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John F. Kelly

At Michigan State Univ., the Dept. of Horticulture curriculum has been restructured simultaneously both toward and away from specialization. The traditional commodity orientation has been eliminated in the main track Horticulture option. At the same time, a new highly structured Landscape Design–Construction and Management option has been created. Both of these changes were made in response to industry needs. Additional optional Specializations in Environmental Studies, Agribusiness, and Biotechnology also are available. These require students to take 18–20 credits from specified course lists. These credits may be part of the required courses for the Horticulture major, or may be in addition to that requirement.

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Jodie Benson and John Kelly

Tomato and pepper transplants were grown in an environment with a high red to far-red light ratio, to determine if this was an effective method for controlling plant height. This light environment was provided by placing plants under copper sulfate filters, which absorb most of the light in the far-red region of the spectrum. Copper sulfate solutions were 4%, 8%, and 16% w/v. Tomato transplants grown under the filters were approximately 40% shorter than control plants, had less dry weight and leaf area, and increased leaf chlorophyll. Leaf number data was less clearly affected. Differences were not observed among the three different CuSO4 concentrations. Similar results were observed for peppers. Field trials on tomatoes indicated that total yield, earliness of fruiting, and fruit quality were not affected by growing transplants under the CUSO4 filters.

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John W. Kelly

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Jodi Benson and John Kelly

Height control is a major concern when growing bedding plants. Growth regulating chemicals are often applied to regulate height of bedding plant species. However, reductions in plant height have been observed when plants were grown under light with a high ratio of red to far red light. Light passing through clear double walled, acrylic panels filled with copper sulfate solution has a high red to far red ratio. This work examined the effect of growing tomatoes, peppers, pansies, petunias, geraniums, and impatiens under panels filled with 4, 8, and 16 percent copper sulfate solution. Plants were grown for approximately 3 weeks in cell packs, then data were taken on plant height, number of leaves, leaf area, fresh and dry weight, and chlorophyll content. Significant reductions in height (40-66%) were achieved by growing bedding plants under any of the copper sulfate concentrations.

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Anusuya Rangarajan and John F. Kelly

Over the past few years, studies have been conducted exploring the variability in iron nutritional quality from a tropical vegetable, Amaranthus. In order to confirm previous iron bioavailability data, A. cruentus, A. hypochondriacus and A. tricolor lines were grown at the MSU Horticulture Research Center and then analyzed for total and in vitro bioavailable iron. Leaves were harvested 39 days after transplanting, washed, lyophilized and ground. Total iron levels were determined using atomic absorption spectroscopy and bioavailable iron estimates derived using an in vitro assay simulating gastrointestinal digestion. Among the lines tested, total iron concentrations ranged from 145 to 506 ppm. Bioavailable iron ranged from 44 to 70 ppm. Both the total and bioavailable iron measured were highest in A. tricolor, similar to results of previous years. Total iron values were lower for all of the lines than detected previously, but the range of bioavailable iron was similar to earlier work. Bioavailable iron estimated using the in vitro procedure does not appear to be greatly influenced by fluctuations in total iron content. Amaranth could provide between 44 and 70 mg Fe/100 gm fresh weight, equal to 20-35% of the daily Fe requirement for women, and 40-70% for men. Future experiments will utilize an animal bioassay to verify differences detected in bioavailable iron.

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Yuyu Bai and John F. Kelly

Net photosynthesis from whole plants of eight asparagus (Asparagus officinalis L.) genotypes was measured at two locations in an open infrared gas analysis system. Measurements started at about the completion of full fern growth, which occurred at the end of July and lasted through the season until fern senescence in late September. Net photosynthesis of the eight genotypes ranged from 15.67 to 27.79 μmol·m-2·s-1. Significant differences (P < 0.1) in net photosynthesis were found among the eight genotypes. Both yield and specific leaf mass (SLM) were correlated significantly with net photosynthesis. We suggest that specific leaf mass can be used as a criterion for selecting genotype of high photosynthetic ability. Daily photosynthetic rate patterns were studied and appear to be related to daily changes of stomatal conductance. Seasonal changes of asparagus' photosynthetic activity were studied. High photosynthetic activity was observed from July through August. Photosynthetic activity decreased greatly in September along with the fern maturation and unfavorable changes in environmental conditions.

