leaf cultivar, Horizon Deep Red, and a light-green leaf cultivar, Horizon Tangerine, and were grown in a soilless culture system. All standard 6-inch (15.24-cm) pots filled with a medium received an initial top-dress application of 5 g controlled-release fertilizer (15N–9P–12K), then plants were supplemented with additional N in the form of urea at 0, 50, 100, or 200 mg·L−1 N every few days to produce plants ranging from N-deficient to N-sufficient. The NDVI readings of individual plants from a NDVI pocket sensor developed by Oklahoma State University were collected weekly until the flowering stage. Data on flower traits, including number of pedicels (NOP), number of full umbels per pot (NOFU), total number of flowers per pot (TNF), number of flowers per pedicel (NOF), and inflorescences diameter (IFD), were collected 3 months after initial fertilizer treatment. After measuring flower traits, pedicels were removed from each pot, and SPAD value, NDVI, and leaf N concentration (g·kg−1 DM) were measured simultaneously. Cultivar and N rate significantly affected all but two flower and one N status parameters studied. The coefficient of determination R 2 showed that NOP, NOFU, and TNF traits were more related to the N rates and the status parameters studied for ‘Horizon Tangerine’ than for ‘Horizon Deep Red’. For the latter cultivar, NOP and TNF traits were highly related to NDVI and SPAD values than N rates and leaf N content parameters. Correlation analysis indicated that the NDVI readings (R 2 = 0.848 and 0.917) and SPAD values (R 2 = 0.861 and 0.950) were significantly related to leaf N content (g·kg−1 DM) between cultivars. However, sensitivity of the NDVI and chlorophyll values to N application rate in geranium was slightly less than leaf N content. Strong correlations (R 2 = 0.974 and 0.979, respectively) between NDVI and SPAD values were found within cultivars. The results demonstrated NDVI and SPAD values can be used to estimate N status in geranium. Because the pocket NDVI sensor will be cheaper than the SPAD unit, it has an advantage in determining N content in potted ornamentals.

Free access

Four experiments were conducted under greenhouse conditions in Oklahoma. Pelleted ‘Genovese’ basil (Ocimum basilicum) seeds were sown in polystyrene flats with six different blends of a peat-lite mix (PL0) and yard waste compost [YWC (this batch designated C0)] in 2012 for the first two experiments. The proportions by volume of PL0:C0 included 100%:0%, 80%:20%, 60%:40%, 40%:60%, 20%:80%, and 0%:100%. Seedling establishment was unaffected consistently, but there was a distinct decline in seedling height and dry weight between 100% PL0 and 80% PL0:20% C0, followed by smaller decreases as the percentage of compost increased in the blends. A third experiment was conducted in 2013 with a different batch of peat-lite (PL1) after the compost had aged 17 months (now designated C1). Treatments were 100% PL1, 80% PL1:20% C1, and 80% PL1:20% C1 mixed with sulfur (S) at 1, 2, or 3 lb/yard3 of blend to acidify the media. The 100% PL1 treatment delayed seedling emergence and suppressed height and dry weight relative to seedlings grown in 80% PL1:20% C1 blends. The PL1 subsequently was found to have been produced in 2010, and the wetting agent had apparently degraded. The aged 2012 compost (C1) was not inhibitory to basil seedling growth when blended at 20% with the PL1, and in fact restored utility to the PL1. The carbon:nitrogen ratio of the original 2012 compost (C0) was 10.8:1, suggesting stability. It appeared that the main reason the C0 compost was inhibitory was that mineralization was slow or immobilization occurred, causing a lack of plant-available nitrogen, especially nitrate. Treatments with S lowered pH of the media, but there were no differences in basil seedling growth between the unamended 80% PL1:20% C1 blend and blends with added S. A fourth experiment compared three peat-lite media: PL1; a batch of the same medium as PL1 that was produced in 2013 (PL2); and a different medium also produced in 2013 (PL3). Peat-lite media were either used unblended, or blended with 20% C1 or 20% C2 (a fresh batch of YWC obtained from the same facility that had produced the original C0). The unamended PL1 was again inhibitory to basil seedling establishment and development. The two “fresh” peat-lite media (PL2 and PL3) were not inhibitory and were similar to each other in performance. A blend of 80% PL2 or 80% PL3 with 20% compost produced similar (C2) or somewhat better (C1) results than were obtained with the unamended peat. We conclude that a blend of 80% peat-lite medium and 20% YWC can be used to produce basil transplants. However, producers must consider the quality of the peat-lite medium and the compost based on the age and composition of the components.

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