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Chieri Kubota and Mark Kroggel

Increasing numbers of greenhouse vegetable growers purchase transplants from specialized transplant propagators. Possible deterioration of transplants during transportation limits the market size as well as the potential sources of high-quality transplants. To determine the best conditions for transportation of seedlings, tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill., cv. Durinta) seedlings with visible flower trusses were placed for 4 days inside growth chambers to evaluate the effects of short-term exposure to different air temperatures (6, 13, or a conventional transportation temperature of 19 °C) under darkness or illumination at 12 μmol·m–2·s–1 PPF. Plants were evaluated for visual quality, photosynthetic ability, growth, and fruit yield. Lower temperatures and illumination significantly maintained visual quality of the seedlings. Lower temperature maintained high photosynthetic ability of seedlings during the 4-day treatment. After transplanting in the greenhouse, a significant number of trusses exhibited flower abortion or delayed fruit development when seedlings were treated at 19 °C regardless of light intensity. Results suggested that 6 to 13 °C was the best transportation temperature for up to 4 days, which was later validated by an actual transportation trial between British Columbia and Arizona.

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Chieri Kubota and Mark Kroggel

Increasing numbers of vegetable growers purchase their seedlings from specialized transplant producers. However, early yield reduction due to abnormal first fruit truss development was often observed after long-distance transportation of seedlings. 1-Methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), an inhibitor of ethylene-mediated reactions, is widely used for postharvest management. If ethylene accumulated in trailers causes such abnormal first truss fruit development, application of 1-MCP to seedlings may prevent such problems. To test this hypothesis, `Durinta' tomato seedlings with visible flower buds were placed in chambers for 4 days under one of the following conditions: 1) conventional transportation air temperature of 18 °C without 1-MCP, 2) 18 °C with 1-MCP, 3) 12 °C without 1-MCP, and 4) nonstored control. The target initial 1-MCP concentration was 1 μmol·mol-1 inside the chamber, and the concentration was estimated to reach 0.2 μmol·mol-1 after 96 h. Three weeks after transplanting, 81.3% of first trusses on the plants treated at 18 °C without 1-MCP exhibited an abnormal, delayed fruit development. Both 1-MCP application and 12 °C air temperature successfully reduced the symptom to 4.7% and 3.1%, respectively; not significantly different from the nonstored control (1.6%). The average first truss yield was the lowest for 18 °C without 1-MCP (223 g per truss), followed by 18 °C with 1-MCP (582 g), and was the greatest (609–637 g) for 12 °C without 1-MCP or the control. Ethylene accumulation was the primary cause of the delayed fruit development causing yield reduction. Application of 1-MCP during transportation was shown to prevent such undesirable yield loss, although lowering temperature was the most effective under the present experimental conditions.

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Chieri Kubota* and Mark Kroggel

Increasing numbers of vegetable growers purchase their transplants from specialized transplant producers. Possible deterioration of transplants during transportation limits the market size as well as the potential sources of high quality transplants. To determine best conditions for transportation of seedlings, tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum; `Durinta') seedlings with visible flower buds were placed for 4 days under varied air temperature (6, 12, or the conventional transportation temperature of 18 °C) and light intensity 0 (conventional darkness) or dim light at 12 μmol·m-2·s-1 PAR). Plants were evaluated for visual quality, photosynthetic capacity, growth and ultimately fruit yield. Lower temperatures and illumination significantly maintained visual quality of the seedlings. Lower temperature maintained high photosynthetic capacity of the seedlings during transportation. Growth and development of the seedlings were significantly affected by higher temperature resulting in significantly delayed growth and development. Number of fruits set on the first truss was significantly reduced when seedlings were at 18 °C during transportation. Overall, simulated transport at 6 °C under light showed the best transportability without experiencing negative impact for the 4-day simulated transportation. Seedlings at 6 °C in darkness and at 12 °C under light and in darkness also showed satisfactory transportability. Seedlings at 18 °C exhibited serious quality deterioration of seedlings, delay in early growth and development, loss of flower buds on the first truss and yield reduction, which agrees with the fact that conventional transportation is currently able to be no longer than 3 days in duration.

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Mark Kroggel, James A. Schrader and William R. Graves

Maackia amurensis Rupr. & Maxim. is a leguminous tree species possessing meritorious ornamental characteristics and is confirmed to associate with rhizobia that fix nitrogen, but few attempts to isolate symbiotically superior rhizobia have been made. Our goals were to isolate rhizobia from the root zones of indigenous trees of M. amurensis in two ecologically distinct forests in the Heilongjiang Province of China, characterize the rhizobia, and compare their effectiveness at causing nodulation of this host plant. Rhizobia were isolated and cultured from nodules that formed on seedlings grown in soils collected in May 1998, from the Maoershan (45°N, 127°E) and Liangshui (47°N, 128°E) Research Forests. Inoculants from each of the 160 isolates were applied to seedlings. A subset of 48 isolates that evoked the most nodules was partitioned by cluster analysis into 12 similarity groups based on measures of number of nodules (17.9 ± 6.5), the ratio of growth rate on two distinct media (2.26 ± 1.8), pH reaction as measured by absorption at 614 nm of bromthymol blue (0.98 ± 0.36), and tolerance to sodium chloride at 15 g/L (23 out of 48). By using single-isolate cultures of similar cellular concentration as inoculants, one isolate from each group and USDA 4349, an isolate obtained during previous research, are being compared for their capacity to infect and nodulate seedlings.

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Chieri Kubota, Mark Kroggel, Mohammad Torabi, Katherine A. Dietrich, Hyun-Jin Kim, Jorge Fonseca and Cynthia A. Thomson

‘Durinta’ tomatoes were grown hydroponically using rockwool substrate in greenhouses to assess the seasonal and postharvest changes of selected quality attributes including lycopene and total soluble solids (TSS, % Brix) concentrations in fruit when grown under varied electrical conductivity (EC) in the nutrient solution. Two levels of EC examined in this study were 2.4 and 4.8 dS·m−1 for standard low EC and high EC treatments, respectively. All fruits at light-red and red ripeness stages were harvested and weighed every week, and nine fruits visually representing the median group of red fruits were selected from each EC treatment and subject to measurements of lycopene and TSS concentrations. Of 53 harvest weeks (Dec. 2005 to Dec. 2006), 45 weeks were subject to fruit quality analyses at harvest and 3 weeks were subject to postharvest quality analyses. Lycopene concentration and TSS showed seasonal differences with larger variation in lycopene, but the high EC treatment induced an overall average of 18% greater lycopene concentration and a 20% greater TSS. The regression analyses indicated that efflux solution EC (EEC) was the most influential factor for both lycopene and TSS concentrations, but secondary influential factors were greenhouse temperature for lycopene and daily light integral for TSS. Postharvest storage test showed that selected fruit quality attributes (lycopene, TSS, ascorbic acid, and total phenolics) changed minimally or not at all for 10 days when stored at 12 °C, a widely recommended tomato postharvest storage temperature. Overall, we consider that producing lycopene-rich tomato by controlling EC of nutrient solution was feasible during year-round greenhouse production using a high-wire rockwool culture system.