Effects of washing and storing soil core samples of apple [Malus sylvestris (L.) Mill. var. domestica (Borkh.) Mansf. (syn. M. domestica Borkh. non Poir.)] roots were studied to determine root losses from processing samples. Root losses were assessed by measuring root lengths before and after elutriation and storage at 4 °C (39.2 °F). The accuracy of the automated root length scanner to measure individual fine roots [<1 mm (0.04 inch) diameter] of varying lengths was evaluated by first measuring roots, then cutting the roots into 2 to 3 cm (0.79 to 1.18 inch) lengths and rescanning. There was a significant relationship between the measurement of cut and noncut roots (r2 = 0.93). Losses from elutriating samples with cut and noncut roots indicated a mean loss of50% for samples with cut roots and 34% for samples with noncut roots (P ≤ 0.01). Total mean root loss (elutriation loss of noncut roots and degradation loss in cold storage) for the 12-month period ranged from 34% at month 0% to 53% at month 12 (P ≤ 0.01). Mean root degradation losses from long-term cold storage ranged from 6% at month 1 to 19% at month 12 (P ≤ 0.01). No losses were identified for roots with diameters of 1 to 5 mm (0.04 to 0.20 inch) and 5 to 10 mm (0.20 to 0.39 inch). A data correction curve was developed to correct root length data (<1 mm) for root losses associated with processing of soil cores.
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