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- Author or Editor: Robert J. Dufault x
In 3 separate experiments, the effects of container types, transplant age, and growing media on asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) transplant quality were determined. These transplants then were field planted to determine the effects of propagation methods on plant growth after one growing season. Transplants grown for 10 weeks in deep peat pots (10 cm deep, 177 cm3, and 364 plants/m2) produced crowns and fern of higher fresh and dry weight than other containers (ranging in depth from 5.5 to 7.6 cm, in volume from 53 to 186 cm3, and plant density/m2 from 277 to 1624). Shoot and root growth of 7-, 8.5-, and 10-week-old transplants (grown in identical containers) were similar, but crown fresh and dry weight were reduced for 6-week-old transplants. Ten-week-old transplants originally broadcast-seeded in flats of 1 vermiculite: 1 peat medium (v:v) produced more roots, buds, shoots and fern and crowns of greater fresh and dry weight than those grown in 1 peat : 1 perlite or 1 perlite : 1 vermiculite media. At the end of the growing season, plants originally grown in deep peat pots were superior in number of shoots and fleshy roots, and crown and fern dry weight to those grown in other container types, to transplants of various ages, and to bareroot transplants.
To reduce transplant shock of bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.), we tested the effectiveness of pretransplant nutritional conditioning (PNC) as a promoter of earliness and yield. In Expt. 1, `Gatorbelle' bell pepper seedlings were fertilized with N from Ca(NO3)2 at 25, 75, or 225 mg·liter-1 and P from Ca(H2PO4)2 at 5, 15, or 45 mg·liter-1. Nitrogen interacted with P, affecting shoot fresh and dry weight, leaf area, root dry weight, seedling height, and leaf count. In Expt. 2, transplants conditioned with N from 50, 100, and 200 mg·liter-1 and P at 15, 30, and 60 mg·liter-1 were field-planted in Charleston, S.C., and Clinton, N.C. Nitrogen- and P-PNC did not greatly affect recovery from transplant shock. Although N- and P-PNC affected seedling growth in the greenhouse, earliness, total yield, and quality were similar in field studies among all PNC treatments at both locations. PNC with 50 mg N and 15 mg P/liter can be used with this variety and not have any long-term detrimental effects on yield and quality.
Pretransplant nutritional conditioning (PNC) of transplants during greenhouse production may improve recovery from transplanting stress and enhance earliness and yield of watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.) Matsum. & Nakai]. Two greenhouse experiments (Expts. 1 and 2) and field experiments in South Carolina and North Carolina (Expt. 3) were conducted to evaluate N and P PNC effects on watermelon seedling growth and their effects on fruit yield and quality. `Queen of Hearts' triploid and `Crimson Sweet' diploid watermelon seedlings were fertilized with N from calcium nitrate at 25, 75, or 225 mg·liter–1 and P from calcium phosphate at 5, 15, or 45 mg·liter–1. In the greenhouse, most variation in the shoot fresh and dry weights, leaf count, leaf area, transplant height, and root dry weight in `Queen of Hearts' and `Crimson Sweet' was attributed to N. Cultivar interacted with N, affecting all seedling growth variables, but not leaf area in Expt. 2. To a lesser extent, in Expt. 1, but not in Expt. 2, P interacted with cultivar, N, or cultivar × N and affected shoot fresh and dry weights, leaf count and leaf area. In the field, transplant shock increased linearly with N, regardless of cultivar or field location. The effect of PNC on plant growth diminished as the growing season progressed. For both cultivars at both locations, N and P PNC did not affect time to first staminate flower, fruit set, fruit width or length, soluble solids concentration, or yield. Vining at Charleston for both cultivars was 2 days earlier when N was at 75 rather than 25 mg·liter–1, without further change with the high N rate. At Clinton, the first pistillate flower was delayed linearly the higher the N rate for `Crimson Sweet'. At Charleston, hollow heart in the `Queen of Hearts' increased nearly 3 times when N PNC rate was tripled (from 75 or 225 mg·liter–1), while N had no effect on hollow heart in `Crimson Sweet'. In contrast, at Clinton, hollow heart in either cultivar was affected by P PNC, not N. PNC with 25N–5P (in mg·liter–1) can be used to reduce seedling growth and produce a more compact plant for easier handling, yet not reduce fruit quality or yield.
