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  • Author or Editor: John M. Dole x
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Improving the quality of water released from containerized production nurseries and greenhouse operations is an increasing concern in many areas of the United States. The potential pollution threat to our ground and potable water reservoirs via the horticultural industry needs to receive attention from growers and researchers alike. `Orbit Red' geraniums were grown in 3:1 peat:perlite medium with microtube irrigation to study the effect of fertilizer source on geranium growth, micronutrient leaching, and nutrient distribution. Manufacturer's recommended rates of controlled-release (CRF) and water-soluble fertilizers (WSF) were used to fulfill the micronutrient requirement of the plants. Minimal differences in all growth parameters measured between WSF and CRF were determined. A greater percentage of Fe was leached from the WSF than CRF. In contrast, CRF had a greater percentage of Mn leached from the system than WRF during the experiment. Also, regardless of treatment, the upper and middle regions of the growing medium had a higher nutrient concentration than the lower region of medium.

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Effects of paclobutrazol and ancymidol on postharvest performance and growth control of potted sunflower (Helianthus annuus L.), zinnia (Zinnia elegans Jacq.) and marigold (Tagetes erecta L.), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Vilm.) plugs, respectively, were studied. Paclobutrazol was applied as a drench at 0, 1.0, 2.0, or 4.0 mg of a.i. per 15.2-cm pot for sunflower and 0, 0.5, 1.0, or 2.0 mg per 12.5-cm pot for zinnia, while ancymidol was applied at 0, 40, 80, and 160 mg·L−1 with a volume of 0.21 L·m−2 as a foliar spray for marigolds or petunia plug crops. With an increase in paclobutrazol dose or ancymidol concentration, plant growth (plant height and diameter, shoot fresh or dry weight) was controlled for all species tested. Use of 1.0–2.0 mg paclobutrazol per pot produced 21% to 28% shorter plants with 12% to 15% smaller plant diameter, 13% to 19% less shoot fresh weight, 15% to 21% less dry weight, and darker green foliage color for potted sunflower than nontreated plants. Treatment with 1.0–4.0 mg paclobutrazol per pot delayed first wilting by 0.7–1.4 days compared with nontreated plants. For zinnia, 0.5–1.0 mg paclobutrazol controlled plant growth, produced dark green foliage, and extended shelf life by delaying first wilting by 2.6–3.9 days and second wilting by 1.4–2.0 days than nontreated plants. For marigold and petunia plugs, 40–80 mg·L−1 ancymidol provided ample growth control with darker green foliage; however, postharvest longevity was extended only when plugs were sprayed with 160 mg·L−1 ancymidol. During simulated storage and shipping, plant growth retardants maintained darker green foliage for potted sunflower, zinnia, and marigold plugs and prevented postharvest stem elongation of petunia plugs. In summary, use of plant growth retardants effectively controlled excessive plant growth and extended shelf life of potted plants and plugs.

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Effects of harvest time (morning, noon, or afternoon) on water uptake, fresh weight changes, termination symptoms, leaf relative water content (LRWC), carbohydrate status, and vase life of cut ‘ABC Purple’ lisianthus (Eustoma grandiflorum Salisb.), ‘Double Eagle’ African Gold Coin Series marigold (Tagetes erecta L.), and ‘Deep Red’ Benary’s Giant Series zinnia (Zinnia elegans Jacq.) were studied. For stems of lisianthus harvested and then stored in the dark with the basal ends in water for 2 weeks at 3 ± 1 °C, those harvested at noon (1200 hr to 1300 hr) or in the afternoon (1700 hr to 1800 hr) had longer vase life compared with stems harvested in the morning (0700 hr to 0800 hr). However, stems of lisianthus evaluated without storage had no differences in vase life. Stems of marigold harvested in the afternoon had longer vase life than morning- or noon-harvested stems. Time of harvest had no effect on cut flower longevity of zinnia. However, vase life was considerably shorter for stems of all species when tested after 2 weeks storage compared with freshly harvested stems. Stems of zinnia harvested at noon had lower LRWC than morning- or afternoon-harvested stems. Marigold stems harvested in the afternoon and evaluated without storage had lowest LRWC on Day 7 of vase life. Harvest time or storage did not influence LRWC of lisianthus. Stems of marigold and lisianthus harvested at noon or in the afternoon had higher levels of carbohydrates compared with morning-harvested stems, whereas freshly harvested stems had higher concentrations of glucose and sucrose, which decreased during storage or the vase period. Sucrose concentrations varied more significantly among various tissues than other sugars presumably as a result of translocation during vase life. In summary, carbohydrate status of stems harvested at different times of the day varied greatly and affected postharvest longevity of cut marigold and lisianthus, but not zinnia.

