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  • Author or Editor: Chieri Kubota x
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Increasing numbers of vegetable growers purchase their transplants from specialized transplant producers. Possible deterioration of transplants during transportation limits the market size as well as the potential sources of high quality transplants. To determine best conditions for transportation of seedlings, tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum; `Durinta') seedlings with visible flower buds were placed for 4 days under varied air temperature (6, 12, or the conventional transportation temperature of 18 °C) and light intensity 0 (conventional darkness) or dim light at 12 μmol·m-2·s-1 PAR). Plants were evaluated for visual quality, photosynthetic capacity, growth and ultimately fruit yield. Lower temperatures and illumination significantly maintained visual quality of the seedlings. Lower temperature maintained high photosynthetic capacity of the seedlings during transportation. Growth and development of the seedlings were significantly affected by higher temperature resulting in significantly delayed growth and development. Number of fruits set on the first truss was significantly reduced when seedlings were at 18 °C during transportation. Overall, simulated transport at 6 °C under light showed the best transportability without experiencing negative impact for the 4-day simulated transportation. Seedlings at 6 °C in darkness and at 12 °C under light and in darkness also showed satisfactory transportability. Seedlings at 18 °C exhibited serious quality deterioration of seedlings, delay in early growth and development, loss of flower buds on the first truss and yield reduction, which agrees with the fact that conventional transportation is currently able to be no longer than 3 days in duration.

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In vitro culture of orchid plantlets within conventional photomixotrophic micropropagation (PMM) systems (sucrose containing media in a non-enriched CO2 environment) often induces vigorous growth and multiplication. However, transition to ex vitro conditions frequently results in significant plantlet loss during the acclimatization process. Recent studies investigating micropropagation within photoautotrophic (PAM) systems (sucrose-free media in enriched CO2 conditions) have demonstrated improved plantlet survival during the acclimatization period due to greater root growth and stomata adaptation. Laelia purpurata var. alba, an orchid with many endangered relatives, was chosen as a model orchid species to investigate if plantlet culture within PAM in vitro systems has the potential to improve propagation success and ex vitro survival of endangered Laelia species. Protocorm-like bodies with developed two fully extended leaves were transferred into PMM (photosynthetic photon flux 50 μmol·m-2·s-1 under non-enriched CO2 conditions) and PAM (photosynthetic photon flux 150 μmol·m-2·s-1, CO2 level enriched to 1500 μmol·mol-1) systems. After 6 weeks, plantlet rooting within the PMM system was variable and inconsistent, while all PAM plantlets produced healthy robust root systems. Average fresh weights and percent shoot development were not significantly different between treatments. Induction of improved root growth by PAM systems may improve orchid plantlet survival rates during acclimatization and advance our ability to increase endangered orchid populations.

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Increasing numbers of vegetable growers purchase their seedlings from specialized transplant producers. However, early yield reduction due to abnormal first fruit truss development was often observed after long-distance transportation of seedlings. 1-Methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), an inhibitor of ethylene-mediated reactions, is widely used for postharvest management. If ethylene accumulated in trailers causes such abnormal first truss fruit development, application of 1-MCP to seedlings may prevent such problems. To test this hypothesis, `Durinta' tomato seedlings with visible flower buds were placed in chambers for 4 days under one of the following conditions: 1) conventional transportation air temperature of 18 °C without 1-MCP, 2) 18 °C with 1-MCP, 3) 12 °C without 1-MCP, and 4) nonstored control. The target initial 1-MCP concentration was 1 μmol·mol-1 inside the chamber, and the concentration was estimated to reach 0.2 μmol·mol-1 after 96 h. Three weeks after transplanting, 81.3% of first trusses on the plants treated at 18 °C without 1-MCP exhibited an abnormal, delayed fruit development. Both 1-MCP application and 12 °C air temperature successfully reduced the symptom to 4.7% and 3.1%, respectively; not significantly different from the nonstored control (1.6%). The average first truss yield was the lowest for 18 °C without 1-MCP (223 g per truss), followed by 18 °C with 1-MCP (582 g), and was the greatest (609–637 g) for 12 °C without 1-MCP or the control. Ethylene accumulation was the primary cause of the delayed fruit development causing yield reduction. Application of 1-MCP during transportation was shown to prevent such undesirable yield loss, although lowering temperature was the most effective under the present experimental conditions.

