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Mario Valenzuela-Vazquez and Geno A. Picchioni

Lupinus havardii (Big Bend bluebonnet) is a winter annual plant indigenous to the semiarid southwestern U.S. with potential to become a new cut flower commodity. Nothing is presently known about the mineral nutrition of bluebonnet in greenhouse conditions, either in the whole plant or its short-lived cut racemes, and its possible relationship with vase life longevity. At first appearance of floral buds, supplemental Ca treatments (0, 2.5, 5.0, and 10.0 mm Ca using CaCl2) were added to the nutrient solution over a 2-month growing period, to evaluate the influence of Ca on plant nutrient allocation patterns, nutrient uptake and utilization, and raceme physiology after cutting. Ca supplementation increased net Ca uptake per plant by 40%, 77%, and 95% over the control (2.5, 5.0, and 10.0 mm Ca, respectively; P < 0.05). The increased Ca uptake per plant increased Ca concentration in racemes (a weak Ca sink), which resulted in marginal increases in vase life duration (1 day). This positive influence on vase life duration was not significant due to limited number of raceme replicates. When plants were supplemented with 5 mm Ca, the net accumulation of Ca, P, K, and Mg in roots increased by 4 to 5 times over the control roots. These increases occurred in parallel to an increase in root dry matter production. Similar patterns were observed in the net accumulation of Ca, P, K, and Mg per plant. In our conditions, Ca supplementation (5 mm) enriched raceme Ca concentration as well as whole-plant consumption of Ca, P, K, and Mg in bluebonnet plants. These data will be useful in developing fertilization strategies for this new and promising greenhouse floral crop.

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Héctor Mario Quiroga-Garza and Geno A. Picchioni

Total plant biomass, shoot growth rate, and the periodicity in shoot growth and color of hybrid bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davy `Tifgreen'] in response to slow-release fertilizer N sources, rates, and application frequencies were studied in two, 120-day greenhouse studies. Plugs were planted in plastic cylinders filled with a growing medium of 93 sand: 7 peat moss (w/w). The first experiment was completed under progressively increasing photoperiod (13.1 to 14.9 hours) typical of the long-day requirements for bermudagrass growth. The second experiment occurred under progressively decreasing photoperiod (13.7 to 10.7 hours) representative of autumnal growing conditions and declining growth and N demand. Urea (URE), sulfur-coated urea (SCU), and hydroform (HYD, methylene urea polymers) were broadcast at N rates of 100 or 200 kg·ha-1 and at frequencies of 20 or 40 days. Bermudagrass was clipped at 3-day intervals and the average daily clipping growth rate (increase in shoot dry matter; DM) reached a maximum of 11.5 g·m-2 per day. Use of the least soluble source, HYD, produced the lowest total clipping DM, and at low HYD rate and frequency, leaf color intensity was frequently below the accepted standard of 7, in the scale from 1 “tan” to 9 “dark green”. A greater responsiveness of bermudagrass to N rate and application frequency (increased clipping growth rate and color intensification upon N application) occurred under increasing photoperiodic conditions as compared to decreasing photoperiodic conditions. Both clipping growth and color changed cyclically through time and mainly under long-day photoperiod (>12 hours), with greater oscillation at longer fertilization interval (40 days). With either SCU or URE, at low N rate and frequency (total N application of 0.25 g·m-2 per day), clipping growth rates were above 4 g·m-2 per day, and turf color was at or above the minimum quality standard through most of the growing period. Higher total SCU and URE application rates, previously shown to increase N leaching losses in these experimental conditions, produced significantly more clipping growth and did not appear to intensify color sufficient to warrant the increased risk of N loss.

