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  • 1 1USDA–ARS, Southern Horticultural Laboratory, P.O. Box 287, Poplarville, MS 39470
  • 2 2Department of Horticulture, 101 Funchess Hall, Auburn University, AL 36849

The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential use of container substrates composed of whole pine trees. Three species [loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), slash pine (Pinus elliottii) and longleaf pine (Pinus palustris)] of 8–10 year old pine trees were harvested at ground level and the entire tree was chipped with a tree chipper. The chips from each tree species were then further processed with a hammer mill to pass a ½-inch screen. On 29 June 2005 these three substrates along with 100% pinebark were mixed with the addition per cubic yard of 9.49 kg·m–3 Polyon 18–6–12 (18N–2.6P–10K), 2.97 kg·m–3 dolomitic lime and 0.89 kg·m–3 Micromax. One gallon (3.8 L) containers were then filled and placed into full sun under overhead irrigation. Into these containers were planted 72 cell plugs of Catharanthus roseus`Little Blanche'. Data collected were pre-plant chemical and physical properties of substrates, as well as plant growth index (GI), plant top dry weight, root ratings, and plant tissue (leaves) nutrient analysis at 60 days after planting (DAP). The test was repeated on 27 Aug. 2005 with C. roseus Raspberry Red Cooler. Top dry weights were on average 15% greater for the 100% pinebark substrate over all others at 60 DAP. However there were non differences in plant GI for any substrate at 60 DAP. There were no differences in plant tissue macro nutrient content for any substrate. Tissue micronutrient content was similar and within ranges reported by Mills and Jones (1996, Plant Analysis Handbook II) with the exception of Manganese. Manganese was highest for slash and loblolly pine and well over reported ranges. There were no differences in root ratings. There were no differences in substrate physical properties between the three whole tree substrates. However the 100% pinebark substrate had on average 50% less air space and 25% greater water holding capacity than the other substrates. Physical properties of all substrates were within recommended ranges. Based on the results of this study substrates composed of whole pine trees have potential as an alternative sustainable source for a substrate used in producing short term nursery crops.

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