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Jennifer K. Boldt

Energy inputs are a major production cost for greenhouse-grown plants, especially heating and supplemental lighting. A possible energy-efficient alternative is to optimize greenhouse conditions on days that have a low heating demand and reduce temperature and irradiance on days that have a high heating demand. The objectives of this study were to determine how many days per week annual bedding plants could be grown in a reduced-energy environment before delays in crop growth and flowering occurred and to calculate the potential energy savings. Angelonia (Angelonia angustifolia Benth. ‘Angelface Blue’), dianthus (Dianthus chinensis L. ‘Telstar Pink’), lantana (Lantana camara L. ‘Luscious Citrus Blend’), pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana Gams. ‘Matrix Blue Blotch’), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Vilm. ‘Supertunia Mini Strawberry Pink Veined’), and petunia ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’ were grown in a “winter-normal” (WN) greenhouse (22/18 °C day/night, supplemental lighting from high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps, 14-hour photoperiod) and transferred to a “winter low-energy” (WLE) greenhouse (13/10 °C day/night, energy curtain continuously closed, day-extension lighting with HPS lamps, 14-hour photoperiod) for 0, 1, 2, 4, or 7 days per week. In general, days to first flower (DTFF), flower number, plant height, plant width, relative chlorophyll content, and shoot dry weight decreased as exposure duration to WLE increased. Flowering on angelonia was delayed when grown 1 day per week in WLE; delayed on dianthus, petunia ‘Supertunia Mini Strawberry Pink Veined’, and lantana when grown 4 days per week in WLE; and delayed on petunia ‘Supertunia Vista Bubblegum’ when grown continuously in WLE. Energy costs were estimated using Virtual Grower 3.0.9, and average savings of 2% to 8% occurred with 1 day per week in WLE, and increased to 35% to 51% when plants were grown continuously in WLE.

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James E. Altland and Jennifer K. Boldt

Parboiled rice hulls (PBH) have been shown to be an effective mulch for weed control in container crops. As with other mulch products, there is concern that PBH mulch would interfere with nutrient delivery to the crop. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of PBH mulch on nutrient concentration of fertilized irrigation water as it passes through the mulch layer, and the subsequent effect on growth and nutrition of container-grown sunflower (Helianthus annuus). Parboiled rice hull mulch was placed in Buchner funnels at a depth of 0, 0.63, 1.25, or 2.50 cm. Irrigation was applied with a water-soluble fertilizer (20N–4.4P–16.6K) injected at a concentration of 100 mg·L−1 N. Filtrates were collected after passing through the PBH in the Buchner funnels and analyzed for nutrient concentration. In a separate study, sunflower in no. 3 containers were mulched with the same depths of PBH and irrigated with water fertilized similar to that in the funnel experiment. Parboiled rice hull mulch caused a temporary and slight decrease in NO3 and NH4 + concentration. Phosphate and K+ concentrations generally increased with each irrigation event. Calcium and Mg exhibited an inverse relationship where the PBH mulch decreased Ca and increased Mg concentrations in the filtrates. Despite these measured differences in the chemical properties of water passing through the mulch layer, there were no measurable differences in sunflower growth or physical appearance, and only minor and inconsequential differences in plant nutrient status. Rice hull mulches are likely to have very minor effects on container crop nutrition with no adverse effect on plant growth over a 6 week production cycle as used in this experiment.

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Jennifer K. Boldt and James E. Barrett

