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Gary J. Keever and J. Raymond Kessler Jr.

In previous studies, night-interrupted lighting (NIL) promoted earlier flowering of summer-blooming herbaceous perennials grown under outdoor nursery conditions in the southeastern U.S. However, NIL promoted excessive plant height, thus reducing product quality. Our objective was to control plant height of Coreopsis grandiflora `Early Sunrise' (ES) and Rudbeckia fulgida `Goldsturm' (RG) grown under NIL with plant growth retardants (PGR) without offsetting earlier flowering promoted by NIL. Treatments under NIL were three rates of daminozide, daminozide plus chloromequat, flurprimidol, uniconazole, and NIL and natural controls. Plant height was reduced 3% to 38% in ES and 8% to 31% in RG and time to visible bud was unchanged by all PGR treatments compared to the NIL control. Time to visible bud was unchanged in RG by all PGR treatments and flurprimidol in ES, but the remaining PGR treatments increased time to visible bud compared to the NIL control in ES. Only ES plants treated with daminozide and daminozide plus chloromequat at the two highest rates and all rates of uniconazole were similar in height to the natural control. RG plant heights with the two highest rates of flurprimidol and uniconazole and the highest rate of daminozide plus chloromequat were less than the natural control; heights of plants in the remaining PGR treatments were similar to the natural control. Quality rating was unchanged in RG but was increased in ES by all PGR treatments compared to the NIL control.

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J. Raymond Kessler Jr. and Gary J. Keever

Vegetative offsets of Achillea x `Coronation Gold' were rooted under mist for 3 weeks and potted into 10-cm pots in a greenhouse. Plants were grown under short photoperiods for 6 weeks before being vernalized for 6 weeks at 6 °C. Plants then were provided long photoperiods from night-break lighting. Foliar sprays of daminozide at 0, 2550, 5100, or 7650 mg·L-1, chlormequat at 0, 767, 1534, or 3201 mg·L-1, daminozide + chlormequat at 0, 1275 +, 2550 + or 3825+1534 mg·L-1, flurprimidol at 0, 40, 80, or 120 mg·L-1, paclobutrazol at 0, 32, 64, 96, 128, or 160 mg·L-1 or uniconizole at 0, 11, 22, 33, 44, or 55 mg·L-1 were applied as a spray 1 week after vernalization. Highest market quality ratings were achieved with paclobutrazol at 96 or 128, uniconizole at 22 or 33, daminozide + chlormequat 3825 + 1534, chlormequat at 2301 or flurprimidol at 40 mg·L-1. Peduncle length and growth index decreased linearly for daminozide, chlormequat, and daminozide + chlormequat, and decreased quadratically for flurprimidol, paclobutrazol, and uniconizole with increasing rate. Time to flower increased most in treatments receiving high rates of daminozide. Flower diameter was reduced by the highest rates of flurprimidol and paclobutrazol.

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J. Raymond Kessler Jr. and Gary J. Keever

Vegetative cuttings of Coreopsis verticillata `Moonbeam' were rooted under intermittent mist, pinched, and potted into 10-cm pots in a greenhouse. Plants were sheared to 6.5 cm above the pot rim 2 weeks after potting and given foliar sprays of daminozide at 0, 2550, 5100, or 7650 mg·L-1 or flurprimidol at 0, 50, 100, or 150 mg·L-1. Night-break lighting to provide long photoperiods was started the day of shearing. Growth retardants were applied at 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, or 15 days after shearing. Daminozide reduced shoot height, growth index, and lateral shoot length compared to the control by 69.3%, 69.2%, and 70.0%, respectively, while increasing quality rating by 67.3% and time to flower by 8 days at 5100 and 7650 mg·L-1. Response surface regression predicted that minimum plant size and maximum quality rating occurred when growth retardants were applied 5.7 to 8.3 days after shearing. Application timing had no effect on responses to flurprimidol. Shoot height, growth index, and lateral shoot length decreased quadratically with increasing rate while quality rating only improved compared to control. Flurprimidol did not cause a flowering delay.

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J. Raymond Kessler Jr., Jeff L. Sibley, Bridget K. Behe, Darby M. Quinn and James S. Bannon

Fifty-seven herbaceous perennials were evaluated from July 1996 to October 1997 in USDA Hardiness Zone 8. Plants in this study generally performed better the first year after planting than the second year. Several selections did not reemerge the second year, though some natural reseeding occurred. Still other selections never fully recovered from the winter months or succumbed to stress in the summer. Plants that maintained an attractive foliage display while not in bloom and plants that had a high bloom rating during the bloom season are worth incorporating into a full sun perennial or mixed border in the southeastern United States. Performance of perennials in the landscape may vary from year to year as climatic conditions affect performance. Comparison of results from variety trials at other locations should help increase performance information reliability for perennial selection.

