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  • Author or Editor: Xiuming Hao x
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In Summer 1998, 17 standard cutting and 14 small-sieve wholepack varieties and advanced lines of processing snap beans were evaluated at the Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre in Harrow, Ont. The varieties and advanced lines were arranged in randomized complete blocks with four replications. Of the standard cutting varieties and advanced lines, `Saratoga' was the earliest variety, which was harvested 5 to 10 days earlier than rest of the cultivars. `EX 371' had the highest yield, pod dry matter, and biomass and the second highest pod dry matter content, leaf area, and harvest index (total pod dry matter/biomass). `Saratoga' had similar yield as `EX 371', but its total pod dry matter production was much lower than `EX 371' due to its lowest pod dry matter content. Of the small-sieve wholepack varieties and advanced lines, `Marseilles' had the highest yield, pod dry matter, pod dry matter content, biomass, and harvest index and second largest leaf area. Leaf photosynthesis (measured at 1500 μmol•m-2•s-1 photosynthetic photon flux density, 65% relative humidity, 28 °C, and ambient CO2 with LI-6400 portable photosynthesis system in full bloom stage) ranged from 21.3 (EX 351) to 28.3 (Carlo) μmol•m-2•s-1. In both standard cutting and small sieve wholepack varieties and advanced lines, yield was significantly and positively related to total biomass, biomass allocation to pods and leaf area, and so was the total pod dry matter. Bean pod yield was significantly and negatively correlated with pod dry matter content in standard cutting varieties and advanced lines. Bean pod yield did not have significant relationships with leaf photosynthesis and chlorophyll. Therefore, the yield of processing snap beans might be mainly determined by total leaf area and biomass allocation to pods.

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In summer 1998, two sh2, fresh-market, sweet corn cultivars (`Candy Corner'—large plant size, and `Swifty'—small plant size) were grown at 5, 6.5, 8, and 9.5 plants/m2 to investigate the effects of plant density on growth, photosynthesis, biomass, yield, and quality. Biomass and leaf area per plant were not affected by plant density. Therefore, biomass and leaf area per unit area were increased with increasing plant density. Plant height, leaf chlorophyll, leaf photosynthesis, and transpiration (measured with the LI-COR 6400 portable photosynthesis system) were not affected by plant density. Total cob weight (husk off) and number of ears harvested from plants were increased with increasing plant density. However, marketable yield (number of marketable ears) was not affected by plant density and marketable cob weight (husk off) decreased with increasing plant density due to the reduction in ear size with high plant density. There was a significant increase in percentage of unmarketable ears at plant density higher than 6.5 plant/m2 with `Candy Corner'. Kernel sugar content (°Brix) in both cultivars increased with plant density. According to the results of this experiment, the optimum plant density for fresh-market sweet corn was 5 to 6 plants/m 2.

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Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) cv. Trust was grown in rockwool in summer and fall 1999 and 8 calcium/magnesium nutrient treatments, formed by two levels of calcium (Ca: 150 and 300 ppm) and four levels of magnesium (Mg: 20, 50, 80, and 110 ppm), were applied to investigate the effects on growth, fruit yield and quality. High calcium (300 ppm) increased overall fruit yield and size, reduced incidence of blossom-end rot and fruit cracking. However, high calcium also reduced the dry-matter content, soluble solid content and firmness of tomato fruit, and increased fruit russetting. Magnesium did not affect early growth or fruit production. However, 2 months after applying the treatments, the plants grown under 20 ppm Mg started to show Mg-deficient symptoms (leaf chlorosis), and Mg-deficient leaves lost more than 50% of their photosynthetic capability. The Mg concentration required for achieving high yield of firm fruit with high soluble solids and dry-matter content increased as the plant aged; i.e, 50 ppm in early stage of fruit production and 80 ppm in later stage of fruit production. At the end of experiment, the plants grown with 80 ppm of Mg also had the best root systems. Therefore, for both better yield and quality, a concentration of 300/50-80 ppm Ca/Mg may be recommended. Mg concentration may be started at 50 ppm and gradually be increased to 80 ppm in the later stage of fruit production.

