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Michael R. Evans and Stephen B. Gaul

Glycine max (soybean) seed were sown in root substrates composed of 80:0:20 or 0:80:20 coconut coir dust (coir):Sphagnum peat (peat):perlite (v/v) amended with dolomitic limestone to a pH of 5.5. Substrates were inoculated with Phytophthora megasperma races 5 and 25 isolated from soybean and grown in dilute liquid V-8 cultures. Uninoculated controls were included. Containers were watered daily to maintain moisture levels at or near container capacity. The experiment was repeated twice. Plants grown in peat-based root substrates inoculated with P. megasperma suffered 50% to 100% mortality. No plants in coir-based root substrates displayed visually apparent infection symptoms. Soybean seed were also sown in root substrates that contained 0:80:20, 20:60:20, 40:40:20, 60:20:20 or 80:0:20 coir:peat:perlite (v/v). Inoculum of P. megasperma races 1, 5, and 25 was grown on water agar and diluted in deionized water. Solution containing 20,000 colony-forming units (oospores) was mixed into the root substrate of each container. Uninoculated controls were included. As the proportion of coir in the substrate increased, the mortality, the number of plants displaying disease symptoms and the severity of disease symptoms decreased. Plants grown in substrates containing at least 60% coir displayed no visually evident disease symptoms.

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Jack A. Hartwigsen and Michael R. Evans

Seed of Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey `Freckles' (geranium) and Tagetes patula L. `Bonanza' (marigold) were soaked for 12, 24, or 48 h in solutions containing 0 (deionized water), 5000, 10,000, or 15,000 mg·L-1 humic acid (HA) or nutrient controls (NC) containing similar levels of nutrients prior to planting. Soaking in deionized water (DI) and NC treatments had no significant effect on root fresh weight. However, several of the HA treatments increased root fresh weight of marigold seedlings, and all increased geranium root fresh weight. Percentage of germination and shoot fresh weight were not significantly affected by treatment. Seed of Cucumis sativus L. `Salad Bush' (cucumber), Cucurbita pepo L. `Golden Summer Crookneck' (squash), `Freckles' geranium and `Bonanza' marigold were sown into 15-cell plug trays (5 mL volume), and the substrate was drenched with DI, 2500 or 5000 mg·L-1 HA, or 2500 or 5000 mg·L-1 NC. DI and NC treatments did not affect root fresh weight. However, cucumber, squash, and marigold seedlings germinated in substrate drenched with 2500 and 5000 mg·L-1 HA and geranium seedlings germinated in substrate drenched with 2500 mg·L-1 HA had significantly higher root fresh weight than did seedlings from all other treatments. Percentage of germination and shoot fresh weight were not significantly affected by treatment. `Salad Bush' cucumber and `Golden Summer Crookneck' squash seedlings germinated on germination towels soaked with 2500 or 5000 mg·L-1 HA, had significantly higher root fresh weight than did seedlings germinated on towels soaked with DI or NC solutions. Treatment with HA did not affect shoot fresh weight or the number of lateral roots. However, HA treatment increased the total length of lateral roots. The increase in lateral root growth occurred primarily in lateral roots developing from the lower hypocotyl.

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James N. Smith and Michael R. Evans

Vegetative 6-cm Euphorbia pulcherrima `Freedom' cuttings were placed in black 200-ml bottles containing humic acid solutions, nutrient solutions, or deionized water. Humic acid solutions were prepared using Enersol SC (American Colloid, Arlington Heights, Ill.). Concentrations of 500, 750, and 1000 mg/L humic acid were compared to solutions containing mineral element concentrations equivalent to those contained in humic acid solutions. After 4 weeks, 88%, 75%, and 88% of cuttings had rooted in the 500, 750, and 1000 mg/L humic acid solutions, respectively. Cuttings placed in nutrient controls or deionized water failed to form roots after 4 weeks. Average root fresh mass was 175, 80, and 72 mg for cuttings placed in 500, 750, and 1000 mg/L humic acid solution, respectively. Average number of roots formed per cutting ranged from 21 in the 500-mg/L solution to 6 in the 1000-mg/L solution. Average lengths ranged from 26 mm in the 500-mg/L to 12 in the 1000-mg/L solution. As humic acid concentration increased, average root fresh mass, average number of roots, and the length of the longest root significantly decreased.

