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G. J. Bugbee and C. R. Frink


Sewage sludge, pharmaceutical fermentation residues, cranberry wastes, and food flavoring wastes that had been composted by in-vessel techniques were tested as substitutes for Canadian sphagnum peat in a Cornell peat-lite mix-A. Marigolds (Tagetes erecta L. ‘Lemondrop’) were grown in a medium containing 50% (by volume) vermiculite, and 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, or 50% compost, with the remainder comprised of Canadian peat. Marigold growth was improved when any or all of the peat was replaced with composted sewage sludge. Except for media containing 40% and 50% composted food flavoring waste, plant growth in nonliquid fertilized media containing the other composts was equal or superior to conventional Cornell peat-lite mix. Except for media containing 50% pharmaceutical, 50% cranberry, or 40% or 50% food flavoring compost, plant growth was improved by supplemental liquid fertilizer. Improved growth was related to increased levels of plant nutrients, while decreased growth, at the highest proportions of compost, resulted from excessive NH4N, pH, or soluble salts. Differences in aeration, water holding capacity, and other physical media properties were small. We conclude that many types of organic wastes, composted by in-vessel techniques, can be used as a substitute for part or all of the peat in a conventional peat-lite potting media.

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Iftikhar Ahmad, Muhammad B. Rafiq, John M. Dole, Bilal Abdullah, and Kinza Habib

Favorable agro-climatic conditions and comparatively cheaper and readily available human resources offer a promising business opportunity to cut flower production in Pakistan. Presently, growers are limited to traditional cut flower crops such as rose (Rosa hybrids), gladiolus (Gladiolus hybrids), marigold (Tagetes erecta), and tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa) because of unavailability of improved new species and cultivars. To diversify cut flower production in Pakistan, a study was conducted to evaluate the production and postharvest performance of different cultivars of delphinium (Delphinium hybrids), snapdragon (Antirrhinum majus), and stock (Matthiola incana) in Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan. ‘Guardian White’ delphinium had the shortest time to harvest first marketable stems (160 days) with comparatively shorter stems (87.7 cm). Whereas ‘Aurora White’ and ‘Aurora Blue’ were high-temperature tolerant and produced attractive racemes with longer stems; 112.0 and 99.7 cm, respectively. All cultivars lasted about 7 days in distilled water (DW). ‘Cheerful White’ stock had the shortest cropping time and produced highest quality double flowers with longest stems (51.8 cm) compared with other cultivars tested. Vase solution of 4% sucrose supplemented with 100 mg·L−1 silver nitrate (AgNO3) extended the vase life of ‘Cheerful White’ stock up to 11.8 days compared with 8.2 days in DW. Pulsing with 10% sucrose supplemented with 100 mg·L−1 AgNO3 extended the longevity of ‘Lucinda Dark Rose Double’ stock (10.2 days) similar to vase solution of 4% sucrose plus 100 mg·L−1 AgNO3; however, ‘Lucinda Dark Rose Double’ stock produced shorter stems than ‘Cheerful White’. ‘Appleblossom’ snapdragon produced >10 marketable stems per plant with highest quality attractive flowers, and stout stems, which lasted 10.8 days in 4% sucrose vase solution supplemented with 100 mg·L−1 AgNO3. Among tested species/cultivars, all exotic species/cultivars produced uniform high quality stems resulting in higher productivity as compared with local cultivars and were favorably appraised by flower growers/retailers and are best suited for diversification of local cut flower industry.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Iron chelate photodegradation is a problem in tissue culture where limited soluble Fe in agar reduces callus tissue growth. Our objectives were to determine if Fe chelate photodegradation occurs in commercial fertilizers used in greenhouse plant production and, if so, the effects on plant Fe acquisition. Commercial 20N–10P–20K soluble fertilizers containing Fe-EDTA were prepared as 100x stocks based on a 100 mg N/liter (1x) concentration. A modified Hoagland's solution with Fe-DTPA was prepared as a 10x stock based on a 200 mg N/liter (1x) concentration. Samples then were kept in darkness or were irradiated with 500 μmol·m–2·s–1 from fluorescent and incandescent sources for ≤240 hours. Soluble Fe in the irradiated commercial fertilizer solutions decreased 85% in 240 h. Soluble Fe in the Hoagland's solution, prepared in the lab, decreased 97% in 72 h. There was no loss in soluble Fe in any dark-stored treatment; demonstrating photodegradation of Fe-chelates under commercial settings. Excised roots of marigold (Tagetes erecta L.), grown hydroponically in the irradiated solutions, had Fe(III)-DTPA reductase activity 2 to 6 times greater than roots of plants grown in solutions kept in darkness. Plants growing in irradiated solutions acidified the rhizosphere more than plants growing in solutions kept dark. The increase in Fe reductase activity and rhizosphere acidification are Fe-efficiency reactions of marigold responding to the photodegradation of Fe-chelates and subsequent decrease in soluble Fe in both commercial fertilizers and lab-prepared nutrient solution.

