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  • Author or Editor: Paul Struik x
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Our previous work on modifying strawberry plant morphology used either mowing to remove the leaf laminas and part of the petioles on `Camarosa', or a new reduced-risk gibberellin synthesis inhibitor, Prohexadione-Ca (ProCa), to restrict cell elongation in `Sweet Charlie'. These early studies showed promising results in acheiving desirable plant size and increasing fruit yield in annual hill plasticulture. Therefore, in the growing seasons of 2001 and 2002, we used `Camarosa' to explore the possibility of combining mowing and ProCa as a means of modifying strawberry transplant morphology in the nurseries, and studied its effect on fruit production in annual hill plasticulture. Plants were mowed and treated with 62.5 μL·L-1 of ProCa in a nursery field in Nova Scotia (45°26'N, 63°27'W). Treatments consisted of either mowing, the application of ProCa, or a combination of mowing and ProCa on one of two dates, 5 or 19 Sept. ProCa application early in the growing season had increased the production of daughter plants in the nursery. All plants were harvested in early October, and immediately transplanted in Dover, Fla. (28°00'N, 82°22'W). Fruits were collected twice weekly from late November to February or March. At time of harvest, both mowing and ProCa reduced plant height and total leaf area; plants which were treated with ProCa and mowed were the shortest. On average, treated plants had higher fruit yield as compared to untreated plants. In 2001, early fruit production in December was increased significantly in treated plants.

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To improve our understanding of fruit growth responses to temperature, it is important to analyze temperature effects on underlying fruit cellular processes. This study aimed at analyzing the response of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) fruit size to heating as affected by changes in cell number and cell expansion in different directions. Individual trusses were enclosed into cuvettes and heating was applied either only during the first 7 days after anthesis (DAA), from 7 DAA until fruit maturity (breaker stage), or both. Fruit size and histological characteristics in the pericarp were measured. Heating fruit shortened fruit growth period and reduced final fruit size. Reduction in final fruit size of early-heated fruit was mainly associated with reduction in final pericarp cell volume. Early heating increased the number of cell layers in the pericarp but did not affect the total number of pericarp cells. These results indicate that in the tomato pericarp, periclinal cell divisions respond differently to temperature than anticlinal or randomly oriented cell divisions. Late heating only decreased pericarp thickness significantly. Continuously heating fruit reduced anticlinal cell expansion (direction perpendicular to fruit skin) more than periclinal cell expansion (direction parallel to fruit skin). This study emphasizes the need to measure cell expansion in more than one dimension in histological studies of fruit.

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