A daminozide plus chlormequat chloride tank mix spray was applied to six Coleus cultivars or breeding lines at different times during propagation. For UF 03-8-10 and `Coco Loco', plants sprayed on day 7 or day 10 were shorter than control plants at transplant, but plants sprayed on day 13 were not. Other cultivars did not respond to single applications. Five of the six cultivars responded to application on days 7 and 13. Plants of UF 03-8-3 and `Coco Loco' were significantly shorter than control plants at transplant. Plants of UF 03-8-10, UF 03-6-1, and UF 03-17-8 were shorter than control plants at 3 weeks after transplant. `Hurricane Louise' did not respond to the tank mix. A second study found a cultivar specific response to three chemical treatments applied as a spray on day 10 of propagation. At transplant, UF 03-8-10, UF 03-8-3, UF 03-6-1, and `Coco Loco' plants sprayed with the tank mix at 2500 plus 1500 mg·L-1, respectively, were significantly shorter than the control plants. A uniconazole spray at 2 mg·L-1 reduced elongation in UF 03-8-10, UF 03-8-3, and UF 03-6-1, compared to control plants. Ethephon at 250 mg·L-1 reduced elongation in UF 03-8-10, UF 03-8-3, and `Coco Loco' plants. None of the chemical sprays reduced elongation in `Hurricane Louise' at the concentrations applied. Ethephon increased axillary branching in all cultivars, and induced lower leaf abscission in UF 03-17-8 and `Hurricane Louise'; leaf malformation in UF 03-6-1 and `Coco Loco'; and color alteration in UF 03-6-1, UF 03-8-3, and `Coco Loco'.

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Joshua K. Craver, Jennifer K. Boldt and Roberto G. Lopez

Previous research has shown high-quality annual bedding plant seedlings can be produced in controlled environments using light-emitting diode (LED) sole-source lighting (SSL). However, when only red and blue radiation are used, a delay in time to flower may be present when seedlings of some long-day species are subsequently finished in a greenhouse. Thus, our objective was to evaluate the effects of various radiation qualities and intensities under SSL on the morphology, nutrient uptake, and subsequent flowering of annual bedding plant seedlings with a long-day photoperiodic response. Coreopsis (Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Sunfire’), pansy (Viola ×wittrockiana ‘Matrix Yellow’), and petunia (Petunia ×hybrida ‘Purple Wave’) seedlings were grown at radiation intensities of 105, 210, or 315 µmol·m−2·s−1, achieved from LED arrays with radiation ratios (%) of red:blue 87:13 (R87:B13), red:far-red:blue 84:7:9 (R84:FR7:B9), or red:green:blue 74:18:8 (R74:G18:B8). Four-week-old seedlings were subsequently transplanted and grown in a common greenhouse environment. Stem caliper, root dry mass, and shoot dry mass of seedlings generally increased for all three species as the radiation intensity increased from 105 to 315 µmol·m−2·s−1, regardless of radiation quality. Similarly, stem length of all three species was generally shorter as the radiation intensity increased. Macro- and micronutrient concentrations were also generally lower as the radiation intensity increased for all three species. Pansy seedlings grown under R84:FR7:B9 flowered an average of 7 and 5 days earlier than those under R87:B13 and R74:G18:B8, respectively. These results provide information regarding the specific radiation parameters from commercially available LEDs necessary to produce high-quality seedlings under SSL, with radiation intensity appearing to be the dominant factor in determining seedling quality. Furthermore, the addition of far-red radiation can reduce time to flower after transplant and allow for a faster greenhouse turnover of some species with a long-day photoperiodic response.

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Joshua K. Craver, Jennifer K. Boldt and Roberto G. Lopez

