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Mark V. Yelanich and John A. Biernbaum

A model constructed to describe nitrogen dynamics in the root zone of subirrigated container-grown chrysanthemum was used to develop and test nitrogen fertilization strategies. The model predicts the nitrogen concentration in the root zone by numerical integration of the rates of nitrogen applied, plant nitrogen uptake, and nitrogen movement to the medium top layer. The three strategies tested were constant liquid N fertilization, proportional derivative control (PD) based upon weekly saturated medium extraction (SME) tests, or PD control based upon daily SME tests. The optimal concentration of N to apply using a single fertilization concentration was 14 mol·m–3, but resulted in greater quantities of N being applied than if PD controller strategies were used. The PD controllers were better able to maintain the predicted SME concentration within 7 to 14 mol·m–3 optimal range and reduce the overall sample variability over time. Applying 14 mol·m–3 N at every irrigation was found to be an adequate fertilization strategy over a wide range of environmental conditions because N was applied in excess of what was needed by the plant.

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Charles F. Forney

Studies were conducted over three seasons to determine the relationship of temperature and humidity on the storage life of fresh cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton) fruit. Each year, cranberries harvested from four commercial bogs were stored at temperatures ranging from 0 to 10 °C in combination with relative humidities (RH) ranging from 75% to 98%. Fruit were stored under these conditions for up to 6 months and were evaluated monthly for marketability, decay, physiological breakdown, weight loss, and firmness immediately after removal and after an additional week at 20 °C. The percentage of marketable fruit declined substantially over time in all storage conditions with 41% to 57% becoming unmarketable after 2 months as a result of both decay and physiological breakdown. Relative humidity had a greater effect on fruit storage life than temperature and after 5 months, the amount of marketable fruit stored in high (98%) and medium (88%) RH was 71% and 31% less than that stored in low (75% to 82%) RH. Rates of fresh weight loss increased as RH in storage decreased and was 0.41%, 0.81%, and 0.86% per month in fruit stored in high, medium, and low RH, respectively. Fruit firmness was not significantly affected by RH. The effects of storage temperatures ranging from 0 to 7 °C on marketable fruit after 2 to 5 months of storage were not significant. Only fruit stored at 10 °C consistently had fewer marketable fruit when compared with fruit stored at lower temperatures. Storage temperature had no significant effect on decay incidence. However, physiological breakdown was greatest in fruit stored at 10 °C. Rates of fresh weight loss increased with storage temperature, ranging from 0.35% to 1.17% per month for fruit stored at 0 to 10 °C, respectively. Contrary to previous reports, no evidence of chilling injury was found in cranberry fruit stored at 0 °C. Results suggest that cranberry fruit should be stored at 0 to 7 °C and 75% to 82% RH to retain marketable fruit.

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Jonathan M. Frantz and Cary A. Mitchell

A major source of power consumption in controlled-environment crop production is plant-growth lighting. Methods developed to minimize this source of power consumption will reduce the negative environmental impact of crop production through more-efficient management of non-renewable resources. One such method uses “intracanopy lighting,” in which the plants are allowed to grow through multiple levels of low-intensity lamps to irradiate the understory that normally is shaded when traditional overhead lighting is used. Early results with cowpea (Vigna unguiculata L. Walp `IT87D-941-1') indicate a significant reduction in net power consumption within a given growth area or volume while enhancing the harvest index (HI = percent edible biomass). Incorporation of mylar reflectors and manipulation of lamp geometries for more-efficient use of available photosynthetically active radiation, while maintaining low power consumption are the focus of present experiments. Photosynthetic rates by leaves of different ages and positions within the canopy are measured as a way of determining lighting efficiency. The productivity parameters HI, edible yield rate (EYR = gDW × m–2 × day–1), yield efficiency rate (YER = gDW edible × m–2 × day–1 [gDW non-edible]-1), energy conversion efficiency (ECE = EYR × [kW·h]–1), and energy partition efficiency (EPE = YER × [kW·h]–1) express the costs of edible biomass production in terms of the spatial, temporal, energetic, and non-edible biomass penalties. [Research supported in part by NASA grant NAGW-2329.]

