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Russell S. Harris*, Edward W. Bush*, and Ronald J. Ward

Bifenthrin and fipronil are important pesticides used in the nursery industry for the control of imported fire ants. Our research measured the influence of irrigation frequency and time on the degradation of bifenthrin and fipronil in pine bark nursery medium. Pine bark media leachates were collected over a 180-d period. Levels of bifenthrin, fipronil, and metabolites of fipronil (MB 46513, MB 45950, MB 46136) were measured using gas chromatography and mass spectrophotometery. Bifenthrin leachate concentrations decreased from 60 ppb on day 1 to ≈1 ppb after 120 d. Fipronil leachate concentrations decreased from 40 ppb on day one to a low of 15 ppb after 120 d. In contrast, metabolites MB 45950 and MB 46136 gradually increased over the 180-d period. Metabolite MB 46513 was not detected during the experiment. Pine bark medium leachate concentrations of bifenthrin and fipronil were greater than previously reported levels in pure water. We theorize that organic compounds present in pine bark may have increased the solubility of these chemicals.

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Nicole L. Shaw, Daniel J. Cantliffe, Julio Funes, and Cecil Shine III

Beit Alpha cucumber (Cucumis sativus) is an exciting new greenhouse crop for production in the southeastern U.S. and Florida. Beit Alpha cucumbers are short, seedless fruit with dark-green skin and an excellent sweet flavor. Beit Alpha-types are the leading cucumber types in the Middle Eastern market and have gained recent popularity in Europe. Beit Alpha cucumbers grown hydroponically under a protected structure have prolific fruit set, yielding more than 60 high-quality fruit per plant during one season. U.S. hydroponic vegetable production is generally associated with structure and irrigation investments which are costly as well as other inputs, such as the media, which must be replaced annually or with each crop. Beit Alpha cucumber `Alexander' was grown in Spring 2001 and 2002 in a passive-ventilated high-roof greenhouse in Gainesville, Fla. Three media types, coarse-grade perlite, medium-grade perlite, and pine bark, were compared for efficiency of growing cucumbers (production and potential costs). During both seasons, fruit yield was the same among media treatments [average of 6 kg (13.2 lb) per plant]. Irrigation requirements were the same for each type of media; however, leachate volume was sometimes greater from pots with pine bark compared to either grade of perlite suggesting a reduced need for irrigation volume when using pine bark. Pine bark is five times less expensive than perlite and was a suitable replacement for perlite in a hydroponic Beit Alpha cucumber production system.

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T.E. Bilderback

Ilex × `Nellie R. Stevens' holly, Rhododendron sp. `Hinodegeri' azalea and Pyracantha coccinea, scarlet firethorn rooted cuttings were potted in • 3.81 containers. Irrigation was applied by Dram rings daily, or every 2,4,or 6 days. Approximately 1000 ml of water were applied at each irrigation. Three container media, including pine bark, and pine bark amended with either Terra-Sorb AG synthetic moisture extender incorporated at 1.2 kg/m3 or Aqua-Gro G wetting agent incorporated at 0.9 kg/m3 plus monthly drenches of 700 ml of 2500 ppm Aqua-Gro L were compared for physical and chemical properties and plant growth responses. Decreasing irrigation decreased pH, increased nutrient leachate levels, and increased foliar tissue levels of N,P,K,Ca,and Fe in holly and azalea. Pyracantha top and root dry weight was reduced at 4 and 6 day irrigation intervals, holly top growth was reduced by 6 day and azalea had greatest shoot growth at 2 day irrigation and was reduced by other irrigation frequencies. Top growth of all 3 species and root growth of pyracantha was reduced in the pine bark treatment.