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Wheeler G. Foshee III, Brad E. Reeder, Raymond J. Kessler Jr., Larry W. Wells, Joseph M. Kemble, Edgar L. Vinson, Robert T. Boozer and William A Dozier Jr

Production of high tunnel tomatoes and snapdragons was evaluated over a 2-year period at the Wiregrass Experiment Station, in southeastern Alabama. `BHN 640', `Florida 91', `Sunleaper', and `Carolina Gold', were evaluated in early Spring 2004. Results indicated that `BHN 640' outperformed `Florida 91' and `Carolina Gold' in early production of high tunnel grown tomatoes. A late Fall 2005 study examined `BHN 640' and `Florida 91'. Results indicated that `BHN 640' was superior to `Florida 91' in total marketable fruit. Season extension of both spring and fall tomato production were accomplished. A planting date study was completed in the early Spring 2005. The following four planting dates were evaluated: 31 Jan., 17 Feb., 4 Mar., and 25. Mar 2005. Wind damage to the high tunnel caused some mortality; however, the two earliest planting dates (31 Jan. and 17 Feb. 2005) produced over 10 lbs. of marketable tomatoes per plant. These were both superior to the last planting date of 25 Mar 2005. Cut snapdragons were evaluated for suitable colored mulch (red, white, or blue) and varieties for summer (`Opus Yellow', `Opus Rose', `Monaco Red', and `Potomac Early White') and fall (`Apollo Purple', `Apollo Yellow', `Monaco Red', `Monaco Rose', and `Potomac Early Orange') production. Results indicated that inflorescence length was affected by the color of mulch. The red mulch had increased inflorescence length compared to the white in Summer 2005. The Fall 2005 study revealed that white mulch had longer inflorescence length than the red or blue mulch. Some varietal differences were observed. The `Apollo Purple' had longer stem lengths than all other varieties for the fall study. The summer study revealed that `Opus Yellow' had longer inflorescence lengths than all others but stem lengths were all similar.

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Ashley K. Brantley, James D. Spiers, Andrew B. Thompson, James A. Pitts, J. Raymond Kessler Jr., Amy N. Wright and Elina D. Coneva

Commercial kiwifruit production often requires substantial inputs for successful pollination. Determining the length of time that female flowers can be successfully pollinated can aid management decisions concerning pollination enhancement. The purpose of this research was to determine the effective pollination period (EPP) for ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ and ‘AU Fitzgerald’. Either 30 (2013) or 32 (2014, 2015) flowers of ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ were hand pollinated each day for 1 to 5 (2013) days after anthesis (DAA) or 1 to 7 DAA (2014, 2015), and then isolated to prevent open pollination. Anthesis was considered the day the flower opened. Similarly, ‘AU Fitzgerald’ flowers were pollinated and then isolated 1 to 6 DAA in 2013 and 1 to 7 DAA in 2015. For ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ in 2013, fruit set was consistent over the 5-day period, but fruit weight, fruit size index, and seed number decreased between 1 and 3 and 4 and 5 DAA. In 2014, fruit set decreased between 1 and 6 and 7 DAA, whereas fruit weight, fruit size index, and seed number each decreased in a linear trend. In 2015, fruit set also decreased between 1 and 6 and 7 DAA, whereas all other responses decreased linearly. Based on fruit set in 2014 and 2015, the EPP for ‘AU Golden Sunshine’ was 6 DAA. The EPP for ‘AU Fitzgerald’, however, was more variable. In 2013, fruit weight, fruit size index and seed number decreased between 1 and 4 and 5 and 6 DAA, suggesting that the EPP was 4 DAA. In 2015, fruit set remained consistent over the 7-day period with fruit weight, fruit size index, and seed number decreasing linearly. Differences in temperature and the alternate bearing tendency of kiwifruit species likely contributed to the discrepancies between the years for the EPP. For each cultivar, reductions in fruit weight, size, and seed number were observed before an observed decrease in fruit set. Greater fruit weight, size, and seed number were observed when flowers were pollinated within the first few DAA, with results varying thereafter.