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Christy T. Carter and Catherine M. Grieve

Zinnia elegans, because of its economic value and the hardiness of its wild relatives, was selected as a potential salt-tolerant cut flower crop to grow in greenhouse systems using recycled agricultural wastewater. Using recycled wastewater for irrigation of cut flowers provides an alternative to high-quality water. This is especially important in coastal and inland growing regions of California where competition for high-quality water is increasing between urban and agricultural users and provides economic and environmental benefits because groundwater contamination is reduced or even prevented. A completely randomized design was used to determine the effects of water ionic composition and salinity on the growth and leaf mineral composition of Zinnia elegans. Two cultivars (Benary's Giant Salmon Rose and Benary's Giant Golden Yellow) were grown under irrigation with two different water ionic compositions mimicking dilutions of sea water (SWD) and concentrations of Colorado River water (CRW) at increasing salinity levels with electrical conductivities of 2.5 (control), 4.0, 6.0, 8.0, and 10.0 dS·m−1 in greenhouse sand tanks in Riverside, CA. Leaf mineral concentrations were determined for calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), potassium (K), chlorine (Cl), total sulfur (S), and total phosphorus (P). At harvest, final plant measurements included time to flowering, stem length, stem diameter (recorded at the soil line), internode length (recorded at the middle of the stem), inflorescence diameter, ray length, plant shoot fresh weight, number of leaves per plant, and number of shoots per plant. For both cultivars, plant tissue concentrations of Mg, Cl, Na, and total S increased as salinity increased in the irrigation water. Conversely, plant tissue concentrations of Ca, K, and total P decreased as salinity increased in the irrigation water. Both cultivars demonstrated high selectivity for K over Na as salinity increased in CRW and SWD with ‘Golden Yellow’ demonstrating a higher selectivity than ‘Salmon Rose’. Additionally, measured growth parameters tended to decrease as salinity increased in both irrigation water types for both cultivars. Stem lengths of 79 cm and 51 cm were found for ‘Salmon Rose' growing in 10 dS·m−1 in concentrations of CRW and SWD, respectively. ‘Golden Yellow' produced stem lengths of 74 cm and 46 cm in 10 dS·m−1 in response to concentrations of CRW and SWD, respectively. Inflorescence diameters of both cultivars approximated 8.0 cm at the highest salinity for both water types. Although significant differences were found, the minimum of 46 cm indicates that marketable flowers can be produced using both water types at least as high as 10 dS·m−1.

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Christy T. Carter and Catharine M. Grieve

The conservation of quality water is of special concern, especially in California, as the need for quality water increases with a growing population. Reusing saline wastewaters to irrigate salt-tolerant floral crops provides a viable option to produce quality marketable cut flowers while conserving the highest quality water for other purposes. A completely randomized design with three replications was used to investigate the effects of five salinity treatments [2.5 (control), 5, 8, 11, 14 dS·m−1] and two water ionic compositions: concentrations of Colorado River water (CCRW) and dilutions of sea water (SWD), on the mineral uptake, germination, growth, and quality of two cultivars of Antirrhinum majus (‘Monaco Rose’ and ‘Apollo Cinnamon’). Seeds of both cultivars were sown in 30 greenhouse sand tanks. Leaves were collected 2 months after planting and analyzed for concentrations of Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, Cl, K+, total P, and total S. As salinity increased, Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, Cl, and total S increased in plant tissues, whereas K+ and total P decreased in plant tissues for both cultivars in both irrigation solutions. Leaf nutrient composition was related to the interactions of ions within the substrate solutions and their ability to compete for uptake at the site of root membranes. Phenotypic measurements, made when plants were harvested, showed only slight decreases as salinity increased. A 2 × 5 factorial design was used to determine the effects of water ionic composition and salinity on the germination of seeds. Four replicate Petri dishes each with 25 seeds were exposed to constant temperature (20 °C) and an 8-h dark : 16-h light photoperiod to promote germination. Germination was checked daily for 16 d. Snapdragons can be produced from seed when exposed to salinities up to 14 dS·m−1 using both SWD and CCRW ionic solutions for irrigation because germination remained at 92% or greater. Quality of the flowering stems was rated according to standards developed by the Society of American Florists. Marketable stems of both cultivars were produced in all treatments. Overall, quality of stems produced with saline waters ranging from 2.5 to 11 dS·m−1 was very high (“special”). Irrigation with more saline water (14 dS·m−1) resulted in a slight reduction in quality and stems were rated as “fancy” depending on the cultivar. Both cut flower cultivars can be produced for commercial use under saline conditions up to at least 14 dS·m−1.

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Catherine M. Grieve, Christy T. Carter* and James A. Poss

Saline wastewaters may provide a valuable water source for the irrigation of selected floriculture crops as demand for quality water increases. A completely randomized design with 3 replications was used to test the effects of salinity on productivity and mineral accumulation on each of two Limonium species grown in greenhouse sand tanks. Three-week-old seedlings (n = 15) of Limonium perezii `Blue Seas' and L. sinuatum `American Beauty' were exposed to 7 salinity treatments (2.5 (control), 7, 11, 15, 20, 25, and 30 dS·m-1) prepared to simulate saline drainage waters of the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) in California. After 10 weeks, vegetative material from five plants from each tank was harvested to assess mineral composition (total-S, total-P, Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, and Cl-), for each variety. Ion selectivity coefficients were calculated by dividing the ratio of specific ions in the plant by those found in the medium. Stem length and weight, and flower stem numbers were determined at harvest. Salt tolerance thresholds based on stem length for L. perezii and L. sinuatum were 2.5 and 7.0 dS·m-1, respectively. Maximum growth of both species declined as salinity increased, but both species were able to complete their life cycles at 30 dS m-1. L. sinuatum had higher leaf concentrations of Na+, K+, Mg2+, Cl-, and total-P than L. perezii. K+ was preferentially accumulated with regard to Na+ by both species, but was significantly higher in L. sinuatum. Limonium perezii and L. sinuatum can be rated as sensitive and moderately salt tolerant plants, respectively.

