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Qingwu Meng and Erik S. Runkle

Photoperiodic lighting from lamps with a moderate ratio of red [R (600–700 nm)] to far-red [FR (700–800 nm)] light effectively promotes flowering of long-day plants (LDPs). Because of spectral controllability, long life span, and energy efficiency, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have emerged as an alternative to conventional light sources, such as incandescent (INC) and high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. We conducted a coordinated trial with five commercial greenhouse growers to investigate the efficacy of R + white (W) + FR LEDs, with an R:FR of 0.82, to regulate flowering of daylength-sensitive ornamental crops. The trial was also performed in two replicate greenhouses at Michigan State University (MSU). Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum), calibrachoa (Calibrachoa ×hybrida), dahlia (Dahlia ×hybrida), dianthus (Dianthus chinensis), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), and verbena (Verbena ×hybrida) were grown under natural short days (SDs) with 4-hour night-interruption (NI) lighting provided by the R + W + FR LEDs or conventional lamps typically used by each grower. Two companies used HPS lamps, whereas the other sites used INC lamps. In addition, a natural SD treatment, a truncated 9-hour SD treatment, or a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) NI treatment was provided at three different sites. With few exceptions, time to flower and flowering percentage of the bedding plant crops tested were similar under the R + W + FR LEDs to that under the conventional lamps at all sites. At MSU, ageratum, dianthus, petunia, snapdragon, and verbena flowered earlier under NI lighting treatments than under 9-hour SDs. In addition, plant height and visible flower bud or inflorescence number at flowering were similar under the R + W + FR LEDs and INC lamps for most crops. Therefore, we conclude that the R + W + FR LEDs are as effective as lamps traditionally used in greenhouses at controlling flowering of photoperiodic plants.

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Mengzi Zhang and Erik S. Runkle

Manipulating light quality is a potential alternative method of regulating plant height in the commercial production of ornamental crops. In particular, end-of-day (EOD) lighting with a high red (R; 600–700 nm) to far-red (FR; 700–800 nm) ratio (R:FR) can suppress extension growth, whereas a low R:FR can promote it. We investigated the effects of the R:FR and duration of EOD lighting in regulating extension growth and flowering of two poinsettia cultivars, White Glitter and Marble Star. Plants were grown at 20 °C under 9-hour days with or without EOD lighting provided by two types of light-emitting diode bulbs: R+white+FR (subsequently referred to as R+FR) and FR only. The R:FR ratios were 0.73 and 0.04, respectively, and the photon flux density between 400 and 800 nm was adjusted to 2 to 3 μmol·m−2·s–1 at plant canopy. The six EOD lighting treatments were R+FR or FR for 2 or 4 hours, 2 hours of R+FR followed by 2 hours of FR, and 4 hours of R+FR followed by 2 hours of FR. We also investigated the impact of a 4-hour moderate-intensity (13 μmol·m−2·s–1) EOD FR treatment in the second replication. EOD lighting generally increased poinsettia extension growth, with the greatest promotion under the longest lighting periods. There were no differences in days to first bract color and days to anthesis when the 9-hour day was extended by 2 hours, but flowering was delayed under 4- or 6-hour EOD treatments, except for the 2-hour R+FR + 2-hour FR and 4-hour FR treatments. Four hours of moderate-intensity EOD FR greatly promoted extension growth and delayed or prevented bract coloration in both cultivars. We conclude that EOD lighting promotes extension growth of poinsettia, and specifically, EOD FR at a low intensity (2–3 μmol·m−2·s–1) is not perceived as long-day signal, whereas a higher intensity (13 μmol·m−2·s–1) of FR delays flowering.

