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Regina R. Melton and Robert J. Dufault

Tomato (L.ycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seedlings were nutritionally conditioned with solutions containing factorial combinations of N at 25, 75, and 225 mg·liter -1, P at 5, 15, and 45 mg·liter-1, and K at 25, 75, and 225 mg·liter -1 to determine the effect of nutritional regimes on tomato transplant growth and quality. As N increased from 25 to 225 mg·liter-1, fresh shoot weight, plant height, stem diameter, leaf number, leaf area, shoot and root dry weights, and total chlorophyll increased. Nitrogen accounted for the major source of variation. Phosphorus effects were significant only in 1988; Pat 45 mg·liter-1 increased fresh shoot weight, plant height, stem diameter, leaf number, and leaf area in comparison to 5 and 15 mg·liter -1. Potassium did not significantly influence any of the growth variables measured in the study. For quality transplant production, nutrient solutions should contain at least N at 225 mg·liter-1, P at 45 mg·liter-1, and K at 25 mg·liter-1.

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Robert J. Dufault and Regina R. Melton

Tomato seedlings (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. `Sunny') were exposed to cyclic cold stress at 2 ± 1C, then to 29 ± 6C in a greenhouse before being transplanted to the field. Cold-stressed seedlings were transplanted when the risk of ambient cold stress was negligible. In the first year of a 2-year study, transplants were exposed to 2C for 3, 6, or 12 hours for 1, 3, or 6 days before field planting. In the second year, transplants were exposed to 2C for 6, 12, or 18 hours for 4, 7, or 10 days before field planting. In the first year, cold stress generally stimulated increases in seedling height, leaf area, and shoot and root dry weights but decreased chlorophyll content. In the second year, all seedling growth characteristics except leaf area and plant height were diminished in response to longer cold-stress treatment. In both years, earliness, total productivity, and quality were unaffected by any stress treatment. Therefore, cold stress occurring before transplanting has a negligible effect on earliness, yield, or quality.

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Regina R. Melton and Robert J. Dufault

`Sunny' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) seedlings were pretransplant nutritionally conditioned (PNC) in 1988 and 1989 with factorial combinations of N from 100 to 300 mg·liter-1 and P from 10 to 70 mg·liter-1. In 1988, all conditioned seedlings were exposed to 12 hours of 2C for eight consecutive nights before transplanting. In 1989, half of the conditioned plants were exposed to a low-temperature treatment of 8 days with 12-hour nights at 2C and 12-hour days in a warm greenhouse (19C/26C, night/day). In both years, as N PNC increased to 200 mg·liter-1, seedling growth increased. Increasing P PNC from 10 to 40 mg·liter-1 increased seedling growth, but only in 1988. In both years, P PNC did not affect yields. Low-temperature exposure in 1989 decreased seedling growth in comparison to those held in a warm greenhouse (19C/26C, day/night). In 1988, first harvest yields were not affected by N PNC; however, in 1989, as N increased to 200 mg·liter-1, early yields increased. In 1988, total yields increased wit h N PNC from 100 to 200 mg·liter-1 and in 1989 with N at 50 to 100 mg·liter-1 with no further increases from 100 to 200 mg·liter-1. Low-temperature exposure had no effect on earliness, yield, or quality. A PNC regime combining at least 200 mg N/liter and up to 10 mg P/liter should be used to nutritionally condition `Sunny' tomato seedlings to enhance yield.

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Robert J. Dufault and Jonathan R. Schultheis

To reduce transplant shock of bell peppers (Capsicum annuum L.), we tested the effectiveness of pretransplant nutritional conditioning (PNC) as a promoter of earliness and yield. In Expt. 1, `Gatorbelle' bell pepper seedlings were fertilized with N from Ca(NO3)2 at 25, 75, or 225 mg·liter-1 and P from Ca(H2PO4)2 at 5, 15, or 45 mg·liter-1. Nitrogen interacted with P, affecting shoot fresh and dry weight, leaf area, root dry weight, seedling height, and leaf count. In Expt. 2, transplants conditioned with N from 50, 100, and 200 mg·liter-1 and P at 15, 30, and 60 mg·liter-1 were field-planted in Charleston, S.C., and Clinton, N.C. Nitrogen- and P-PNC did not greatly affect recovery from transplant shock. Although N- and P-PNC affected seedling growth in the greenhouse, earliness, total yield, and quality were similar in field studies among all PNC treatments at both locations. PNC with 50 mg N and 15 mg P/liter can be used with this variety and not have any long-term detrimental effects on yield and quality.

