648 Assessment of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, and Sulfur Pre-plant Nutrients on Plug Seedling Growth

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

Salinity guidelines for seed germination substrates are extremely low and difficult to attain given the salinity contributions of components such as peatmoss, vermiculite, limestone, wetting agent, and nutrients. This study was conducted to determine the value of N, P, K, and S as pre-plant nutrients with the anticipation that some could be eliminated. Seed were sown in two similar experiments on 23 Mar. and 6 June 1995 in 288-cell plug trays containing a substrate of 3 sphagnum peat: 1 perlite (v/v) amended with 6 g dolomitic limestone and 1.5 g Esmigran micronutrient mix per liter. Test plants included impatiens `Accent Rose' (Impatiens wallerana L.) and gomphrena `Buddy' (Gomphrena globosa. L.) Six preplant treatments including none, all, or all minus one of the nutrients N, P, K, and S were applied, each at a rate of 100 mg·L–1, substrate, in a randomized complete-block design with three blocks. Post-plant fertilization with 13–0.9–10.8 at 50 mg N/L began 1 week after sowing and was increased to 100 mg N/L when the fourth true leaf appeared. Omission of pre-plant K and S did not result in any reduction in final plant size in impatiens and only a minor reduction in one of the two gomphrena crops. Omission of N and P consistently reduced final size of plants by a commercially significant amount. While K and S are not necessary, N and P should be considered in a pre-plant fertilizer for these crops. In each situation where shoot size was smaller the root/shoot ratio was unchanged.

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