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Poor tomato fruit quality in summer time (soft fruit, cracking, and russetting) is a major greenhouse production problem in North America. To improve tomato quality and yield, especially under summer conditions, four EC treatments were applied to a tomato crop grown in rockwool in summer and fall of 1999 at the Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre, Harrow, Ont., Canada. The four fertigation solution EC treatments were 1) constant low EC at 2.54 mS·cm-1, 2) constant high EC at 3.82 mS·cm-1, 3) diurnal EC variation (1 to 5 mS·cm-1) with a 24-h average of 2.54 mS·cm-1 and 4) diurnal EC variation (1 to 7 mS·cm-1) with a 24-h average of 3.82 mS·cm-1. For diurnal EC variation, the plants were fed with low EC in the morning and around noon, and high EC in the afternoon and night. High EC (3.82 mS·cm-1, constant or 24-h average for diurnal variation) treatments, in comparison to the recommended EC (2.54 mS·cm-1) treatments, improved tomato fruit quality by reducing fruit cracking, and increasing percentage of grade #1 fruit, fruit firmness, soluble solid and dry-matter content. However, the constant high EC treatment resulted in smaller fruit size and lower yield. Diurnal EC variation with a high EC average (24-h average: 3.82 mS·cm-1) did not reduce fruit size and yield, and reduced fruit russetting. Therefore, a diurnal fertigation EC variation strategy-supplying low EC solution in the morning and noon and high EC solution in the afternoon and night, with an overall 24-h average of 3.82 mS·cm-1, may be used to improve tomato fruit quality.

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Two long-season tomato crops (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv. Trust; in 1996 and 1997) were grown in an open rockwool system (conventional culture method) and in closed rockwool culture systems with different nutrient feedings to develop a closed tomato production system with zero discharge of nutrient solutions to the environment. The tomato grown in the closed rockwool systems with a modified rockwool or nutrient film technique (NFT) feeding formula achieved similar marketable yield as the tomato grown in the conventional open rockwool system. Similarly, there were no differences in early plant growth and photosynthesis, total plant biomass and biomass partitioning, fruit yield, or fruit size and grades. The tomato plants grown in the closed rockwool systems senesced slower, as demonstrated by higher photosynthesis in old leaves, and had better root systems than the plants grown in the conventional open rockwool system. The fruit quality of tomato produced in the closed rockwool systems was better than that of tomato produced in the open rockwool system in one of two crops. These results demonstrated that the closed rockwool system with optimized nutrient feeding is an economically and environmentally sound alternative to the conventional open rockwool production method.

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Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) `Trust' was grown on rockwool with nutrient solutions containing two levels of calcium (150 and 300 mg·L-1) in factorial combination with three levels of magnesium (20, 50, and 80 mg·L-1) in Winters 1997 and 1998, to investigate the effects of calcium and magnesium on growth, biomass partitioning, and fruit production. Plants grown at 20 mg·L-1 Mg started to show Mg deficiency symptoms (leaf chlorosis) at 8 weeks after planting. The chlorophyll content of middle and bottom leaves increased with increasing Mg concentration in the nutrient solution. At 300 mg·L-1 Ca, total fruit yield and fruit dry matter increased linearly with increasing Mg concentration; marketable fruit yield and total plant biomass showed similar response but to a lower degree. At 150 mg·L-1 Ca, total plant biomass, fruit dry matter and yield peaked at 50 mg·L-1 Mg. The biomass allocation to fruit increased while allocation to leaves decreased with increasing Mg concentration. The Mg effects on total and marketable fruit yield were mainly due to its influence on fruit yield in the late growth stage. Incidence of blossom-end rot (BER) at 150 mg·L-1 Ca increased linearly with increasing Mg concentration while it was not affected by Mg concentration at 300 mg·L-1 Ca. For a winter greenhouse tomato crop, the appropriate Ca and Mg concentrations for tomato production appear to be at 300 and 80 mg·L-1, respectively.

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Early production and high energy efficiency are important in greenhouse vegetable production in cold regions. A dynamic temperature integration strategy with low pre-night temperature (PNT) has been developed to reduce energy consumption and to improve early fruit yield and energy use efficiency. However, the application of this temperature control strategy is feasible only if there is no crop yield and quality loss. To determine the low PNT tolerance threshold and explore the mechanism of this temperature control strategy on plant growth and development, the effects of four PNT temperature integration treatments (PNT9, PNT11, PNT13, and PNT15, with an actual PNT of 9.4, 11.3, 13.3, and 15.1 °C, respectively) on greenhouse tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) were investigated. The PNT was applied at the beginning of the night for 3 h, whereas temperatures in other periods during a day (24 h) were adjusted accordingly to ensure the same 24-h average temperature (19.4 °C) for all PNT treatments. Four cultivars (Bigdena, Clarance, Quest, and Conchita), representing all three types (beefsteak, cluster, and cherry) of greenhouse tomatoes, were used in the study. The optimum PNT for fruit yield was 13.8 and 14.9 °C for ‘Bigdena’ and ‘Conchita’, respectively. Low PNT down to 11 °C did not compromise fruit yield and plant development in ‘Clarance’, and thus a PNT lower than 13 °C can be used for ‘Clarance’ if it does not have a negative effect on fruit quality. In ‘Bigdena’ and ‘Conchita’, the above-ground biomass increased with increasing PNT at the low range of PNT, peaked at ≈13 °C PNT (13.7 and 13 °C for ‘Bigdena’ and ‘Conchita’, respectively), then declined at high PNT. Leaf photosynthesis rates were increased by the highest PNT (PNT15), whereas respiration rates were reduced by the lowest PNT (PNT9). Therefore, PNT at ≈13 °C might have allowed for the proper balance between the high photosynthesis for photoassimilate generation and the low respiration for photoassimilate conservation and thus accumulated the highest photoassimilate and the highest fruit yield in ‘Bigdena’. Flower development rate in ‘Conchita’ decreased linearly with low PNT, which might have limited the response of its fruit yield to low PNT and raised the optimum PNT for fruit yield to 14.9 °C. Temperature integration with proper low PNT can be an effective climate control strategy for increasing early fruit yield and energy use efficiency in greenhouse tomato production.

