Asparagus is a potential greenhouse crop, and its production is considerably affected by temperature and light, especially in the summer season. This study investigated the effects of the application of near-infrared (NIR)-reflective diffusion coating on a simple plastic greenhouse on microclimatic conditions, plant response, spear yield, and quality of the asparagus plant in central Taiwan. The results showed that NIR-reflective diffusion coating reduced the mean air temperature inside the greenhouse by 0.3 to 0.9 °C and leaf temperature by 2.3, 2.4, and 2.4 °C at a canopy height of 50, 100, and 50 cm, respectively. Although the accumulated daily light integral (DLI) transmitted in the coated greenhouse exhibited an 18.9% reduction compared with a 16.8% reduction in the noncoated greenhouse, a more uniform spatial light distribution was noted. Therefore, photosynthesis improved in the middle and bottom canopy, and plants could maintain a higher transpiration rate, thus resulting in atmospheric cooling. The average spear yield increased by 31.4% in summer and by 10.1% during the following harvest with a lower crude fiber (CF) content and higher Ca as well as Mg contents. In addition, the number of newly emerged shoots increased by 48.8% after the removal of the mother stalk under coating. NIR-reflective diffusion coating can be used as an energy-saving method for enhancing cooling and improving light use efficiency, thus increasing asparagus production in a greenhouse in summer.
The genus Linum L. contains ≈200 primarily blue-flowered species, including several ornamentals, yet no reports exist regarding the cut flower potential of this genus. The objective of this study was to evaluate the cut flower potential of perennial flax cultivars (L. perenne L. ‘Blue Flax’ and ‘Sapphire’; Expt. 1, 2018) and accessions (L. austriacum L., L. lewisii Pursh., and L. perenne; Expt. 2, 2019), and record traits that will enable breeding and selection for improved cut flower performance. The mean vase life across both cultivars in Expt. 1 was 9.2 days. In Expt. 2, L. perenne had the longest average vase life (9.3 days), followed by L. austriacum (9.1 days) and L. lewisii (8.3 days). The floral preservative (Floralife 300) significantly increased vase life by an average of 1.7 days in Expt. 1, and 1.6 days in Expt. 2, and resulted in a significantly greater number of flowers (≈2x) in both experiments. Significant variation was observed among genotypes for most traits, including vase life (6.2 to 11.3 days) and number of flowers (1.3 to 10.5), highlighting the opportunities for improving the potential of cut flower perennial flax through breeding.
Sulfentrazone was recently registered for use in tomato and strawberry in Florida. Field experiments were conducted at the Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Wimauma, FL, to evaluate PRE sulfentrazone applications when applied on flat soil 30 days before bed formation (PRE-f), on the bed top immediately before laying plastic mulch (PRE-t), applied PRE-t as a tank mix with other PRE herbicides, or PRE-t followed by POST halosulfuron or rimusulfuron (POST). Sulfentrazone did not damage the tomato and strawberry crop and had no effect on strawberry and tomato fruit yield. It was as effective as the industry standards but none of the evaluated herbicide treatments provided adequate weed control. POST halosulfuron in tomato resulted in significantly greater nutsedge control at 11 (14%) and 13 (27%) weeks after initial treatment (WAIT) compared with other treatments in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020, respectively. However, in tomato, tank-mixing sulfentrazone with S-metolachlor or metribuzin did not enhance nutsedge control. Weed control did not improve with increased rates or with the use of PRE-f followed by (fb) PRE-t applications in tomato. PRE-t sulfentrazone fb POST halosulfuron was an efficient nutsedge management option in tomato. Sulfentrazone alone did not effectively control weeds in tomato or strawberry. Increased rates of sulfentrazone with the use of PRE-f fb PRE-t sulfentrazone applications did reduce (34%) total weed density in strawberry.
