Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
Managing the Propagation Environment of Un-rooted Cuttings
Specialty herbaceous annuals are a valuable sector of the bedding plant market that are vegetatively propagated by shoot-tip cuttings. Growers receive un-rooted cuttings from offshore cutting production facilities and root them during periods of the year when the daily light integral (DLI) is lowest. These low light levels increase rooting time, do not maximize root production, and result in liners that are elongated and thin with low root and shoot mass. Research has indicated that increasing the DLI during root development increases rooting, biomass accumulation, and quality of petunia and New Guinea impatiens cuttings. However, these species are a fraction of the herbaceous bedding plant species propagated by cuttings. Additionally, while requirements for root-zone medium temperature and mineral nutrition requirements during root development have been identified, there is no research identifying the interaction of propagation DLI with medium temperature or mineral nutrition during rooting. The objective of this research is quantify the interaction between photosynthetic DLI, rooting medium temperature, and fertilization of 10 popular specialty annuals. As a result, growers could reduce time to finishing liners and thus heating costs, and consequently increase root mass and liner quality. [Funding Provided by the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), Fred C. Gloeckner Foundation, and the Indiana Flower Grower Association (IFGA)]
Field and High Tunnel Cut Flower Production
U.S. cut flower production of chrysanthemum, rose, and carnation has been displaced by production in the tropical highlands where favorable climatic and economic conditions converged to render domestic production industry non-competitive. The window of opportunity for domestic cut flower production lies in the field of specialty cut flowers. Consumer interest in unique floral products, together with a movement towards buying local have created economic opportunity in this area. Our research will begin with a screen of specialty cut flowers to determine their suitability for field production in the midwest region. Additional research would compare field to high tunnel (unheated hoop house) production to determine if yield and quality parameters can be improved, and the growing season extended. Future research opportunities can explore the economics of specialty cut flower production and marketing. [Funding provided by the Indiana Specialty Crop Block Grant and the Purdue Agriculture Mission Orientated Grant]
Production and Marketing Sustainability
Currently, one of the most widely discussed topics in the floriculture industry, which is promulgated by consumers exhibiting greater degrees of environmental awareness, is the issue of environmental sustainability. This has led to a desire for products that not only solve the needs of consumers but are also produced and marketed using sustainable production and business practices. Consumers increasingly place a great emphasis on sustainable product packaging and this has carried over to the greenhouse industry in the form of biodegradable pots. While various forms of eco-friendly pots have been available for several years, their marketing appeal was limited due to their less-than-satisfying appearance. With the recent availability of more attractive biodegradable plant containers, a renewed interest in their suitability in the floriculture sector and their consumer acceptance has emerged. The objective of this research is to determine the characteristics of biodegradable pots that consumers deem most desirable and to solicit their willingness-to-pay (WTP) for this type of product. [Funding Provided by the American Floral Endowment (AFE), Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) the USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (FSMIP), The Ball Horticultural Company, and the Purdue Agriculture Mission Orientated Grant].
Plant Growth Regulators on Greenhouse Crops
Plant growth regulators (PGRs) are an important tool in ornamental plant production. For many containerized crops, plant height or stem length must be controlled to produce a plant that is both aesthetically appealing when sold and meets size specifications for shipping and/or display. In order to meet these requirements PGRs are applied to control stem elongation. A number of commercialized chemical retardants, and several in development, are available for this purpose. Additionally, there are a variety of application methods (sprays, drenches, liner dips, bulb soaks) that interact with other factors (timing, growing substrate composition, etc.) that affect chemical efficacy. Our goal is to evaluate and develop successful protocols for applying PGRs with a variety of methods to curb excessive stem elongation. In addition to controlling stem elongation, PGRs can be used to increase branching or reduce water loss. As new products are developed, we evaluate the chemicals on important crops to determine what will be successful for a commercial ornamental crop producer. [Funding Provided by FINE Americas, SePro, OHP, Syngenta, and Valent].