In any horticultural situation, growers are concerned with controlling and even manipulating plant growth. They must provide for the plants the optimum conditions to produce the most efficient growth rate and the end product required. Therefore the processes that result in growth are explored in order that the most suitable or economic growth can be achieved. Photosynthesis is probably the single most important process in plant growth. Respiration is the process by which the food matter produced by photosynthesis is converted into energy usable for growth of the plant. Photosynthesis and respiration make these processes possible, and the balance between these results in growth. It must be emphasized that growth involves the plant in hundreds of chemical processes, occurring in the different organs and tissues throughout the plant.
Growth is a difficult term to define because it really encompasses the totality of all the processes that take place during the life of an organism. However, it is useful to distinguish between the processes which result in an increase in size and weight, and those processes which cause the changes in the plant during its life cycle, which can usefully be called development, described in Chapters 7 and 11.
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