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Christy T. Carter, Catherine M. Grieve and James A. Poss

Salinity tolerance of two cultivars of Celosiaargentea (`Chief Rose' and `Chief Gold') was investigated using a completely randomized design with three replications. Seedlings grown in greenhouse sand tanks were exposed to six salinity levels (2.5, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 dS·m–1) and two water ionic compositions mimicking sea water and drainage waters from the Imperial and Coachella valleys. Phenotypic measurements were made when plants were harvested during flowering, and concentrations of Ca2+, Mg2+, Na+, K+, Cl-, total-S, and total-P were also determined from leaf tissues. Overall, phenotypic measurements (including stem length, stem weight, stem diameter, inflorescence length, inflorescence weight, and number of leaves) tended to decrease as salinity increased, yet stem lengths were still above the minimum stem length recommended for marketability (41 cm). Significant interactions were found for salinity and water ionic composition for all mineral analyses for both cultivars. As salinity increased, Ca2+, K+, and total-P decreased as Mg2+, Na+, and Cl- increased for both cultivars. `Chief Gold' can be produced commercially in either water composition up to 12 dS·m–1. `Chief Rose' can be produced up to 8 dS·m–1 in sea water and 10 dS·m–1 in water ionic compositions similar to those of the Imperial and Coachella valleys. Saline waters dominated by chloride and sulphate salts can be used to produce Celosiaargentea commercially.

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Catherine M. Grieve, James A. Poss, Peter J. Shouse and Christy T. Carter

The capture and reuse of nutrient-rich greenhouse effluents may be an environmentally sound option for floriculture production, which would conserve fresh water resources and reduce off-site pollution of surface and groundwaters. This study was initiated in 24 outdoor lysimeters to determine effects of salinity and varying concentrations of nitrogen on the growth, yield, and ion relations of stock [Matthiola incana (L.) R. Br.] cultivar Cheerful White. The experiment was a 4 × 4 factorial, partially replicated design with four irrigation water salinities (2, 5, 8, and 11 dS·m−1) and four nitrate concentrations (2.5, 3.6, 5.4, and 7.1 mmol·L−1; N = 35, 50, 75, and 100 ppm). Ammonium nitrogen was included in the nutrient solutions. Stem lengths were measured three times weekly. Measurements at final harvest were stem and inflorescence lengths, stem and floret diameters, number of axillary buds and florets, and shoot and root fresh weights. Time course of stem elongation was quantified as a function of thermal time with a phasic growth model. Salinity significantly delayed initiation of the exponential growth phase, shortened its duration, and reduced the rate of plant development. The overall effect was to delay time to harvest of marketable stems. Although length of the flowering stems decreased with increasing salinity, marketable stems (≈60 cm) were produced in all treatments. Mineral ion relations in the plant tissues were influenced significantly, but independently, by both salinity and nitrogen. Leaf sodium, magnesium, and chlorine concentrations increased with increasing salinity; calcium and potassium decreased. In response to increasing external nitrogen, both potassium and chlorine decreased; sodium increased, whereas calcium and magnesium were unaffected. We conclude that in closed-loop irrigation systems, the nitrogen requirements for stock are low and that growers could minimize costs and limit off-site pollution by reducing nitrogen inputs.

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James A. Poss, Christy T. Carter, Catherine M. Grieve and Peter J. Shouse

Common stock flower production can be achieved under moderate levels of salinity and relatively low levels of nitrogen with no significant decrease in quality in a closed-recirculating irrigation system. A 4 × 4 factorial design with partial replication was used to assess the effects of salinity and nitrogen on the production of Matthiolaincana (L.). Seeds were sown in outdoor volumetric lysimeters at the George E. Brown, Jr., Salinity Laboratory in Riverside, Calif., with target electrical conductivity (EC) levels of 2, 5, 8, and 11 dS·m–1 combined with four nitrogen treatments of 35, 50, 75, and 100 ppm N. An empirical model was implemented to evaluate the growth response of each combination of salinity and nitrogen treatments over the course of plant development. The three-phase model is represented by an initial size parameter (alpha), an estimation of the intrinsic growth rate of the exponential phase (beta), a transitional phase between the first two phases (tl), the length of the linear phase (epsilon), and the final intrinsic saturation rate (gamma), The model successfully fitted the plant height data over time for all 16 nitrogen and salinity treatment combinations. Effects of salinity on epsilon and t2 (epsilon + t1) were nonsignificant. Nitrogen treatments had no significant effect on any of the model parameters and the effect of salinity was greatest when irrigation water EC was 11 dS·m–1. The length of the flower-bearing stems exceeded the standards recommended for commercial acceptability in all treatments (>41 cm). If 60 cm is the minimum length acceptable, then 50 ppm N or more where the EC was 8 dS·m–1 or less is required. Nitrogen uptake per unit evapotranspiration increased with salinity and nitrogen.