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George J. Wulster and Thomas J. Gianfagna

Growth and flowering of Freesia hybrida Bailey for the container-plant market can be controlled chemically using growth retardants and environmentally by cold storage of corms at 5C for 2 to 6 weeks before planting. Corms stored at 5C for 4 weeks flowered 20 days earlier than corms not stored at 5C. Preplant 5C storage of corms also reduced leaf and flower height. An ancymidol soil drench (3 mg) reduced leaf height and flower height by more than 50% and delayed flowering by 9 days. Combining growth regulator application with cold storage of corms produced the greatest reduction in leaf height and flower height. Moreover, plants flowered earlier than controls when corms were stored for at least 4 weeks, regardless of growth regulator treatment. Chemical name used: α-cyclopropyl-α- (4-methoxyphenyl) -5-pyrimidine methanol (ancymidol).

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Edward F. Durner and Thomas J. Gianfagna

Six-year-old peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] were sprayed with ethephon (100 mg·liter–1) in Oct. 1989, whitewashed in Jan. 1990, and sprayed with dormant oil on one or two dates in Mar. 1990 to study possible interactive effects on flower bud hardiness, pistil growth, time of bloom, and yield. Flower buds from ethephon-treated trees supercooled to a lower temperature [mean low temperature exotherm (MLTE) of –18.5C] than buds from nontreated trees (MLTE of –17.7C) in February; there was no main effect of whitewashing or any interaction with ethephon. No treatment effects on hardiness were detected in March. Ethephon-treated pistils were smaller than nontreated pistils, and pistils from buds on whitewashed trees were smaller than those on nonwhitewashed trees. No main effects or interactions of dormant oil on pistil size were detected. Ethephon and whitewashing delayed bud development during bloom, but prebloom oil application(s) had no effect. Buds from ethephon-treated and whitewashed trees were more tolerant of freezes during bloom than buds from oil-sprayed trees, and yield was enhanced by ethephon and whitewashing. Prebloom oil sprays reduced yield compared with controls. Chemical name used: 2-chloroethylphosphonic acid (ethephon).

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Edward F. Durner and Thomas J. Gianfagna

Flower bud growth and carbohydrate content of pistils of two peach cultivars [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch. cvs. Jerseydawn and Jerseyglo] was studied during controlled postrest deacclimation in February and March at 7 and 21C following an application of ethephon (100 mg·liter-1, in October. Ethephon-treated pistils contained more sorbitol and sucrose than untreated pistils, and levels of both sugars decreased during deacclimation. Sorbitol content decreased more rapidly at 21C than at 7C in February, but no difference was detected in March. Fructose content increased during deacclimation in February and was not affected by cultivar, ethephon treatment, or deacclimation temperature. In March, fructose increased in untreated `Jerseydawn' pistils during deacclimation, but not in ethephontreated pistils. In `Jerseyglo', fructose was detected in all samples and declined during deacclimation. Glucose was not detected in treated pistils in February. In untreated pistils, glucose increased during deacclimation. In March, glucose was not detected in `Jerseydawn' pistils reacclimated at 7C. At 21C, glucose was detected only in untreated pistils after 2, 3, or 4 days of deacclimation. In `Jerseyglo', glucose was detected in all pistils. Moisture content of ethephon-treated pistils was lower than untreated pistils in both February and March. Pistil moisture content during deacclimation increased more slowly in ethephon-treated pistils than in untreated pistils in February, but not in March. Pistils sampled in March had a lower moisture content when reacclimated at 7C than at 21C. Pistil growth at 21C was slower in ethephon-treated buds than in untreated buds, but no difference was detected at 7C. The effects of a fall application of ethephon on the carbohydrate content of flower buds in relation to both winter deacclimation and growth in the spring are discussed. Chemical names used: (2-chloroethyl) phosphoric acid (ethephon).

