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James D. Spiers, Fred T. Davies, Chuanjiu He, Carlos Bogran, Amanda Chau, Kevin M. Heinz and Terri W. Starman

This research focused on the influence of insecticides on gas exchange, chlorophyll content, vegetative and floral development, and overall plant quality of gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii var. `Festival Salmon'). Insecticides from five chemical classes were applied weekly at 1× and 4× the recommended concentrations. Insecticides used were: abamectin (Avid® 0.15 EC), acephate (Orthene® Turf, Tree & Ornamental Spray 97), bifenthrin (Talstar® Nursery Flowable), clarified hydrophobic extract of neem oil (Triact® 70), and spinosad (Conserve® SC). Phytotoxicity occurred in the form of leaf chlorosis on all acephate treatments, with the greatest damage occurring at the 4× concentration. Photosynthesis and stomatal conductance were significantly reduced in plants treated with neem oil extract. Plants treated with the neem oil extract (1× and 4×) flowered later and had reduced growth [lower shoot dry mass (DM) and total DM]. Plants that received 4× the recommended concentration of neem oil extract had reduced leaf area, thicker leaves (lower specific leaf area), higher leaf chlorophyll content, and reduced flower production, as determined by flower number and flower DM. Plants treated with acephate 4× concentration were the lowest quality plants due to extensive phytotoxicity (leaf burn), which also reduced photosynthesis. The highest quality plants were treated with spinosad and abamectin due to zero phytotoxicity and/or no thrips damage (thrips naturally migrated into the greenhouse). The control plants and plants treated with bifenthrin 1× were not marketable due to thrips damage; however, plant growth characteristics and gas exchange were not statistically different.

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Carlos A. Lazcano, Fred T. Davies Jr., Andrés A. Estrada-Luna, Sharon A. Duray and Victor Olalde-Portugal

Mature cladodes of prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia amyclaea Tenore. `Reina') were treated with five wounding methods and four concentrations of potassium salt indole-3-butyric acid (K-IBA) to stimulate adventitious root formation. The wounding method and K-IBA had highly significant effects on root number and root dry mass of cladodes. Interaction between K-IBA and wounding methods showed that greater root number was obtained at the higher auxin concentrations and with wounding methods that had the greatest cut surface area. K-IBA concentrations from 4,144 to 41,442 μm (1,000 to 10,000 mg·L-1) increased root dry mass. Only the wounding method affected rotting of cladodes. Treatments allowing suberization had a higher percentage of nonrotted cladodes. This research validates the commercial practice of allowing cladodes to suberize early in the propagation cycle. K-IBA altered rooting polarity and stimulated adventitious root formation along the wounded cladode surfaces. The vertical nonsuberized wounding methods and auxin treatments are an excellent classroom demonstration for manipulating rooting polarity. Auxin application and wounding could be of commercial benefit for enhanced rooting in the clonal regeneration of new selections for prickly-pear cactus orchards.

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James D. Spiers, Fred T. Davies, Scott A. Finlayson, Chuanjiu He, Kevin M. Heinz and Terri W. Starman

This research focused on the effects of nitrogen fertilization on jasmonic acid accumulation and total phenolic concentrations in gerbera. The phytohormone jasmonic acid is known to regulate many plant responses, including inducible defenses against insect herbivory. Phenolics are constitutive secondary metabolites that have been shown to negatively affect insect feeding. Gerbera jamesonii `Festival Salmon Rose' plants were grown in a growth chamber and subjected to either low fertilization (only supplied with initial fertilizer charge present in professional growing media) or high fertilization (recommended rate = 200 mg·L-1 N). Plants were fertilized with 200 mL of a 15N–7P–14K fertilizer at 0 or 200 mg·L-1 N at each watering (as needed). Treatments consisted of ±mechanical wounding with a hemostat to one physiologically mature leaf and the subsequent harvest of that leaf at specified time intervals for jasmonic acid quantification. Total phenolics were measured in physiologically mature and young leaves harvested 0 and 10 hours after ±mechanical wounding. Low-fertility plants had reduced aboveground dry mass, were deficient in nitrogen and phosphorus, and had about a 10× higher concentration of total phenolics when compared to high fertility plants. In low-fertility plants, young leaves had greater concentrations of phenolics compared to physiologically mature leaves. There were no differences in total phenolics due to wounding. The effect of nitrogen fertilization on jasmonic acid accumulation will also be discussed.