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Jonathan R. Schultheis and Robert J. Dufault

Pretransplant nutritional conditioning (PNC) of transplants during greenhouse production may improve recovery from transplanting stress and enhance earliness and yield of watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.) Matsum. & Nakai]. Two greenhouse experiments (Expts. 1 and 2) and field experiments in South Carolina and North Carolina (Expt. 3) were conducted to evaluate N and P PNC effects on watermelon seedling growth and their effects on fruit yield and quality. `Queen of Hearts' triploid and `Crimson Sweet' diploid watermelon seedlings were fertilized with N from calcium nitrate at 25, 75, or 225 mg·liter–1 and P from calcium phosphate at 5, 15, or 45 mg·liter–1. In the greenhouse, most variation in the shoot fresh and dry weights, leaf count, leaf area, transplant height, and root dry weight in `Queen of Hearts' and `Crimson Sweet' was attributed to N. Cultivar interacted with N, affecting all seedling growth variables, but not leaf area in Expt. 2. To a lesser extent, in Expt. 1, but not in Expt. 2, P interacted with cultivar, N, or cultivar × N and affected shoot fresh and dry weights, leaf count and leaf area. In the field, transplant shock increased linearly with N, regardless of cultivar or field location. The effect of PNC on plant growth diminished as the growing season progressed. For both cultivars at both locations, N and P PNC did not affect time to first staminate flower, fruit set, fruit width or length, soluble solids concentration, or yield. Vining at Charleston for both cultivars was 2 days earlier when N was at 75 rather than 25 mg·liter–1, without further change with the high N rate. At Clinton, the first pistillate flower was delayed linearly the higher the N rate for `Crimson Sweet'. At Charleston, hollow heart in the `Queen of Hearts' increased nearly 3 times when N PNC rate was tripled (from 75 or 225 mg·liter–1), while N had no effect on hollow heart in `Crimson Sweet'. In contrast, at Clinton, hollow heart in either cultivar was affected by P PNC, not N. PNC with 25N–5P (in mg·liter–1) can be used to reduce seedling growth and produce a more compact plant for easier handling, yet not reduce fruit quality or yield.

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A. R. Jones, D. C. Sanders, and R. J. Dufault

Three broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. Italica group) cultivars (Baccus, Packman, and Southern Comet) were grown for 14, 24, or 34 days at 22/18C (day/night) in a greenhouse. Then plants were moved to growth chambers where temperatures were maintained at 26/22, 30/26, or 34/30C and were grown for 1, 2, or 3 weeks before returning them to the greenhouse. A1 varieties when exposed to high temperatures developed smaller heads Packman when exposed to high temperatures resulted in a reduction in uniformity. Other cultivars were not effected. Lack of openness, an important marketable characteristic was reduced by high temperatures. However, Baccus at 34 days old was not effected by the heat. We would expect this response since this is the head development stage and cultivar is heat tolerant. Plant exposed to high temperatures developed heads earlier when held for 3 weeks. When plants were held at 36/30C for 3 weeks, the largest reduction in plant growth was recorded. However, all plants showed a reduction in growth when exposed to high temperatures.

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A. R. Jones, D. C. Sanders, and R. J. Dufault

Three broccoli (Brassica oleracea L. Italica group) cultivars (Baccus, Packman, and Southern Comet) were grown for 14, 24, or 34 days at 22/18C (day/night) in a greenhouse. Then plants were moved to growth chambers where temperatures were maintained at 26/22, 30/26, or 34/30C and were grown for 1, 2, or 3 weeks before returning them to the greenhouse. A1 varieties when exposed to high temperatures developed smaller heads Packman when exposed to high temperatures resulted in a reduction in uniformity. Other cultivars were not effected. Lack of openness, an important marketable characteristic was reduced by high temperatures. However, Baccus at 34 days old was not effected by the heat. We would expect this response since this is the head development stage and cultivar is heat tolerant. Plant exposed to high temperatures developed heads earlier when held for 3 weeks. When plants were held at 36/30C for 3 weeks, the largest reduction in plant growth was recorded. However, all plants showed a reduction in growth when exposed to high temperatures.

