Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 16 items for

  • Author or Editor: David A. Christopher x
Clear All Modify Search

Abstract

The growth regulators abscisic acid (ABA), 6-benzylamino purine (BA), (2-chloroethyl)phosphonic acid (ethephon), aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG), and silver nitrate were applied in weekly or biweekly foliar sprays to watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. & Nakai] plants grown in a greenhouse. Both 10−3 mBA and 10−4 m ABA inhibited stem elongation, but had no effect on flowering patterns. Ethephon at 60 ppm and above prevented flower development, and at 15 and 30 ppm inhibited pistillate flowering and increased staminate/pistillate (S/P) flower ratios fivefold to sevenfold. Grafting watermelon scions to rootstocks of gynomonoecious and andromonoecious muskmelon did not affect sex expression or the response of watermelon to ethephon. AVG at 100 and 200 ppm and 500 ppm AgNO3 reduced the number of staminate flowers and promoted hermaphroditic flowering. In watermelon, contrary to other cucurbits, applied ethylene appears to suppress rather than promote ovary development during flower bud differentiation.

Open Access

Papaya (Carica papaya L.) source size and sink strength were modified by a single defoliation or continual defoliation and fruit thinning. Fruit set, development, weight, total sugar (sum of sucrose, fructose, and glucose), sucrose phosphate synthase (SPS), sucrose synthase (SS), and acid invertase (AI) enzyme activities in response to defoliation and fruit thinning were determined. The effects of defoliation and fruit thinning varied with weather conditions, plant growth conditions, and cultivar. Removal of 75% of the leaves significantly reduced new flower production and fruit set, and decreased ripe fruit total soluble solids (TSS), while 50% defoliation did not reduce new fruit set or ripe fruit TSS. When every third leaf from the oldest leaf was not removed, the number of new flowers was reduced by 47% more than when the same number of leaves was removed from the oldest to younger leaves. Continual removal of old leaves reduced new fruit set, fruit weight, and TSS in the 168 day experimental period. Fruit thinning increased new fruit set and ripe fruit TSS. Larger fruit size, faster fruit development, lower respiration rate, and higher sugar contents and AI activity were observed in immature (young) fruit when old fruit were removed. AI activity was reduced during early fruit development and increased again in mature fruit in plants subjected to defoliation, and suggested a role for AI in mature fruit sugar accumulation, while SS activity declined significantly in fruit 154 and 175 days after anthesis and in mature fruit when plants were subjected to continual defoliation. SPS activity was not affected significantly by defoliation or fruit thinning. Source-sink balance was critical for papaya fruit set, development, and sugar accumulation and each mature leaf was able to provide photoassimilate for about three fruit.

Free access

The economics of processing tomato production are driven by soluble solids content, viscosity, color, and color uniformity of the fruit. Ripening disorders that affect color are a major limitation to the economic success of processing whole-peel and diced products. The causes of ripening disorders are not completely understood, although it is clear that soil nutritional status, weather, plant genetics, and interactions among these variables are important factors. We sampled both soil and fruit from fields in Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana and were able to correlate soil fertility properties and fruit color. The correlation between soil properties and fruit color was different for fine- and coarse-textured soils. Fine-textured soils presented more frequent, but weaker, correlations with absolute color and within-fruit color differences when compared with coarse-textured soils. For fine-textured soils, exchangeable K correlated with a measure of within-fruit variation, L* difference (L*diff; r = −0.21, P < 0.01). Other measurements of K nutrition, K·Mg−½ ratio, Kact, and K%CEC, all correlated to the same extent (r = −0.29, P < 0.01). The highest correlations were identified between soil-available P and L* (r = −0.33, P < 0.01) and L*diff (r = −0.31, P < 0.01). In coarse-textured soils, exchangeable K correlated with L* (r = −0.373, P < 0.05), b* (r = −0.49, P < 0.01) and Hue° (r = −0.37, P < 0.05). K·Mg−½ ratio and Kact yielded higher correlation coefficients with absolute color measurements when compared with fine-textured soils. Soil-available P was correlated with L* (r = −0.375, P < 0.05), a* (r = 0.49, P < 0.01), Hue° (r = −0.46, P < 0.01), and C* (r = 0.40, P < 0.01). For coarse soils, K·Mg−½ ratio, Kact, and available P were important properties when the color of tomato fruit is of value. In all cases, higher exchangeable K and P nutrient status had a positive correlation with fruit color. Our sampling could not detect interactions among weather, genetics, and soil, and further work will be necessary to clearly describe the role of interactions in determining fruit quality in tomatoes.