Modern greenhouses are intensive farming systems designed to achieve high efficiency and productivity. Plants are produced year-round in greenhouses by maintaining the environment at or near optimum levels regardless of extreme weather conditions. Many scientific discoveries and technological advancements that happened in the past two centuries paved the way for current state-of-the-art greenhouses. These include, but are not limited to, advancements in climate-specific structural designs and glazing materials, and temperature control, artificial lighting, and hydroponic production systems. Greenhouse structures can be broadly grouped into four distinct designs, including tall Venlo greenhouses of the Netherlands, passive solar greenhouses of China, low-cost Parral greenhouses of the Mediterranean region, and gutter-connected polyethylene houses of India and African countries. These designs were developed to suit local climatic conditions and maximize the return on investment. Although glass and rigid plastic options are available for glazing, the development of low-cost and lightweight plastic glazing materials (e.g., polyethylene) enabled widespread growth of the greenhouse industry in the developing world. For temperate regions, supplemental lighting technology is crucial for year-round production. This heavily relies on advancements in electro-lighting during the 19th and 20th centuries. The development of hydroponic production systems for the controlled delivery of nutrients further enhanced crop productivity. This article addresses important historical events, scientific discoveries, and technological improvements related to advancements in these areas.
The implementation of high tunnels has shown to increase marketability and/or yield of tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) and lettuce (Lactuca sativa) crops compared with open-field systems. These structures provide the opportunity to alter light intensity and spectral quality by using specific polyethylene (poly) films and/or shadecloth, which may affect microclimate and subsequent crop productivity. However, little is known about how specific high tunnel coverings affect these parameters. The overall goal of this study was to evaluate the impact of various high tunnel coverings on the microclimate and crop productivity of tomato and lettuce. The coverings included standard, ultraviolet (UV)-stabilized poly film (standard); diffuse poly (diffuse); full-spectrum clear poly (clear); UV-A/B blocking poly (block); standard + 55% shadecloth (shade); and removal of standard poly 2 weeks before initial harvest to simulate a movable tunnel (movable). Microclimate parameters that were observed included canopy and soil temperatures, canopy growing degree-days (GDD), and photosynthetic active radiation (PAR), and crop productivity included yield and net photosynthetic rate. Hybrid red ‘BHN 589’ tomatoes were grown during the summer, and red ‘New Red Fire’ and green ‘Two Star’ leaf lettuce were grown in both spring and fall in 2017 and 2018. Increased temperature, GDD, and PAR were observed during the spring and summer compared with the fall. The soil temperatures during the summer increased more under the clear covering compared with the others. For tomato, the shade produced lower total fruit yield and net photosynthetic rate (Pn) compared with the other treatments, which were similar (P < 0.001 and <0.001, respectively). The greatest yield was 7.39 kg/plant, which was produced under the clear covering. For red leaf lettuce grown in the spring, the plants under the clear, standard, and diffuse coverings had significantly greater yield than the movable and shade coverings (P < 0.001). The coverings had less effect on the yield during the fall lettuce trials, which may have been attributed to the decrease in PAR and environmental temperatures. The findings of this study suggest that high tunnel coverings affect both microclimate and yield of lettuce and tomato.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture citrus scion breeding program is urgently working on developing huanglongbing (HLB; pathogen Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus)-tolerant cultivars with excellent fruit quality and productivity when HLB-affected. The slow process of assessing new citrus hybrids is a major impediment to delivery of these much-needed cultivars. We generate thousands of hybrids each year, germinate the seedlings, grow them for 2 years in the greenhouse, plant them at high density in a field where the disease HLB is abundant, grow them for 5 to 10 years, and make selections based on tree performance and fruit quality of these HLB-affected trees. Based on promising reports of accelerated citrus growth when grown in a metallized reflective mulch (MRM) system, we tested the hypothesis that the MRM system may accelerate growth and selection of new hybrid seedlings compared with conventional soil culture (CSC). In the MRM system, tree rows are covered with a layer of metallized plastic film and drip irrigation is installed beneath the plastic. In 2 years of analysis, tree canopy volume was significantly greater with MRM in 2020 (27% greater than CSC) but not in 2021, and MRM tree height was greater in 2021 (7% greater than CSC). Mortality was significantly greater with MRM in both 2020 and 2021(in 2021: 32% vs. 17% under CSC), and MRM trees had more chlorotic leaves. Because of staff limitations, plant debris and soil were not routinely cleared from MRM, thus diminishing any benefit from the reflective surface. Better maintenance might have resulted in more sustained evidence of MRM growth benefits. With the current resource availability, the MRM system does not appear to accelerate the assessment of hybrid seedling trees.