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Aparna Gazula, Eric Simonne, Michael Dukes, George Hochmuth, Bob Hochmuth and David Studstill

Collecting leachate from lysimeters installed in the field below vegetable fields may be used to quantify the amount of nitrogen released into the environment. Because limited information exists on the optimal design type and on the effect of design components on lysimeter performance, the objective of this study were to identify existing designs and their limits, assess cost of design, and test selected designs. Ideally, lysimeters should be wide enough to collect all the water draining, long enough to reflect the plant-to-plant variability, durable enough to resist degradation, deep enough to allow for cultural practices and prevent root intrusion, have a simple design, be made of widely available materials, and be cost-effective. Also, lysimeters should not restrict gravity flow thereby resulting in a perched water table. Previous study done with a group of free-drainage lysimeters (1-m-long, 45-cm-wide, installed 45-cm-deep) under a tomato-pumpkin-rye cropping sequence resulted in variable frequency of collection and volume of leachate collected (CV of load = 170%). Improving existing design may be done by increasing the length of collection, lining the lysimeter with gravel, limiting the depth of installation, and/or breaking water tension with a fiberglass wick. Individual lysimeter cost was estimated between $56 to $84 and required 9 to 14 manhours. for construction and installation. Costs on labor may be reduced when large numbers of lysimeters are built. Labor needed for sampling 24 lysimeters was 8 man-hr/sampling date. Because load may occur after a crop, lysimeter monitoring and sampling should be done year round.

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Patricia Newton Myers and Cary A. Mitchell

A copolymer acrylamide acrylate gel was investigated as the sole root matrix for dark-grown seedlings of soybean (Glycine max Merr. `Century 84'). Increasing Ca2+ in the hydrating solution of the hydrogel from 1 to 10 mm decreased its water-holding capacity from 97 to 46 mL·g-1, yet water potential of the medium remained high, sufficient for normal plant growth at all Ca2+ concentrations tested. Elongation rate of dark-grown soybean seedlings over a 54-hour period was 0.9, 1.5, and 1.8 mm·h-1 with 1.0, 2.5, or 5.0 mm Ca2+, respectively, but did not increase with further increases in Ca2+ concentration. Further study revealed that Na+ was released from the hydrogel medium and was taken up by the seedlings as Ca2+ increased in the medium. In dry hypocotyl tissue, sodium content correlated negatively with calcium content. Despite the presence of Na+ in the hydrogel, seedling growth was normal when adequate Ca2+ was added in the hydrating solution. Acrylamide hydrogels hold good potential as a sole growth matrix for short-term experiments with dark-grown seedlings without irrigation.

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Esmaeil Fallahi, Brenda R. Simons, John K. Fellman and W.M. Colt

Influence of different quantity and timing of nitrogen application on various physiological aspects of `Redspur Delicious' apple, including nutritional partitioning, bud initiation, fruit set, yield, fruit quality and nitrate movement in the soil were studied over several growing seasons. Urea at the rates of: 40.2 Kg/ha; 160.8 Kg/ha; 281.3 g/ha; 401.9 Kg/ha; 522.4 K /ha were applied. Each rate of urea was applied: all at full bloom; half at full bloom and half at late spring; or all in fall. In 1993, time of application did not influence yield, fruit weight, color or soluble solids at harvest. Trees that received 401.9 and with 522.4 Kg/ha had higher yield than those with other quantities. Trees with 160.8 and 281.3 Kg/ha had higher yield than trees with 40.2 Kg/ha. Fruit weight in all quantities, except that of 522.4 Kg/ha, were similar. Fruit weight of trees with 522.4 K /ha was reduced. Fruit color was reduced as N quantities increased. Trees with 40.2 Kg/ha N had lower soluble solids than all other quantities. A high level of N increased ethylene and respiration in the fruit. Thus, if the poor color of fruit is due to high nitrogen, a long delay in harvest to improve the color could lead to an over ripe fruit. A preliminary test did not indicate harmful levels of nitrates movement in the soil.

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Michael P. Harvey and Mark H. Brand

Studies initiated in Spring 1998 analyzed the influence of division size, shade, and temperature on the growth rate of the ornamental grass Hakonechloa macra `Aureola' in nursery-container production. To determine the optimum division size for production, container-grown stock plants were used to make early spring divisions of four sizes (1-2, 4-6, 8-10, and 12-15 buds). Divisions were established in 325-ml pots for 1 month before being transplanted to 3.7-L nursery containers. Plants were grown outdoors and received topdressed 17-6-10 slow-release fertilizer (containing micronutrients) and drip irrigation from June through September. Average leaf area, shoot number and bud count increased linearly as division size increased, but average height remained the same between each treatment. Plants of all division sizes exhibited healthy growth, with 50% of the plants in the 4-6 buds/division treatment growing to marketable size compared to 45%, 35% and 15% in the 8-10, 12-15, and 1-2 buds/division treatments, respectively. Four shade densities (0%, 30%, 50%, and 70%) were tested to determine which promoted optimum growth. As shading increased, average shoot number per plant decreased, average height and shoot length increased and bud count remained the same. To determine the optimum growing temperature for Hakonechloa, divisions were grown in 325-ml pots under four different day/night temperatures (15/10, 21/16, 27/22, and 33/28 °C) for 12 weeks in growth chambers. Plants were fertigated daily with a 5-25-5 liquid fertilizer. Average bud count, leaf area, plant height, plant width, shoot length, and shoot number increased as temperature increased to 27/22 °C, then decreased significantly beyond this temperature optimum.