Tomato (L.ycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seedlings were nutritionally conditioned with solutions containing factorial combinations of N at 25, 75, and 225 mg·liter -1, P at 5, 15, and 45 mg·liter-1, and K at 25, 75, and 225 mg·liter -1 to determine the effect of nutritional regimes on tomato transplant growth and quality. As N increased from 25 to 225 mg·liter-1, fresh shoot weight, plant height, stem diameter, leaf number, leaf area, shoot and root dry weights, and total chlorophyll increased. Nitrogen accounted for the major source of variation. Phosphorus effects were significant only in 1988; Pat 45 mg·liter-1 increased fresh shoot weight, plant height, stem diameter, leaf number, and leaf area in comparison to 5 and 15 mg·liter -1. Potassium did not significantly influence any of the growth variables measured in the study. For quality transplant production, nutrient solutions should contain at least N at 225 mg·liter-1, P at 45 mg·liter-1, and K at 25 mg·liter-1.
The objectives of this study were 1) to identify high-quality broccoli cultivars for field production in spring, summer, and fall seasons; and 2) to illustrate dynamic changes in head quality of promising cultivars for a particular growing season compared to head quality over all seasons evaluated. Twenty-four hybrid cultivars were grown in spring, summer, and fall growing seasons 1993 to 1995 included `Arcadia', `Baccus', `Bonanza', `Citation', `Claudia', `Early Dawn', `Embassy', `Emerald City', `Everest', `Exselsior', `Galaxy', `Galleon', `Goliath', `Green Comet', `Green Duke', `Leprechaun', `Packman', `Paragon', `Skiff', `Southern Comet', `Sprinter', `Sultan', `Symphony', and `Viking'. Head density, color, leafiness, and shape, bead size, and consumer use were documented. `Symphony' performed best in Spring 1993 and 1994, and only `Paragon' tolerated heat in Summer 1993 and 1994. Fall climate in coastal South Carolina is most conducive to high-quality production versus spring and summer seasons, with the following cultivars producing superior heads in both years: `Symphony', `Embassy', `Galleon', `Galaxy', `Sultan', and `Emerald City'. Quality defects for each cultivar in each inappropriate growing season will be illustrated.
`Sunny' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seedlings were pretransplant nutritionally conditioned (PNC) in 1988 and 1989 with factorial combinations of N from 100 to 300 mg·liter-1 and P from 10 to 70 mg·liter-1. In 1988, all conditioned seedlings were exposed to 12 hours of 2C for eight consecutive nights before transplanting. In 1989, half of the conditioned plants were exposed to a low-temperature treatment of 8 days with 12-hour nights at 2C and 12-hour days in a warm greenhouse (19C/26C, night/day). In both years, as N PNC increased to 200 mg·liter-1, seedling growth increased. Increasing P PNC from 10 to 40 mg·liter-1 increased seedling growth, but only in 1988. In both years, P PNC did not affect yields. Low-temperature exposure in 1989 decreased seedling growth in comparison to those held in a warm greenhouse (19C/26C, day/night). In 1988, first harvest yields were not affected by N PNC; however, in 1989, as N increased to 200 mg·liter-1, early yields increased. In 1988, total yields increased wit h N PNC from 100 to 200 mg·liter-1 and in 1989 with N at 50 to 100 mg·liter-1 with no further increases from 100 to 200 mg·liter-1. Low-temperature exposure had no effect on earliness, yield, or quality. A PNC regime combining at least 200 mg N/liter and up to 10 mg P/liter should be used to nutritionally condition `Sunny' tomato seedlings to enhance yield.
Tomato seedlings (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. `Sunny') were exposed to cyclic cold stress at 2 ± 1C, then to 29 ± 6C in a greenhouse before being transplanted to the field. Cold-stressed seedlings were transplanted when the risk of ambient cold stress was negligible. In the first year of a 2-year study, transplants were exposed to 2C for 3, 6, or 12 hours for 1, 3, or 6 days before field planting. In the second year, transplants were exposed to 2C for 6, 12, or 18 hours for 4, 7, or 10 days before field planting. In the first year, cold stress generally stimulated increases in seedling height, leaf area, and shoot and root dry weights but decreased chlorophyll content. In the second year, all seedling growth characteristics except leaf area and plant height were diminished in response to longer cold-stress treatment. In both years, earliness, total productivity, and quality were unaffected by any stress treatment. Therefore, cold stress occurring before transplanting has a negligible effect on earliness, yield, or quality.