The most recent platform for protected horticultural crop production, with the shortest history to date, is located entirely indoors, lacking even the benefit of free, natural sunlight. Although this may not sound offhand like a good idea for commercial specialty-crop production, the concept of indoor controlled-environment plant growth started originally for the benefit of researchers—to systematically investigate effects of specific environmental factors on plant growth and development in isolation from environmental factors varying in uncontrolled ways that would confound or change experimental findings. In addition to its value for basic and applied research, it soon was discovered that providing nonlimiting plant-growth environments greatly enhanced crop yield and enabled manipulation of plant development in ways that were never previously possible. As supporting technology for indoor crop production has improved in capability and efficiency, energy requirements have declined substantially for growing crops through entire production cycles in completely controlled environments, and this combination has spawned a new sector of the controlled-environment crop-production industry. This article chronicles the evolution of events, enabling technologies, and entrepreneurial efforts that have brought local, year-round indoor crop production to the forefront of public visibility and the threshold of profitability for a growing number of specialty crops in locations with seasonal climates.
In the first century CE, two Roman agricultural writers, Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella and Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), referred to proto-greenhouses (specularia) constructed for the Emperor Tiberius (42 BCE–37 CE) presumably adjacent to his palace, the Villa Jovis on the Isle of Capri. Pliny stated in Historia Naturalis (Book 19, 23:64) that the specularia consisted of beds mounted on wheels that were moved into the sun, and on wintry days withdrawn under the cover of frames glazed with transparent stone (lapis specularis) to provide fruits of cucumis. According to Pliny, this was “a delicacy for which the Emperor Tiberius, had a remarkable partiality; in fact there was never a day on which he was not supplied it.” The cucumis fruits described by Columella and Pliny, long mistranslated as cucumbers, Cucumis sativus, were in fact long-fruited melons, Cucumis melo subsp. melo Flexuosus Group. They are known today as vegetable melons, snake melons, and faqqous, and were highly esteemed in Rome and ancient Israel.
In the commercial production of phalaenopsis orchids, the cultivation time after deflasking is used to describe the plant age and maturity. Carbon-to-nitrogen (C/N) ratio is often used as an indicator of plant growth and flowering potential. High C/N ratios are considered to promote reproductive growth, and low C/N ratios are associated with the early vegetative growth or even inhibiting flowering. This study investigated how plant age and maturity affected flowering ability and flower quality of phalaenopsis and their relationship to C/N ratio. The plant materials of various ages were the purple, small-flowered Phalaenopsis Sogo Lotte ‘F2510’ and white, large-flowered P. Sogo Yukidian ‘V3’, which were 2 to 7 months and 10 to 20 months after deflasking, respectively. Plants were placed under 25/20 °C for 4 months to force flowering and investigate the flowering-related parameters. The leaf C/N ratio of both varieties increased in general with the increase of plant age. The spiking (flower-stalk emergence) rate of P. Sogo Lotte ‘F2510’ 2 months after deflasking was only 42%, which indicates that these plants were not completely out of their juvenile phase, whereas that of those 3 to 7 months after deflasking was 100%, indicating that plants had acquired full flowering ability. No linear correlation was found between the C/N ratio and days to spiking, to first visible bud, to first flower open, and to 90% flower opening in the white, large-flowered P. Sogo Yukidian ‘V3’. However, there was a positive correlation between the C/N ratio and inflorescence length, flower-stalk diameter, first flower diameter, and flower count. Thus, the C/N ratio is feasible to be used as an indicator for assessing the flowering quality in phalaenopsis.