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Nine chinese cabbage (Brassica campestris ssp. pekinensis group var. cephalata) cultivars were evaluated for petiole spotting (gomasho) and bacterial soft rot (caused by Erwinia carotovora ssp. carotovora) in 1999 and fifteen in 2000 and 2001. The cultivars were arranged in a randomized complete block design in a Granby sandy loam soil with six replications in 1999 and three replications in 2000 and 2001, at the Greenhouse and Processing Crops Research Centre, Harrow, Ontario, Canada. Plants were harvested in the fall of each year during two harvest periods, one for early-maturing cultivars, and one for late-maturing cultivars. At harvest, the percent bacterial soft rot, percent marketable heads, plant size, uniformity of harvest maturity, and the mean head weight were determined for each cultivar. The number and weight of spotted leaves was determined by rating (0 to 5 scale) each leaf. Petiole spotting was also rated following storage at 2 °C (36 °F) and 89% ± 5% relative humidiyt for 3 to 4 weeks in 1999 and 2000. `Yuki', `Manoko', and `Summer Top' had lowest losses from bacterial soft rot while `Akala', `Ohken 75', `Spring Flavor', and `Yuki' had low levels of petiole spotting. Cold storage increased the incidence of the spotting disorder for most cultivars.

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To address the concern that irrigation provides sufficient water to match the crop needs, while not impeding oxygen availability to the roots, we conducted an experiment to develop suitable irrigation schedule(s) for greenhouse tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) on rockwool. The experimental treatments incorporated the electrical conductivity (EC) of the nutrient solution in the rockwool slab (slab-EC) along with the water content (WC) in the rockwool slab (slab-WC) as the irrigation decision-making variables. They were: slab-WC ≤ 70% or slab-EC ≥ 1.4× normal or more (T1), slab-WC ≤ 70% or slab-EC ≥ 1.7× normal or more (T2), slab-WC ≤ 80% or slab-EC ≥ 1.4× normal or more (T3), slab-WC ≤ 80% or slab-EC ≥ 1.7× normal or more (T4), and the combined weight loss (WL) 700 g or more (T5) and WL 500 g or more (T6), in which “normal” means the feed solution EC as recommended in the seasonal fertigation schedule for a spring–summer tomato crop. The data on early-season marketable yield, total seasonal marketable yield, and fruit grades indicated the superiority of treatments T1, T2, and T6 over T3, T4, and T5. Better root growth was observed with T1, T2, and T6 and this was also associated with minimized nutrient solution leaching; furthermore, these plants had an abundance of coarse and fine roots, higher photosynthesis and transpiration, higher marketable yield, and a higher water use efficiency. Our results thus established that irrigation based on either a slab water content 70% or less or a 500-g weight loss is the best strategy for rockwool-grown greenhouse tomatoes in the spring–summer season. A variation in slab-EC between 1.4 and 1.7× normal, at a slab-WC of 70% or less, would have no significant effect on root growth, water use, marketable yield, or fruit grades.

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A high-wire system, in which the plant is trained into a single stem, is gaining popularity in year-round greenhouse cucumber (Cucumis sativus) production, especially with supplemental lighting, as it allows for uniform foliar and light distribution and higher yield and quality. However, this system requires much higher plant densities than the conventional umbrella system, resulting in increased crop start-up costs. A technique for raising twin-head transplants and a twin-head “V” high-wire cucumber system were developed to address this issue. The twin-head transplants were raised by topping the seedlings after the appearance of the fourth true leaf and then two strong lateral shoots were allowed to develop and be trained into a “V” system after planting. The twin-head system achieved similar plant growth and fruit yield as the conventional single-head system on two long English seedless cucumber cultivars (Bodega and Myrthos) and two breeding lines (2005A and 24–119) tested over 2 years. The twin-head system also improved the fruit grades in ‘Bodega’ by increasing the percentage of fruit in medium size while reducing the percentage of fruit in small size. Because the twin-head system achieved the same fruit yield as the conventional single-head system while using only half the number of transplants, we can conclude that the twin-head “V” high-wire system is a more cost-effective high-wire system for year-round greenhouse cucumber production.

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