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Brian E. Whipker and Shravan Dasoju

Plant growth retardant (PGR) foliar sprays (in mg·L−1) of daminozide at concentrations from 1,000 to 16,000; paclobutrazol from 5 to 80; and uniconazole from 2 to 32 were applied to `Pacino' potted sunflowers (Helianthus annuus L.) to compare their effectiveness at chemical height control. Plants were grown in 650-mL or 1.2-L pots. When the first inflorescence started to shed pollen, number of days from seeding until anthesis, total plant height measured from the pot rim to the top of the inflorescence, inflorescence diameter, and plant diameter were recorded. There was no significant difference in plant height between `Pacino' plants grown in 650-mL or 1.2-L pots. Total plant height, plant diameter, inflorescence diameter, and days until flowering were significant for the PGR treatment main effect. Marketable-sized plants grown in the 1.2-L pots were produced with uniconazole concentrations from 16 to 32 mg·L−1 or with daminozide concentrations from 4,000 to 8,000 mg·L−1. Paclobutrazol foliar sprays up to 80 mg·L−1 had little effect, and higher foliar spray concentrations or substrate drench treatments may be needed to effectively control height.

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Brian E. Whipker and Ingram McCall

Plant growth retardant (PGR) foliar sprays of daminozide at 4,000 or 8,000 mg·L-1 (ppm) and paclobutrazol drenches of 2 or 4 mg a.i. per pot were applied to `Big Smile', `Pacino', `Sundance Kid', `Sunspot', and `Teddy Bear' pot sunflowers (Helianthus annuus L.) to compare their chemical height control. Plant height varied among the cultivars due to genetic variation. The percentage reduction in plant height from the untreated control only was significant at the PGR level, indicating similar responses of all five cultivars to each PGR rate. Paclobutrazol drenches at 2 mg and daminozide foliar sprays at 4,000 or 8,000 mg·L-1 reduced plant height by about 24% when compared to the control. Paclobutrazol drenches at 4 mg produced plants that were 33% shorter than the control. Plant diameter of `Big Smile', `Pacino', or `Sundance Kid' was unaffected by daminozide, whereas `Sunspot' plants were smaller than the controls. Paclobutrazol drenches at 2 or 4 mg decreased plant diameter for all cultivars except `Teddy Bear', with the reduction being greater as paclobutrazol drench rates increased. The number of inflorescence buds increased by ≥18% with the use of daminozide sprays, while paclobutrazol drenches at 2 or 4 mg had no effect when compared to the untreated control. Paclobutrazol drenches of 2 or 4 mg offer the economic advantage to growers of increased plant density on greenhouse benches, while plants treated with daminozide had an increased bud count but would require a greater amount of bench space.

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Brian E. Whipker and Shravan Dasoju

Plant growth retardant (PGR) foliar spray treatments (mg•liter–1) of daminozide at 1000 to 16,000; paclobutrazol from 5 to 80; and uniconazole from 2 to 32 were applied to `Pacino' pot sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) to compare their effectiveness at chemical height control. When the first inflorescence opened, the number of days from seeding until flowering, total plant height measured from the pot rim to the top of the inflorescence, inflorescence diameter, and plant diameter were recorded. Total plant height, plant diameter, inflorescence diameter, and days until flowering were significant for the PGR treatment interaction. Marketable-sized plants grown in the 1.2-liter pots were produced with uniconazole concentrations between 16 and 32 mg•liter–1 or with daminozide concentrations between 4000 and 8000 mg•liter–1. Paclobutrazol foliar sprays up to 80 mg•liter–1 had little effect and higher concentrations or medium drench treatments should be considered.

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Shravan K. Dasoju and Brian E. Whipker

Pot sunflowers (Helianthus annuus cv. `Pacino') were fertigated on ebband-fl ow benches with 100 or 200 mg·liter–1 of N to determine the influence of fertility level on plant growth and postharvest quality in interior conditions. The fertilization rates were held constant from potting until day 45, then the fertilization rates were continued, decreased, or ceased on day 45 and day 55, giving a combination of nine fertilization subtreatments. At bloom, the number of days from potting to flowering, plant height, plant diameter, flower diameter were recorded, and the root medium of five replicates per treatment were analyzed to determine the nutrient status. Five replicates of each treatments also were moved into interior conditions with artificial lighting and were graded 5, 10, and 15 days after moving to evaluate the postharvest quality. There was no significant difference among fertilizer treatments for the number of days to flower, plant height, or flower diameter. Plants fertilized with 100 mg·liter–1 N from potting until day 45, in combination with a ceasing of fertilization on day 55, had significantly better plant grades when compared to plants grown with 200 mg·liter–1 N. Plants fertigated with 100 mg·liter–1 N also had a longer postharvest life and the number of days before the flowers wilted were significantly longer. Good-quality plants with longer postharvest life were produced with 100 mg·liter–1 N and by terminating fertilization 55 days after potting.