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Joyce G. Latimer and Ronald D. Oetting

During greenhouse production in Spring 1995, conditioning treatments were applied to columbine (Aquilegia×hybrida Sims `McKana Giants'), New Guinea impatiens (Impatiens hawkeri Bull. `Antares'), marigold (Tagetes erecta L. `Little Devil Mix') and ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum Mill. `Blue Puffs') plants. Treatments included: mechanical conditioning (brushing 40 strokes twice daily); moisture stress conditioning (MSC) (wilting for ≈2 hours per day); undisturbed ebb-and-flow irrigation; overhead irrigation; high (500 mg·L-1 N) or low (50 mg·L-1 N) 3×/week N fertilizer regimes; daminozide (5000 mg·L-1); or paclobutrazol (30, 45, or 180 mg·L-1). One week after initiation of treatments, individual plants in separate greenhouses were inoculated with two adult green peach aphids (Myzus persicae Sulzer) or five two-spotted spider mites (Tetranychus urticae Koch). A natural infestation of western flower thrips (Frankliniella occidentalis Pergande) in the mite-inoculated greenhouse provided an additional insect treatment. Brushing was the only treatment that consistently reduced thrips and mite populations. Aphid populations were lower on low-N than on high-N plants, but thrips and mite populations were not consistently affected by plant fertilization. Moisture stress conditioning tended to increase aphid populations on New Guinea impatiens and marigold, but had little effect on spider mite or thrips populations. Ebb-and-flow irrigation reduced the mite population on ageratum relative to that on overhead irrigated (control) plants. Plant growth regulators did not consistently affect pest populations. Chemical names used: butane-dioic acid mono(2,2-dimethylhydrazide) (daminozide); β-[(4-chlorophenyl)methyl]-α-(1,1-dimethylethyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazole-1-1-ethanol (paclobutrazol).

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Erik S. Runkle, Catherine M. Whitman, and Mike Olrich

Uniconazole is a plant growth regulator used to inhibit internode elongation on container-grown ornamental plants. Uniconazole is effective on a wide range of plants, but is not commonly used on bedding plants because of concerns about stunting and flowering delay. Our objective was to determine the effectiveness of uniconazole when used as a drench, eliminating the variability inherent in a spray application. Seedlings of Celosia argentea L. var. plumosa L. `Fresh Look Red', Petunia ×hybrida Vilm.-Andr. `Prostrate Wave Rose', Salvia splendens Sell ex Roem. & Schult. `Vista Red', and Tagetes erecta L. `Inca II Gold' in 288-cell plug trays were transplanted 2 days after arrival into 10-cm pots filled with a soilless medium containing no bark. Plants were placed in a greenhouse with a setpoint of 20 °C and under a 16-h photoperiod provided by high-pressure sodium lamps. A single drench application of 0, 0.04, 0.07, 0.15, or 0.30 mg active ingredient/pot was made 11 days after transplant. The uniconazole drench inhibited internode elongation in these species and higher rates provided a greater degree of response. At time of flowering, the 0.30-mg uniconazole drench inhibited shoot length in Celosia, Petunia, Salvia, and Tagetes by 36%, 23% 26%, and 13%, respectively. Drenches of 0.04 or 0.07 mg provided a desirable degree of height control for Celosia and Salvia. For vigorous species like Petunia or Tagetes, 0.15 to 0.30 mg may be more appropriate. We observed a 1- or 2-day delay in flowering of Salvia and Tagetes plants drenched with 0.30 mg, but no delays in Petunia flowering.