Excessive cutting pressure (CP) early in the lifespan of an asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) plantation may weaken and reduce yields and quality. The objective of this research was to determine how increasing CP affects yield, quality, and survival of spring-harvested and summer-forced asparagus. `Jersey Gem' asparagus was harvested for 4 years (1999–2002) in spring or summer-forced on 1 Aug. using the following CP (weeks/year from 1st to 4th years, respectively): 2, 3, 4, 6 (low), 3, 4, 5, 7 (medium), and 4, 5, 8, 10 (high). In all harvest years, as CP increased, marketable number and weight increased. Yield in spring harvest seasons significantly increased with each increase in CP. In summer, yield significantly increased only when high CP was used with equivalent yields at low and medium CP. With summer forcing, there were 48% and 55% fewer large spears at medium and high CP, respectively, compared to the same CP used during spring harvest seasons. Stands tended to decrease with CP from 1997 to 2003, but these differences were not significant and not severe enough to kill the plants. Yearly root fructose concentrations (RFC) with all CP increased yearly from 1999 to 2001 and plateaued from 2002 to 2003. From 1999 to 2002, RFC increased 53%, 27%, 13%, and 13% in unharvested control, low, medium, and high CP, respectively, indicating that with a greater CP, RFC decreased. RFC in summer-forced asparagus was significantly less than spring-harvested in 83% of all sample months. RFC in spring-harvested asparagus was similar to unharvested asparagus in February, March, April, November, and December; however, in all other sample months, spring-harvested RFC was significantly lower than unharvested control plants. The highest CP scheme is appropriate for spring-harvested asparagus based on greatest marketable yields and acceptable cull losses. For summer-forced asparagus, the lowest CP scheme is more appropriate based on acceptable marketable yields and to avoid undue plant stress verified by unacceptably large cull losses mostly attributed to spindly spear size and lower RFC.
Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. and Nakai) seedlings transplanted before the last frost date may be exposed to temperatures alternating between freezing and optimal until field temperatures finally stabilize. Cold stress may ultimately reduce growth and yield. To simulate such temperature alternations that occur naturally after field transplanting, diploid `Carnival' watermelon seedlings were exposed immediately before field planting to cyclic cold temperature stress at 2 ± 1 °C then transferred to a greenhouse at 29 ± 5 °C. In 1997, transplants were exposed to 2 °C from 3 to 81 hours and in 1998, exposure ranged from 9 to 81 hours. Cold-stressed seedlings were field planted after all potential risk of cold stress in the field had passed. In 1997, cold stress decreased seedling shoot and root fresh and dry weights, leaf area, chlorophyll and carbohydrate contents but not seedling height. In 1998, all seedling growth variables decreased in response to longer durations of cold stress. Plants cold stressed for up to 81 hours transpired more for 1 week after transplanting than those exposed to shorter periods of cold stress. In both years, vining (date first runner touched the ground), flowering, and fruit set were delayed significantly as cold stress hours increased. Although early yields were unaffected, total yields decreased linearly in both years with increasing hours of cold, with 38 to 40 hours of cold stress reducing yield 10% in both years. Data indicate that `Carnival' watermelon transplants exposed to cold stress soon after transplanting may suffer yield reductions.
For the earliest yields of spring melons, muskmelon [Cucumis melo L. (Reticulatus Group)] fields in the southeast United States may be transplanted in late winter before the last frost date. Seedlings may be exposed to cold temperatures cycling between almost freezing and optimal for weeks before warm weather predominates and such exposure may reduce later growth and yields. To test whether cold stress may reduce growth and yield, `Athena' muskmelon seedlings were subjected to cold stress at 2 ± 1 °C then transferred to a greenhouse at 29 ± 5 °C before field transplanting. In 1997, cold exposure durations were 3, 6, or 9 h and were repeated (frequency) for 1, 3, 6, or 9 d before transplanting. In 1998, duration levels were not changed but frequencies were 3, 6, or 9 d. In 1997, as cold stress increased, seedling shoot and root fresh and dry weights, height, leaf area, and leaf chlorophyll content decreased linearly, but shoot carbohydrates decreased curvilinearly and stabilized with ≈54 hours cold stress. In 1998, all seedling growth characteristics except leaf chlorophyll content decreased linearly as cold stress exposure increased. Leaf chlorophyll content decreased curvilinearly as cold stress increased to 36 h, but leveled off with more hours of cold stress. Even 1 week after transplanting, plants exposed to cold stress for up to 81 h continued to transpire more than control plants. In both years, vining (date first runner touched the ground) and male and female flowering were delayed significantly with increasing cold stress, but fruit set was affected only in 1998. Cold stress in 1998 delayed earliness with early fruit weight and number per plot decreasing as cold stress exposure increased. Total yields decreased linearly in both years as cold stress increased with 21 to 32 hours causing 10% yield reduction in 1997 and 1998, respectively. Results indicate a potential risk exists for yield reduction if `Athena' muskmelon is planted weeks before last frost dates.