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Daedre S. Craig and Erik S. Runkle

In protected cultivation of short-day (SD) plants, flowering can be inhibited by lighting from incandescent (INC) lamps during the night. INC lamps are being phased out of production and replaced by light-emitting diodes (LEDs), but an effective spectrum to control flowering has not been thoroughly examined. We quantified how the red [R (600 to 700 nm)] to far red [FR (700 to 800 nm)] ratio (R:FR) of photoperiodic lighting from LEDs influenced flowering and extension growth of SD plants. Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum ×morifolium), dahlia (Dahlia hortensis), and african marigold (Tagetes erecta) were grown at 20 °C under a 9-hour day with or without a 4-hour night interruption (NI) treatment by INC lamps or LEDs with seven different R:FR ranging from all R to all FR. Flowering in the most sensitive species, chrysanthemum, was not inhibited by an R:FR of 0.28 or lower, whereas an R:FR of 0.66 or above reduced flowering percentage. Flowering in dahlia was incomplete under the FR-only NI and under SDs, but time to flower was similar under the remaining NI treatments. The least sensitive species, african marigold, flowered under all treatments, but flowering was most rapid under the FR-only NI and under SDs. For all species, stem length increased quadratically as the R:FR of the NI increased, reaching a maximum at R:FR of ≈0.66. We conclude that in these SD plants, a moderate to high R:FR (0.66 or greater) is most effective at interrupting the long night, blue light is not needed to interrupt the night, and FR light alone does not regulate flowering.

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Brian R. Poel and Erik S. Runkle

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have the potential to replace high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps as the main delivery method of supplemental lighting (SL) in greenhouses. However, few studies have compared growth under the different lamp types. We grew seedlings of geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum), pepper (Capsicum annuum), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) at 20 °C under six lighting treatments: five that delivered a photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of 90 μmol·m−2·s−1 from HPS lamps (HPS90) or LEDs [four treatments composed of blue (B, 400–500 nm), red (R, 600–700 nm), or white LEDs] and one that delivered 10 μmol·m−2·s−1 from HPS lamps (HPS10), which served as a control with matching photoperiod. Lamps operated for 16 h·d−1 for 14 to 40 days, depending on cultivar and season. The LED treatments defined by their percentages of B, green (G, 500–600 nm), and R light were B10R90, B20R80, B10G5R85, and B15G5R80, whereas the HPS treatments emitted B6G61R33. Seedlings of each cultivar grown under the 90 μmol·m−2·s−1 SL treatments had similar dry shoot weights and all except pepper had a similar plant height, leaf area, and leaf number. After transplant to a common environment, geranium ‘Ringo Deep Scarlet’ and petunia ‘Single Dreams White’ grown under HPS90 flowered 3 days earlier than those grown under HPS10, but flowering time was not different from that in LED treatments. There were no consistent differences in morphology or subsequent flowering among seedlings grown under HPS90 and LED SL treatments. The inclusion of white light in the LED treatments played an insignificant role in growth and development when applied as SL with the background ambient light. The LED fixtures in this study consumed substantially less electricity than the HPS lamps while providing the same PPFD, and seedlings produced were of similar quality, making LEDs a suitable technology option for greenhouse SL delivery.

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Heidi Marie Wollaeger and Erik S. Runkle

Plant growth and architecture are regulated in part by light quality. We performed experiments to better understand how young plants acclimate to blue (B), green (G), and red (R) light and how those responses can be used to produce plants with desirable morphological characteristics. We grew seedlings of impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), salvia (Salvia splendens), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) under six sole-source light-emitting diode (LED) treatments or one cool-white fluorescent treatment that each delivered a photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of 160 µmol·m−2·s–1 for 18 h·d−1. Leaf number was similar among treatments, but plants grown under 25% or greater B light were 41% to 57% shorter than those under only R light. Plants under R light had 47% to 130% greater leaf area and 48% to 112% greater fresh shoot weight than plants grown under treatments with 25% or greater B. Plants grown under only R had a fresh shoot weight similar to that of those grown under fluorescent light for all species except tomato. In impatiens, flower bud number at harvest generally increased with B light, whereas in tomato, the number of leaflets with intumescences decreased with B light. This research discusses how light quality can be manipulated for desired growth characteristics of young plants, which is important in the production of specialty crops such as ornamentals, herbs, and microgreens.