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A storage method of transplants in vitro was developed using light compensation points in conjunction with low temperatures. Broccoli (cv. Ryokurei) plantlets, aseptically germinated and cultured for three weeks in vitro, were used as model transplants. Culture conditions were: 23C air temperature, 160 μmol m-2s-1 PPF, and 3.6 air exchanges per hour of the vessel. Prior to storage, light compensation points were determined at 3, 5, 10, and 15C for the plantlets cultured with or without 20 g liter-1 sugar in the medium. Plantlets were stored for six weeks at 5, 10, and 15C under either 0 or 2 μmol m-2s-1 continuous PPF. The light compensation points varied with air temperature and with medium sugar level. Plantlet dry weight during storage was best maintained by keeping CO2 exchange rate of the plantlets close to zero throughout the storage period. High transplant qualities were successfully preserved at light compensation points: 2 μmol m-2s-1 PPF at 5-10C without sugar, and at 5C with sugar in the medium. This method may be applicable for storage of other crop transplants, plug seedlings and cuttings as well.

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Growth and net photosynthetic rate of potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) `Benimaru' plantlet in vitro were studied under a conventional photomixotrophic condition [with 20 g sucrose/liter in the medium and under 70 μmol·m-2·s-1 photosynthetic photon flux (PPF)] with minimal ventilation (MV) and under photoautotrophic conditions (without sugar in the medium and under 190 μmol·m-2·s-l PPF) with enhanced natural ventilation using an air diffusive filter (DV) or with forced ventilation (FV). Fresh weight of the plantlets cultured in the FV and DV treatments was 2.4 times that of the plantlets cultured in the MV treatment. Net photosynthetic rate and dry weight per plantlet were the highest in FV followed by DV. For photoautotrophic micropropagation, FV was superior to DV.

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Low-temperature storage is a technique to hold seedlings for a short period of time to adjust the production schedule of young seedlings. Labor-intensive grafting propagation can potentially benefit from the effective use of this technique to minimize peak labor inputs. Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) seedlings are generally chilling sensitive and therefore difficult to store at low temperatures. However, the rootstocks used for watermelon grafting, interspecific squash (Cucurbita maxima × Cucurbita moschata) and bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) are known to be chilling tolerant. To examine the influence of rootstocks on storability of watermelon seedlings, young seedlings of ‘Tri-X-313’ seedless watermelon grafted onto ‘Strong Tosa’ interspecific squash, ‘Emphasis’ bottle gourd, and ‘Tri-X-313’ watermelon as rootstock were placed for 2 or 4 weeks under 12 °C air temperature and 12 μmol·m−2·s−1 photosynthetic photon flux (PPF). Nongrafted watermelon seedlings were also treated in these same conditions. In addition, nonstored (grafted and nongrafted) seedlings were prepared for comparison. Regardless of seedling type (nongrafted or grafted with different rootstocks), all seedlings stored for 2 weeks had lower dry weight, comparable or greater number of leaves and stem length, when compared with their respective nonstored control groups after 2 weeks in the greenhouse. Seedlings stored for 4 weeks had lower number of leaves and stem length after 2 weeks in the greenhouse, except for those grafted onto the interspecific squash rootstock. Nongrafted and grafted watermelon seedlings with the same watermelon cultivar as rootstock showed significantly lower leaf net photosynthetic rates after 2 weeks in the greenhouse after the 2-week storage than those of nonstored control groups. In contrast, when grafted onto interspecific squash and bottle gourd rootstocks, seedlings showed comparable net photosynthetic rate to the control group. For all seedling types, 20% to 35% of seedlings died during 4-week storage or poststorage in the greenhouse, whereas all seedlings survived for the 2-week storage, except when grafted onto watermelon as rootstock. Therefore, chilling-tolerant rootstocks ‘Strong Tosa’ interspecific squash and ‘Emphasis’ bottle gourd improved storability of grafted ‘Tri-X-313’ watermelon seedlings but could not extend the storability beyond 2 weeks.

