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  • Author or Editor: Phil S. Allen x
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To determine optimum germination temperatures and effective dormancy-breaking procedures, field-grown (1983-85) seeds of `Bandera' Rocky Mountain penstemon (Penstemon strictus Benth), `Cedar' Palmer penstemon (Penstemon palmeri Gray), and firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii Gray) were subjected to various cold stratification and incubation temperature treatments. Increased germination following an 8-week stratification occurred in seed lots containing dormant seeds, but a 2-week stratification generally failed to break dormancy. Older (1983) seeds of `Bandera' and `Cedar' penstemon germinated to full viability without stratification. All species showed a marked decrease in germination percentage above 20C; 15C consistently produced maximum germination after 4 weeks. At 15C, mean times to 90% of total germination were 11, 22, and 29 days for `Bandera', `Cedar', and firecracker penstemon, respectively. Transfer of seeds failing to germinate at warm temperatures (25 and 30C) to 15C and applying 720 μm gibberellic acid (GA3) solution was effective in breaking primary dormancy of firecracker penstemon and secondary dormancy of `Bandera' penstemon. Our findings suggest that incubation below 20C, combined with 8 weeks of stratification or the use of after-ripened seed, may improve seed propagation efforts for these species.

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An inexpensive system for maintaining desired water potentials throughout seed germination was developed. During hydration, a water reservoir at the base of inclined petri dishes allowed continual saturation of filter paper on which seeds were placed. During dehydration, seeds were exposed to equilibrium vapor pressures above saturated salt solutions. Constant temperature, necessary to prevent condensation of water vapor, was achieved via a small (0.2 A) fan that furnished and circulated heat throughout an insulated chamber in which salt solutions were placed. By operating the chamber above ambient laboratory temperature, interior cooling was not required. The system allowed manipulation of the rate, degree, and frequency of dehydration episodes to which germinating seeds were exposed.

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For the past several years, many college horticulture programs have experienced a decline in undergraduate enrollment, resulting in the elimination of some degrees. In this study, we compared postsecondary U.S. horticulture program availability from a survey completed in 1997 with offerings existing in 2012 and 2017. In 1997, 446 U.S. postsecondary institutions offered degrees and/or certificates in horticulture. In 2012, this number had decreased by 43% to 253 institutions, which included 98 with 4-year degrees, 215 with 2-year degrees, and 138 with certificate programs. In 2017, the total number of institutions offering horticulture-related degrees and/or certificates decreased to 209, representing a 53% decrease over the 20 years from 1997 to 2017 and a 17% decrease during the 5-year period between 2012 and 2017. In 2017, 85 institutions offered 4-year degrees, 133 offered 2-year degrees, and 98 offered certificate programs, which over this 5-year period represents decreases of 13%, 38%, and 29%, respectively. “Horticulture” was the most common program title in both 2012 and 2017, and the percentage of programs with this name increased during the 5-year period for all program types. In 2017, 28 horticulture programs not identified in the 1997 survey were found, but only two of these were confirmed to have been created since 1997. Overall, these data suggest a trajectory toward elimination of 2-year and certificate programs, and continued consolidation for 4-year degrees. If it continues, this trend is not favorable for the continued vitality of postsecondary horticulture programs in the United States and may impact progress negatively for the field of horticulture as a whole.

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