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Qingwu Meng, Jennifer Boldt, and Erik S. Runkle

Adding green [G (500–600 nm)] radiation to blue [B (400–500 nm)] and red [R (600–700 nm)] radiation creates white radiation and improves crop inspection at indoor farms. Although G radiation can drive photosynthesis and elicit the shade-avoidance response, its effects on plant growth and morphology have been inconsistent. We postulated G radiation would counter the suppression of crop growth and promotion of secondary metabolism by B radiation depending on the B photon flux density (PFD). Lettuce (Lactuca sativa ‘Rouxai’) was grown in a growth room under nine sole-source light-emitting diode (LED) treatments with a 20-hour photoperiod or in a greenhouse. At the same photosynthetic photon flux density [PPFD (400–700 nm)] of 180 μmol·m−2·s−1, plants were grown under warm-white LEDs or increasing B PFDs at 0, 20, 60, and 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 with or without substituting the remaining R radiation with 60 μmol·m−2·s−1 of G radiation. Biomass and leaf expansion were negatively correlated with the B PFD with or without G radiation. For example, increasing the B PFD decreased fresh and dry mass by up to 63% and 54%, respectively. The inclusion of G radiation did not affect shoot dry mass at 0 or 20 μmol·m−2·s−1 of B radiation, but it decreased it at 60 or 100 μmol·m−2·s−1 of B radiation. Results suggest that the shade-avoidance response is strongly elicited by low B radiation and repressed by high B radiation, rendering G radiation ineffective at controlling morphology. Moreover, substituting R radiation with G radiation likely reduced the quantum yield. Otherwise, G radiation barely influenced morphology, foliage coloration, essential nutrients, or sensory attributes regardless of the B PFD. Increasing the B PFD increased red foliage coloration and the concentrations of several macronutrients (e.g., nitrogen and magnesium) and micronutrients (e.g., zinc and copper). Consumers preferred plants grown under sole-source lighting over those grown in the greenhouse, which were more bitter and less acceptable, flavorful, and sweet. We concluded that lettuce phenotypes are primarily controlled by B radiation and that G radiation maintains or suppresses lettuce growth depending on the B PFD.

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Heidi M. Wollaeger and Erik S. Runkle

Plant growth is plastic and adaptive to the light environment; characteristics such as extension growth, architecture, and leaf morphology change, depending on the light spectrum. Although blue (B; 400–500 nm) and red (R; 600–700 nm) light are generally considered the most efficient wavelengths for eliciting photosynthesis, both are often required for relatively normal growth. Our objective was to quantify how the B:R influenced plant seedling growth and morphology and understand how plants acclimated to these light environments. We grew seedlings of three ornamental annuals and tomato under six sole-source light-emitting diode (LED) lighting treatments or one cool-white fluorescent treatment that each delivered a photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of 160 µmol·m−2·s–1 for 18 h·d−1. The following treatments were provided with B (peak = 446 nm) and R (peaks = 634 and 664 nm) LEDs: B160 (160 µmol·m−2·s−1 of B light only), B80+R80, B40+R120, B20+R140, B10+R150, and R160. Seedlings of impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), salvia (Salvia splendens), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida), and tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) were grown for 31 to 37 days at a constant 20 °C. Plants with as little as 10 µmol·m−2·s−1 of B light were 23% to 50% shorter and had 17% to 50% smaller leaves than plants under only R light. Impatiens and salvia had 53% to 98% greater fresh shoot weight under treatments without B light than with ≥80 µmol·m−2·s−1. Plants grown under fluorescent lamps had the greatest chlorophyll content but also had among the thinnest leaves of treatments. Blue-rich light increased flowering in impatiens and reduced incidence of intumescences on tomato. We conclude that, in sole-source lighting of propagules, B light inhibits leaf and stem expansion, which subsequently limits photon capture and constrains biomass accumulation. As little as 10 µmol·m−2·s−1 of B light in an R-dominant background can elicit desirable growth responses for the production of young plants and for other situations in which compact growth is desired.

