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P.R. Fisher, R.D. Heins, and J.H. Lieth

Stem elongation response to a single foliar application of the growth retardant chlormequat chloride [(2-chloroethyl) trimethylammonium chloride] for poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Klotz.) was quantified. Growth retardant applications did not affect final leaf count or timing of visible bud, first bract color, or anthesis. There was a statistically significant effect of growth retardant concentration on stem elongation, with a range from 289 ± 15 mm (mean 95% confidence intervals) for the control plants to 236 ± 17 mm at 4000 ppm. The growth-retarding effect during the first day after the application was not significantly different between 500 and 4000 ppm, and concentration primarily affected the duration of growth-retarding activity. A dose response function was incorporated into a three-phase mathematical function of stem elongation of single-stem poinsettia to predict elongation of treated and untreated plants. The model was calibrated using a data set from plants receiving 0, 500, 1000, 1500, 2000, 3000, and 4000 ppm, with a resulting R 2 of 0.99. Validation of the dose response model against an independent data set resulted in an r 2 of 0.99, and predicted final stem length was within 12 mm of observed final length.

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Paul R. Fisher, Royal D. Heins, and J. Heinrich Lieth

Stem elongation of poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Klotz.) was quantified using an approach that explicitly modelled the three phases of a sigmoidal growth curve: 1) an initial lag phase characterized by an exponentially increasing stem length, 2) a phase in which elongation is nearly linear, and 3) a plateau phase in which elongation rate declines as stem length reaches an asymptotic maximum. For each growth phase, suitable mathematical functions were selected for smooth height and slope transitions between phases. The three growth phases were linked to developmental events, particularly flower initiation and the first observation of a visible flower bud. The model was fit to a data set of single-stemmed poinsettia grown with vegetative periods of 13, 26, or 54 days, resulting in excellent conformance (R 2 = 0.99). The model was validated against two independent data sets, and the elongation pattern was similar to that predicted by the model, particularly during the linear and plateau phases. The model was formulated to allow dynamic simulation or adaptation in a graphical control chart. Model parameters in the three-phase function have clear biological meaning. The function is particularly suited to situations in which identification of growth phases in relation to developmental and horticultural variables is an important objective. Further validation under a range of conditions is required before the model can be applied to horticultural situations.