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Nihal C. Rajapakse and John W. Kelly

The interaction of light quality and growing season on growth and carbohydrate metabolism of chrysanthemum was evaluated using 6% CuSO4 and water as spectral filters. Light transmitted through the CuSO4 filter significantly reduced plant height and internode length compared to control plants regardless of the season. Light transmitted through CuSO4 filters delayed flowering. Total number of flowers was not affected but plants grown under CuSO4 filter had smaller flowers than those grown under the control filter. Light transmitted through CuSO4 filter reduced leaf and stem soluble sugar and starch concentrations regardless of the growing season. However, me magnitude of reduction was greater in spring than in fall-grown plants. Stems of fall-grown plants had mom starch deposition than spring-grown plants under both filters. The reduction of leaf and stem carbohydrate content (per organ basis) was greater than that of concentrations due to reduced stem elongation and total dry matter accumulation. Filters with specific spectral characteristics can be used as alternative means of controlling height and producing compact plants in the greenhouses regardless of the growing season. However, flowering should be evaluated with individual flower crops as flowering response may interact with the quality of light and growing season.

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Nihal C. Rajapakse and John W. Kelly

The response of chrysanthemum plants to varying R:FR ratios and phytochrome photoequilibrium values (Ø = Pfr/Ptot) was evaluated by growing plants under 6%, or 40% CuSO4 and water spectral filters. Using a narrow band-width (R = 655-665 and FR = 725-735 nm) and a broad bandwidth (R = 600-700 and FR = 700-800 nm) for R:FR calculation, 6% CUSO4 filter transmitted light with greater R:FR (3.9) and grater Ø (0.81) than 40% CuSO4 or water filters. Light transmitted through 40% CuSO4 and water filters had a similar narrow band R:FR ratio (1.2), but the broad band R:FR ratio (2.1) of 40% CuSO4 filter was higher than water filter. Estimated Ø value was similar for both water and 40% CuSO4 filters. Final height of plants grown in CuSO4 chambers was about 30% less than the plants in control chambers. The results suggest that broad band R:FR ratio correlated more closely to plant response than the narrow band R:FR ratio.

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David G. Clark and John W. Kelly

Potted miniature roses (Rosa × hybrida `Confection ' & `Meijikatar') were treated at the end of each 8 hour photoperiod with 30, min of red (R) or far-red (FR) light for 21 days. These light treatments convert phytochrome to the Pfr and Pr forms respectively. Plants were paper sleeved and stored in cardboard boxes at 16°C for 5 days to simulate postharvest shipping conditions. `Meijikatar' plants treated with FR light showed more postharvest leaf chlorosis than plants treated with R light or controls.

`Meijikatar' plants treated at the end of each 12 hour photoperiod with FR light exhibited more postharvest leaf chlorosis than plants treated with R light. There were no differences in postharvest leaf chlorosis between plants treated with FR light followed by R light or plants treated with R light followed by FR light. These results suggest that an avoidance of end-of-day FR light will result in less postharvest leaf chlorosis in potted roses.

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Margaret J McMahon and John W. Kelly

The growth of Rosa × hybrida and Exacum affine under different spectral filters was evaluated. Three filters that altered light quality were developed. One, a red textile dye, filtered out much of the blue/green portion of the light spectrum but did not change far-red to red (FR/R) light ratio. Another, a blue textile dye, raised FR/R by filtering out a portion of red light. The third, a salt (copper sulfate) lowered FR/R by filtering out a greater portion of far-red than red light. Two controls were used that did not alter light quality. The filters were installed in specally built growth chambers. Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density (PPFD) was adjusted to equal values in each chamber.

Plants of both species were significantly shorter and had higher leaf chlorophyll, when grown under the low FR/R filter.