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  • Author or Editor: Jianjun Chen x
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Compost is the product resulting from the controlled biological decomposition of organic material that has been sanitized through the generation of heat and processed to further reduce pathogens as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and stabilized to the point that the compost is beneficial to plant growth. Organic materials used for composting in Florida are mainly yard wastes (trash) and food wastes. More than 5.7 million tons of composts could be produced from yard trash and food waste in the state. Animal manure and biosolids (treated sludge) can also be composted, but are not discussed in this article. “Other wastes” as discussed herein [food processing wastes, coal ash, wood ash, drinking water treatment residuals (WTRs), and phosphogypsum] are by-products of leading Florida industries and are available in large quantities for reuse. About 5 million tons of food processing waste [citrus (Citrus spp.) and vegetables alone], 1.85 million tons of coal ash (from 28 coal-burning power plants), 0.05 million tons of wood ash, 1000 million tons of phosphogypsum (from the state's phosphate fertilizer industry), and significant, but unknown, amounts of WTRs are available. Due to the growing interest in sustainable agriculture practices, this article is intended to discuss the current regulations and guidelines for composting and the use of composts and other wastes in Florida, the characteristics, benefits, and concerns of Florida compost and other wastes, and current research and needs of research and extension for incorporating compost and other waste materials in Florida's sustainable agriculture. Our literature search was largely limited to studies conducted in Florida.

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Four water-based cold protection systems [under-benches mist (UBM), over-roadways mist (ORM), and two among-plants fog (APF1, APF2)] were evaluated for their water use and effectiveness in protecting ornamental foliage plants from chilling injury (CI) under protected shade structures at three commercial locations in Florida. UBM used a two-stage thermostat-controlled system with mist nozzles on 25-cm above-ground risers combined with an overhead retractable heat curtain. Both ORM and APF1 had seasonally applied polyethylene film cladding and manually controlled irrigation systems. The ORM system had the mist nozzles located 1.8 m high and APF1 and APF2 systems had the low-pressure fog nozzles mounted on 25-cm above-ground risers spaced among the plants. Temperature data loggers were placed outside and inside the northwest sections of the shadehouses. ORM and the two APF systems were evaluated during freeze events in 2006, 2007, and 2008 and UBM only in 2007 and 2008. UBM, ORM, and APF1 successfully kept the shadehouse temperatures above critical chilling temperatures for all of the foliage plants. APF2 protected all foliage crops except for jungle drum “palm” (Carludovica sp.) that sustained CI. At the UBM site, the air temperatures recorded inside the shadehouse were ≈17 °C warmer than outside. Both ORM and APF1 maintained adequately warm temperatures inside the shadehouses; however, the fog system maintained equal or higher temperatures than the mist system and used 86% less water. Inside temperatures were lower with APF2 than APF1 although the emitter type was the same and the water application rates were similar. These temperature differences were attributable to the greater APF2 shadehouse surface area (SA) and volume (V) compared with APF1 and indicate that the SA and V of structures being heated need to be considered when designing water-based low-pressure fog heating systems. The ORM and both fog systems conserved water compared with using the conventional sprinkler irrigation systems. These results show the potential of water-based approaches for maintaining shadehouses above chilling temperatures during freeze events.

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Pachira aquatica Aubl. has recently been introduced as an ornamental foliage plant and is widely used for interiorscaping. Its growth and use under low light conditions, however, have two problems: leaf abscission and accelerated internode elongation. This study was undertaken to determine if production light intensity and foliar application of paclobutrazol [β-(4-chlorophenyl)methyl-α-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-1H- 1,2,4- triazole-1-ethanol] improved plant growth and subsequent interior performance. Two-year-old P. aquatica trunks were planted in 15-cm diameter plastic pots using a peat-based medium and were grown in a shaded greenhouse under three daily maximum photosynthetic photon flux densities (PPFD) of 285, 350, and 550 μmol·m−2·s−1. Plant canopy heights, average widths, and internode lengths were recorded monthly over a 1-year production period. Two months after planting, the plant canopy was sprayed once with paclobutrazol solutions at concentrations of 0, 50, and 150 mg·L−1, ≈15 mL per plant. Before the plants were placed indoors under a PPFD of 18 μmol·m−2·s−1 for 6 months, net photosynthetic rates, quantum yield, and light saturation and compensation points were determined. Results showed that lowering production light levels did not significantly affect canopy height, width, or internode length but affected the photosynthetic light response curve and reduced the light compensation point. Foliar application of paclobutrazol reduced internode length, thereby resulting in plants with reduced canopy height and width and more compact growth form. Paclobutrazol application also reduced the light compensation point of plants grown under 550 μmol·m−2·s−1. Plants with the compact growth form did not grow substantially, dropped fewer leaflets, and thus maintained their aesthetic appearance after placement indoors for 6 months. These results indicated that the ornamental value and interior performance of P. aquatica plants can be significantly improved by producing them under a PPFD range between 285 and 350 μmol·m−2·s−1 and foliar spraying of paclobutrazol once at a concentration between 50 and 150 mg·L−1.

