"Another aspect of our current research is investigating the application of gibberellic acid, or GA, to artichoke plants so they can produce in Texas, especially in the late fall," he said. "Gibberellic acid is a hormone which stimulates growth and is found naturally in plants, including artichoke and other vegetable species."
For the past several years, Leskovar has been investigating the viability of growing artichokes as an alternative crop in parts of Texas. He and South Central Texas producers, including some in the state's Winter Garden area, have been growing and assessing several varieties of green and red artichokes.
Artichokes are normally planted in late fall, so earlier planting can be a hit-or-miss proposition for Texas, especially South and Central Texas, because the plants require successive days of low temperatures to trigger bolting and produce the edible head, Leskovar explained.
"We can mimic the effects of cold weather on the plant by introducing gibberellic acid as a natural treatment that will fulfill the plant's requirement for bolting during warmer-than-needed temperatures," he said.
Leskovar noted that gibberellic acid is applied during commercial artichoke production in other parts of the world, particularly during the summer months.
"We're using natural compounds that are part of existing plant physiology to improve vegetables and make them less susceptible to different stress factors," he said. "The process isn't new, but there's still a lot to learn about the response mechanisms in plants, the best way and amounts to apply, and what effect these will have on a variety of vegetables during different stages of development."
Leskovar said the research will be useful as part of an integrated cropping system strategy for developing more stress-tolerant vegetable plants which can be grown not only in Texas, but also other south
|Contact: Dr. Daniel Leskovar|
Texas A&M AgriLife Communications