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William E. Klingeman*, Darren K. Robinson, and Gary L. McDaniel

Mugwort, or false chrysanthemum (Artemisia vulgaris L) is a well-adapted invasive plant that presents increasing management challenges to agricultural producers, Green Industry professionals and homeowners across portions of the eastern U.S. The ability of mugwort to regenerate from cut rhizome sections has not been adequately quantified for substrates that are typical of landscapes and nursery fields, container nurseries, and propagation beds. Cut rhizome sections were analyzed by rhizome color, length, and the presence or absence of a leaf scale. Media substrates included pine bark, sand, and soil. Rhizomes darken with time and color did not account for differences in growth among treatments. When grown in pine bark, sand, and soil substrates during 45-d trials, 85%, 78%, and 69% of 2 cm-long rhizome sections produced both roots and shoots. These results contrast with previous research. When rhizome fragments 0.5 cm long did not include a leaf scale, slightly fewer than 31% produced both roots and shoots in soil. Fewer rhizomes survived in soil, but root and shoot fresh masses of soil-grown rhizomes were greater than rhizomes that were regenerated in pine bark and sand. When rhizome sections had a leaf scale, survival, fresh masses of roots and shoots, shoot height, leaf number and root lengths were greater, regardless of substrate type. Root initials emerged in the internode between leaf scales and also adjacent to leaf scales. Shoot emergence preceded root emergence from rhizome sections. Growers, landscape managers and homeowners should scout regularly and initiate aggressive controls when mugwort populations are found.

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Anne-Marie Hanson, J. Roger Harris, Robert Wright, Alex Niemiera, and Naraine Persaud

Newly transplanted container-grown landscape plants are reported to require very frequent irrigation. However, container nurseries in the U.S. commonly use growing substrates that are mostly bark, even though the contribution of bark-based growing substrates to water relations of transplanted root balls is unknown. Therefore, a field experiment was undertaken to determine water relations of a pine-bark substrate (container removed) within a drying mineral soil over a three week period. A range of common production container sizes—3.7 L (#1), 7.5 L (#2), 21.9 L (#7), 50.6 L (#15), and 104.5 L (#25)—was used. The fraction of substrate volume that is water [total volumetric water (TVW)] within the top and middle zones of substrate was compared to TVW at corresponding depths of adjacent mineral soil. The fraction of substrate and soil volume that is plant-available water [plant-available volumetric water (PAVW)] was calculated by subtracting the fraction of substrate or soil volume below where water is unavailable to most plants (measured with pressure plates) [plant-unavailable volumetric water (PUVW)] from each TVW measurement. The pine-bark substrate had a PUVW of 0.32 compared to a PUVW of 0.06 for soil. Top sections of substrate dried to near zero PAVW 6 days after irrigation for all containers. Larger container sizes maintained higher PAVW in middle sections than smaller container sizes, and PAVW was always higher in the adjacent soil than in the embedded substrate. Overall, very little PAVW is held by the embedded pine-bark growing substrate, suggesting the need for container substrates with greater water retention once transplanted to mineral soils.

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Marilyn B. Odneal and Martin L. Kaps

The recommendation for planting highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) in Missouri includes the incorporation of sphagnum peat in the planting hole. This experiment compared the use of fresh and aged pine bark to sphagnum peat as soil amendments at planting. One-year-old highbush blueberry `Blueray' plants were planted in 1983 at Mountain Grove, Mo. Plant height, spread, and number of new canes were recorded from 1983 through 1987. Yield and berry size were recorded from 1985 through 1988. There were no significant differences in these measurements among soil amendment treatments (P = 0.05).

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Carleton B. Wood, Timothy J. Smalley, Mark Rieger, and David E. Radcliffe

Container-grown Viburnum plicatum Thunb. var. tomentosum (Thunb.) Miq. `Mariesii' were planted in unamended planting holes, tilled plots, and tilled plots amended with aged pine bark. A 36-day drought was initiated 108 days after planting. Amending induced N deficiencies, reduced shoot growth, and increased root growth. Plants harvested from tilled and planting-hole plots at drought initiation had 63% and 68% more dry weight, respectively, than plants from amended plots. Between 8 and 19 days after drought (DAD) initiation, plants from tilled plots maintained higher relative leaf water content (RLWC) than plants from planting holes. Plants in amended plots maintained higher RLWC than both other treatments between 7 and 33 DAD. Amended and tilled treatments had higher relative leaf expansion rates (RLERs) than the planting-hole treatment 8, 11, 13, and 15 DAD. As the drought lengthened, plants in amended plots maintained higher RLERs than plants in tilled plots. While plants in pine bark-amended plots were more drought tolerant than those in tilled plots, it is unclear if increased drought tolerance was caused by the improved rooting environment or N deficiency.