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Lee Ann Pramuk and Erik S. Runkle

The photosynthetic daily light integral (DLI) dramatically increases during the spring when the majority of bedding plants are commercially produced. However, the effects of DLI on seedling growth and development have not been well characterized for most bedding plant species. Our objectives were to quantify the effects of DLI on growth and development of Celosia, Impatiens, Salvia, Tagetes, and Viola during the seedling stage and determine whether there were any residual effects of DLI on subsequent growth and development after transplant. Seedlings were grown in growth chambers for 18 to 26 days at 21 °C with a DLI ranging from 4.1 to 14.2 mol·m–2·d–1. Average seedling shoot dry weight per internode (a measure of quality) increased linearly 64%, 47%, 64%, and 68% within this DLI range in Celosia, Impatiens, Tagetes, and Viola, respectively. Seedlings were then transplanted to 10-cm containers and grown in a common environment (average daily temperature of 22 °C and DLI of 8.5 mol·m–2·d–1) to determine subsequent effects on plant growth and development. Flowering of Celosia, Impatiens, Salvia, Tagetes, and Viola occurred 10, 12, 11, 4, and 12 days earlier, respectively, when seedlings were previously grown under the highest DLI compared with the lowest. Except for Viola, earlier flowering corresponded with the development of fewer nodes below the first flower. Flower bud number and plant shoot dry weight at first flowering (plant quality parameters) decreased as the seedling DLI increased in all species except for flower number of Tagetes. Therefore, seedlings grown under a greater DLI flowered earlier, but plant quality at first flowering was generally reduced compared with that of seedlings grown under a lower DLI.

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Roberto G. Lopez and Erik S. Runkle

Flowering potted orchids has become one of the largest segments of floriculture worldwide. Large-scale production of cuts or potted plants exists in China, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States. Despite the value of orchids, the flowering physiology of most orchid genera is not well described. Therefore, scheduling flowering crops for specific market dates (such as Easter or Mother's Day) is not possible for most genera. This paper summarizes world orchid production and reviews how environmental factors regulate growth and flowering of several commercially important orchid genera: Cattleya, Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Miltoniopsis, Phalaenopsis, and Zygopetalum. These genera primarily flower in response to relatively low temperatures, and, for some species and hybrids, flowering is promoted when the plants are also exposed to short photoperiods. Effects of light and temperature on growth and development are summarized for these genera, and implications for controlled production are discussed.

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Roberto G. Lopez and Erik S. Runkle

Prohexadione-Ca (ProCa) is a relatively new plant growth regulator (PGR) that inhibits internode length in rice, small grains, and fruit trees. However, little is known about its efficacy and potential phytotoxicity on floriculture crops and how it compares to other commercially available PGR chemicals. The effects of two foliar spray applications (2 weeks apart) of ProCa (500, 1000, or 2000 ppm), paclobutrazol (30 ppm), or a tank mix of daminozide plus chlormequat (2500 and 1000 ppm, respectively) were quantified on Dianthus barbatus L. `Interspecific Dynasty Red', Ageratina altissima R. King & H. Robinson (Eupatorium rugosum) `Chocolate', Lilium longiflorum Thunb. `Fangio', and Buddleia davidii Franch. `Mixed.' All plants were forced in a glass-glazed greenhouse with a constant temperature setpoint of 20 °C under a 16-h photoperiod. Two weeks after the second spray application of ProCa at 500, 1000, or 2000 ppm, plant height of Dianthus and Lilium was shorter than control plants by 56%, 60%, and 65% and by 6%, 26%, and 28%, respectively. However, ProCa bleached and reduced the size of Dianthus flowers. ProCa at 2000 ppm and daminozide plus chlormequat were effective at controlling the height of Eupatorium (64% and 53% reduction, respectively); however, leaves of Eupatorium were discolored and showed symptoms of phytotoxicity 1 week after the first ProCa application. Only daminozide plus chlormequat were effective on Buddleia. ProCa is an effective PGR for most of the crops we tested; however, its discoloration of red flowers and foliage may limit its application for commercial use.