Free access

Bioplastics and bioplastic composites are a group of emerging sustainable materials that exhibit favorable characteristics for use in horticulture-production containers. Biocontainers made from composite materials of soy [Glycine max (L.) Merr.] bioplastic and poly(lactic) acid (PLA) have been shown to release nitrogen (N) at a rate suitable for supporting plant growth. We hypothesized that fertilizer applications can be reduced while maintaining adequate nutrition levels for plant production when using soy-based containers. To test this hypothesis and quantify potential reduction of fertilizer, we grew marigold ‘Honeycomb’ (Tagetes patula L.) in five prototypes of soy-composite biocontainers [soy bioplastic compounded with PLA or polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)] and a petroleum-plastic (polypropylene) control container with five fertilizer treatments supplying 1) 60N‒4P‒49K; 2) 75N‒5P‒61K; 3) 105N‒7P‒85K; 4) 150N‒10P‒122K; or 5) 300N‒20P‒244K mg. At harvest, plants grown in all soy‒PLA composite biocontainers and protein + PLA biocontainers had higher concentrations and contents of N and P compared with plants grown in petroleum-plastic containers across all fertilizer treatments. Shoot K concentrations were highest for plants grown in all soy‒PLA and soy‒PHA biocontainers compared with plants grown in petroleum-plastic containers across all fertilizer treatments, whereas shoot K concentrations in plants grown in protein + PLA biocontainers were equal to or lower than plants in petroleum-plastic containers. Total plant dry weight was greater for plants grown in biocontainers made of 50% soy‒50% PLA and protein + PLA than for plants grown in control containers across all fertilizer treatments except at the highest rate of fertilizer in which plants received 300N‒20P‒244K mg. Our results support the hypothesis that fertilizer inputs can be reduced when using soy-composite biocontainers. Biocontainers made with equal parts soy bioplastic and PLA showed strong potential for achieving adequate plant growth with reduced fertilizer input. Our results demonstrate that fertilizer can be reduced by as much as 80% when growing marigold in containers made of 50% soy‒50% PLA for 6 weeks.

Free access

Experiments were conducted to determine if the seedling hypocotyl elongation and petal abscission assays could be used to identify differences in ethylene sensitivity among seedling geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum) cultivars. When seedlings of six geranium cultivars were germinated and grown in the dark in the presence of the ethylene biosynthetic precursor 1-aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) at various concentrations, they exhibited the triple response (measured as reduced hypocotyl length). While seedlings from all six cultivars were sensitive to ACC, `Scarlet Elite' seedlings were most sensitive, and `Multibloom Lavender', `Elite White' and `Ringo 2000 Salmon' seedlings were the least sensitive when germinated and grown on 20 mm [2022 mg·L-1 (ppm)] ACC. Florets representing three developmental stages of each of the six cultivars were exposed to 1 μL·L-1 of exogenous ethylene for 0, 30, or 60 min to determine if differences in cultivar sensitivity could be determined for petal abscission. Of the six cultivars tested, `Ringo 2000 Salmon', `Multibloom Lavender' and `Elite White' were the least ethylene sensitive. Florets were also self-pollinated to test for cultivar differences in ethylene synthesis and subsequent petal abscission. Ethylene production and petal abscission were both promoted in self-pollinated florets compared to nonpollinated florets. `Ringo 2000 Salmon', `Multibloom Lavender' and `Elite White' florets produced similar amounts of ethylene as all other cultivars, but abscised fewer petals after pollination. Our results indicate that the seedling hypocotyls elongation assay may be used to identify geranium cultivars with reduced sensitivity to ethylene. The data also suggest that genetic variability exists among geraniums for both ethylene sensitivity and biosynthesis.