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Jennifer Green, Derald A. Harp, and Kevin L. Ong

Phytophthora diseases are economically important, requiring the use of chemical fungicides and, more recently, biological controls. Recent research suggests that composted bark products may lessen the impact of the disease, even in the absence of these chemicals. An experiment was conducted to compare chemical and biological fungicides to untreated pine bark compost. Impatiens wallerana plugs were transplanted from 288 trays into 1801 trays. All plants were planted into Berger BM-7, 35% composted bark mix (Berger Horticulture, Quebec, Canada). Media was prepared by premixing one of the five following fungicide treatments: 1) Control, 2) Banrot at 0.6 g/L, 3) Root Shield at 1.6 g/L, 4) Actino-Fe at 5.1 g/Ll, or 5) SoilGard at 1.6 g/L. Plants received no fertilizer. Three strains of Phytophthora were grown in 25 °C on clarified V8 media. Pathogenic inoculum was made by macerating the growth media and fungi in 100 ml H2O. Mixture was pulse-blended for 1 min, and an additional 200 mL dH2O was added. Inoculation was 5 ml per plant. Flats were kept on a misting bench, and misted twice daily for 15 min. The experiment was set up using a RBD repeated six times with three plants per rep. Plants were rated weekly for 5 weeks using a damage scale of 0 to 5, with 0 indicating no sign of disease and 5 being dead. Statistical analysis was conducted using a Chi-Square. Disease incidence between the biological, chemical, and composted bark treatments did not differ, with all treatments providing complete control. At least in this study, the use of composted pine bark media provided Phytophthora control equivalent to current chemical and biological fungicides.

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Ronald F. Walden and Robert D. Wright

Pine bark-filled containers periodically fertilized with a (NH4)2SO4 solution were heated from 21°C to one of 5 temperatures (28°, 34°, 40°, 46°, or 52°C) for a daily exposure duration of 1, 2, 4, 6, or 24 hours. Medium solution extracts were analyzed for NH4-N and NO3-N every 5 days for 20 days. Treatment temperature of at least 40°C and a daily exposure duration of 24 hours was necessary to inhibit nitrification, thereby increasing NH4-N concentration in the medium solution. Similar increase in NH4-N was found for a 2 hr/day exposure to 46°C, with further increases in NH4-N at longer exposure times. By day 10, the maximum level1 of NH4-N concentration in medium extracts was found after a 1 hr/day exposure to 52°C. Decreases in medium solution NO3-N concentration generally coincided with the increases in NH4-N. Results indicate that high container temperatures may increase the ratio of NH4-N to NO3-N in the medium solution of plants fertilized with predominantly ammoniacal N.

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Ronald F. Walden and Robert D. Wright

Pine bark-filled containers periodically fertilized with NH4-N were heated from 21C to 28, 34, 40, 46, or 52C for daily exposures of 1, 2, 4, 6, or 24 hours over 20 days. Concentrations of NH4-N and NO3-N in medium solution extracts were determined every 5 days. Medium solution NH4-N concentration was higher at constant (24 hours) exposure to 40C than at lower temperatures or exposure times. There was a similar increase in NH4-N concentration for a 2-hour·day–1 exposure to 46C, with further increases in NH4-N for longer exposure times. By day 10, NH4-N concentration was highest after 1 hour·day–1 exposure to 52C. Decreases in medium solution NO3-N concentration generally coincided with the increases in NH4-N. These results indicate that container medium thermal periods, similar to those observed in nurseries of the southern United States, may inhibit nitrification, thereby influencing NH4-N: NO3-N ratios in the medium solution of plants fertilized with predominantly ammoniacal N sources.