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Tongyin Li, Guihong Bi, Richard L. Harkess, and Eugene K. Blythe

Mineral nutrient uptake of Encore® azalea ‘Chiffon’ (Rhododendron sp.) affected by nitrogen (N) rate, container type, and irrigation frequency was investigated. One-year-old azalea plants were planted in two types of 1-gallon containers: a black plastic container or a biodegradable container (also referred to as a biocontainer) made from recycled paper. Azalea plants were fertilized with 250 mL of N-free fertilizer twice weekly plus N rates of 0, 5, 10, 15, or 20 mm from ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3). All plants were irrigated daily with the same amount of water through one or two irrigations. Plants fertilized without N had the lowest concentrations of phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) averaged in the entire plant, which were at deficient levels for azalea species. High N rates of 15 or 20 mm resulted in the highest plant average concentrations of P, K, Ca, and Mg. Concentrations of micronutrients including iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), and boron (B) showed varied trends affected by different treatments. With high N rates of 15 and 20 mm, paper biocontainers increased uptake of both macro- and micronutrients in terms of total nutrient content (mg or μg per plant) compared with plastic containers. One irrigation per day increased root concentrations of Cu and Zn and root contents of Fe, Zn, Cu, and B, but decreased leaf K concentration compared with two irrigations per day. The beneficial effects of high N rates and biocontainers on mineral nutrient uptake of Encore® azalea ‘Chiffon’ likely indirectly occurred through increasing plant growth.

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Carolyn F. Scagel, Guihong Bi, Leslie H. Fuchigami, and Richard P. Regan

Growth, nitrogen (N) uptake, and N storage were assessed in transplanted 1-year-old rhododendron liners. Two evergreen cultivars, Rhododendron ‘P. J. Mezitt Compact’ (PJM) and R. ‘English Roseum’ (ER), and one deciduous cultivar, R. ‘Gibraltar’ (AZ), were transplanted into 1-gal. pots and given liquid fertilizer with (+N) or without (–N) N. Increased N availability increased growth after July (ER, PJM) or August (AZ), and resulted in three to five times more total biomass. Biomass continued to increase after stem elongation and leaf production ceased. Nitrogen uptake was correlated with growth of all plant structures on AZ, whereas N uptake was only correlated with stem and leaf growth on evergreen cultivars. The rate of N uptake was highest before July for AZ (1.9 mg·d−1) and in August and September for the evergreen cultivars (≈5 mg·d−1). Thirteen percent to 16% of total N uptake from between May and February occurred after N fertilization ceased at the beginning of September. Plants contained the most N in October (AZ), November (PJM), or December (ER). Biomass loss after November accounted for a loss of 14% to 48% of the maximum total plant N content. Nitrogen demand by roots and stems increased from May to February in all cultivars. The role of new and old leaves in N storage on evergreen cultivars varied with cultivar and time. Differences in N storage between the evergreen cultivars occurred primarily in their roots and leaves. Over the winter, PJM stored more N in its roots, whereas ER stored more N in its leaves. Changes in N concentrations and contents in different plant structures after November indicate that, during early winter, N stored in other structures moves to roots and old stems of PJM, old stems of ER, and roots and new and old stems of AZ. These results suggest that fertilizer application strategies for transplanted liners of these cultivars should include low N availability after transplanting followed by high N availability in mid to late summer. This type of strategy will not only improve N uptake efficiency from fertilizer, but also will minimize N loss from the containers. The results also demonstrated that N uptake in the autumn may play an important role in supplementing plant N reserves required for growth during the next season as well as for balancing N losses incited by leaf abscission, root turnover, and maintenance functions that occur over winter.

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Carolyn F. Scagel, Guihong Bi, David R. Bryla, Leslie H. Fuchigami, and Richard P. Regan

