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Stephanie E. Burnett, Svoboda V. Pennisi, Paul A. Thomas, and Marc W. van Iersel

Polyethylene glycol 8000 (PEG-8000) was applied to a soilless growing medium at the concentrations of 0, 15, 20, 30, 42, or 50 g·L-1 to impose controlled drought. Salvia (Salvia splendens F. Sellow. ex Roem & Shult.) seeds were planted in the growing medium to determine if controlled drought affects morphology and anatomy of salvia. Polyethylene glycol decreased emergence percentage and delayed emergence up to 5 days. Stem elongation of salvia treated with the five lowest concentrations was reduced up to 35% (21 days after seeding), and salvia were a maximum of 53% shorter and the canopy was 20% more narrow compared to nontreated seedlings 70 days after seeding. These morphological changes were attributed to PEG-8000 mediated reduction in leaf water potential (Ψw). The growing medium Ψw ranged from -0.29 to -0.85 MPa in PEG-8000 treated plants, and plant height was positively correlated with Ψw 21 days after seeding. Stem diameter of PEG-treated seedlings was reduced up to 0.4 mm mainly due to reductions in vascular cross-sectional area. Xylem cross-sectional area decreased more than stem and phloem cross-sectional area. Polyethylene glycol 8000 reduced vessel element number, but not diameter.

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Eric B. Bish, Daniel J. Cantliffe, and Craig K. Chandler

The demand for plug transplants by the Florida winter strawberry (Fragaria ×ananassa Duch.) industry may increase as water conservation during plant establishment becomes more important and the loss of methyl bromide fumigant makes the production of bare-root transplants more problematic. A study was conducted during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons to determine the effect of container size and temperature conditioning on the plant growth and early season fruit yield of `Sweet Charlie' strawberry plants. Plants in containers of three sizes (75, 150, and 300 cm3) were grown in one of two temperature-controlled greenhouses (35 °C day/25 °C night or 25 °C day/15 °C night) for the 2 weeks just prior to transplanting into a fruiting field at Dover, Fla. Plants exposed to the 25/15 °C treatment had significantly higher average root dry weights at planting in 1995 and 1996 than did plants exposed to the 35/25 °C treatment. Plants exposed to the 25/15 °C treatment also had higher average fruit yields than the plants exposed to the 35/25 °C treatment (48% and 18% higher in 1995-96 and 1996-97, respectively). The effect of container size on plant growth and yield was variable. Plants propagated in the 150- and 300-cm3 containers tended to be larger (at planting) than the plants propagated in the 75-cm3 containers, but the larger container sizes did not result in consistently higher yields.

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Katsumi Ohyama, Koji Manabe, Yoshitaka Omura, Toyoki Kozai, and Chieri Kubota

To evaluate the potential use of a 24-hour photoperiod for transplant production in a closed system, tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) plug transplants were grown for 17 days either under a 24-hour photoperiod with a photosynthetic photon flux (PPF) of 200 μmol·m-2·s-1 or under a 16-hour photoperiod with a PPF of 300 μmol·m-2·s-1, resulting in the same daily integrated PPF (17.3 mol·m-2). Air temperatures were alternated between 28 °C during the first 16 hours and 16 °C for the subsequent 8 hours of each day. Fresh weight, dry weight and leaf area were 41%, 25%, and 64% greater, respectively, under the 24-hour photoperiod than under the 16-hour photoperiod. Physiological disorders (e.g., chlorosis and/or necrosis) were not observed under the 24-hour photoperiod, probably due to the alternating air temperature. Floral development of plants originating from both treatments did not differ significantly. Electric energy use efficiency of the closed system was 9% greater under the 24-hour photoperiod than under the 16-hour photoperiod. These results suggest that using a 24-hour photoperiod with relatively low PPF can reduce both initial and operational costs for transplant production in a closed system due to the reduction in the number of lamps.

