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Paul Thomas


Cultivar testing is an essential part of cultivar development programs. The main purpose is to determine the regional environmental adaptability and market fit of the new cultivars or hybrids. It is essential to know whether the items to be tested have the required disease resistance for the areas, whether they meet the needs of the industry as far as type or quality is concerned, and whether they will perform well under the environment of the region. Private research stations may not be in the immediate vicinity of the area of intended use, but adequate testing in these untested areas is still essential prior to release of new cultivars.

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Allan M. Armitage and Paul Thomas

The influence of cooling, photoperiod and chemical branching on early spring flowering of perennial species was studied. Cooling was provided while plants were in plugs (128 plugs per tray) and dikegulac-sodium, a compound found to induce breaks in other species, was applied prior to, during and after cooling. Plants were cooled in insulated lighted coolers for 4, 8 or 12 weeks at 4C, and brought to a greenhouse with night temperatures between 8-12C. Long and short days were provided in the greenhouse after plants came out of the coolers. Little response to dikegulac occurred, however, Campanula, Sedum, Leontopodium, Catananche, Aubrietia, Arabis, Gypsophila, Anchusa and Aquilegia responded to cooling and photoperiodic treatment. Flowering and vegetative characteristics such as internode elongation and plant height responded to photoperiod and cooling but not all genera responded similarly. Anchusa, Campanula, Aquilegia and Gypsophila flowered significantly earlier under LD compared to SD. Twelve weeks of cooling resulted in flowering of all genera, however, some genera were equally responsive to shorter cooling times.

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Wojciech J. Florkowski, Carol Robacker, and Paul Thomas

Managers and employees of landscape maintenance and lawn care industry (LM/LC) applying pesticides can prevent pollution. Adequate information about application of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and nematicides is a prerequisite for proper application. A survey, prepared by an interdisciplinary research team “Ornamentals Working Group,” was implemented in 1994 to Atlanta metro area firms. The gross return rate was 25.4%. The majority of respondents had 10 or fewer years of experience in providing landscape services; had at least 13 years of schooling; and were in their thirties or forties. The categorical nature of dependent variables suggested ordered probit procedure as the statistical estimation method. Independent variables included characteristics of the respondent, firm characteristics, and information sources about the application of a specific pesticide. Extension and research personnel and commercial representatives were important information sources about insecticide and fungicide application. The use of all three sources of information by the LM/LC industry seems to depend on pesticide type, with commercial representatives, and extension and research personnel often acting as complementary information sources.

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Paul A. Thomas and Joyce G. Latimer

Perennial growers experience marketing difficulty when the stem length, or height of their perennial stock is excessive. Both wholesale and retail outlets desire to keep height to a minimum, while still promoting the production of flowers. The objective of this study was to screen containerized, spring-planted perennials for response to the growth retardants Sumagic, Bonzi, and B-Nine. Each perennial variety used was treated with B-Nine (Daminozide at 5000 ppm Bonzi (paclobutrazol) at 240 ppm, and Sumagic (uniconizole-P) at the following rates: 0, 40, 80, 120, and 160 ppm.Pre-cooled plugs of cultivars were selected from the genera Achillea, Coreopsis, Echinaceae, Digitalis, Gaillardia, Phlox, Rudbeckia, Alcea, Veronica, and Monarda. A randomized complete block design was implemented. Eight of the nine cultivars were responsive to Sumagic, with a 12% to 79% range of reduction in height. Seven cultivars were responsive to Bonzi with a 20% to 61% range of reduction. Only one cultivar was responsive to B-Nine, requiring two applications of 5000 ppm, to yield a 22% reduction in height at 4WAT. Based upon growers' desire for up to 50% height reduction, a 30% height reduction assessment point was established as a minimum rate for production, and a 50% to 60% reduction was established as the maximum landscape rate (based upon in-landscape persistence).