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Mario Valenzuela-Vazquez and Geno A. Picchioni

Lupinus havardii has gained popularity as a potentially new and unique cut flower species, but its compound, ethylene-sensitive inflorescences (racemes) undergo rapid senescence and deterioration on cutting. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the influence of Ca culture solution applications on L. havardii cut-flower longevity. Four supplemental Ca treatments were incorporated into the nutrient solution (0, 2.5, 5.0, and 10.0 mM Ca using CaCl2), with four replications in a randomized complete-block design. Raceme Ca concentration increased with increasing Ca application, ranging from a low 5300 mg·kg-1 dry weight (0 mM supplemental Ca) to a high of 7500 mg·kg-1 (10.0 mM supplemental Ca). Calcium application deferred the daily loss in raceme fresh weight (FW) for up to 10 days of vase life in a concentration-dependent manner (P < 0.01), with the effect most pronounced between 5 and 9 days following cutting (average FW of 72% and 83% of day zero values for the control and 10.0 mM Ca, respectively, with 2.5 and 5.0 mM treatments intermediate). The cut racemes of L. havardii are model organs for spatially and sequentially organized postharvest development, with continued, 6-day postcutting life including 4-fold increases in cell permeability of basal, most mature flowers, marginal but significant increases in cell permeability of the most recently expanded flowers, and a 50% increase in total flowers number resulting from inflorescence expansion. Preliminary data indicate that manipulation of Ca nutrition may be a viable, inexpensive, and environmentally safe alternative to silver-based compounds currently in use for the vase life extension of L. havardii inflorescences.

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Geno A. Picchioni, Steven A. Weinbaum and Patrick H. Brown

Factors affecting the phloem mobility of foliar-applied B have received little study. The purpose of this experiment was to evaluate foliar retention of B solutions, foliar uptake kinetics, and phloem mobility of foliar-applied B among four tree fruit species. Leaves on current-year shoots of nonbearing 'Red Delicious' apple, 'Bartlett' pear, 'French' prune, and 'Bing' cherry were immersed in 1000 mg/liter B solutions (supplied as 10B-enriched boric acid) in midsummer. Export of the applied label from leaves was monitored between 0 and 24 h, and throughout the following 20 days by ICP-mass spectrometry. Uptake by leaves increased steadily in all species between 0 and 24 h, and reached 80% to 95% of the applied quantity within 24 h. By 24 h, 62% to 75% of the applied label, depending on species, had been exported from the treated leaves. Apple leaves retained, absorbed, and exported over twice the amount of labelled B as prune and pear leaves, and nearly four times the amount of cherry leaves. Foliar retention largely controlled the capacity for uptake and export.

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Brenda L. Jessen, Geno A. Picchioni and John G. Mexal

A field study was conducted in 1997 and 1998 in Ojinaga, Chihuahua, Mexico, to compare biomass production potential and ion uptake capacity of seven tree species and clones, Eucalyptus camaldulensis (4016, 4019, and 505), hybrid Populus (029, 197, and 367), and seedlings of Robinia pseudoacacia irrigated with saline municipal wastewater. Total dry biomass production was greatest with poplar clone 367 (657 g) and eucalypt clone 4019 (643 g). Both clones also provided the most aboveground biomass (463 and 528 g, respectively), essentially because of their greater stem biomass (274 and 234 g, respectively). Poplar clone 367 had the highest lateral branch biomass (84 g), followed by eucalypt clone 4019 (75 g). The clones with the greatest leaf biomass were eucalypt clone 4019 (179 g), followed by eucalypt clone 505 (148 g) and poplar clone 367 (145 g). In all tree selections, Cl concentration was highest in the leaves with poplar clone 197 having the highest concentration (>2%), but the lowest subsequent winter survival at just 55%. The tree with the second lowest survival rate, poplar clone 029 (76%), also had the second highest Cl concentration in its leaves, almost 1.5% Cl. Eucalypt clones 4019 and 4016 accumulated the most total Cl in its tissues (327 and 236 g per tree, respectively) followed by poplar clone 029 (216 g per tree). Eucalypt clone 4019 accumulated the most Na in its tissues (109 g per tree) followed by poplar clone 367 (74 g per tree). In conclusion, poplar clone 367 and eucalypt clone 4019 seem to be sufficiently salt-tolerant for these saline conditions, having high survival, growth, and biomass capacity and perform well under high biomass-generating, short rotation conditions. Eucalypt clone 4019 is also an effective accumulator of Cl and Na ions and may be the most suitable tree for the remediation of salt-affected land in these experimental conditions.

