In one greenhouse and two field experiments, eight or ten pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) cultivars were subjected to low-light stress by use of shade cloth (reducing light by 80%) or to foliar sprays of ethephon at 75 or 150 pi-liter-]. Both low-light stress and ethephon identified `Ace', 'Canape', and. `Belrubi' as less susceptible to flower and flower bud abscission than other cultivars in the first field experiment. In the 2nd year, air mean maxima of 32C caused severe abscission in controls and shaded plants, and complete loss of flowers in those sprayed with ethephon. Abscission of disbudded pedicels was not related to abscission susceptibility of eight cultivars when subjected to shade. While ethephon spray can serve as a satisfactory abscission screening tool under unstressed growing conditions, low-light stress imposed by shading may be used under a wider range of conditions. Chemical name used: 2-chloroethyl phosphoric acid (ethephon).
When pumpkins are grown in elevated temperatures (32/27 °C day/night) for 1 week during flower development, fewer female flower buds are formed than at normal temperatures (20/15 °C) and only a small percentage of these reach anthesis. To determine if application of the ethylene-releasing compound ethephon can overcome the suppression of female flowers at high temperatures, `Baby Bear' pumpkin plants were sprayed at the two-leaf stage with 100 or 300 μL L–1 ethephon and then grown in hot and cool greenhouse compartments. At 20/15 °C, 17% of the first 15 main stem nodes produced female flower buds on control plants and virtually all of these developed into open flowers. The higher rate of ethephon increased female bud percentage to 37%. At 32/27 °C, only 3% of the nodes formed female flower buds and 2% flowered. Application of ethephon did not significantly increase female expression at high temperature, and none of the buds reached anthesis. Treatment with the inhibitor of ethylene action silver thiosulfate reduced female flower bud formation at the low temperature and entirely suppressed female flower buds at high temperature. In two additional experiments, these treatments were applied to two cultivars grown at a less extreme 32/20 and at 20/15 °C. Female buds and open flowers were moderately increased by ethephon in the high temperatures, suggesting that ethephon might foster female flowering in less extreme temperatures. Further work is needed to determine if ethephon treatment can overcome the heat-induced inhibition of female flowers in pumpkin under field conditions.
Choice of the most appropriate cultivars is a key decision that vegetable growers face every growing season, and one on which the profitability of the crop depends. Evaluation of cultivars for adaptation to local growing conditions is therefore of crucial importance to extension and research personnel that serve the vegetable industry and the companies that are developing and releasing vegetable cultivars. The present-day climate of restricted budgets and pressure to move from applied to more basic research has forced experiment station and university personnel in North America to abandon or greatly reduce vegetable cultivar testing. The seed industry has traditionally relied on both public institutions and its own grower–cooperators to evaluate the merits of new lines. Increasingly, seed companies face requests for funding of these public trials, or are asked to pay entry fees to submit new cultivars for testing.
Investigations of varietal differences in pumpkin flowering and fruitset patterns were initiated in response to reports of poor fruitset by NYS growers. In addition, pollination requirements for marketable fruit were explored in one cultivar. Flowering date, fruitset, and fruit characteristics were recorded for 2 consecutive years in a RCBD of six popular Cucurbita pepo cultivars (Wizard, Happy Jack, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, Howden and Baby Bear). On average, female blossoms opened 38 days after 3-wk-old seedlings were transplanted into the field. Flowering period lasted for 3 to 4 weeks. No consistent pattern was found in female flower production nor fruitset until the last week when significant declines occurred. Each blossom only opens for one day and typically closes between 10 am and noon, limiting pollination opportunities. H and-pollination of Wizard' with various dilutions of pollen revealed that a minimum of approximately 2000 grains of pollen is necessary for fruitset. Removal of 66-75% of the stigmatic surfaces did not affect seed number or their location in the fruit, nor fruit shape or size. Fruit size was not correlated with seed number, although no fruit developed with less than 100 seed.
The blossom-end scarring of tomato fruit caused by exposure of the plant to cool weather during ovary formation, commonly termed catfacing, can also be induced by GA3 foliar sprays. To determine if GA3 treatment could serve as a cultivar screening tool to identify lines susceptible to the disorder, we compared the catfacing incidence in 14 fresh-market tomato cultivars after GAS sprays and in nontreated controls in two field experiments. In 1 year, removal of the plant's apex was also imposed. GA3 sprays (22 μm twice, applied 1 week apart to tomato seedlings ≈5 weeks old) increased catfacing incidence in both years and accentuated cultivar differences in the disorder. Topping did not increase catfacing significantly. The cultivars Valerie, Sunrise, and Basketvee were least affected by catfacing in the experiments, while `Starfire', `New Yorker', and `Olympic' had the highest percentage of catfaced fruit. The GA3 screening method shows promise for identifying cultivar differences in susceptibility to blossom-end scarring. Chemical name used: gibberellic acid (GA3).
When bell pepper plants are subjected to high temperatures or low irradiance during flowering, abscission of flowers and flower buds can be severe enough to limit yields. Both types of stresses may lead to reduction of carbohydrate levels in the reproductive structures, and evolution of the abscission-causing hormone ethylene. In two greenhouse experiments, plants were subjected to combinations of 30 or 20 C air temperature and unshaded or heavily shaded conditions for one week at anthesis of the first flower. In a third experiment, plants were subjected to total darkness and temperatures of 30, 20 or 15 C for one week at the same stage of growth. In all experiments, levels of soluble carbohydrates and starch declined under low or zero light conditions, with rate of decrease proportional to the air temperature. Abscission of reproductive structures was not well correlated with carbohydrate levels: in spite of low sugars and starch, plants darkened for 7 days at 15 C showed no abscission. Levels of the ethylene precursor ACC in the buds, though variable, rose just before abscission began, but remained low in non-abscising treatments.
The growth processes of most horticultural crops are too slow to be visually interesting to students. Time lapse photography has been used for years to speed up the action and make plants “come alive.” With the advent of video technology, time lapse techniques have become convenient, easy, and affordable. The system which we have found satisfactory consists of a time lapse video cassette recorder, linked by optical fiber cable to a closed circuit color video camera in a ventilated housing. Typically, the camera has been set up in a greenhouse compartment, monitoring growth processes of vegetable crops, and linked by cable to the VCR in an office 80 m away. Equipment costs with one camera are less than $3000. Two cameras can be set up to do comparative growth studies, with two images side-by-side, using a screen splitter. Costs of the latter system is about $4500. Growth processes such as cabbage head formation, curd growth in cauliflower, and weed-crop competition of mustard and peas have been the subjects so far. The technique lends itself to increasing the visual impact of teaching, and gaining a better understanding of plant growth processes in research.