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Stephanie Burnett, Paul Thomas, and Marc van Iersel

We previously found that incorporation of PEG-8000 into the growing medium delayed germination and resulted in shorter seedlings. However, in that study, we were unable to determine whether the reduced height was merely the effect of delayed germination or of reduced elongation after germination. To answer this question, we studied whether postgermination drenches with PEG-8000 can reduce seedling height. Annual salvia (Salvia splendens F. Sellow. ex Roem. & Shult. `Bonfire') and French marigold (Tagetes patula L. `Boy Orange') seedlings were treated with drenches of PEG-8000: 0, 15, 20, 30, 42, 50, 62, 72, or 83 g·L–1. At least 20% of seedlings treated with 62 to 83 g·L–1 of PEG-8000 were dead 14 d after treatment. Salvia and marigolds treated with the remaining PEG-8000 concentrations were up to 34% and 14% shorter than untreated seedlings, respectively. Leaf water (Ψw) and turgor potential (Ψp) also decreased for salvia which were grown with greater concentrations of PEG-8000, one probable cause of the observed reduction in elongation. Since the PEG-8000 in this study was applied after germination, it is clear that PEG-8000 does not reduce elongation merely by delaying germination, but also by reducing the elongation rate. Thus, postgermination drenches with PEG-8000 can be used to produce shorter seedlings.

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Paul H. Henry, Karen Midden, and Thomas Thibeault

Development of this software was initiated after receipt of a USDA Higher Education Challenge Grant. The visually realistic software, which uses digital photography as a software base, will serve as an effective and cost-efficient means through which students in landscape horticulture programs can improve their skills in estimating job costs prior to entering the job market. The software will allow students, while in a classroom setting, to visualize a job site from various perspectives, determine the tasks (landscape installation/landscape maintenance) that must be accomplished, and calculate an estimate taking into account direct costs (materials, labor, equipment), indirect costs (overhead), and profit. The interactive nature of the software will allow students to compare their estimates with one of known accuracy generated simultaneously by the computer. Incorporation of this software into academic curricula should increase prospects of long-term success for the many students who plan to start their own landscape horticulture businesses soon after graduating from college and university programs.

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Thomas G. Ranney and Paul R. Fantz

Franklinia alatamaha Bartr. ex Marshall represents a monotypic genus that was originally discovered in Georgia, USA, but is now considered extinct in the wild and is maintained only in cultivation. Although Franklinia is very ornamental, with showy flowers and crimson/maroon fall foliage, it tends to be short lived when grown as a landscape tree and is known to be susceptible to a variety of root pathogens. Gordonia lasianthus (L.) Ellis is an evergreen tree native to the southeastern United States, typically growing in riparian habitats. Gordonia lasianthus has attractive foliage and large, white, showy flowers, but limited cold hardiness. Hybridization between F. alatamaha and G. lasianthus could potentially combine the cold hardiness of F. alatamaha with the evergreen foliage of G. lasianthus and broaden the genetic base for further breeding and improvement among these genera. Controlled crosses between F. alatamaha and G. lasianthus resulted in intergeneric hybrid progeny. A morphological comparison of parents and the progeny is presented. ×Gordlinia grandiflora Ranney and Fantz (mountain gordlinia) is proposed as the name for these hybrids and is validated with a Latin diagnosis.

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Stephanie Burnett, Marc van Iersel, and Paul Thomas

Osmotic compounds, such as polyethylene glycol 8000 (PEG-8000), reduce plant elongation by imposing controlled drought. However, the effects of PEG-8000 on nutrient uptake are unknown. Impatiens `Dazzler Pink' (Impatiens walleriana Hook. F.) were grown hydroponically in modified Hoagland solutions containing 0, 10, 17.5, 25, 32.5, 40, 47.5, 55, or 62.5 g·L–1 PEG-8000. Impatiens were up to 68% shorter than control plants when grown with PEG-8000 in the nutrient solution. Plants treated with PEG-8000 rates above 25 g·L–1 were either damaged or similar in size to seedlings treated with 25 g·L–1 of PEG-8000. Impatiens leaf water potentials (Ψw) were positively correlated with plant height. PEG-8000 reduced the electrical conductivity of Hoagland solutions as much as 40% compared to nontreated Hoagland solutions, suggesting that PEG-8000 may bind some of the nutrient ions in solution. Foliar tissue of PEG-treated impatiens contained significantly less nitrogen, calcium, zinc, and copper, but significantly more phosphorus and nickel than tissue from nontreated impatiens. However, no nutrient deficiency symptoms were induced.