LEACHING OF SIX PHOSPHATE SOURCES FROM A PINE BARK CONTAINER MEDIUM

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  • 1 Department of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, N.C. 27695-7609.

Research reports documenting phosphorus leaching from soilless container media has changed commercial nursery phosphorus fertilizing practices. However, rhododendron growers are concerned that phosphorus levels are adequate as plants begin setting flower buds in July and August. Medium solution of 10 to 15 ppm P are recommended. Five replicated leachate samples were collected from 6 phosphate sources for 11 weeks following surface application to 2 container grown rhododendron cultivars. Each fertilizer source wax blended to an analysis of 14.0N-11.2P-5.0K except a 14.0N-0P-5.0K control. Phosphate sources included Diammonium Phosphate, Triple superphosphate, Sulfur coated Diammonium Phosphate, Sulfur coated triple superphosphate, and a commercial rhododendron sulfur coated fertilizer. With the exception of control, all treatment leachate phosphorus levels ranged from 180 to 145 ppm two days and 85 to 75 ppm one week after application. All sources ranged from 45 to 10 ppm weeks 2-5 and were lower than 10 ppm weeks 7-11. Leachate levels of the control were below 10 ppm at all sample times. Bud set and foliar P levels were different among phosphate treatments, but growth index measurements were not significant.

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