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  • Author or Editor: Robert Berghage x
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Temperature management has emerged as an important tool for plant height control in greenhouse production systems. This is particularly important in vegetable transplant production where chemical controls for plant height are limited or not legal. Plant height is a function of the number of nodes and the length of each internode, and both are strongly influenced by greenhouse temperatures. Node number, or formation rate, is primarily a function of the average greenhouse temperature, increasing as the average temperature increases. Internode length is strongly influenced by the relationship between the day and night temperature, commonly referred to as DIF (day temperature - night temperature). As DIF increases, so does internode length in most plant species studied. Although the nature and magnitude of temperature effects vary with species, cultivar, and environmental conditions, these two basic responses can be used to modify transplant growth. Although data are limited, controlling transplant height with temperature does not appear to adversely influence plant establishment or subsequent yield.

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New Guinea Impatiens have become a major spring crop for many commercial greenhouses. Along with increased sales has come a proliferation of new varieties from which commercial growers must choose. To help provide growers with information to make these selections the ornamental horticulture extension program at Penn State has tested landscape performance of New Guinea Impatiens in the sun and the shade each year since 1994. Cuttings are obtained from commercial producers and six plants of each variety are planted in landscape beds in the full sun and six plants are planted in landscape beds under a shade structure. Plants are evaluated on flowering, foliage and overall appearance every 2 weeks throughout the summer. Commercial growers can evaluate varieties on their own during the trial field day and results are made available in an annual report and are posted on the internet. A survey of participants in the 1995 field day indicated that 98% of those responding used the printed report to make or change their variety selections. Supplementing the printed report with the internet for distribution of results allows broad dissemination of detailed information including photographs and graphics that could not be easily distributed in hard copy form. In the future trial results posted on the internet could be used to supplement point of sale materials, providing growers and retailers with a powerful new marketing tool.

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The Pennsylvania State University Medieval Garden (PSMG) showcases varieties of medieval plants used as ornamentals, food crops, medicinal ingredients, and for household purposes in a stylized setting representing a medieval garden. Since its installation, various colleges within the university as well as community groups have used the garden as an alternative classroom for learning activities, educational demonstrations, and events related to the medieval period. This article focuses on the initial development of the garden design and how the installation and continued use as a classroom has contributed to meeting educational goals for students in the landscape contracting program at the Pennsylvania State University and the Pennsylvania Governor's School for Agricultural Sciences.

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Elongation characteristics of each internode on a lateral shoot of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Klotz) `Annette Hegg Dark Red' were determined from pinching through anthesis for plants grown with 36 day/night temperature (DT/NT) combinations between 16 and 30C. The Richards function was used to describe the elongation of each internode. The first internode developing on a lateral shoot was longer and matured faster than subsequent internodes. The length of the first internode was a function of the difference between day and night temperatures (DIF = DT - NT). Subsequent internodes elongated uniformly in the absence of flower initiation. In the absence of flower initiation, the length of an internode, after the first, was a function of DIF. Internodes were shorter as proximity to the inflorescence increased. Internode length after the start of short days was a function of DIF and the visible bud index where visible bud index = [(days from pinching to the day an internode began to elongate - days from pinching to the day of the start of flower initiation)/the number of days from pinching to visible bud]. A poinsettia lateral shoot elongation model was developed based on the derived functions for internode elongation. The model predicted lateral shoot length within one standard deviation of the mean for plants grown in a separate validation study with 16 combinations of DT/NT. The model allows the prediction of lateral shoot length on any day from pinching through anthesis based on temperature, the number of nodes on the lateral shoot, the time each internode on the lateral shoot began elongating, and the visible bud index at the start of elongation of each node.

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Easter lily plants (Lilium longiflorum Thunb.), derived from tissue culture and grown continuously, were subjected to various photoperiod and chilling treatments. Lilies grown with daylength extended either with high-intensity discharge (HID) or incandescent lights flowered in the same number of days, but had more flower buds with HID lamps. Flowering was delayed and plants produced more leaves as photoperiod was reduced from 16 to 12 hours. The numbers of leaves, primary, secondary, and tertiary flowers, and the time to flower were all significantly reduced as the duration of extended lighting was increased from 0 to 6 weeks. As the number of weeks of cooling at 5°C increased from 0 to 5, time to flower was significantly reduced.