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D. Yvette Henson, Steven E. Newman, and David E. Hartley

This study was conducted to evaluate the growth, visual quality, and stress response of 17 species of bedding plants and Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) grown outdoors for 10 weeks during the summer of 2003 at three locations in Colorado. Plants were irrigated at 100% of the reference evapotranspiration (ET0) (amount required to maintain Kentucky bluegrass in an optimum condition) for 2 weeks followed by 8 weeks at five irrigation levels: 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% ET0. Begonia carrieri Hort. `Vodka', Lobelia erinus L. `Cobalt Blue', and Viola ×wittrockiana Gams. `Crown Gold' grew well with a minimum of 50% or more ET0 based on Kentucky bluegrass. Impatiens walleriana Hook. fil. `Tempo White' grew well only with 100% ET0. Antirrhinum majus L. `Sonnet Yellow', Dianthus L. `First Love', Lobularia maritima (L.) Desv. `Carpet White', and Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey performed well with 25% to 50% ET0. The species Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don `Peppermint Cooler', Rudbeckia hirta L. `Indian Summer', Senecio cineraria D.C. `Silver Dust', Tagetes erecta L. `Inca Yellow' and T. patula L. `Bonanza Gold', Zinnia angustifolia Kunth., and Salvia farinacea Benth. `Rhea Blue', which are adapted to midsummer heat and low water, performed well with 0% to 25% ET0. Species considered to be heat or drought tolerant—Petunia ×hybrida hort. ex. E. Vilm. `Merlin White' and Glandularia J.F. Gmel. `Imagination'—required little or no irrigation. The bedding plant species evaluated in this study that required 25% or less ET0 are well adapted for low-water landscape installations.

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T.K. Hartz, F.J. Costa, and W.L. Schrader

The study was undertaken to determine the physiochemical properties and nutrient supply characteristics of composted green yard and landscape waste (CGW) and to document its performance as a field soil amendment or constituent of potting media. Three CGW samples were collected from each of two composting operations in California from Nov. 1993 to Apr. 1994. Macronutrient content varied widely between operations, and among samples from the same operation, with mean total N, P, and K levels averaging 1.1%, 0.26%, and 0.67%, respectively. Controlled-environment incubation of a moist 1 CGW: 9 soil blend (2 weeks at 30 °C) was conducted to determine net N mineralization from CGW. Despite low C: N ratios (<12), five of six CGW samples showed net immobilization, a characteristic of immature compost. An in-field incubation of soil amended with 1% or 2% CGW (w/w) showed no net N release from CGW over 4 months. In a field trial, bell pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) fruit yield was increased by soil amendment with CGW (17 or 34 t·ha–1) under a low N fertilizer regime (168 kg·ha–1), but was unaffected where sufficient fertilizer N (280 kg·ha–1) was applied. CGW was compared with peat as a constituent of potting media; both were blended 1:1 (v/v) with perlite and used in the production of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) and marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) plants under varying fertigation regimes (constant feed of N at 0, 50, or 100 mg·L–1 as 15N–13P–12K). CGW was equivalent or superior to peat in plant growth; CGW did contribute to crop macronutrient nutrition, but the highest fertigation rate was required for optimum growth.

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Holly L. Scoggins, Douglas A. Bailey, and Paul V. Nelson

There is a need for a substrate testing method suited for plug plant production. Methods currently used by most growers and analytical labs include the saturated media extract (SME) and the 2 water: 1 substrate (v/v) suspension. These methods are not particularly well-adapted to plug production. The press extraction (PE) method has been developed as a simple and quick alternative to these methods. However, interpretive standards for chemical analysis of plug substrates do not exist for PE. This study was designed to provide the necessary correlations between these methods to allow for development of pH, electrical conductivity (EC), and nutrient interpretive ranges for plugs. Plugs of begonia (Begonia ×semperflorens-hybrida Hort.), impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Hook. f.), marigold (Tagetes erecta L.), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr.), salvia (Salvia splendens F. Sellow ex Roem. & Schult.), and vinca (Catharanthus roseus L.) were collected from commercial greenhouses and the substrate solution extracted with the PE, SME, and 1:2 methods. Plugs of begonia, celosia (Celosia argentea L. var. cristata (L.) Kuntze Plumosa Group), marigold, petunia, and vinca were grown with three fertilizer rates of 50, 150, and 250 mg·L-1 N. Shoots were harvested 30 days after planting and the solution was extracted from each flat using the three methods. For both experiments, PE EC was equal to or higher than the SME EC, and the pH was equal to or lower than the SME pH. The pH from the 1:2 was also similar to the PE. However, 1:2 EC results were consistently the lowest because of the dilution inherent in the 1:2 method. Interpretation ranges for pH and EC relationships were calculated to compare results from the PE with published sufficiency ranges for the SME and 1:2.