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This study established a method of regenerating Dracaena surculosa Lindl. ‘Florida Beauty’ through indirect shoot organogenesis. Bud, leaf, and stem explants were cultured on a Murashige and Skoog basal medium supplemented with N6-(2-isopentyl) adenine (2iP) at 12.3 and 24.6 μM with 3-indoleacetic acid (IAA) at 0, 1.1, and 2.3 μM, respectively, and 2iP at 36.9, 49.2, 61.5, and 73.8 μM with IAA at 1.1 and 2.3 μM, respectively. Calluses were induced from leaf explants but failed to produce adventitious shoots. Calluses were also induced from stem and bud explants cultured on the basal medium containing 12.3 μM 2iP and 2.3 μM IAA, 24.6 μM 2iP or higher with either 1.1 or 2.3 μM IAA. The highest callus induction frequency was 63.2% from stem explants and 69.6% from bud explants when they were cultured on the basal medium supplemented with 49.2 μM 2iP and 2.3 μM IAA. The highest shoot formation frequency was 65.7% from stem-derived callus cultured on the basal medium containing 61.5 μM 2iP and 1.1 μM IAA and 88% from bud-derived callus cultured with 49.2 μM 2iP and 1.1 μM IAA. The highest number of shoots per piece of stem- and bud-derived calluses was 3.8 and 6.7, respectively. Adventitious shoots developed better root systems in the basal medium supplemented with 2.0 μM IAA. Plantlets after transplantation into a soilless substrate grew vigorously in a shaded greenhouse under a maximum photosynthetic photon flux density of 300 μmol·m−2·s−1. Neither disease incidence nor somaclonal variants were observed in the regenerated population. This established method could be used for efficient micropropagation of D. surculosa, and the availability of tissue-cultured liners could reduce the dependency on imported cuttings, which often bring new or invasive pests into the United States.

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Chlorophytum amaniense Engl. ‘Fire Flash’ is a popular exotic ornamental foliage plant as a result of its unique coral-colored midribs and petioles and tolerance to interior low light levels. Currently, demand for propagative materials exceeds the availability of seeds. This study was intended to develop an in vitro culture method for rapid propagation of this cultivar. Leaf and sprouted seed explants were cultured on a Murashige and Skoog basal medium supplemented with different cytokinins with 1.1 μM α-naphthalene acetic acid (NAA) or 2.3 μM 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D). Leaf explants showed poor responses in callus production and no adventitious shoots were obtained. Callus formation frequencies from sprouted seeds were 71% and 85% when induced by 9.8 μM N6-(2-isopentyl) adenine (2iP) with 1.1 μM NAA and 9.1 μM N-phenyl-N′-1,2,3-thiadiazol-5-ylurea (TDZ) with 1.1 μM NAA, respectively. Adventitious shoots occurred after the induced calluses were subcultured on the same concentrations of TDZ or 2iP with NAA. Shoot formation frequencies from calluses cultured on TDZ with NAA and 2iP with NAA were 92% and 85%, and the corresponding mean shoot numbers were 37 and 31 per piece of callus (1 cm3), respectively. Adventitious shoots rooted at 100% after transferring to the basal medium containing 4.4 μM 6-benzylaminopurine (BA) with 2.7 μM NAA. Plantlets, after transplanting to a soilless substrate were easily acclimatized in a shaded greenhouse under a photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) density of 200 μmol·m−2·s−1. Regenerated plants grew vigorously without undesirable basal branching or distorted leaves. This newly established regeneration method can provide the foliage plant industry with a means for rapidly propagating ‘Fire Flash’ liners in a year-round fashion.