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Recirculating irrigation systems (RISs) conserve water and decrease fertilizer application, providing cost-effective alternatives to other watering methods in greenhouses. However, RISs can potentially become contaminated from spray or drench pesticide applications. In this study, we determined the amount of metalaxyl residues (the active ingredient in Subdue) in RISs over 3 and 6 weeks using HPLC analysis. Also examined was the potential use of constructed wetlands for the remediation of RIS water contaminated with metalaxyl. Metalaxyl was found to persist in a RIS over 6 weeks with no decrease in concentration. After repeated metalaxyl treatments over an 11 month period, a possible breakdown product or chemical modification of metalaxyl was present in the RISs. Drench applications, 150 ml of an 18.8 ppm metalaxyl solution, (recommended dosage) resulted in 0.5 to 3.0 ppm contamination levels in the RISs. Small scale (≈70 L void volume), indoor, constructed wetlands (two planted with Scirpus and Iris, two unvegetated) were treated with 420 mg metalaxyl. Limited breakdown of metalaxyl occurred in the constructed wetlands during the first 30 days after treatment. After 3 months, metalaxyl concentrations in all wetlands had decreased or were below detection levels. This indicates a possible selection of microbial populations capable of metabolizing or degrading metalaxyl.

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Natural swimming pools (NSPs) rely on the interaction of bog vegetation, bacteria, and substrate to maintain water quality. Nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) levels in NSPs are critical because of their involvement in eutrophication. We conducted a 15-week greenhouse study to address the significant literature gap regarding nutrient removal capabilities of substrates and vegetation in the low-nutrient environment of NSPs. We used mass balance analyses to compare the performances of four substrates [river gravel (control), recycled glass, expanded clay, expanded shale] and two plant species [blue flag iris (Iris versicolor) and lizard’s tail (Saururus cernuus)] under two flow conditions: free water surface and subsurface flow. At the end of the experiment, except for the recycled glass group, all other substrate groups reduced water nitrate (NO3) levels to less than 30 mg⋅L−1, the standard of the 2011 Forschungsgesellschaft Landschaftsentwicklung Landschaftsbau (FLL) guidelines. However, only the expanded clay group closely approached the P standard (≤0.01 mg⋅L−1). Expanded clay and expanded shale demonstrated potential as substrates for NSP bogs. The final aboveground biomass dry weight was strongly negatively correlated with the final NO3 and P water concentrations. However, direct plant uptake proved insufficient to remove all nutrient inputs, especially for P. Except for the recycled glass group (34%), a significant portion of N (79%–90%) from total N added was removed by aboveground biomass. However, P uptake by biomass was substantially lower (18%–37%). With acceptable vigor and biomass accumulation, blue flag iris may be a suitable species for vegetated NSPs, whereas lizard’s tail is not because of uncertain establishment. Compared with controlling N, managing P for FLL standards in NSPs will be more challenging. Our work begins to fill the essential gap in the NSP literature regarding nutrient removal capabilities of substrates and vegetation. Future work should continue to study alternative substrates and plant species for P removal, particularly in field conditions and over longer periods.

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In a previous study, three insect growth regulators, diflubenzuron, pyriproxyfen, and fenoxycarb, were shown to reduce the emergence of western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis) from potting medium under experimental conditions. Our objective was to evaluate the impact of potting medium applications of fenoxycarb, diflubenzuron, and pyriproxyfen on western flower thrips and fungus gnats (Bradysia spp.) populations in conventionally grown african violets (Saintpaulia ionantha). In two trials conducted at a university greenhouse and one trial at a commercial flower grower's greenhouse, no reductions were observed in western flower thrips populations. In one university trial, all three insect growth regulators resulted in lower fungus gnat populations. In addition to medium treatment, results from the commercial greenhouse indicated that a pesticide application to the soil under the benches may also be needed to provide management of fungus gnats.

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The concepts of container water-holding capacity and air-filled porosity are important yet complicated for students interested in containerized crop production; however, both of these concepts can be observed and understood more completely if students develop a moisture retention curve. Our objectives were to describe an easy-to-construct and economical apparatus for creating a moisture retention curve and then to compare this curve with one generated by standard methods. The student method (column method) is constructed from plastic pipe cut into 5-cm sections. The sections of pipe are individually packed with a substrate then stacked and taped together, resulting in a 60-cm column of the substrate. The column is saturated and allowed to drain for 24 h. Then, the column is taken apart and the water content of each section determined gravimetrically. The water content of each section is graphed against height so that the result is a moisture retention curve. Data are presented to show the curve developed from the column method is similar to the curve developed by standard soil moisture tension method. The moisture retention curve can provide a better understanding of water and air holding capacities of substrates.

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Current and future plans for reductions in federal and state funding suggest that government supported programs must find ways to reduce costs while maintaining or expanding programs. The current model of extension, with an agent for each commodity in every county is not likely to survive. Furthermore, the days when university-based specialists could afford to make house calls also are probably limited. Yet, the need for extension support in the floriculture industry is as great as ever. Increased chemical costs and regulatory pressure are restricting grower options and making it increasingly important that information dissemination and technology transfer occur in timely and appropriate ways. To try to meet the needs of the floriculture industry in Pennsylvania, we have begun a program to help develop independent greenhouse crop management associations to work with milti-county and university-based extension specialists to improve program delivery to the member greenhouses. The first of these associations has been established in the Capital Region in central Pennsylvania and is providing IPM scouting and crop management services to member greenhouses. Development of associations and linkages with and the role of extension are discussed.

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