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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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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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G.A. Picchioni, Wayne A. Mackay and Mario Valenzuela-Vázquez

Correlative control of long-distance transport processes consists of an attraction or mobilizing power of a sink organ coupled to internal degradative reactions in a target source organ and the reallocation of its resources. This phenomenon is widely recognized in the agronomic whole plant literature but poorly recognized in the floriculture literature. We calculated supply and demand balances for water, total dry matter (TDM), and minerals during a 6-day postharvest evaluation of the spatially diverse, detached, indeterminate inflorescence of Lupinus havardii Wats. ‘Texas Sapphire’ held in deionized water. The apex approximately doubled its original (harvest day) amounts of total N, P, K, Mg, and S and increased its TDM and water content by 55% and 85%, respectively, all at the expense of lower-most mature flowers. Net export from the lower mature flower fraction and, when applicable, upper mature flowers, accounted for the following apical gains: 46% of TDM, 102% of water, 100% of N, 94% of P, 99% of K, and 54% of Mg and S. Directed reallocation of resources from the senescing lower mature flowers (the main “target”) to the apical sink (the “mobilizing center”) bore a marked resemblance to the coupling of remote sink demand with vegetative decline reported in monocarpic plants (i.e., vegetative-to-reproductive exchanges), but with two distinguishing characteristics: 1) the TDM and mineral exchanges were strongly restricted to flowering units, and 2) the contributions of water, N, P, and K exports to apical sink demand were at or near 100%. This article is the first that we are aware to provide an internal supply and demand balance sheet reflecting, quantitatively, the postharvest reallocation of internal resources from mature reproductive tissues to generative reproductive tissues of a cut inflorescence.

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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.