(37) Irrigation and Fertilizer Placement Affects Plant and Weed Growth In Container Tree Production

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  • 1 1USDA–ARS, Southern Horticultural Laboratory, Poplarville, MS, 39470
  • 2 2Mississippi State University, Coastal Research and Extension Center, Biloxi, MS, 39532

On 24 Apr. 2003, 3-gallon (11.4-liter) Quercus shumardii were potted into 13.2-gallon (50-liter) containers using a standard nursery mix. Treatment design was a 3 × 2 × 2 factorial with two fertilizer placements, three irrigation methods, and two herbicide rates. Controlled-release fertilizer 17N–2.9P–9.8K was dibbled (placed 10.2 cm below the surface of the container media at potting) or top-dressed at a rate of 280 grams per container. Irrigation was applied using one of three methods: 1) a spray stake attached to a 3-gallon- (11.4-L-) per-hour pressure compensating drip emitter; 2) a surface-applied pressure-compensating drip ring delivering water at a rate of 2.3 gallons (8.9-L) per hour; and 3) the same drip ring placed 4 inches (10.2 cm) below the container substrate surface. A granular preemergent herbicide (oxyfluorfen + oryzalin) was applied at 2.0 + 1.0 lb/acre (2.24 + 1.12 kg·ha-1). At 75 days after treatment (DAT), containers with no herbicide and top-dressed fertilizer had a percent weed coverage of 46% compared to 18% for dibbled containers with no herbicide. At 180 DAT weed top dry weight was greater for top-dressed containers compared to dibbled. None of the treatments in the study had any effect on height increase. At 240 DAT, trees irrigated with drip rings at the surface had a 28% greater caliper increase among the dibbled fertilizer-treated containers. Trees irrigated with the drip ring placed below the surface and fertilizer top-dressed had the smallest caliper increase. Irrigation method had no effect on weed control in this study; however, a repeat fall application showed a significantly greater weed control with the drip ring below surface compared to the spray stake.

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