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Ploidy levels and genome sizes have significant implications in plant evolution and crop improvement. Species of Lonicera L. have long been cultivated as medicinal, ornamental crops, or both. However, chromosome numbers, karyotypes, and DNA contents have only been documented in a few species, of which some controversies regarding basic chromosome numbers and karyotypes remain. This study analyzed the chromosome numbers and karyomorphology of 11 cultivars across four species and also the DNA content of 10 cultivars representing six species of Lonicera. Among them, the chromosome numbers of nine cultivars are reported for the first time. Results showed that the basic chromosome number of x = 9 was constant, and chromosome numbers of 2n = 18, 27, 36, or 54 were observed, suggesting that polyploidy exists in the genus. Five cultivars are diploid with 2n = 18; one cultivar is triploid, four are tetraploid, and one is hexaploid. The karyotypes of all studied cultivars are 3B or 3A, except Lonicera sempervirens ‘Crimson Cascade’ that is 2B based on the Stebbins’ asymmetry classification of karyotypes. The asymmetry index (A1) values vary from 0.47 to 0.60. The chromosome lengths range from 0.77 to 4.09 μm. Total karyotype lengths differ from 33.55 to 78.71 μm. The 1C-value of 10 cultivars varies 3-fold, ranging from 1.158 to 3.664 pg. Information gathered from this study could be valuable for improving breeding efficiency in the development of new cultivars of Lonicera with enhanced medicinal, ornamental value, or both.

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Irrigation runoff water from a containerized landscape plant production bed was blended with rainwater from green house roofs in a constructed collection basin. Water from both the collection basin and an on-site potable well were characterized and used to grow foliage and bedding plants with overhead and ebb-and-flow irrigation systems. Over a 2-year period, a total of 18 foliage and 8 bedding plant cultivars were produced with plant growth and quality quantified. Alkalinity, electrical conductivity, hardness, and concentrations of nutrients of water from both sources were well within desired levels for greenhouse crop production. Turbidity and pH were relatively high from algal growth in the collection basin. However, substrate pH, irrigated by either water source, remained between 6 and 7 throughout the production periods. All plants at the time of finishing were of marketable sizes and salable quality independent of water source. No disease incidences or growth disorders related to water sources were observed. Results suggest that captured irrigation runoff blended with rainwater can be an alternative water source for green house crop production.

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Tissue culture plugs of Aglaonema `Cory', `Maria', and `Silver Queen' and Dieffenbachia `Panther', `Snowflake', and `Sport Lynn' were potted singly in 15-cm pots and grown in a shaded greenhouse under a photosynthetic irradiance (PI) of 100 mmol·m–2·s–1. Eight months after potting, 27 plants of each cultivar were placed in nine interior evaluation rooms under three different PI levels (three rooms per level): 4, 8, and 16 mmol·m–2·s–1. In addition, three plants of each cultivar were maintained in the original greenhouse for the duration of the experiment. Number of leaves, plant height and width were monitored monthly. Recently matured leaves were removed at 3-month intervals for 9 months for determination of fresh and dry weight, leaf area, and percentage leaf variegation. Variegated leaf area was assessed using digitized leaf images. Interior PI levels affected growth parameters, but the degree of response was cultivar-dependent. Smallest leaves developed on plants grown under 4 mmol·m–2·s–1 and largest leaves developed under 16 mmol·m–2·s–1. Leaf area of Dieffenbachia `Sport Lynn' showed the greatest response and Aglaonema `Maria' the least response to PI levels. Percentage leaf variegation of Dieffenbachia `Snowflake' was least affected and Dieffenbachia `Sport Lynn' was most affected by PI levels. Fresh leaf weight of unit area decreased as PI levels decreased from 16 to 4 mmol·m–2·s–1, however, the decrease in unit area was most pronounced in cultivars that maintained the highest quality ratings. Based on the results of this study, Aglaonema `Maria' and Dieffenbachia `Snowflake' had the most satisfactory interior performance within their respective genera.

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