Full access

We evaluated emerging biopolymer horticultural products that provide fertilizer nutrients to plants (fertilizing biocontainers, pelletized biopolymer fertilizer, and biopolymer fertilizer spikes) for their effectiveness during greenhouse production and garden growth of floriculture crops, and during postproduction culture of container ornamentals. Greenhouse experiments (in 4.5-inch containers) and garden trials were performed with tomato (Solanum lycopersicum), pepper (Capsicum annuum), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), and marigold (Tagetes patula). Postproduction experiments were performed with 12-inch hanging baskets containing lobelia (Lobelia erinus), trailing petunia (Calibrachoa ×hybrida), and petunia, and with 13-inch patio planters containing zonal geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum), spikes (Cordyline indivisa), bidens (Bidens ferulifolia), and trailing petunia. Although slightly less effective than synthetic controlled-release fertilizer (CRF), all three nutrient-containing biopolymer horticultural products were sufficient and suitable for providing fertilizer nutrients to plants grown in containers and in garden soil. Results of the postproduction experiment provided proof-of-concept for the effectiveness and potential of biopolymer fertilizer spikes as a sustainable method for providing fertilizer nutrients to containerized plants. The current formulation of pelletized biopolymer fertilizer was somewhat more effective for vegetable crops (pepper and tomato) than for floriculture crops (marigold and petunia). For plants produced in 4.5-inch containers, the combination of the fertilizing biocontainer with no additional fertilizer in the greenhouse, then burying the fertilizing container beneath the plant to degrade and provide nutrients in the garden was very effective. Biopolymer horticultural products represent a promising alternative to petroleum-based plastic containers and synthetic fertilizers. Adoption of some or all of these technologies could improve the environmental sustainability of the horticulture industry without reducing productivity or efficiency, and without increasing labor intensity.

Full access

We evaluated the effects of seven types of 4.5-inch top-diameter biocontainers and five rates of paclobutrazol drench on the growth and development of angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia ‘Serena White’) and petunia (Petunia ×hybrida ‘Wave® Purple Improved Prostrate’) during greenhouse production. The container types included were biopolyurethane-coated paper fiber; uncoated paper fiber; rice hull; coconut coir; peat; two types of bioplastic container, one made from 90% polylactic acid (PLA) and 10% lignin [PLA-lignin (90/10 by weight)] and another made from 60% PLA and 40% soy polymer with adipic anhydride {SP.A [PLA-SP.A]; (60/40 by weight)}; and a petroleum-based plastic control. All containers were filled with 590 mL of substrate composed of (by vol) 75% canadian sphagnum moss and 25% perlite. Ten days after transplanting seedlings, 2-fl oz aliquots of deionized water containing 0, 1, 2.5, 5, 10, or 20 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol were applied to the substrate surface as drenches. The date of anthesis was recorded for each plant, and growth data were collected 6 weeks after transplant. Shoots were harvested and dried and shoot dry weight (SDW) was recorded. Height (angelonia only) and diameter of angelonia and petunia and time to flower were calculated. Container type and paclobutrazol concentration interacted to affect size and SDW of angelonia and petunia. Growth index of angelonia treated with 0 mg·L−1 paclobutrazol and grown in coir and peat containers was 19% to 29% and 29% to 38% smaller than that of plants in other container types, respectively. Diameter of untreated petunia grown in peat containers was similar to that of those grown in coir and uncoated paper fiber containers, but was smaller (10.9 to 13.5 cm) than that of plants grown in other container types. As paclobutrazol concentrations increased from 0 to 20 mg·L−1 treatments, SDWs of petunia grown in coir containers were suppressed by 23%, whereas plants grown in rice hull containers were up to 45% less. Our results indicate that growth suppression of angelonia and petunia grown in biocontainers using paclobutrazol drenches varies by the type of biocontainer. Producers should reduce paclobutrazol drench concentrations to produce plants of appropriate size if substituting coir or peat biocontainers for traditional petroleum plastics, whereas no adjustment in plant growth retardant (PGR) drench concentrations is required for plants produced in the other biocontainer types we evaluated.