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To increase the available photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) for plant growth, greenhouse growers sometimes use electric lighting to supplement solar light. The conventional lighting technology used to increase PPF in the greenhouse is high-pressure sodium lamps (HPS). A potential alternative to HPS is high-intensity light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The objective of this study is to compare supplemental LED lighting with supplemental HPS lighting in terms of plant growth and morphology as well as discuss the energy use efficiencies of the fixtures. There were three light treatments: 1) blue LED (peak wavelength 443 nm); 2) red LED (peak wavelength 633 nm); and 3) HPS, to provide 3.7 ± 0.2 mol·m−2·d−1 (background solar radiation of 6.3 ± 0.9 mol·m−2·d−1). Cucumber (Cucumis sativus) plants at the transplanting stage (26 to 37 days) under HPS had 28% greater dry mass than did plants under the LED treatments. This can be attributed to the higher leaf temperature under the HPS treatment. No differences were observed in growth parameters (dry mass, fresh weight, or number of leaves) between the blue and red LED treatments. Plants under the blue LED treatment had greater net photosynthetic rate and stomatal conductance (g S) than those under the red LED and HPS treatments. Plants under the blue LED and HPS treatments had 46% and 61% greater hypocotyl length than those under the red LED, respectively. The fixture PPF efficiencies used in the experiment were 1.9, 1.7, and 1.64 μmol·J−1 for the blue LED, red LED, and HPS treatments, respectively; however, the fixture growing efficiency (g·kWh−1) of HPS was 6% and 17% greater than the blue LED and red LED treatment, respectively. In summary, supplemental red LED produced desirable plant compactness and HPS had greater fixture growing efficiency than LEDs.

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In tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), grafting position is recommended to be below rootstock cotyledons to avoid undesirable axillary shoots growing out from the cotyledons. In contrast, grafting above the rootstock cotyledons is desired to assure adequate distance between grafted union and soil line, only if there is no potential grow-out of axillary shoots from rootstock cotyledons. The objective of this preliminary study was to examine fatty alcohol application on cotyledonary axils of tomato seedlings to control undesirable axillary shoot extension from rootstock in tomato grafting. Solution containing various concentrations of a commercial fatty alcohol compound was applied to different growing stages of cotyledonary axillary shoots (nonextended buds or extended shoots) of tomato seedlings grown in a greenhouse. When fatty alcohol was applied directly to cotyledonary axillary buds, the seedlings were then pinched to force-induce the axillary shoot extension to assure the efficacy of the fatty alcohol treatment. High concentrations (10% and 15%) of fatty alcohol suppressed incidence of axillary shoot extension to less than 7% by killing buds. However, when applied to extended axillary shoots, application with 2% or higher concentrations of fatty alcohol caused plant collapse because excess fatty alcohol flowed down the stem and presumably damaged the root system. Therefore, we concluded that application of fatty alcohol to control cotyledonary axillary shoots of tomato rootstock could be possible only if fatty alcohol at effective concentration (10% to 15%) is applied exclusively to the target buds.

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Manipulation of the electrical conductivity (EC) of the hydroponic nutrient solution has been studied as an effective method to enhance flavor and nutritional value of tomato fruit. The objective of this research was to quantitatively understand the accumulation of lycopene, soluble sugars, and the degradation of chlorophyll in fruits as affected by EC and EC application timing relative to fruit ripeness stages. `Durinta' tomato was grown hydroponically inside the greenhouse under two EC (2.3 and 4.5 dS·m-1). The high EC treatment began immediately after anthesis (HEC treatment) or 4 weeks later (DHEC treatment), when fruits had reached maximum size, but still were green. Fruits were harvested weekly beginning 2 weeks after anthesis, until they reached red ripe stage. The chlorophyll concentration in tomato fruits showed no difference between treatments when compared at the same ripeness stages. The lycopene concentration of red ripe tomato fruits in HEC and DHEC treatments was 29% greater than that in low EC control (LEC treatment). However, there was no significant difference in lycopene concentration between HEC and DHEC. Both DHEC and HEC increased total soluble solid concentration (TSS) of red ripe tomato fruits compared with those grown in LEC; while the DHEC showed an increase of fruit TSS of 12%, the HEC had a greater enhancement of TSS of 19%. In addition, the fruit ripeness was accelerated under high EC, regardless of the timing of treatment. High EC treatment at early and mature green fruit developmental stages enhanced both fruit TSS and lycopene concentration; however, the nutrient solution EC effect on lycopene concentration was not dependent on the time of application during fruit development.

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