High-quality young plant production in northern latitudes requires supplemental lighting (SL) to achieve a recommended daily light integral (DLI) of 10 to 12 mol·m−2·d−1. High-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps have been the industry standard for providing SL in greenhouses. However, high-intensity light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures providing blue, white, red, and/or far-red radiation have recently emerged as a possible alternative to HPS lamps for greenhouse SL. Therefore, the objectives of this study were to 1) quantify the morphology and nutrient concentration of common and specialty bedding plant seedlings grown under no SL, or SL from HPS lamps or LED fixtures; and 2) determine whether SL source during propagation or finishing influences finished plant quality or flowering. The experiment was conducted at a commercial greenhouse in West Lafayette, IN. Seeds of New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri ‘Divine Blue Pearl’), French marigold (Tagetes patula ‘Bonanza Deep Orange’), gerbera (Gerbera jamesonii ‘Terracotta’), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida ‘Single Dreams White’), ornamental millet (Pennisetum glaucum ‘Jester’), pepper (Capsicum annuum ‘Hot Long Red Thin Cayenne’), and zinnia (Zinnia elegans ‘Zahara Fire’) were sown in 128-cell trays. On germination, trays were placed in a double-poly greenhouse under a 16-hour photoperiod of ambient solar radiation and photoperiodic lighting from compact fluorescent lamps providing a photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) of 2 µmol·m−2·s−1 (ambient conditions) or SL from either HPS lamps or LED fixtures providing a PPFD of 70 µmol·m−2·s−1. After propagation, seedlings were transplanted and finished under SL provided by the same HPS lamps or LED fixtures in a separate greenhouse environment. Overall, seedlings produced under SL were of greater quality [larger stem caliper, increased number of nodes, lower leaf area ratio (LAR), and greater dry mass accumulation] than those produced under no SL. However, seedlings produced under HPS or LED SL were comparable in quality. Although nutrient concentrations were greatest under ambient conditions, select macro- and micronutrient concentrations also were greater under HPS compared with LED SL. SL source during propagation and finishing had little effect on flowering and finished plant quality. Although these results indicate little difference in plant quality based on SL source, they further confirm the benefits gained from using SL for bedding plant production. In addition, with both SL sources producing a similar finished product, growers can prioritize other factors related to SL installations such as energy savings, fixture price, and fixture lifespan.

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Jennifer K. Boldt, James C. Locke and James E. Altland

Silicon (Si) is a plant beneficial element associated with the mitigation of abiotic and biotic stresses. Most greenhouse-grown ornamentals are considered low Si accumulators based on foliar Si concentration. However, Si accumulates in all tissues, and there is little published data on the distribution of Si in plants. This knowledge may be critical to using Si to mitigate tissue-specific plant stresses, e.g., pathogens. Therefore, we quantified Si accumulation and distribution in petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr. ‘Dreams Pink’), a low Si accumulator, and sunflower (Helianthus annuus L. ‘Pacino Gold’), a high Si accumulator. Plants were grown in a sphagnum peat: perlite substrate amended with 0% (−Si) or 20% (+Si) parboiled rice hulls for 53 (petunia) or 72 days (sunflower). Aboveground dry weight was greater in nonamended petunia (13%) and sunflower (18%), compared with rice hull–amended plants, but days to flower was unaffected. Sunflowers grown in the rice hull–amended substrate had the greatest Si concentration in leaves (10,909 mg·kg−1), whereas roots (895 mg·kg−1), stems (303 mg·kg−1), and flowers (252 mg·kg−1) had lower, but similar Si concentrations. In petunia, Si concentration was greatest in leaves (2036 mg·kg−1), then roots (1237 mg·kg−1), followed by stems (301 mg·kg−1), and flowers (247 mg·kg−1). The addition of rice hulls to the substrate increased Si concentration in sunflower 414% in roots, 512% in flowers, 611% in stems, and 766% in leaves. By contrast, Si concentration in petunia increased only 7% in flowers, 105% in stems, and 115% in leaves, but increased 687% in roots. In rice hull–amended sunflowers, the distribution of Si was 91% in leaves, 3% in stems, 3% in roots, and 3% in flowers, and in petunia, it was 72% in leaves, 17% in stems, 6% in roots, and 5% in flowers.

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Joshua R. Gerovac, Joshua K. Craver, Jennifer K. Boldt and Roberto G. Lopez

Multilayer vertical production systems using sole-source (SS) lighting can be used for the production of microgreens; however, traditional SS lighting methods can consume large amounts of electrical energy. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) offer many advantages over conventional light sources, including high photoelectric conversion efficiencies, narrowband spectral light quality (LQ), low thermal output, and adjustable light intensities (LIs). The objective of this study was to quantify the effects of SS LEDs of different light qualities and intensities on growth, morphology, and nutrient content of Brassica microgreens. Purple kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea L. var. gongylodes L.), mizuna (Brassica rapa L. var. japonica), and mustard [Brassica juncea (L.) Czern. ‘Garnet Giant’] were grown in hydroponic tray systems placed on multilayer shelves in a walk-in growth chamber. A daily light integral (DLI) of 6, 12, or 18 mol·m−2·d−1 was achieved from commercially available SS LED arrays with light ratios (%) of red:green:blue 74:18:8 (R74:G18:B8), red:blue 87:13 (R87:B13), or red:far-red:blue 84:7:9 (R84:FR7:B9) with a total photon flux (TPF) from 400 to 800 nm of 105, 210, or 315 µmol·m−2·s−1 for 16 hours. Regardless of LQ, as the LI increased from 105 to 315 µmol·m−2·s−1, hypocotyl length (HL) decreased and percent dry weight (DW) increased for kohlrabi, mizuna, and mustard microgreens. With increasing LI, leaf area (LA) of kohlrabi generally decreased and relative chlorophyll content (RCC) increased. In addition, nutrient content increased under low LIs regardless of LQ. The results from this study can help growers to select LIs and LQs from commercially available SS LEDs to achieve preferred growth characteristics of Brassica microgreens.