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James L. Gibson and Brian E. Whipker

Vigorous osteospermum (Osteospermum ecklonis) cultivars Congo and Wildside received foliar sprays of daminozide or daminozide + chlormequat (Expt. 1). Both cultivars responded similarly to the plant growth regulator (PGR) treatments. Only a limited amount of plant height control occurred using 5,000 mg·L-1 (ppm) daminozide + 1,500 mg·L-1 chlormequat or 5,000 mg·L-1 daminozide + 3,000 mg·L-1 chlormequat. Flowering was delayed, phytotoxicity was observed, while peduncle length increased, suggesting that higher concentrations of daminozide or chlormequat may or not be effective at any concentration and may result in increased phytotoxicity. In Expt. 2, `Lusaka' received foliar sprays or substrate drenches of paclobutrazol or uniconazole. Foliar sprays ≤80 mg·L-1 paclobutrazol or ≤24 mg·L-1 uniconazole were ineffective in controlling plant growth. Substrate drenches of paclobutrazol (a.i.) at 8 to 16 mg/pot (28,350 mg = 1.0 oz) produced compact plants, but at a cost of $0.23 and $0.46/pot, respectively, would not be economically feasible for wholesale producers to use. Uniconazole drenches were effective in producing compact `Lusaka' osteospermum plants. Uniconazole drench concentrations of 0.125 to 0.25 mg/pot were recommended for retail growers, while wholesale growers that desire more compact plants should apply a 0.25 to 0.5 mg/pot drench. Applying uniconazole would cost $0.06 for a 0.25 mg drench or $0.12 for a 0.5 mg drench.

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James L. Gibson and Brian E. Whipker

Ornamental cabbage and kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) plants of cultivars Osaka White and Nagoya Red were treated with paclobutrazol and uniconazole as foliar sprays or substrate drenches. These treatments were compared to the industry standard of daminozide foliar sprays. Applying drenches of paclobutrazol (a.i.) at 4 mg/pot or uniconazole (a.i.) at 1 mg/pot (28,350 mg = 1.0 oz) resulted in 6% or 17%, respectively, shorter `Osaka White' plants while a 2 mg/pot paclobutrazol drench or a uniconazole drench at 0.25 mg/pot resulted in 25% shorter `Nagoya Red' plants. Although effective, the expense of substrate drenches for both plant growth regulators (PGRs) would not be economically feasible for growers to use. Paclobutrazol foliar sprays at concentrations of up to 80 mg·L-1 (ppm) were ineffective in controlling plant height and diameter of either `Osaka White' or `Nagoya Red'. A uniconazole foliar spray of 16 mg·L-1 resulted in 17% shorter `Nagoya Red' plants and 6% shorter `Osaka White' plants. A daminozide foliar spray of 2500 mg·L-1, sprayed twice, resulted in 21% shorter plants for both cultivars. Spraying daminozide would provide optimal height control for the retail grower. Although spraying daminozide twice controlled plant height and costs half the amount of an uniconazole spray at 16 mg·L-1, plant diameter was not affected with daminozide, therefore a wholesale grower who would desire a smaller diameter plant should use a uniconazole spray of 16 mg·L-1.

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James L. Gibson and Brian E. Whipker

Twenty-six ornamental cabbage and kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala) cultivars were grown in 8-inch (20.8-cm) diameter pots during Fall 1998 to classify their foliage traits and determine their response to the plant growth regulator (PGR) daminozide. Cultivar vigor was classified by height. Foliage characteristics were described and cultivars of ornamental cabbage, notched ornamental kale, and curly ornamental kale were selected for retail or wholesale markets based on the shortest number of days until a significant center color change, the largest center color diameter, and attractive foliage characteristics. Two cultivars treated with 2,500 ppm (mg·L-1) daminozide and eight cultivars treated with 5,000 ppm were significantly smaller in height compared to nontreated plants. Plants were treated 6 weeks after sowing, and the response to the PGRs may have been diminished by the age of the plant. Therefore, to further investigate PGR efficacy, seven outstanding cultivars selected in 1998 were treated with 5,000 ppm daminozide or 5 ppm uniconazole 14 days after potting (4 weeks after sowing) in Fall 1999. Greater control was observed with daminozide at 5,000 ppm in 1999 with a 13% smaller plant height as compared to 9% in 1998, when compared to the nontreated control. For greater height control, PGR applications to ornamental cabbage and kale should be applied 4 weeks after sowing.