One deciduous cultivar of Rhododendron L., Gibraltar (AZ), and two evergreen cultivars, P.J.M. Compact (PJM) and English Roseum (ER), were grown in containers for 1 year to determine the effects of irrigation frequency during container production on plant performance the next spring when the plants were transplanted into the landscape. While in the containers, each cultivar was irrigated once or twice daily, using the same amount of water per day, and fertilized with complete nutrient solutions containing 0, 35, 70, or 140 mg·L−1 nitrogen (N). Three months after transplanting into the landscape, nutrient uptake, growth, and flowering were evaluated. In general, the effects of irrigation frequency in containers on performance in the landscape differed between the deciduous cultivar and the evergreen cultivars. In AZ, less frequent irrigation in containers had a pre-conditioning effect that resulted in greater vegetative growth in the landscape but less reproductive growth. In contrast, less frequent irrigation reduced vegetative growth of evergreen cultivars in the landscape and improved flowering. Different growth responses to irrigation frequency between deciduous and evergreen cultivars appeared to be related to differences in timing of nutrient uptake and mobilization. In the deciduous cultivar, less frequent irrigation increased nutrient reserves and improved the ability of the plants to absorb and use nutrients after transplanting, but in the evergreen cultivars, it generally decreased nutrient uptake after transplanting. Less frequent irrigation also altered plant attributes that are important to consumers, including developing a sparser canopy in ER and a fuller canopy in PJM, and producing more but smaller inflorescences in both cultivars. Landscape performance was related to plant nutrition in containers; however, irrigation frequency in containers disrupted relationships between nutrition and performance in all three cultivars. Our results indicate that irrigation frequency during container production of Rhododendron results in a tradeoff between vegetative and reproductive growth the next spring when the plants are in the landscape.

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Xiaojie Zhao, Guihong Bi, Richard L. Harkess, Jac J. Varco, and Eugene K. Blythe

This study investigated how spring nitrogen (N) application affects N uptake and growth performance in tall bearded (TB) iris ‘Immortality’ (Iris germanica L.). Container-grown iris plants were treated with 0, 5, 10, 15, or 20 mm N from 15NH4 15NO3 through fertigation using a modified Hoagland’s solution twice a week for 6 weeks in Spring 2013. Increasing N rate increased plant height, total plant dry weight (DW), and N content. Total N content was closely related to total plant DW. The allocation of N to different tissues followed a similar trend as the allocation of DW. In leaves, roots, and rhizomes, increasing N rate increased N uptake and decreased carbon (C) to N ratio (C/N ratio). Leaves were the major sink for N derived from fertilizer (NDFF). As N supply increased, DW accumulation in leaves increased, whereas DW accumulation in roots and rhizomes was unchanged. This indicates increasing N rate contributed more to leaf growth in spring. Nitrogen uptake efficiency (NupE) had a quadratic relationship with increasing N rate and was highest in the 10 mm N treatment, which indicates 10 mm was the optimal N rate for improving NupE in this study.

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Carolyn F. Scagel, Guihong Bi, Leslie H. Fuchigami, and Richard P. Regan

The influence of irrigation frequency (same amount of water per day given at different times) on nutrient uptake of container-grown evergreen Rhododendron ‘P.J.M. Compact’ (PJM) and ‘English Roseum’ (ER) and deciduous Rhododendron ‘Gibraltar’ (AZ) grown with different rates of nitrogen (N) fertilizer was evaluated. Increased N application rate increased nutrient uptake and plant dry biomass. Irrigation frequency did not significantly influence total plant dry biomass; however, more frequent irrigation decreased net uptake of several nutrients including phosphorus (P), boron (B), and manganese (Mn) uptake in all cultivars; potassium (K), copper (Cu), and zinc (Zn) uptake in AZ and ER; sulfur (S) uptake in ER and PJM; and iron (Fe) uptake in AZ. Additionally, more frequent irrigation of evergreen cultivars increased calcium (Ca) uptake. Covariate analyses were used to compare nutrient uptake among cultivars and irrigation treatments after accounting for the variability in nutrient uptake attributable to differences in biomass and N uptake. For most nutrients, the influence of irrigation frequency on uptake was partially attributable to differences in biomass and N uptake. After accounting for the variability in nutrient uptake associated with biomass or N uptake, increased irrigation frequency decreased P, S, B, Cu, and Mn uptake only in ER and increased Ca uptake in the two evergreen cultivars. Differences in nutrient uptake among cultivars in response to irrigation treatments were related to water and N availability during production and their combined influence on water stress, nutrient uptake, and biomass partitioning. Estimates of nutrient demand and uptake efficiency using nutrient concentrations and ratios are discussed in relation to nutrient management differences for different cultivars and irrigation treatments.