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Malcolm C. Drew, Pamela S. Hold and Geno A. Picchioni

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L. cv. Fidelio) grown in sand culture in the greenhouse was trickle-irrigated with nutrient solution containing 0, 10, or 50 mm NaCl. Gas exchange of Individual leaves was measured by a portable infrared gas analyzer et saturating photosynthetic photon flux. Salt at 10 mm had no detectable effect on plant performance, but exposure to 50 mm NaCl caused net CO2 fixation to decline by 33% and 48% in the eighth and ninth oldest leaves, respectively. Stomatal conductance and transpiration rate were also reduced (≈ 50%) In these leaves. These differences, as well as lower leaf water potentials, were associated with a 60% reduction in fruit fresh weight. The relationship between net CO2 fixation and intercellular (substomatal) CO2 concentrations was determined for individual, attached leaves of plants with roots exposed to various concentrations of NaCl in hydroponics. With 50 and 100 mm NaCl, a nonstomatal contribution to the inhibition of photosynthesis at the chloroplast level was Indicated by strong inhibition of CO, fixation at a saturating CO2 concentration. Salt-induced inhibition of CO2 fixation was associated with accumulation of Na+ and Cl-, and lower K+ in the individual leaves examined.

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Mario Valenzuela-Vázquez, Geno A. Picchioni, Leigh W. Murray and Wayne A. Mackay

The raceme of Lupinus havardii Wats. (Big Bend bluebonnet) is a new greenhouse specialty cut flower, but postharvest life is limited by ethylene sensitivity. The authors studied the effects of 160 nL·L−1 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP) with 0 to 6 days exposure to a 50-μm vase solution of ethephon [(2-chloroethyl) phosphonic acid, CEPA] on raceme postharvest quality indices and mature flower cell membrane permeability. With no CEPA, 1-MCP delayed postharvest losses in fresh weight and mature flower retention, and extended vase life longevity (VLL) by 1 to 4 days relative to a non-1-MCP control. With 2 days or more of CEPA, 1-MCP deferred raceme fresh weight loss and the abscission of both mature and newly opened flowers from 3 days to 5 days. There was a relatively strong protective effect of 1-MCP on raceme fresh weight, flower retention, and newly opening flowers in the presence of CEPA compared with the absence of CEPA. The greatest raceme VLL (7.2 days) was obtained for 1-MCP-treated racemes that did not receive CEPA in the vase. Although VLL was reduced by CEPA, VLL was consistently greater (by ≈2 days) after 1-MCP treatment relative to no 1-MCP treatment and irrespective of CEPA's duration. As expected, electrolyte leakage increased with individual flower development and between 1 day and 6 days in the vase. Unexpectedly, however, the 5-day postharvest increase in leakage was intensified by 1-MCP treatment if the racemes were exposed to 1 hour of CEPA in the vase solution. Electrical conductivity measurements suggested that, in the latter treatment (+1-MCP, +CEPA), increased levels of diffusible electrolytes that had yet to be exported to the expanding apical meristem (delayed raceme development) contributed to the higher leakage. Results also demonstrate good potential for quality maintenance of L. havardii racemes by using 1-MCP, and that in addition to flower retention, raceme fresh weight and flower opening should be considered in developing VLL criteria for this new specialty crop.

