496 PB 178 AMMONIUM TOXICITY DURING PLUG SEEDLING GERMINATION AND PRODUCTION

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  • 1 Dept. of Horticultural Science, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7609

Tomato `Marglobe' seed were sown on germination paper in enclosed plastic dishes in a growth room Ammonium was more toxic when applied as the single salt, ammonium sulfate, than when applied as part of a complete Hoagland solution. The lowest toxic ammonium levels were for the single salt 1.5 mM and for the complete solution 4.5 mM. Symptoms included reduced length of primary and particularly lateral roots, reduced numbers of root hairs, and chlorosis, distortion, and slower development of cotyledons. Tomato `Marglobe' seedlings were also grown in 288 cell plug trays in a substrate of 3 sphagnum peat moss and 1 perlite containing no N, P, or K but amended with dolomitic limestone to pH 6.0 They were fertilized every third watering with 4 mM NH4 + NO3, 0.4 mM PO4, and 1.2 mM K from 15 to 28 days after sowing and at double this concentration from 29 to 42 days. A zero leaching percentage was practiced. Ammoniacal-N comprised 25, 50, or 75% of total N. There were no effects of ammonium on root or shoot weights, height or appearance of plants through this period. Plant growth was limited throughout this period by N stress in accordance. with commercial practice. After 42 days N stress was alleviated by again doubling the nutrient solution concentration and applying it with every watering. Ammonium toxicity developed with symptoms of shorter plant height, general chlorosis of lower leaves, and necrosis of the base of lower leaves.

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