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Jeongwook Heo, Sandra B. Wilson, and Toyoki Kozai

An improved forced ventilation micropropagation system was designed with air distribution pipes for uniform spatial distributions of carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration and other environmental factors to enhance photoautotrophic growth and uniformity of plug plantlets. Single-node stem cuttings of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam. `Beniazuma'] were photoautotrophically (no sugar in the culture medium) cultured on a mixture of vermiculite and cellulose fibers with half-strength Murashige and Skoog basal salts in a scaled-up culture vessel with an inside volume of 11 L (2.9 gal). CO2 concentration of the supplied air and photosynthetic photon flux on the culture shelf were maintained at 1500 μmol·mol-1 and 150 μmol·m-2·s-1, respectively. Plantlets grown in forced ventilation systems were compared to plantlets grown in standard (natural ventilation rate) tissue culture vessels. The forced (F) ventilation treatments were designated high (FH), medium (FM), and low (FL), and corresponded to ventilation rates of 23 mL·s-1 (1.40 inch3/s), 17 mL·s-1 (1.04 inch3/s), and 10 mL·s-1 (0.61 inch3/s), respectively, on day 12. The natural (N) ventilation treatment was extremely low (NE) at 0.4 mL·s-1 (0.02 inch3/s), relative to the forced ventilation treatments. On day 12, the photoautotrophic growth of plantlets was nearly two times greater with the forced ventilation system than with the natural ventilation system. Plantlet growth did not significantly differ among the forced ventilation rates tested. The uniformity of the plantlet growth in the scaled-up culture vessel was enhanced by use of air distribution pipes that decreased the difference in CO2 concentration between the air inlets and the air outlet.

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Stephanie Burnett, Paul Thomas, and Marc van Iersel

We previously found that incorporation of PEG-8000 into the growing medium delayed germination and resulted in shorter seedlings. However, in that study, we were unable to determine whether the reduced height was merely the effect of delayed germination or of reduced elongation after germination. To answer this question, we studied whether postgermination drenches with PEG-8000 can reduce seedling height. Annual salvia (Salvia splendens F. Sellow. ex Roem. & Shult. `Bonfire') and French marigold (Tagetes patula L. `Boy Orange') seedlings were treated with drenches of PEG-8000: 0, 15, 20, 30, 42, 50, 62, 72, or 83 g·L–1. At least 20% of seedlings treated with 62 to 83 g·L–1 of PEG-8000 were dead 14 d after treatment. Salvia and marigolds treated with the remaining PEG-8000 concentrations were up to 34% and 14% shorter than untreated seedlings, respectively. Leaf water (Ψw) and turgor potential (Ψp) also decreased for salvia which were grown with greater concentrations of PEG-8000, one probable cause of the observed reduction in elongation. Since the PEG-8000 in this study was applied after germination, it is clear that PEG-8000 does not reduce elongation merely by delaying germination, but also by reducing the elongation rate. Thus, postgermination drenches with PEG-8000 can be used to produce shorter seedlings.

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Nicolas Tremblay and André Gosselin

Since they grow nearly exponentially, plants in their juvenile phase can benefit more than mature ones of optimal growing conditions. Transplant production in greenhouses offers the opportunity to optimize growing factors in order to reduce production time and improve transplant quality. Carbon dioxide and light are the two driving forces of photosynthesis. Carbon dioxide concentration can be enriched in the greenhouse atmosphere, leading to heavier transplants with thicker leaves and reduced transpiration rates. Supplementary lighting is often considered as more effective than CO2 enrichment for transplant production. It can be used not only to speed up growth and produce higher quality plants, but also to help in production planning. However, residual effects on transplant field yield of CO2 enrichment or supplementary lighting are absent or, at the best, inconsistent.