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Carolyn F. Scagel, Guihong Bi, Leslie H. Fuchigami, and Richard P. Regan

The influence of nitrogen (N) fertilizer application on plant allocation, uptake, and demand for other essential nutrients was evaluated from May 2005 to Feb. 2006 in evergreen Rhododendron ‘P.J.M. Compact’ (PJM) and ‘English Roseum’ (ER) and deciduous Rhododendron ‘Gibraltar’ (AZ) grown in containers filled with soilless substrate. Net nutrient uptake and losses were calculated using piecewise regression and uptake efficiency, root absorption capacity, aboveground demand, nutrient use efficiency, and uptake ratios between N and other nutrients (N ratios) were calculated using net uptake between harvest dates. Nitrogen application increased uptake rate of all nutrients, enhanced late-season uptake of many nutrients, and increased the rate of nutrient loss during the winter. Nutrient uptake often occurred as late as November in plants grown with N but was usually undetectable after September in plants grown without additional N fertilizer. Nutrient losses during the winter were not always associated with biomass loss and were related to differences in preferential nutrient allocation to different structures and the plant's ability to export nutrients before biomass loss. Plants with a greater potential for rapid growth were more capable of later-season nutrient uptake than plants with slower growth rates. Nitrogen availability altered N ratios indicating that when adding N to container-grown Rhododendron, fertilizers with higher ratios of N/phosphorus (PJM, AZ), N/calcium (PJM, ER), N/boron (PJM AZ), N/copper (PJM, ER), and N/iron (PJM, ER) and lower ratios of N/potassium (PJM, ER, AZ), N/sodium (PJM, ER, AZ), N/calcium (AZ), N/boron (ER), N/manganese (AZ), and N/zinc (ER) may be needed to optimize growth and minimize nutrient inputs. Increasing N availability altered uptake efficiency, root absorption capacity, aboveground demand, and nutrient use efficiency for several nutrients, indicating that changes in N management practices need to consider how altering N application rates may influence the plant's ability to take up and use other nutrients. This information can be used to develop fertilizer formulations to minimize excess application of nutrients and to evaluate the potential effects of altering N management practices on use of production resources. Our results indicate that nutrient management strategies for perennial crops such as Rhododendron need to take into consideration not only the nutrient demand for current growth, but also how to optimize nutrient availability for uptake that contributes to future growth potential and end-product quality.

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Carolyn F. Scagel, Guihong Bi, Leslie H. Fuchigami, and Richard P. Regan

The influence of irrigation frequency (same amount of water per day given at different times) and nitrogen (N) fertilizer rate on water stress [stomatal conductance (g S)], N uptake, and growth (biomass) of container-grown evergreen Rhododendron ‘P.J.M. Compact’ and ‘English Roseum’ and deciduous Rhododendron ‘Gibraltar’ was evaluated. Both N deficiency and high N rate increased water stress. Water stress was greatest in plants fertilized with the highest N rate and g S of plants grown with the higher N rates changed more in response to water deficits resulting from irrigation treatments and seasonal climatic changes. Watering plants more frequently decreased water stress of plants fertilized with higher N rates and altering irrigation frequency had little impact on alleviating water stress of N-deficient plants. Increasing irrigation frequency decreased N uptake efficiency (N uptake per gram N applied), increased N use efficiency (growth per gram N uptake) and altered biomass allocation with little influence on total plant biomass. Response of biomass allocation to N rates was similar among cultivars and response of biomass allocation to irrigation frequency varied among cultivars. Altering irrigation frequency changed either the availability of N in the growing substrate or the ability of roots to absorb N. Our results indicate that transitory increases in plant water stress can alter N uptake, N use, and plant form without detectable changes in total plant biomass.

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Guihong Bi, William B. Evans, James M. Spiers, and Anthony L. Witcher