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Edward F. Durner and Thomas J. Gianfagna

The heat requirement for flower bud growth of container-grown peach trees [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch. cvs. Redhaven and Springold] in the greenhouse varied inversely and linearly with the length of the cold-storage period (SC) provided to break bud dormancy. Ethephon reduced the rest-breaking effectiveness of the 5C treatment. Buds from ethephon-treated trees grew more slowly than buds from untreated trees upon exposure to 20 to 25C, resulting in later bloom dates. The effect of ethephon on flower bud hardiness in field-grown trees of `Jerseydawn' and `Jerseyglo' was studied using exotherm analysis after deacclimation treatments. Bud deacclimation varied with reacclimating temperature (7 or 21 C), cultivar, ethephon treatment, and sampling date. All buds were more susceptible to injury in March than in January or February. Buds reacclimated more rapidly at 21C than at 7C. `Jerseyglo' reacclimated more rapidly than `Jerseydawn'. Untreated buds were less hardy and also reacclimated more rapidly than treated buds. Ethephon enhanced flower bud hardiness in three distinct ways: 1) it decreased the mean low-temperature exotherm of pistils, 2) it increased the number of buds that supercooled after exposure to reacclimating temperatures, and 3) it decreased the rate of deacclimation, especially at 21C. Ethephon prolongs flower bud dormancy by increasing the chilling requirement. The rate at which flower buds become increasingly sensitive to moderate temperatures in late winter and spring is thus reduced by ethephon. Thus, ethephon delays deacclimation during winter and delays bloom in the spring. Chemical name used: (2-chloroethyl) phosphoric acid (ethephon).

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Edward F. Durner and Thomas J. Gianfagna

Peach (Prunus persica (L.) Batsch cv Jerseydawn and Jerseyglo) flower bud hardiness was studied using exotherm analysis following application of ethephon ((2-chloroethyl) phosphoric acid, 0.7mM) in October. Rehardening varied with temperature (7 or 21C), cultivar, ethephon treatment, and sampling date. Buds were more susceptible to injury in March compared to January or February. Buds rehardened more rapidly at 21C than at 7C. `Jerseyglo' rehardened more rapidly than `Jerseydawn'. Untreated buds were less hardy and also rehardened more rapidly than treated buds. Ethephon enhanced flower bud hardiness by (1) decreasing the mean low temperature exotherm of pistils, (2) increasing the number of buds which supercooled after rehardening, and (3) it decreased the rate of rehardening.

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Edward F. Durner and Thomas J. Gianfagna

Fall-applied ethephon (100 ppm) delayed bloom by 6 days the following spring in peach [Prunis persica (L.) Batsch]. Whitewashing entire trees in January added 1 to 2 additional days of bloom delay to that provided by ethephon. Whitewashing delayed pistil elongation in quiescent buds from control trees, but did not significantly delay pistil elongation in buds from trees treated with ethephon. Pistils from ethephon-treated trees were significantly smaller than those from control trees from just before bud swell through bloom. Flower bud survival after freezes during bloom was enhanced for whitewashed compared to control buds as measured by fruit set. Chemical name used: 2-chloroethylphosphonic acid (ethephon).

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Christopher D. Gussman, Joseph C. Goffreda, and Thomas J. Gianfagna

Ethylene production and fruit softening during postharvest storage of several apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) ripening variants were compared with two standard cultivars. PA14-238 and D101-110 produced only low levels of ethylene (<10 μl·kg–1·hour–1) at harvest and throughout most of 86 days of storage at 4C, whereas `Red Chief Delicious' and `Golden Delicious' fruit produced >100 μl ethylene/kg per hour during the same time period. PA14-238 and D101-110 flesh disks converted aminocyclopropane-1-carboxylic acid (ACC) but not methionine (MET) to ethylene. `Red Chief Delicious' readily converted both MET and ACC to ethylene at the end of cold storage. PA14-238 fruit were the firmest and did not soften during postharvest storage; however, D101-110 softened appreciably. NJ55 did not produce ethylene at harvest, but produced a significant amount of ethylene (90 μl·kg–1·hour–1) during storage. Despite its high capacity to produce ethylene, NJ55 remained nearly as firm as PA14-238 at the end of cold storage.

