Commonly used planting techniques and soil amendments were compared to determine their effect on root growth, shoot growth, and drought tolerance of 2.5 cm caliper Acer rubrum. Study I: Trees were planted on 6 April 1992 into holes backfilled with 1) native soil, 2) 50% aged pine bark: 50% native soil, 3) 50% Mr. Natural™:50% native soil, or 4) 100% Mr. Natural™. Mr. Natural™ consists of granite sand, expanded shale, and composted poultry litter. After two years, no differences in growth or survival existed. Study II: On 8 April 1992, trees were planted in 1) unamended planting holes, 2) tilled planting beds, or 3) tilled and pine bark-amended planting beds. Five months after planting, the root growth in the tilled and tilled-amended beds did not differ, but both had more root growth than planting holes. Amendment-induced nitrogen deficiency reduced shoot growth of the tilled-amended treatment during the first year. After two years, the planting hole treatment exhibited the least shoot growth, while shoot growth of tilled and tilled-amended treatments did not differ. StudyIII: Selected trees in study II were drought stressed for 8 weeks beginning 4 August 1993. No differences in relative leaf water content among treatments were observed Results suggest that native soil should be used as backfill in planting holes; however, tilling a planting bed increases root and shoot growth compared to planting in a hole. Amending beds with pine bark did not increase growth or drought tolerance.
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