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Michael R. Evans and David L. Hensley

A biodegradable container made from processed waste poultry feathers was developed, and plant growth was evaluated in plastic, peat, and feather containers. Under uniform irrigation and fertilization, dry shoot weights of `Janie Bright Yellow' marigold (Tagetes patula L.), `Cooler Blush' vinca [Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don.] and `Orbit Cardinal' geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey) plants grown in feather containers were higher than for those grown in peat containers, but lower than those grown in plastic containers. Container type did not significantly affect dry shoot weights of `Dazzler Rose Star' impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Hook.f.). `Better Boy' tomato (Lycopersicum esculentum L.) dry shoot weights were similar when grown in peat and feather containers. Feather containers were initially hydrophobic, and several irrigation cycles were required before the feather container walls absorbed water. If allowed to dry, feather containers again became hydrophobic and required several irrigations to reabsorb water from the substrate. Peat containers readily absorbed water from the substrate. Substrate in peat containers dried more rapidly than the substrate in feather containers. Plants grown in peat containers often reached the point of incipient wilting between irrigations, whereas plants grown in feather containers did not. This may have been a factor that resulted in higher dry shoot weights of plants grown in feather containers than in peat containers. Tomato plants grown in feather containers had higher tissue N content than those grown in plastic or peat containers. The availability of additional N from the feather container may also have been a factor that resulted in higher dry shoot weights of plants grown in feather containers than in peat ones. Under non-uniform irrigation and fertilization, dry shoot weights of impatiens and vinca grown in feather containers were significantly higher than those of plants grown in plastic or peat containers. When grown under simulated field conditions, geranium dry shoot weights were significantly higher for plants initially grown in feather containers than for those initially grown in peat containers. Container type did not significantly affect dry shoot weights of vinca when grown under simulated field conditions. As roots readily penetrated the walls of both feather and peat containers, dry root weights of vinca and geranium were not significantly affected by container type when grown under simulated field conditions.

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Robert H. Stamps and Michael R. Evans

A comparison was made of Canadian sphagnum peat (SP) and Philippine coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) coir dust (CD) as growing media components for Dieffenbachia maculata [(Lodd.) G. Don] `Camille' greenhouse production. Three soilless foliage plant growing mixes [Cornell, Hybrid, Univ. of Florida #2 (UF-2)] were prepared using either SP or CD and pine bark (PB), vermiculite (V), and/or perlite (P) in the following ratios (percent by volume): Cornell = 50 CD or SP:25 V:25 P, Hybrid = 40 CD or SP:30 V:30 PB, UF-2 = 50 CD or SP:50 PB. Initial CI concentrations and electrical conductivities were higher for CD-containing media (CDM) than SP-containing media (SPM). At termination, Ca, Mg, and NO3-N concentrations were higher for SPM than CDM. Bulk densities were lower for CDM than SPM for one medium, but not for the others. Water-filled pore space (W-FPS) and water-holding capacity (W-HC) were larger and air-filled pore space (A-FPS) generally was smaller for CDM than SPM. Cornell had the highest W-FPS and W-HC, lowest A-FPS and percentage of large particles, and produced the highest grade and heaviest plants. Plant top grades, fresh mass and overall mass, but not root grades and mass, were higher for CDM than SPM. Plant mass was positively correlated with initial medium W-HC but not with A-FPS. Lower K in mix UF-2 compared to the mixes containing vermiculite may have been partly responsible for the lesser growth in that mix.

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Michael R. Evans and Richard L. Harkess

Geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey) `Freckles' and poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzch) `Freedom' were grown in six peat and shredded-rubber substrates formulated to contain 75:25:0, 50:50:0, 25:75:0, 75:0:25, 50:0:50, 25:0:75 sphagnum peat: fine-grade rubber: coarse-grade rubber (by volume). Additionally, plants were grown in a 50 peat: 30 perlite: 20 loam (by volume) control substrate. Shredded rubber-containing substrates had higher bulk densities, lower total pore space, and higher total solids than the control substrate. Fine rubber-containing substrates had lower air-filled pore space (AFP) and lower water-holding capacities (WHC) than the control substrate. Substrates containing 25% coarse rubber had lower AFP and WHC than the control, but substrates containing 50% and 75% coarse shredded rubber had higher AFP and lower WHC than the control. Shredded rubber-containing substrates had significantly higher levels of Zn than the control substrate. Plants grown in rubber-containing substrates had tissue Zn levels significantly higher than the control and at levels reported to be phytotoxic in other species. Geraniums grown in rubber-containing substrates had lower root and shoot fresh mass, were shorter, and had fewer axillary branches than those grown in the control substrate. Poinsettia plants grown in rubber-containing substrates were shorter, had lower shoot fresh mass, fewer bracts, and lower bract area as compared to plants grown in the control substrate.