Full access

We quantified the growth and quality of ‘Arizona Sun’ blanket flower (Gaillardia ×grandiflora) grown in different bioplastic containers and characterized the interest of commercial perennial producers in using bioplastic-based biocontainers in their herbaceous perennial production schemes. Plants were grown in three types of #1 trade gallon (0.75 gal) containers at five commercial perennial producers in the upper-midwestern United States. Containers included one made of polylactic acid (PLA) and a proprietary bio-based filler derived from a coproduct of corn ethanol production, a commercially available recycled paper fiber container twice dip-coated with castor oil–based biopolyurethane and a petroleum-based plastic (control) container. Plant growth data were collected when most plants had open flowers, and plant shoots, roots, and containers were rated by commercial grower participants. Questionnaires were administered at the beginning and at the end of the experiment to characterize the perceptions and interest of growers in using these containers, their interest in different bioplastic-based container attributes, and their satisfaction from using the containers. Container type and grower interacted to affect growth index (GI), shoot dry weight (SDW), and container rating. Root rating was affected by container type or grower and shoot rating was unaffected by either. Our results indicate that commercial producers can adapt these bioplastic-based biocontainers to blanket flower production with few or no changes to their crop cultural practices.

Full access

Our objectives were to quantify the growth and quality of herbaceous annuals grown in different types of bioplastic-based biocontainers in commercial greenhouses and quantify producer interest in using these types of biocontainers in their production systems. Seedlings of ‘Serena White’ angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia) and ‘Maverick Red’ zonal geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum) that had been transplanted into nine different (4.5-inch diameter) container types [eight bioplastic-based biocontainers and a petroleum-based plastic (PP) (control)] were grown at six commercial greenhouses in the upper midwestern United States. Plants were grown alongside other bedding annuals in each commercial greenhouse, and producers employed their standard crop culture practices. Data were collected to characterize growth when most plants were flowering. Questionnaires to quantify producer perceptions and interest in using bioplastic-based biocontainers, interest in different container attributes, and satisfaction were administered at select times during the experiment. Container type interacted with greenhouse to affect angelonia growth index (GI) and shoot dry weight (SDW), as well as shoot, root, and container ratings. Container type or greenhouse affected geranium GI and shoot rating, and their interaction affected SDW, and root and container ratings. These results indicate that commercial producers can grow herbaceous annuals in a range of bioplastic-based biocontainers with few or no changes to their crop culture practices.

Full access

An invertase gene was isolated and its mRNA activity and protein levels were determined during papaya (Carica papaya L.) fruit development. A complete invertase cDNA (AF420223) and a partial sucrose synthase cDNA (AF420224) were isolated from papaya fruit cDNA libraries. The invertase cDNA encoded a predicted polypeptide of 582 residues (MW 65,537 Da), and was 68% and 45% identical with carrot apoplastic and vacuolar invertases, respectively. Key amino acids indicative of an apoplastic invertase were conserved. A full-length gene corresponding to the putative apoplastic invertase cDNA was isolated and was organized into seven exons and six introns. Exon 2 (9 bp long) encoded part of a highly conserved region (NDPNG/A). Invertase mRNA and activity levels increased during fruit maturation and sugar accumulation just before ripening. In contrast, sucrose synthase mRNA levels were high during early fruit growth and low during the fruit sugar accumulation stage. A 73-kDa cell wall extractable protein that cross-reacted with carrot apoplastic invertase antisera substantially increased during papaya fruit maturation and declined in full ripe fruit. The increase in invertase protein levels occurred 2 to 4 weeks before maturity and was markedly higher than the overall increase in enzyme activity at this stage. Subsequently, the increase in enzyme activity was higher than the increase in protein levels between 2 weeks before maturity and fully ripe. The results suggested that mRNA level and invertase activity were related to maturity. The data suggested that the invertase was apoplastic, and that post-translational control of enzyme activity occurred, in which a significant accumulation of invertase occurred before the peak of enzymes activity.

Free access