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Wade H. Elmer and Francis J. Ferrandino

Paper mulch and black plastic mulch were compared with no mulch on tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. `Better Boy' and `San Marzano') for incidence of blossom-end rot (BER) in the field during 1988–90. Early season (late July to late August) harvest had more BER than in later pickings. Black plastic mulch significantly increased early season BER in `Better Boy' relative to paper or no mulch. Late-season BER in `San Marzano' was decreased with paper or black plastic mulch relative to no mulch.

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Martin P.N. Gent, Wade H. Elmer, Kranti Macherla, and Richard J. McAvoy

Can regulated deficit irrigation in an ebb and flow system alleviate the effects of salinity stress on poinsettia? Two cultivars of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd ex Klotzsch) were grown under partial- or full-saturation irrigation using a standard fertilizer solution, with or without the addition of 0.5 g·L−1 NaCl. The volumetric water content of the medium averaged 0.25 and 0.33 L·L−1 before irrigation, and 0.5 and 0.67 L·L−1 following irrigation, for partial- or full-saturation regimes, respectively. Plants had lower fresh weight with partial than full saturation. Sodium concentrations in bract, leaf, and stem tissues were higher (P ≤ 0.05) in plants exposed to salinity, and these plants accumulated less K in stems and less P in bracts. Eight cultivars were grown in a second study with or without salinity of 1.2 g·L−1 NaCl under drip or ebb and flow watering. Cultivar and watering had effects on plant fresh weight, but salinity did not. Of the cultivars tested, ‘DaVinci’, ‘Premium Picasso’, and ‘Prestige Red’ had the highest sodium in bracts under salinity with drip irrigation, whereas ‘Snowcap’ had the least. ‘Ruby Frost’ had the most sodium in stems, whereas ‘Snowcap’ had the least. For all cultivars, added salinity resulted in lower K in leaves and stem. Snowcap was the cultivar with the least sodium in stems and bracts under saline irrigation, with either drip or ebb and flow. Our research demonstrates that regulated deficit irrigation resulting in partial saturation of the growing medium is an effective water management option, when control of plant height and overall crop growth are desirable, and it limits the accumulation of sodium when raw water contains elevated salinity.