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Ursula K. Schuch and David W. Burger

Twelve species of woody ornamentals were grown in containers in Riverside and Davis, Calif., to determine plant water use and compare crop coefficients (Kc) calculated with reference evapotranspiration (ET) from local weather stations (ETcim) or atmometers (ETatm). Water use, Kcatm, and Kccim differed by species, location, and month of the year. Raphiolepis indica (L.) Lindl., Pittosporum tobira (Thunb.) Ait., Juniperus sabina L., and Photinia ×fraseri Dress. were the highest water users in Riverside and Arctostaphylos densiflora M.S. Bak., Juniperus, Cercis occidentalis Torr., and Pittosporum used the highest amount of water in Davis, when averaged over the 20-month study period. Rhamnus californica Eschsch., Prunus ilicifolia (Nutt.) Walp., and Cercocarpus minutiflorus Abrams. were among the lowest water users in both locations. Although plant water use fluctuated considerably between individual sampling dates, the relative ranking of species water use in each location changed very little over the study period. During periods of high winds, ETcim may not provide an accurate reference for container crops. Kc values fluctuated seasonally from as much as 1 to 4.7 for high water users, while values were stable for low water users and also for Buxus microphylla japonica Rehd. & E.H. Wils., an intermediate water user. During periods of low ET, especially in fall and winter, Kc values were artificially high and failed to correspond to the plants' low water use. Kc values for low water users seem to be useful to estimate water requirements over an extended period of time, whereas general Kc values seem to have limited value for plants with high water demand and need to be modified for different growth stages and growing locations.

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John F. Karlik and Ursula K. Schuch

Moisture loss from bare-root plants during postharvest handling and storage can have a significant effect on plant growth and survival during establishment. Three film-forming antitranspirants and hot wax were applied to bare-root roses packaged after harvesting from the field and before three months of cold storage to determine effects on vegetative growth and flowering. Subsequently, during three weeks under display conditions, plants treated with hot wax resumed growth at the fastest rate compared to control or antitranspirant treatments. Hot wax-treated plants continued to grow at a faster rate than the other plants for two weeks following transplanting in the field. For the remaining 10 weeks of the experiment no differences in vegetative growth or flowering development were found between treatments. Over 70% of the plants treated with hot wax became sunburned, resulting in severe cane damage and plant dieback. Less than 20% of the plants from the other treatments were damaged.

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Kathryn S. Hahne and Ursula K. Schuch*

The objective of this study was to determine whether mesquite (Prosopis velutina) seedlings have a preference for the ammonia or nitrate form of nitrogen (N), and to determine the optimum rate of N to maximize growth and minimize N leaching when seedlings are grown in different substrates. Mesquite seedlings were fertigated with different ratios of NH4 +: NO3 - to determine effects on shoot and root growth and N-uptake efficiency. Nutrient solution containing 67% NH4 + : 33% NO3 - resulted in greatest biomass after 120 days of fertigation. N leachate remained stable until 12 weeks after the onset of treatment, but increased significantly by week 16. Subsequently, mesquite seedlings were grown in sand or soilless media and were fertigated with a solution of 67 % NH4 +: 33% NO3 - at a rate of 25, 50, 100, or 200 mg·L-1 of N. After 60 days, plants in media produced 41% more leaves and total biomass compared to those in sand. Leaf number was greatest for plants grown at 200 mg·L-1 of N in both substrates. Root biomass of plants in media showed no response to increasing N concentrations while root biomass of seedlings in sand were similar for the three lower N concentrations and nearly doubled for the highest one. Shoot biomass of seedlings receiving 25, 50, or 100 mg·L-1 of N was similar, but more than doubled for plants fertigated with 200 mg·L-1 of N. N leachate losses were highest from seedlings growing in sand and receiving the two higher N fertigations, those in media had greatest N leachate loss when fertigated at 200 mg·L-1 of N. For balanced mesquite seedling growth and minimum N leaching losses, concentrations between 50 to 100 mg·L-1 of N are recommended. Implications of using a sand culture system vs. soilless growing substrate for nutrition studies will be discussed.

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John F. Karlik, J. Ole Becker, and Ursula K. Schuch

The impending worldwide restrictions on the use of methyl bromide (MeBr) as a soil fumigant have prompted an intensive search for more-effective methods for delivering MeBr or replacement compounds. Although the majority of agrochemicals are applied in the solid phase or the liquid phase at ambient pressure and temperature, some chemicals, including certain soil fumigants such as MeBr, are gases under normal field conditions. Experiments were conducted to evaluate use of two types of commercial drip irrigation tubing to deliver gases to nontarped planting beds. Air moved through each tubing type immediately after burial; water was not necessary for inflation. Air was also able to move through 40 m of buried rigid drip tubing and through 90 m of buried flat tape that had been used for subsurface drip irrigation for more than 1 year. Mixtures of known ratios of propane and air were introduced into the buried tubing over several time intervals to evaluate gas movement from buried drip tubing into the surrounding soil matrix. Samples were collected from sets of three soil gas sampling tubes placed 15, 30, and 45 cm to the side of the buried tubing and at regular intervals along the length of the tubing, and propane concentrations were quantified by gas chromatography. Tubing lengths and run times affected the magnitudes and uniformity of propane concentrations. Results suggest gas-phase chemicals can be delivered via buried drip-irrigation tubing, but effective distances from the point of introduction will be limited by the low densities and viscosities of gases, and corresponding high rates of escape through tubing emitters.