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M.R. Evans and G. Li

The annual bedding plants `Dazzler Rose Star' impatiens (Impatiens wallerana), `Cooler Blush' vinca (Catharanthus roseus), `Orbit Cardinal' geranium (Pelargonium × hotorum), `Janie Bright Yellow' marigold (Tagetes patula) and `Bingo Azure' pansy (Viola tricolor) were grown on germination papers treated with deionized water (DI), 2500 or 5000 mg·L-1 (ppm) humic acid (HA) or nutrient control (NC) solutions. Seedlings grown on HA-treated germination papers had higher dry root weights than those grown on DI or NC-treated germination papers. Except for impatiens, seedlings germinated on HA-treated germination papers had higher lateral root numbers and higher total lateral root lengths than those grown on DI and NC-treated germination papers. Impatiens grown on NC-treated germination papers had higher lateral root numbers than those grown on DI or HA-treated germination papers. Overall, lateral root numbers for impatiens were higher for seedlings germinated on HA-treated papers than DI or NC-treated papers and highest lateral root numbers occurred on those impatiens germinated on papers treated with 5000 mg·L-1 HA. Except for geranium, seedlings grown in HA-amended sphagnum-peat-based substrates had similar dry root and dry shoot weights as those grown in unamended substrates. Geranium seedlings grown in HA-amended sphagnum peat-based substrates had significantly higher dry root weights than those grown in unamended substrates. However, dry shoot weights of geranium grown in HA-amended sphagnum peat-based substrates were similar to those grown in unamended substrates.

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Shi-Ying Wang, William H. Carlson, and Royal D. Heins

The effect of 6 weeks of storage at 2.5, 5.0, 7.5, 10.0, or 12.5°C in a glass greenhouse was determined on 11 vegetatively propagated annual species. Fresh weight (total, shoot, and root) and height of 30 plants per species in each storage temperature were measured at the end of storage. Another 30 plants were transplanted into 15-cm pots (three plants per pot) and grown under natural light in a 20°C glass greenhouse for 3 weeks. Three species showed chilling injury or died during storage at ≤7.5°C. Plant height and shoot fresh weight at the end of storage for most species increased linearly as storage temperature increased. Storage temperature did not affect the net increase in height or weight significantly during recovery growth, except for plants that exhibited chilling injury at the end of storage.

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Robert R. Milks, William C. Fonteno, and Roy A. Larson


Plants grown in small containers often show limited growth due to low levels of aeration and water holding capacity in the medium. These levels can be changed by management practices such as medium compaction, medium wetness at time of container filling, container height and volume, peat : vermiculite ratio, particle size, and the use of a wetting agent. A modified equilibrium capacity variable model was applied to an investigation of media-container interactions for short containers (<5 cm tall). Predicted volume percentages for total porosity (TP), container capacity (CC), air space (AS), unavailable water (UW), and available water (AW) were developed from measured moisture retention data and container geometry. AS increased with: 1) increased particle size, 2) increased media moisture at time of container filling, 3) decreased medium compaction, 4) increased wetting agent concentration, 5) decreased ratio of peat : vermiculite, and 6) increased container height. Increased percent AW resulted from smaller particle size, increased media moisture at time of container filling, decreased container compaction, decreased wetting agent concentration, increased ratio of peat : vermiculite and decreased container height.

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A. Liptay and P. Sikkema

Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill) seedlings given 0.3 to 0.4 L/tray per day of a mineral solution containing (in mg·L-1) 150N-47P-216K-64Ca-40Mg maintained optimal height at 10 to 13 cm for Ontario processing tomato transplants. Seedlings given greater fertigation volumes were too tall and spindly to use as transplants. Transplants given 0.2 L of water per tray per day were very short (6 cm) compared to those receiving 0.3 to 0.4 L. As fertigation volume was increased from 0.2 to 0.7 L, shoot N remained constant while root N increased. Shoots had about a 3-fold higher level of N, P, and K than the roots. Calcium and magnesium were similar in roots and shoots. Mineral leaching from the trays was 1% of the total volume applied for the 0.4-L and 4% for the 0.7-L treatment.