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  • Author or Editor: G. A. Clark x
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The use of the recently developed fully-enclosed seepage subirrigation system for fresh market tomato production has demonstrated an improved ability to maintain a water table at a desired level (when compared to conventional ditch-conveyed seepage subirrigation) by means of more precisely controlled application and a greater uniformity throughout the field. This is achieved through use of microirrigation tubing rather than open ditches to convey water to raise the water table to desired levels. When manually controlled, the system has shown to save 30-40% in irrigation amounts primarily due to almost total elimination of surface runoff. An automated control system was designed and evaluated with respect to practicality, durability, and performance of various designs of level-sensing switches. The advantages and limitations of the designs in relation to water table control for tomato production will be presented.

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Strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) was grown for two seasons with microirrigation. Preplant fertilizer treatments of zero, one, two, three, and four times the basic N and K rate of 17 and 15 kg·ha–1, respectively, were applied each season. Additional N and K were applied twice weekly through the microirrigation system at 1.12 and 0.92 kg·ha–1·day–1, respectively. Total marketable fruit yield and marketable fruit per plant were not affected by preplant fertilizer rate. The percentage of marketable fruit increased with increased preplant fertilizer to the 51N–45K (three times basic rate) kg·ha–1 rate the first season. Average fruit weight increased the first season but decreased the second season with increased preplant fertilizer. Plants were larger the first season in treatments receiving preplant fertilizer.

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Experiments were conducted to evaluate the development of stored unrooted Pelargonium × hortorum `Designer Bright Scarlet' cuttings. Treatments included storage temperature and duration and pre-storage fungicide application. Cuttings were harvested from stock plants treated with water or fungicide (Iprodione), and were stored at 60°F and 75°F for 2, 4, and 6 days. Leaf yellowing data (visual quality rating, chlorophyll fluorescence, and total chlorophyll content) were measured at the start of propagation and 7 days later. At both dates, cuttings stored but not treated with fungicide displayed more leaf yellowing after storage at 75°F for 4 and 6 days or at 60°F for 6 days compared to fungicide-treated cuttings and non-stored controls. Cutting quality was not affected by 2 days of storage, regardless of storage temperature or fungicide treatment. Fungicide-treated cuttings had less leaf yellowing after storage for 6 days at 60°F or 75°F compared to untreated cuttings, but they had more leaf yellowing than no storage controls after 7 days of propagation. Root number and root length of each cutting was measured at 14 days after start of propagation. Cuttings treated with fungicide displayed better adventitious root formation after all 4- and 6-day storage treatments compared to cuttings stored but not treated with fungicide.

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Sixty clones (four clones from each of 15 provenances) were micropropagated and planted in replicated plots in lowland and upland sites in Carbondale, IL in 1991. Data were collected on tree growth, including basal caliper, height, branching, crown volume, dates of bud break, bud set, and leaf fall. There were significant and strong positive genotypic and phenotypic correlations between tree height and basal caliper throughout the three years of growth. During 1993, bud break was not significantly correlated with any growth parameters. After three years in the field, tree height was significantly negatively correlated with the amount of callus that had formed after one month during the in vitro micropropagation phase. However, all shoots that formed in vitro were of axillary origin.

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Uniconazole was applied as a spray to the surface of container media prior to planting bedding plant plugs. This medium spray was compared to a standard whole-plant spray applied 2 weeks after planting. For petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Vilm.) and coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides L.) the efficacy of the medium spray was similar to the whole-plant spray. However, for impatiens (Impatiens wallerana Hook. f.) and vinca [Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don.] the medium spray had greater efficacy than the whole-plant spray. Increased concentrations of uniconazole in the medium spray decreased plant height; however, the effect of higher concentrations was greater in a medium with out pine bark compared to a medium with pine bark as a component. In the above experiments, uniconazole was applied in a volume of 200 mL·m-2. In a test where spray volume varied, there was a negative linear relationship between plant height and spray volume. Chemical name used: (E)-(+)-(S)-1-(4-chlorophenyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-(1,2,4-triazol-1-yl)-pent-1-ane-3-ol (uniconazole).

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Salvia (Salvia splendens F.), vinca (Catharanthus roseus L.), and pansy (Viola × wittrockiana Gams.) were examined to determine efficacy of growth retardants for inhibiting stem elongation of seedlings in the plug stage and after transplanting to 10-cm pots. Studies on salvia showed plugs sprayed with single applications of ancymidol at 10 or 20 ppm, paclobutrazol at 30 or 60 ppm, or daminozide/chlormequat tank mix at 2500/1500 ppm inhibited plug elongation by 17% to 22%. Pansy plugs were sprayed either once or twice with ancymidol at 5, 10, or 15 ppm. Number of applications was statistically significant with two applications reducing elongation by an average of 35%, whereas a single application resulted in a 23% average reduction. Ancymidol concentration was significant in reducing stem elongation with increasing rates in pansy; however, the concentration and application time interaction was not significant. In both pansy and salvia, plant size at flowering was similar to controls after transplanting. Vinca plugs were sprayed with ancymidol at 5, 10, or 15 ppm either the 3rd week, 4th week, or both weeks after sowing. As ancymidol concentrations increased, plug height decreased, and the concentration effect was greater week 3 than at week 4. Two applications of ancymidol was most effective in retarding stem elongation (36%) followed by one spray the 3rd week (29%) and one spray during week 4 (20%).