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Cynthia B. McKenney, Amber Bates, Kaylee Decker, and Ursula K. Schuch

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Ursula K. Schuch, H. Brent Pemberton, and Jack J. Kelly

Five cultivars of bare-root rose plants were exposed to increasing periods of drying and after rehydration were grown in containers until flowering in a plastic-covered greenhouse. At the start of the experiment, moisture content of well-hydrated roses was between 51% and 56%. Five or 7 h of drying resulted in moisture contents below 43% for four of the cultivars and caused up to 80% mortality, increased time to flower, and decreased the number of flowering shoots. ‘First Prize’ was most tolerant of drying conditions and all plants survived, whereas ‘Mister Lincoln’ plants were most susceptible and had poor regrowth performance. Whole-plant moisture of ‘Mister Lincoln’ was similar to that in the stem or shank, which means that aboveground components instead of the entire plant can be used for moisture determination.

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Ursula K. Schuch, Leslie H. Fuchigami, and Mike A. Nagao

The effects of water stress and GA, on breaking dormancy of flower buds of coffee (Coffea arabica L.) were investigated. In the first experiment, water was withheld until the trees reached leaf water potentials (WP) of -1.20, - 1.75, -2.65, or -3.50 MPa. Water potential, ethylene production, and ion leakage of flower buds and leaf disks were examined from release from water stress until anthesis. Trees that had experienced leaf WP of less than - 2.65 MPa, and flower bud WP of about - 4.0 MPa flowered within 9 days after irrigation. In flower buds where dormancy had been broken with water stress, ethylene production was low compared to dormant buds and flowers at anthesis. In the second experiment, O, 50, 100, or 200 mg GA3/liter was painted on branches of nonstressed trees. In experiment three, water was withheld until plants reached leaf WP of -0.6, -1.3, - 2.1, or - 3.0 MPa, then two branches per tree were painted with O, 50, and 100 mg GA3/liter. Gibberellic acid partially compensated for insufficient water stress to initiate flower opening. Ethylene evolution of flower buds was affected by water stress but not by GA3 treatment. Severe water stress treatments and GA, treatment (200 mg·liter-1) increased ethylene evolution of leaf disks. Ion leakage of flower buds and leaf disks was increased by severe water stress. Ion leakage of flower buds was highest at anthesis. After water stress, dormant and nondormant flower buds at the 4-mm stage could be distinguished based on their ethylene evolution. Chemical name used: gibberellic acid (GA3).

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Ursula K. Schuch, Jack J. Kelly, and Trent Teegerstrom

Capillary mats and overhead sprinkler irrigation were used in a simulated retail environment to maintain annual and perennial plants in containers for various time periods during summer and winter. Combining the results from both seasons, four species with dense canopies had larger canopy sizes when maintained on the capillary mats, three species requiring more drainage had larger canopies with overhead irrigation, and five species were unaffected by irrigation systems. Substrate electrical conductivity was higher for some species in winter for plants on capillary mats, conserving fertilizer compared with overhead irrigation. Most species tolerated either irrigation system well. Water application was 71% less in summer and 62% less in winter to maintain plants on capillary mats compared with overhead irrigation. An economic analysis compared the investment required for setup and maintenance of plants in a retail situation using hand watering, overhead sprinkler, or capillary mat irrigation. The partial budget indicates that capillary mats are a labor-saving alternative to hand watering in a retail nursery and will compensate for the higher initial investment within less than 1 year. The overhead sprinklers are the most cost-effective system of the three because of less costly initial set-up and maintenance than the capillary mats; however, they are not a true alternative to hand watering in a retail situation because they interfere with customer traffic and worker activities.

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Ursula K. Schuch, John F. Karlik, and Charlene Harwood

Moisture loss from bare-root plants during postharvest handling and storage can have a significant impact on plant survival and growth during establishment. Three film-forming antitranspirants and hot wax were applied to bare-root roses (Rosa) packaged after harvesting from the field and before 13 weeks of –2C storage to determine effects on vegetative growth and flowering. Subsequently, during 15 days under simulated display conditions (22 to 32C), plants treated with hot wax resumed growth at the fastest rate compared to control or antitranspirant treatments. Hot-wax-treated plants remained at an advanced phenological stage compared to the other plants for 2 weeks following transplanting in the field. For the remaining 10 weeks of the experiment, vegetative growth and flowering development were similar for all treatments. More than 60% of the plants treated with hot wax developed moderate to severe cane damage and plant dieback. Less than 20% of the antitranspirant-treated plants were damaged. A laboratory experiment confirmed that hot wax treatment was most effective; it reduced weight loss from stem sections by 85% relative to the control. The other antitranspirants reduced weight loss by 27%.

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Ursula K. Schuch, Leslie H. Fuchigami, and Mike A. Nagzao

Floral initiation in coffee has been shown to be stimulated by short days in young plants, but the inductive stimulus for mature plants is still not clear. Experiments were conducted to determine whether floral initiation in immature and mature plants is promoted by short photoperiods, and delayed by long photoperiods. In a growth chamber study, 18-month-old coffee (Coffea arabica L. cv. Guatemalan) plants exposed to 8 hr photoperiods developed flower buds after 4 weeks, whereas no floral initiation was observed on the plants exposed to 16 hr photoperiods for ten weeks. Trees growing in the field were illuminated with incandescent light from midnight to 3:00 a.m. from July to December 1989. The control plants received no artificial light during the same time period. Night light interruption delayed flower initiation until the end of December on branches that were fully exposed to the light. On control trees, flower buds started to emerge at the beginning of November. These results indicate that in immature and mature coffee plants floral initiation is stimulated by short days, and delayed by long days.