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Vegetatively propagated unrooted cuttings are typically imported to the United States from Central America. Death or damage of cuttings during shipping and propagation can be reduced if cuttings can be made more resistant to external forces, such as physical damage or pathogen infection. However, strategies to develop durable cuttings via treating stock plants have not been previously quantified in controlled studies. During the current study, mechanical strength of leaves and resistance to infection by Botrytis cinerea were evaluated after weekly applications of calcium chloride (CaCl2) as a foliar spray to stock plants that delivered calcium (Ca) at the concentrations of 0, 400, or 800 mg·L−1. A texture analyzer quantified the peak force required to fracture the leaf and the work of penetration,or area under the force–displacement curve, and these measurements were indicators of mechanical strength. For poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch) cuttings at the time of harvest from the stock plant, work of penetration increased by 10% with the application of 800 mg·L−1 Ca compared with the control, whereas peak force by 9%. For zonal geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum Bailey), work of penetration increased 15% with the application of 800 mg·L−1 Ca compared with the control. Calcium concentration in the leaves increased from 1.2% to 2.0% in geranium and from 1.0% to 1.6% in poinsettia with increasing application from 0 to 800 mg·L−1 Ca. In poinsettia, disease incidence in response to inoculation with B. cinerea spores was 55% and 15% less with CaCl2 applications compared with controls with water and surfactant, respectively, whereas CaCl2 application to geranium did not affect disease incidence.

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Various postharvest procedures were conducted on several rose (Rosa hybrida) cultivars to determine the effects on vase life, water uptake, change in fresh weight, stage of opening, and vase life termination criteria. Vase life was influenced by cultivar and vase solution. Commercial preservative solutions resulted in a longer vase life, smaller decrease in fresh weight than the controls, and smaller increase in water uptake. Vase life of nine cultivars in distilled water ranged from a low of 7.1 days for Queen 2000 to a high of 15.3 days for Forever Young. Flower termination criteria were also cultivar specific with Black Baccara, Classy, and Charlotte most prone to bent neck and blackening of petal tips. Exogenous ethylene at 0.4 or 4.0 μL·L−1 did not affect vase life but lowered water uptake. Application of the antiethylene agent silver thiosulfate (STS) at 0.2 mm concentration significantly improved vase life in five out of the nine cultivars (Anna, Charlotte, First Red, Freedom, and Konfetti) tested, but 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) at 740 nL·L−1 did not improve vase life over the control. Both vase life and water uptake were reduced when more than one stem was placed in a vase; placing 10 stems in a vase shortened vase life by 1.4 days and impeded water uptake by up to 10.6 mL/stem per day. Increasing the amount of time stems remained dry before placing in a vase reduced vase life, but recutting immediately before placing in a vase minimized the decline. Increasing the amount of stem cut off the base up to 10 cm increased vase life.

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Effects of pulsing with different concentrations of gibberellin plus benzyladenine (GA4+7 + BA), a proprietary mixture of GA4+7 plus BA in a commercial floral preservative (GA4+7 + BA + preservative), or a propriety mixture of sugar plus acidifier developed for bulbous flowers (floral bulb preservative) were studied on postharvest performance and quality of cut lily (Lilium hybrids) and gladiolus (Gladiolus hybrids) flowers. Pulsing of cut stems of lily with GA4+7 + BA at 5 or 2 mL·L−1 GA4+7 + BA + preservative for 20 hours at 3 ± 1 °C extended the vase life and controlled leaf chlorosis of ‘Cobra’ oriental lily and ‘Cappuccino’ and ‘Dot Com’ asiatic lily. Cut ‘Orange Art’ asiatic lily performed best when pulsed with GA4+7 + BA at 10 mg·L−1. For cut gladiolus, pulsing with GA4+7 + BA at 10 mg·L−1 extended the vase life of ‘Alice’, ‘Mammoth’, and ‘Passion’, while ‘Scarlet’ had the longest vase life when pulsed with 5 mg·L−1 GA4+7 + BA. GA4+7 + BA + preservative also extended the vase life and controlled leaf chlorosis, but the floral bulb preservative had no effect on vase life extension or preventing leaf chlorosis of lilies. Gladiolus cultivars had no or minor leaf chlorosis during vase period. Overall, overnight pulsing with GA4+7 + BA or GA4+7 + BA + preservative extended the vase life and prevented leaf chlorosis and can be used by growers and wholesalers for maintaining quality of cut stems.