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Robert D. Wright, Brian E. Jackson, Michael C. Barnes, and Jake F. Browder

The objective of this study was to evaluate the landscape performance of annual bedding plants grown in a ground pine tree substrate (PTS) produced from loblolly pine trees (Pinus taeda) or in ground pine bark (PB) when transplanted into the landscape and grown at three different fertilizer rates. Begonia (Begonia ×semperflorens-cultorum) ‘Cocktail Vodka’, coleus (Solenostemen scutellarioides) ‘Kingswood Torch’, impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) ‘Dazzler White’, marigold (Tagetes erecta) ‘Bonanza Yellow’, petunia (Petunia ×hybrid) ‘Wave Purple’, salvia (Salvia splendens) ‘Red Hot Sally’, and vinca (Catharanthus roseus) ‘Cooler Pink’ were evaluated in 2005, and begonia ‘Cocktail Whiskey’, marigold ‘Inca Gold’, salvia ‘Red Hot Sally’, and vinca ‘Cooler Pink’ were evaluated in 2006 and 2007. Landscape fertilizer rates were 1 lb/1000 ft2 nitrogen (N) in 2005 and 0, 1, and 2 lb/1000 ft2 N in 2006 and 2007. Visual observations throughout each year indicated that all species, whether grown in PTS or PB, had comparable foliage quality in the landscape trial beds during the growing period. With few exceptions, dry weight and plant size for all species increased with increasing fertilizer additions, regardless of the substrate in which the plants were grown. For the unfertilized treatment, when comparing plant dry weight between PB and PTS for each species and for each year (eight comparisons), PTS-grown plant dry weight was less than PB-grown plants in three out of the eight comparisons. However, there were fewer differences in plant dry weight between PTS- and PB-grown plants when fertilizer was applied (PTS-grown plants were smaller than PB-grown plants in only 2 of the 16 comparisons: four species, two fertilizer rates, and 2 years), indicating that N immobilization may be somewhat of an issue, but not to the extent expected. Therefore, the utilization of PTS as a substrate for the production of landscape annuals may be acceptable in the context of landscape performance.

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Brian E. Jackson, Robert D. Wright, and Nazim Gruda

This work was conducted to evaluate the effect of limestone additions to pine tree substrate (PTS) and PTS amended with peatmoss on pH and plant growth. ‘Inca Gold’ marigold (Tagetes erecta L.) and ‘Rocky Mountain White’ geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey) were grown in three PTSs—100% PTS, PTS plus 25% peatmoss (v/v), and PTS plus 50% peatmoss (v/v)—made from freshly harvested loblolly pine trees (Pinus taeda L.) chipped and hammermilled through a 4.76-mm screen and a peatmoss/perlite (4:1 v/v; PL) control. Each substrate was amended with various rates of dolomitic limestone and used to grow marigolds in 10-cm square (l-L) plastic containers and geraniums in round 15-cm (1.25-L) plastic containers in a glasshouse. Regardless of limestone rate, pH was highest in 100% PTS and decreased with peat additions with PL having the lowest pH. As percent peat increased from 25% to 50%, more limestone was required to adjust pH to a particular level showing that PTS is more weakly buffered against pH change than peatmoss. Adding limestone did not increase the growth of marigold in 100% PTS, but additions of limestone did increase growth of marigold when grown in PTS containing peatmoss or in PL. Geranium growth was higher in PTS containing peatmoss (25% or 50%) and PL than in 100% PTS at all limestone rates. This research demonstrates that PTS produced from freshly harvested pine trees has an inherently higher pH than PL, and the additions of peatmoss to PTS require pH adjustment of the substrate for optimal plant growth.