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Brent K. Harbaugh and Michael R. Evans

Nonplanted Caladium × hortukmum Birdsey `Candidum' tubers were exposed to 26 (control), 38,43, or 48C for 1,2, or 3 days. Then tubers were planted and forced in a glasshouse for 4 weeks at 18 to 33C (air). Leaf emergence from tubers exposed to 48C for 1 or 2 days required 3-12 days longer than leaf emergence from control tubers. No leaves emerged from tubers treated at 48C for 3 days. Exposing tubers to 38C for 3 days or 43C for 1 day did not affect subsequent plant growth. Exposing tubers to 43C for 2 or 3 days or 48C for 1 or 2 days resulted in plants with reduced shoot fresh weights and fewer leaves ≥ 15 cm. In a second experiment, planted tubers were forced for 10 days at 26C so that roots had developed to the edge of the pot and shoots had emerged to the soil surface. These planted (sprouting) tubers were exposed to 43C for 0,4,8,12,16,20, or 24 hours/day for 1,3, or 5 days and then forced for 7 weeks in a glasshouse. With 3- or 5-day treatments, days to leaf emergence increased as the hours of exposure to 43C increased. Only 33% of planted tubers exposed to 43C for 24 hours/day for 5 days sprouted. Tubers exposed to 43C for≤ 12 hours/day for 3 days produced plants of similar or greater height, numbers of leaves □≥15 cm wide, and shoot fresh weights, but additional hours of daily exposure decreased these plant characteristics. At 5 days, plant height, number of ≥ 15-cm-wide leaves, and shoot fresh weight decreased linearly with increased hours of exposure of tubers to high temperature.

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Jack A. Hartwigsen and Michael R. Evans

Seed of Cucumis sativus and Pelargonium ×hortorum were imbibed for 24 hours in solutions containing 0 (deionized water), 2500, 5000, 10,000, and 20,000 ppm humic acid. Additional treatments included seed which were imbibed in nutrient solutions corresponding to the nutrient content of each humic acid solution as well as an untreated dry control. Percent germination was reduced for geranium seed imbibed in 20,000 ppm humic acid and for cucumber seed imbibed in either 20,000 ppm humic acid or the corresponding nutrient control. Root fresh weights for untreated and water imbibed geranium seed were 0.05 g. Humic acid treatment increased root fresh weights to a maximum of 0.14 g at 5000 and 10,000 ppm. Shoot fresh weights for geranium were 0.12 and 0.10 g for untreated and water imbibed seed, respectively. Humic acid treatment increased shoot fresh weight to a maximum of 0.18 at 2500 ppm. Root fresh weights for cucumber were 0.16 and 0.18 g for untreated and water imbibed seeds, respectively. Humic acid treatment increased root fresh weight to a maximum of 0.33 g at 10,000 ppm. Shoot fresh weights for cucumber were 0.31 and 0.38 g for untreated and water imbibed seed, respectively. Humic acid treatment increased shoot fresh weight to a maximum of 0.43 at 10,000 ppm.

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Stephen B. Gaul and Michael R. Evans

Seedlings of Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don `Pacifica Red' were transplanted into substrates composed of either 80% sphagnum peat or coir with the remaining volume being perlite, sand, or vermiculite. The six substrates were inoculated with Pythium irregulare Buisman at 0 or 50,000 oospores per 10-cm container. The containers were irrigated daily to maintain moisture levels near container capacity. No visually apparent symptoms of infection or significant differences in shoot and root fresh and dry weights were observed among the uninoculated substrates and the inoculated coir substrates. Inoculated peat substrates had an 80% infection rate and significantly reduced shoot and root fresh and dry weights as compared to uninoculated substrates. Seedlings of C. roseus were transplanted into pasteurized and unpasteurized substrates composed of 80% (v/v) coir or sphagnum peat with the remaining 20% being perlite. Substrates were inoculated with 0, 5000, or 20,000 oospores of P. irregulare per 10-cm container. No visually apparent symptoms of infection or significant differences in shoot and root fresh and dry weights were observed among the uninoculated substrates and the inoculated pasteurized coir. The inoculated pasteurized peat substrate, inoculated unpasteurized peat substrate, and the inoculated unpasteurized coir substrate grown plants had an 88% infection and a significant reduction in the shoot and root fresh and dry weights.

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Ramsey Sealy, Michael R. Evans, and Craig Rothrock

Growth of Pythium aphanidermatum, Pythium ultimum, Pythium irregulare, Phytophthora nicoctianae, Phytophthora cinnomomi, Fusarium oxysporum, Rhizoctonia solani and Thielaviopsis basicoli was inhibited in vitro when grown in a clarified V-8 nutrient solution containing 10% garlic extract. After exposure to 10% garlic extract for 3 days, all fungi and fungal-like organisms failed to grow after being washed and transferred to fresh cornmeal agar nutrient medium without garlic extract. When Sphagnum peat was inoculated with P. aphanidermatum and drenched with solutions containing varying concentrations of garlic extract, a single drench of 35% garlic extract or two drenches of 15% garlic extract were required to rid the substrate of viable P. aphanidermatum. In sand, a single application of 25% garlic extract or two applications of 10% garlic extract were required to rid the sand of viable P. aphanidermatum Thus, Sphagnum peat appeared to partially inactivate the components in garlic and did so to a greater extent than sand. Therefore, efficacy of garlic extract as a soil drench fungicide will be affected by the type of substrate or soil to which the garlic extract is applied.