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A broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. botrytis L.) seedling bioassay was used to measure paclobutrazol activity and distribution in two growing media following drench or subirrigation applications. The bioassay exhibited a saturation-type response curve for paclobutrazol concentrations up to 1000 μg·L-1 in solution and 100 μg·L-1 in the media. The concentration of paclobutrazol required to achieve one-half of the maximum observed bioassay activity was 3-fold as high in bark-based commercial potting medium as in a peat-based medium. Less than 2% of applied paclobutrazol leached out during the drench application despite the collection of up to 50 mL of leachate per 120 mL of the solution (1000 μg·L-1) that was applied per 15-cm pot. Immediately following drench application, paclobutrazol concentrations in both media were highest in the uppermost 2.5 cm and decreased downward. By 3 weeks after treatment, drench-applied paclobutrazol had moved into lower depths. Distribution of paclobutrazol was limited to the bottom 2.5 cm of media when applied as a subirrigation soak. Chemical name used: (±)-(R*,R*)-β-[(4-chlorophenyl)methyl]-α-(1,1-dimethyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazole-1-ethanol (paclobutrazol).

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Contamination of recirculated subirrigation water with growth retardants poses a potential problem for growers. Eight concentrations of ancymidol or paclobutrazol ranging from 0 to 100 μg·L-1 (0 to 1000 μg·L-1 for petunia) were supplied constantly in subirrigation water to potted plants to identify critical levels at which plant growth is affected. Concentrations of ancymidol resulting in 20% reduction in plant size relative to untreated controls were 3, 10, 98, 80, and 58 μg·L-1 for Begonia ×semperflorens-cultorum Hort. `Gin', chrysanthemum (Dendranthema ×grandiflora Kitam.) `Nob Hill', Impatiens walleriana Hook f. `Super Elfin Coral', Petunia ×hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr. `Madness Pink', and Salvia splendens Sell ex Roem. & Schult. `Red Hot Sally', respectively. Respective values for paclobutrazol were 5, 24, 17, 390, and >100 μg·L-1. The results provide useful information for managing potential growth retardant contamination problems or for applying growth retardants in subirrigation water. Chemical names used: α-cyclopropyl-α-(4-methoxyphenyl)-5-pyrimidinemethanol (ancymidol); (±)-(R*,R*)-β-[(4-chlorophenyl)methyl]-α-(1,1-dimethyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazole-1-ethanol (paclobutrazol).

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Production and postproduction factors were examined to evaluate effects on postproduction performance and longevity of several varieties of potted African violets, carnations, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, gerbera, Hiemalis begonia, hibiscus, hydrangea, kalanchoe, and lisianthus. Various N rates (150–600 ppm) and fertilizer termination 2 to 3 weeks prior to flowering were evaluated. Chrysanthemums, hydrangea, and lisianthus had better quality and longevity at N rates ranging from 200 to 300 ppm, while all other crops performed best at 150 ppm N. Terminating fertilizer had no effect on longevity or quality of carnation, gerbera, Hiemalis begonia, hydrangea, or kalanchoe, while chrysanthemum and cyclamen had a significant increase in longevity when terminated. Lisianthus had an increase in quality and longevity when fertilizer was continued to the end of production. Shipping at the proper bud developmental stage significantly influenced flower opening and longevity in the postharvest environment. Lisianthus and hydrangea need to have at least 75% of the buds fully opened, while carnations, chrysanthemum, cyclamen, and kalanchoe need at least 25% to 50% open. Hiemalis begonia, a very long-lasting potted plant, tolerated a range of 10% to 75% open flowers at shipping. Optimum transport temperature and transport duration varied for each crop. Generally, transporting for 3 days at 2 to 7 °C was best for carnation, chrysanthemum, and gerbera, while transporting at 7 to 12 °C was best for cyclamen, Hiemalis begonia, hydrangea, kalanchoe, and lisianthus. Hibiscus performed best when transported at 18 °C. Longevity and quality were maximized when maintained at 18 to 21 °C at 14 μmol·m–2·s–1. Differences in variety performance was a major factor in postproduction performance.

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The traditional use of poinsettias has been as potted plants. A new poinsettia variety, `Winter Rose Dark Red', is performing well as a cut flower, lasting 2 to 3 weeks. Various postharvest handling procedures were examined, including stem processing methods at harvest, storage and transit conditions, as well as handling practices at the wholesale, retail, and consumer levels, to determine the best handling practices to maximize quality and longevity. At harvest, traditional latex controlling techniques, such as dipping stems in 95% ethanol for 10 min and burning or boiling stem tips were tested. Stems wilted faster when dipped in ethanol or burned. The woody nature of the stem contains little latex compared to traditional varieties; thus, no latex-controlling methods are needed or beneficial. After harvest, there was no benefit found in hydrating stems in a commercial hydration solution compared to plain water. Transport and/or storage conditions between 10 to 15 °C for 3 to 4 days maximized longevity. Chilling injury occurred when transported at 4 °C. Leaves and bracts wilted when stored dry in a box, but recovered within 12 to 24 h when stored for 2 days. Leaves abscised after exposure to short-term wilting but no bract abscission occurred. Storing stems in a 10% bleach solution prevented wilting and reduced bacterial growth. Bracts were sensitive to mechanical injury during transit, resulting in bruising lesions on the bracts, which increased sensitivity to bract edge burn. Stems declined faster when maintained in a floral preservative compared to water during the consumer phase.

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