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Wenjing Guan, Xin Zhao, Danielle D. Treadwell, Michael R. Alligood, Donald J. Huber, and Nicholas S. Dufault

Interest in producing specialty melons (Cucumis melo) is increasing in Florida, but information on yield performance, fruit quality, and disease resistance of specialty melon cultivars grown in Florida conditions is limited. In this study conducted at Citra, FL, during the 2011 Spring season, 10 specialty melon cultivars were evaluated, in both certified organic and conventionally managed fields, including: Creme de la Creme and San Juan ananas melon (C. melo var. reticulatus), Brilliant and Camposol canary melon (C. melo var. inodorus), Ginkaku and Sun Jewel asian melon (C. melo var. makuwa), Arava and Diplomat galia melon (C. melo var. reticulatus), and Honey Pearl and Honey Yellow honeydew melon (C. melo var. inodorus). ‘Athena’ cantaloupe (C. melo var. reticulatus) was included as a control. ‘Sun Jewel’, ‘Diplomat’, ‘Honey Yellow’, and ‘Honey Pearl’ were early maturing cultivars that were harvested 10 days earlier than ‘Athena’. ‘Athena’ had the highest marketable yield in the conventional field (10.7 kg/plant), but the yield of ‘Camposol’, ‘Ginkaku’, ‘Honey Yellow’, and ‘Honey Pearl’ did not differ significantly from ‘Athena’. Under organic production, ‘Camposol’ showed a significantly higher marketable yield (8.3 kg/plant) than ‘Athena’ (6.8 kg/plant). ‘Ginkaku’ produced the largest fruit number per plant in both organic (10 fruit/plant) and conventional fields (12 fruit/plant) with smaller fruit size compared with other melon cultivars. Overall, the specialty melon cultivars, except for asian melon, did not differ significantly from ‘Athena’ in terms of marketable fruit number per plant. ‘Sun Jewel’, ‘Diplomat’, and ‘San Juan’ showed relatively high percentages of cull fruit. ‘Honey Yellow’, ‘Honey Pearl’, and ‘Sun Jewel’ exhibited higher soluble solids concentration (SSC) than ‘Athena’ in both organic and conventional fields, while ‘Brilliant’, ‘San Juan’, and ‘Ginkaku’ also had higher SSC than ‘Athena’ under organic production. ‘Honey Yellow’, ‘Sun Jewel’, ‘Brilliant’, and ‘Camposol’ were less affected by powdery mildew (caused by Podosphaera xanthii) and downy mildew (caused by Pseudoperonospora cubensis) in the conventional field. ‘Honey Yellow’ and ‘Camposol’ also had significantly lower aboveground disease severity ratings in the organic field compared with ‘Athena’, although the root-knot nematode (RKN) (Meloidogyne sp.) gall rating was higher in ‘Honey Yellow’ than ‘Athena’.

Open access

Paul R. Adler, Robert J. Dufault, and Luther Waters Jr.

Abstract

Single applications of ancymidol at 0.03, 0.12, 0.50, or 1.0 mg/plant were soil applied to asparagus seedlings (Asparagus officinalis L.) 3.5, 5.5, or 7.5 weeks after seeding. Increasing ancymidol rates from 0.03 to 1.0 mg/plant decreased bud number, fern dry weight, but not shoot number at all application times. When ancymidol was applied at 1.0 mg/plant at 3.5 weeks it reduced fleshy root production, but in plants treated at 5.5 to 7.5 weeks, it did not reduce fleshy root production. Increasing ancymidol rates from 0.03 to 1.0 mg/plant reduced the crown dry weight of plants 5.5 weeks and younger. Ancymidol from 0.03 to 1.0 mg/plant applied to 3.5-week-old plants increased the partitioning of dry matter into fern rather than crowns, but delaying application to 7.5 weeks after seeding reversed this relationship suggesting increased carbohydrate storage. Application of ancymidol from 0.03 to 1.0 mg/plant to plants 5.5-weeks-old or younger was considered detrimental to plant growth. Ancymidol at 0.50 mg/plant or less applied to 7.5-week-old plants enhanced the production of a stocky, compact transplant. Chemicals used. Ancymidol: α-cycloprophyl-α-(4-methoxyphenyl)-5-pyrimidinemethanol.

Free access

D.C. Sanders, G.D. Hoyt, J.C. Gilsanz, J.M. Davis, J.T. Garrett, D.R. Decoteau, R.J. Dufault, and K.D. Batal

`Jewel' sweetpotato was no-till planted into crimson clover, wheat, or winter fallow. Then N was applied at 0, 60, or 120 kg·ha–1 in three equal applications to a sandy loam soil. Each fall the cover crop and production crop residue were plowed into the soil, beds were formed, and cover crops were planted. Plant growth of sweetpotato and cover crops increased with N rate. For the first 2 years crimson clover did not provide enough N (90 kg·ha–1) to compensate for the need for inorganic N. By year 3, crimson clover did provide sufficient N to produce yields sufficient to compensate for crop production and organic matter decomposition. Soil samples were taken to a depth of 1 m at the time of planting of the cover crop and production crop. Cover crops retained the N and reduced N movement into the subsoil.