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Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are used to control excessive plant growth in potted crops to improve quality and compactness for shipping and display. Pineapple lily (Eucomis sp.), a recent introduction to the potted crop market, can have excessive foliage growth and inflorescence height making the use of PGRs desirable. Bulbs of ‘Leia’ pineapple lily were forced in the greenhouse and drenched at leaf whorl emergence with three PGRs at five different concentrations: 1) flurprimidol (0.25, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, and 4.0 mg per 6.5-inch pot), 2) uniconazole (0.25, 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, and 4.0 mg/pot), or 3) paclobutrazol (0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 4.0 and 8.0 mg/pot) and an untreated control. As concentration increased, days to anthesis increased and foliage height decreased for each PGR. Paclobutrazol (4.0 and 8.0 mg/pot), uniconazole (4.0 mg/pot), and flurprimidol (2.0 and 4.0 mg/pot) treatments resulted in excessive stunting with none of the plants being marketable. Flurprimidol had the greatest influence on plant growth among all the PGRs. Acceptable concentrations for each PGR are paclobutrazol at 0.5 to 2.0 mg/pot, uniconazole at 0.25 to 2.0 mg/pot, and flurprimidol at 0.5 to 1.0 mg/pot based on percentage of marketable plants and foliage and inflorescence height suppression without excessively increasing the number of days to anthesis.

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Postharvest environments during storage and shipping are often conducive to plant stress and disease development. Liners of four cultivars of geraniums (Pelargonium ×hortorum) were evaluated every 2 days for their susceptibility to gray mold (Botrytis cinerea) and leaf yellowing over an 8-day simulated shipping period at either constant air temperature of 15 °C or variable air temperatures cycling every 24 hours between 10 and 30 °C. The latter treatment was created using air temperature logs of commercial liner shipments sent to five locations during Spring 2016 and Fall 2016. We sprayed a spore suspension of 2 × 104 or 2 × 106 to inoculate liners before they were subjected to the two temperature treatments. Disease ratings did not reach significant levels for the dry control until day 6 of storage. Regardless of the spore concentration, ratings were similar for inoculated cuttings. Independent of the storage temperature and spore concentration, liners developed minor lesions by day 2 of storage. Cultivars varied slightly in disease ratings, with Tango Dark Red being the most susceptible, followed by Patriot Bright Red, Patriot Rose Pink, and Americana Red. During the 8-day incubation period, ‘Patriot Rose Pink’ developed the most leaf yellowing compared with the other three cultivars. Liners that experienced variable air temperatures had marginal leaf yellowing by day 2, and this yellowing increased throughout the experiment. Liners placed at 15 °C had ≈50% less leaf yellowing compared with liners exposed to variable air temperatures until day 8, when leaf yellowing was similar between the two air temperature treatments. Disease caused by B. cinerea was avoided when simulated shipping was 2 days or fewer, and a stable air temperature of 15 °C reduced leaf yellowing on geranium liners compared with variable air temperatures.

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Responses of 14 to 20 poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) cultivars were assessed following exposure to environmental stressors common in the crop’s postproduction supply chain and consumer environment: low light levels, low temperatures, and low substrate moisture. As indicated by number of days to unacceptable appearance, 14 cultivars tolerated three low light levels (10, 20, and 40 µmol·m–2·s–1) well, with all individuals of six of the cultivars exhibiting an acceptable appearance at 7 weeks when the experiment ended. An experiment with 20 cultivars showed them to be surprisingly tolerant of low temperatures for a short duration, with no differences found when averaging across cultivars among plants exposed to 2, 5, or 20 °C for 2 days. However, all cultivars exposed to 5 °C for 10 days performed poorly. Cultivars differed markedly in response to low substrate moisture, with frequency of unacceptable plants before 4 weeks across all treatments ranging from 0% to 87% among the 14 cultivars tested. Across 17 cultivars, acceptable plant appearance was extended from 23 days for plants that were never irrigated after 10 d in sleeves to 32 days for plants that received a single irrigation at unsleeving and not thereafter. The low temperatures and low substrate moisture experiments were conducted in 2 years, and years differed significantly for nearly all dependent variables assessed. The significant interaction between year and cultivar for all observed variables in those two experiments indicates the importance of conducting experiments such as these over 2 years or more. Potted plants of many of the poinsettia cultivars tested proved to be highly tolerant in terms of low light levels, low temperatures, and low substrate moisture. Three cultivars appeared to be most tolerant in two of the three experiments: Prestige Red (low light levels and low temperatures), Titan Red (low temperatures and low substrate moisture), and Whitestar (low light levels and low substrate moisture). Three cultivars were most tolerant to all three sources of postproduction plant stress: Christmas Day Red, Early Mars Red, and Titan White.

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