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James E. Altland, James C. Locke, Wendy L. Zellner and Jennifer K. Boldt

Dolomitic lime (DL) is the primary liming agent used for increasing pH in peatmoss-based substrates. Steel slag (SS) is a byproduct of the steel manufacturing industry that has been used to elevate field soil pH. The objective of this research was to determine the pH response of a peatmoss-based greenhouse substrate to varying rates of DL or SS. Two experiments were conducted with an 85 peatmoss : 15 perlite substrate. In the first experiment, the substrate was amended with 0, 2.4, 4.8, or 7.1 kg·m−3 of either DL or SS. Half of the containers remained fallow and the other half were potted with a single sunflower (Helianthus annuus L. ‘Pacino Gold’). In the second experiment, fallow containers were only used with the substrate amended with 0, 2.4, 4.8, 9.5, or 14.2 kg·m−3 DL or SS. Sunflower were measured for relative foliar chlorophyll content, shoot mass, root ratings, and foliar nutrient concentrations. Substrate electrical conductivity (EC) and pH were measured weekly using the pour-through procedure. All sunflower plants grew vigorously, although nonamended controls had less shoot dry weight than those amended with DL or SS. There were minor differences in foliar concentration of N, Ca, Mg, and Mn; however, these differences did not adversely affect plant growth. Summarizing across both experiments, EC was affected by treatment and time, although all substrates had EC readings within the range recommended for floriculture crop production (1.0–4.6 mS⋅cm−1). Substrate pH differed slightly in Expt. 1 between fallow and planted containers. Substrate pH increased exponentially with increasing rates of either DL or SS. Maximum pH in fallow DL and SS amended substrates was 6.57 and 6.93, respectively, in Expt. 1 and 6.85 and 7.67, respectively, in Expt. 2. The SS used in this experiment resulted in a greater pH response than DL with higher application rates. SS is a viable material for raising pH of soilless substrates.

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Cindy B.S. Tong, Hsueh-Yuan Chang, Jennifer K. Boldt, Yizhou B. Ma, Jennifer R. DeEll, Renae E. Moran, Gaétan Bourgeois and Dominique Plouffe

Multiple types of flesh browning can occur as storage disorders in ‘Honeycrisp’ apple (Malus ×domestica Borkh.) fruit. Predicting its occurrence is hindered by differing definitions of the types of browning, incomplete understanding of their etiologies, and difficulty in assessing harvest maturity of ‘Honeycrisp’ fruit. In 2013, of ‘Honeycrisp’ fruit grown, harvested over multiple weeks, and stored in Maine, Minnesota, Ontario, and Quebec, only the Quebec fruit developed diffuse flesh browning. A detailed comparison showed that the Quebec fruit differed in size, but not in other quality attributes, from fruit of the other locations. The Quebec fruit experienced lower temperatures during active fruit growth and were increasing in cell size up to harvest. Analyses of climate data from 2009 to 2015 indicated that accumulated growing degree-days (GDD) 50–60 day after full bloom (DAFB) could account for 31% of the variation in diffuse flesh browning, and seasonal GDD <500 are associated with a greater likelihood of injury. Fruit that exhibited diffuse flesh browning had higher magnesium and lower fructose levels than unaffected fruit. As these measurements were made after browning was assessed, the timing of the onset of these characteristics in relation to browning cannot be determined.