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Logan S. Logendra, Thomas J. Gianfagna, and Harry W. Janes

Rockwool is an excellent growing medium for the hydroponic production of tomato; however, the standard size rockwool blocks [4 × 4 × 2.5 inches (10 × 10 × 6.3 cm) or 3 × 3 × 2.5 inches (7.5 × 7.5 × 6.3 cm)] are expensive. The following experiments were conducted with less expensive minirock wool blocks (MRBs), on rayon polyester material (RPM) as a bench top liner, to reduce the production cost of tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum) grown in a limited-cluster, ebb and flood hydroponic cultivation system. Fruit yield for single-cluster plants growing in MRBs [2 × 2 × 1.6 inches (5 × 5 × 4 cm) and 1.6 × 1.6 × 1.6 inches (4 × 4 × 4 cm)] was not significantly different from plants grown in larger sized blocks (3 × 3 × 2.5 inches). When the bench top was lined with RPM, roots penetrated the RPM, and an extensive root mat developed between the RPM and the bench top. The fruit yield from plants on RPM was significantly increased compared to plants without RPM due to increases in fruit size and fruit number. RPM also significantly reduced the incidence of blossom-end rot. In a second experiment, single- and double-cluster plants were grown on RPM. Fruit yield for double-cluster plants was 40% greater than for single-cluster plants due to an increase in fruit number, although the fruit were smaller in size. As in the first experiment, fruit yield for all plants grown in MRBs was not significantly different from plants grown in the larger sized blocks. MRBs and a RPM bench liner are an effective combination in the production of limited-cluster hydroponic tomatoes.

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Logan S. Logendra, Thomas J. Gianfagna, and Harry W. Janes

A mixture of C8/C10 fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) when applied directly and exclusively to leaf axils of greenhouse-grown tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) significantly inhibited side shoot development. Plants grown in a single cluster production system in winter produced 8.9 side shoots/plant, whereas those treated with C8/C10 FAME 45 days after sowing, produced only 0.7 side shoots/plant. Total pruning weight of the side shoots was reduced from 40.2 g/plant to 1.3 g/plant. Fruit yield increased 14% with C8/C10 FAME treatment and there was an increase in the harvest index from 0.63 to 0.70. For a spring crop, in which average daily irradiance was more than twice that in winter, overall yield increased 70% when compared to the winter crop. As in winter, side shoot number and side shoot weight/plant were significantly reduced by C8/C10 FAME, but there was no difference in crop yield between C8/C10 FAME and untreated plants. In both winter and spring, untreated plants required hand pruning three times during the production period, whereas C8/C10 FAME-treated plants were pruned only once at the time of application. A C8/C10 free fatty acid (FA) mixture was also applied to one and two-cluster plants with similar results. In the multiple cluster system, application of the C8/C10 FA mixture instead of side shoot pruning reduced plant height and increased yield from 6.4 to 7.4 kg/plant. C8/C10 FA or C8/C10 FAME treatment could be a useful labor saving strategy in greenhouse tomato production and may increase crop yield under conditions in which assimilates may be limited by environmental factors, or as a result of a high level of competition from other fruits or shoots.

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Logan S. Logendra, Thomas J. Gianfagna, David R. Specca, and Harry W. Janes

Limited-cluster production systems may be a useful strategy to increase crop production and profitability for the greenhouse tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill). In this study, using an ebb-and-flood hydroponics system, we modified plant architecture and spacing and determined the effects on fruit yield and harvest index at two light levels. Single-cluster plants pruned to allow two leaves above the cluster had 25% higher fruit yields than did plants pruned directly above the cluster; this was due to an increase in fruit weight, not fruit number. Both fruit yield and harvest index were greater for all single-cluster plants at the higher light level because of increases in both fruit weight and fruit number. Fruit yield for two-cluster plants was 30% to 40% higher than for singlecluster plants, and there was little difference in the dates or length of the harvest period. Fruit yield for three-cluster plants was not significantly different from that of two-cluster plants; moreover, the harvest period was delayed by 5 days. Plant density (5.5, 7.4, 9.2 plants/m2) affected fruit yield/plant, but not fruit yield/unit area. Given the higher costs for materials and labor associated with higher plant densities, a two-cluster crop at 5.5 plants/m2 with two leaves above the cluster was the best of the production system strategies tested.