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P.V. Devi Prasad, P. Tai Chun and S.D.P. Potluri

The Production of the cut flowers of Anthurium andreanum was in decline after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and the subsequent wide-spread problem of bacterial blight in Jamaica and the Caribbean. New methods of cultivation and new varieties were necessary for the development of the industry. In addition, with the destruction of coconut trees, the supply of commonly used coconut husk became difficult. The present work has focused on the development of alternative media to coconut husk and on the development of cultural and fertilizer practices that increase plant productivity and reduce incidence of disease. The variety Honduras was chosen for the study. A 3 × 3 latin square design was used to evaluate four media—coconut husk, brick chips, gravel, and basalt igneous rock—two methods of cultivation—pots and beds; at three levels of fertilizer—244, 448 and 896 kg N/ha per year. While the coconut husk was still the better medium, the other media have resulted only in about 15% decline in the marketable blooms. This was offset by the requirement for low maintenance and lower fertilizer rates in inorganic media compared to coconut husk. Pot culture proved to be better for management purposes as well as production for the same area of production, as density of the plants could be increased and the incidence of disease could be easily managed. These results will be discussed with emphasis on a simple cost–benefit analysis of various combinations of cultivation methods and practices for commercial cultivation of A. andreanum var. Honduras in the Caribbean.

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Esmaeil Fallahi and John K. Fellman

Effects of three times and five rates of urea application on productivity, tree growth, soil nitrate movement, nutrient partitioning, and postharvest fruit quality of `Redspur Delicious' apple on M.7 rootstock over several years were studied. Time of application did not have significant effects on most fruit quality factors or yield. However, significant differences were observed for quality and yield measurements among different quantities of N. Fruit firmness decreased with every increment in N increase. Trees with N at 0.045 kg/tree had lower yield and higher fruit firmness than those with higher quantities of N. Fruit weight and color decreased with each increment increase in the quantity of N. Trees with N at 0.045 and 0.18 kg/tree had significantly better (more red) color and lower fruit N and leaf N than those with higher quantities of N. Bud tissue nutrients were affected by quantity of N application. Fruit from trees with N at <0.18 kg/tree had lower soluble solids. High N increased fruit ethylene and respiration. Nitrogen application affected 2-methyl butyl acetate of fruit. Monitoring nitrate movement through the soil showed that application of N at >0.45 kg/tree, particularly in fall resulted in excess levels of nitrate, increasing the possibility of underground water contamination. Applying N at ≤0.32 kg/tree did not result in excess soil nitrate at 1.52-m depth.

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Philip L. Forsline, James R. McFerson and Warren F. Lamboy

The USDA–ARS active collection of Malus includes over 2500 accessions maintained as field-grown trees at the Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU), Geneva, N.Y. Nearly 30% of this collection is presently cryopreserved as dormant buds at the National Seed Storage Laboratory, Fort Collins, Colo., as a backup security collection. Successful bud-grafting recovery rates (≥40%) after one to four years of cryogenic storage have been documented for over 675 of 750 accessions tested. However, current protocols dictate budwood collection at PGRU from late December through early March, when buds are thought to be optimally acclimated for desiccation and slow freezing to –30°C, our pretreatment for cryopreservation. This causes a processing bottleneck. Our observations suggest temporary storage of budwood at –4°C after field harvest is possible, but we had not tested this directly. Therefore, we collected budwood from four accessions representing different levels of cold tolerance on six dates from January to March, 1995. Dormant buds were processed for cryopreservation monthly after storage in sealed bags at –4°C for 1 to 6 months. Recovery rates ranged from 55% to 100%. Neither collection date nor length of storage at –4°C affected rate of recovery. These results suggest we can significantly increase the throughput and efficiency of our cryopreservation efforts, thereby enhancing management and security of the Malus collection.