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James L. Gibson and Brian E. Whipker

Ornamental cabbage and kale (Brassica oleracea var. acephala L.) plants of cultivars `Osaka White' and `Nagoya Red' were treated with paclobutrazol and uniconazole as foliar sprays or soil drenches. These treatments were compared to the industry standard of daminozide foliar sprays. Ten plant growth regulator (PGR) drench treatments (in mg a.i./pot) were applied 22 days after potting: paclobutrazol at 1 to 16 and uniconazole at 0.125 to 2. Thirteen PGR foliar sprays (in mg/L) were also applied: paclobutrazol at 5 to 80, uniconazole at 2 to 32, daminozide at 2500, 2500 (twice, with the second application occurring 14 days later), or 5000, and an untreated control. Applying drenches of paclobutrazol at 4 mg or uniconazole at 0.5 mg controlled height by 16 to 25%, but at the cost of $0.11 per pot would not be economically feasible for growers to use. Paclobutrazol foliar sprays at concentrations of up to 80 mg/L were ineffective in controlling plant height and diameter of either `Osaka White' or `Nagoya Red'. Uniconazole foliar sprays between 2 and 8 mg/L were effective in controlling height (by 19%) and diameter (by 15%) as daminozide foliar sprays of 2500 mg/L, sprayed twice, with a cost to the grower of $0.02 per pot.

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Brian E. Whipker and P. Allen Hammer

Plant growth retardant (PGR) media drench treatments (in mg a.i./pot) of ancymidol at 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 4.0, or 8.0; paclobutrazol at 1.0, 2.0, 4.0, 8.0, or 16.0; uniconazole at 0.5, 1.0, 2.0, 4.0, or 8.0 were applied to tuberous-rooted dahlias to compare their effectiveness as a chemical height control. All paclobutrazol, ancymidol, and uniconazole rates applied significantly reduced `Red Pigmy' plant height by 21% or greater compared to the nontreated control. Excessively short plants resulted from uniconazole and ancymidol drench rates ≥1.0 mg. `Red Pigmy', a less vigorous cultivar, were acceptable as potted-plants with paclobutrazol rates of 2.0 to 4.0 mg, 0.25 to 0.5 mg of uniconazole, or 0.5 mg of ancymidol. All paclobutrazol, ancymidol, and uniconazole rates significantly reduced `Golden Emblem' plant height by ≥11% when compared to the nontreated plants. Excessively short plants resulted from paclobutrazol drench rates of 16.0 mg, uniconazole rates of 2.0 mg and for ancymidol drenches ≥4.0 mg. `Golden Emblem', the more vigorous cultivar, were acceptable as potted-plants with paclobutrazol rates of 4.0 to 8.0 mg, 0.5 to 1.0 mg of uniconazole, or 2.0 mg of ancymidol.

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Brian E. Whipker and P. Allen Hammer

Excessive alkalinity in greenhouse irrigation water can increase substrate solution pH, resulting in reduced micronutrient availability for plants. A spreadsheet was designed to offer a quick and practical method for calculating: 1) amount of nitric, phosphoric, and sulfuric acid required to achieve an endpoint alkalinity or pH in irrigation water; 2) the amount of nutrients added by the acid addition; and 3) acid costs. It calculates both pH and alkalinity of irrigation water after acidification, regardless of the endpoint selected. The spreadsheet accounts for the pH-dependent reaction that determines the relative percentage of each of the carbonate species—carbonates (CO 2– 3), bicarbonates (HCO 3), and carbonic acid (H2CO3)—present in the solution. In addition, the acidification calculations account for the dissociation characteristics of the acid selected to neutralize the alkalinity. The spreadsheet was validated with six water sources from Indiana and North Carolina. Alkalinity neutralization was achieved within an acceptable range (greatest deviation from predicted pH was 0.16 units; greatest deviation from predicted residual alkalinity was 0.21 meq·liter–1) for both target endpoint pHs and endpoint alkalinity concentrations. The mathematical model used in the spreadsheet development provides a chemical basis for acidification and provides results useful for making grower recommendations for acid additions to irrigation water for alkalinity neutralization.