Two experiments were conducted to evaluate the growth and flowering responses of greenhouse-grown French marigold (Tagetes patula L. ‘Janie Deep Orange’) to two non-composted broiler chicken litter-based organic fertilizers, 4-2-2 and 3-3-3, and one commonly used synthetic controlled-release fertilizer, 14-14-14. In both experiments, fertilizer 4-2-2 was applied at four rates of 1%, 2%, 4%, and 6% (by volume); 3-3-3 was applied at four rates of 1.34%, 2.67%, 5.34%, and 8.0% (by volume); and 14-14-14 was applied at rates of 0.99, 1.98, 3.96, and 5.94 kg·m−3. In general, substrate containing different rates and types of fertilizers had a pH within the recommended range of 5.0 to 6.5. Electrical conductivity (EC) was similar among substrates containing different rates of 14-14-14; however, EC increased with increasing fertilizer rate for substrates containing 4-2-2 and 3-3-3. Substrate EC within each treatment was generally higher earlier in the experiment. For the fertilizer rates used in these two experiments, increasing 14-14-14 fertilizer rate increased plant growth and flowering performance. However, low to intermediate rates of 4-2-2 and 3-3-3 in general produced the highest plant growth index, shoot dry weight, number of flowers per plant, total flower dry weight, and root rating. Plants grown at high rates of 4-2-2 and 3-3-3 showed symptoms associated with excessive fertilization. Plant tissue nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) concentrations increased linearly or quadratically with increasing fertilizer rates for all three fertilizers. In general, plants receiving 4-2-2 and 3-3-3 had higher concentrations of N, P, and K than plants receiving 14-14-14. Results from this study indicated that broiler litter-based 4-2-2 and 3-3-3 have the potential to be used as organic fertilizer sources for container production of marigolds in greenhouses. However, growers need to be cautious with the rate applied. Because different crops may respond differently to these natural fertilizers, it is important for growers to test any new fertilizers before incorporating them into their production practices.

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Carolyn F. Scagel, Guihong Bi, Leslie H. Fuchigami, and Richard P. Regan

The influence of fall sprays with urea on the uptake of nutrients other than nitrogen (N) was assessed using 1-year-old container-grown Rhododendron L. (Rhododendron ‘H-1 P.J.M’) and azalea (Rhododendron ‘Cannon's Double’) grown with different rates of N. Plants were grown with a complete fertilizer containing different N rates from May to Sept. 2004 sprayed or not with urea in the fall of 2004 and grown with a complete fertilizer containing different N rates in the spring of 2005. Urea sprays altered uptake of nutrients other than just N although fertilizer application with other nutrients ceased before plants were sprayed with urea. Across a wide range of plant sizes and N status, urea sprays increased net phosphorus (P), copper (Cu), and manganese (Mn) uptake and decreased net potassium (K) and magnesium (Mg) uptake during the year of urea application. Spraying plants with urea altered nutrient demand and storage in different plant structures during the winter. For azalea, urea sprays increased P demand by roots, Mn demand by 2004 stems, and Cu demand by stems. Urea also decreased storage of K in roots and 2004 stems of azalea and Mg in roots. For rhododendron, urea sprays increased P demand by 2003 stems and 2004 leaves and Mn demand by 2004 leaves. Urea sprays also decreased storage of K and Mg in 2004 leaves of rhododendron. For both cultivars, urea sprays increased mobilization of iron (Fe) from storage and demand for Fe in stems. Spraying Rhododendron with urea in the fall altered uptake and demand for certain nutrients during the following spring. Urea sprays in the fall of 2004 increased uptake and possibly demand for P, K, and sulfur during the spring of 2005 for both cultivars, the uptake of calcium by rhododendron, and the uptake of Mg and Mn by azalea. Our results indicate that when growers spray plants with urea in the fall, spring fertilizer practices may need to be modified to account for increased uptake or demand of certain nutrients.

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Shufu Dong, Lailiang Cheng, Pinghai Ding, Guihong Bi, and Leslie H. Fuchigami

One-year-old (Old Home) OH87 and OH97 pear rootstocks were grown in 2-gallon containers under natural conditions at Corvallis, Ore., in in 1999. Uniform plants were harvested during August and September, and total leaf area, new shoot number and length, and root growth were measured. The kinetics of NH4 + and NO3 - uptake by new roots of both rootstocks were determined with the ion-depletion technique. OH87 had larger total leaf area, and more and longer shoots than OH97. Total root biomass was similiar between the two rootstocks, but OH87 had a larger proportion of new roots and more extension roots than OH97. Both rootstocks had lower Km values for NH4 + absorption than for NO3 - and therefore both had greater absorptive power for NH4 + than for NO3 - at the low nutrient concentrations. The maximum uptake rates (Vmax) of OH97 were similiar for both NH4 + and NO3 - absorption, but OH87 had a much higher maximum uptake rate for NO3 - than for NH4 +.