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Geno A. Picchioni, Sharon A. Martinez, John G. Mexal and Dawn M. VanLeeuwen

Commercial production of pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch.] generates significant woody biomass from hedge prunings with little economic value. Value-added uses could aid pecan growers, and one possible use is wood chips for potting substrates to lessen dependence on peatmoss, thereby aiding greenhouse growers. We evaluated vegetative growth and leaf nutrient responses of ‘Carpino’ garden chrysanthemum (Dendranthema ×grandiflorum) over a 60-day period. Plants were grown in five pecan wood chip substrate levels that substituted 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of peatmoss by volume. Three water soluble fertilizer (WSF) rates—N at 0, 200, or 400 mg·L−1 (0–N, 200–N, and 400–N, respectively)—were applied with each irrigation and to each of the wood substitution treatments. The WSF and wood substitution treatments interacted strongly. In the presence of wood, (25−100% substitution levels), increasing WSF to 400–N increased cumulative evapotranspiration (ET), crop height, total leaf number and area, total leaf and stem dry weight, and leaf N and P concentrations. However, with 0% wood substitution, 400−N provided little or no such enhancements. With 25% to 50% wood substitution, root dry weight increased by 61% to 91% from 0–N to 200–N, which may be an adaptive response to nutrient-limiting conditions at 200–N. Appearance of a white rot fungal species in and atop pecan wood-supplemented substrate supports the likelihood that microbial activity was, at least in part, responsible for the nutrient limitations. High WSF at 400–N in combination with 25% pecan wood substitution maintained adequate fertility and shoot growth that was comparable to the conventional peat-only substrate at 200–N. With low to moderate amounts of pecan wood, further adjustments to WSF rate and irrigation volume would support sustainable fertigation practices, reduce dependence on peatmoss by greenhouse industry, and provide a value-added recycling option for pecan growers.

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Sabine R. Green, Geno A. Picchioni, Leigh W. Murray and Marisa M. Wall

Field-grown cut and dried flowers could provide a high-value crop selection for New Mexico. We conducted a 1-year field study to evaluate flower yield and quality characteristics of common globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa), ‘Strawberry Fields’ globe amaranth (Gomphrena haageana), cockscomb celosia (Celosia argentea var. cristata ‘Chief Mix’), and wheat celosia (Celosia spicata ‘Pink Candle’). Within-row spacing of 15 or 20 cm combined with two-row or three-row per bed plantings resulted in field planting densities ranging from 66,670 to 120,010 plants/ha of common globe amaranth and ‘Strawberry Fields’ globe amaranth, and 100,005 to 200,010 plants/ha of cockscomb and wheat celosia. All but cockscomb celosia produced four harvests that began 22 May and ended 18 Oct., depending on species. Both globe amaranth species had a 5- to 6-month harvest season, two to three midseason to late-season peak harvests, and over 1000 harvested stems totaling 1.4 to 1.8 kg dry weight per 1.5-m2 plot across the season. Both celosia species had a 4.5-month harvest season, one early summer peak harvest, and fewer than 300 harvested stems totaling 0.6 to 0.7 kg dry weight per plot for the year. Seasonally progressive increases in flowering stem length of both globe amaranth species and wheat celosia, and in flowering stem diameter of both globe amaranth species and cockscomb celosia, were observed. Flowering head size of both globe amaranth species and of wheat celosia varied little with harvest season, whereas the head diameter of cockscomb celosia increased with the season. Postharvest flower retention after mechanical impact was about 2% higher for common globe amaranth than it was for ‘Strawberry Fields’ globe amaranth, decreased by about 6% from early to later harvests for both celosia species, and was inversely related to the head size of both globe amaranth species and cockscomb celosia. Despite the wide range in planting density, the density effect was largely limited to cockscomb celosia. For that species, three-row planting (high density) increased the total number of spray flower (multiple head) stems, provided longer stems later into the season and wider heads midway into the season, and prolonged the production of spray stems (15-cm spacing only). Results demonstrate that these four species are excellent candidates as new specialty crops in semiarid conditions.