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Stephanie A. Beeks and Michael R. Evans

The physical properties of new 15.2-cm plastic and comparably sized bioplastic, solid ricehull, slotted ricehull, paper, peat, dairy manure, wood fiber, rice straw, and coconut fiber containers were determined. Additionally, the physical properties of these containers were determined after being used to grow ‘Rainier Purple’ cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum L.) in ebb-and-flood benches for 15 weeks in a greenhouse environment. The punch strength of new coconut fiber containers was the highest of the containers. The used plastic containers had strengths of 228.0, 230.5, and 215.2 N for the bottom, middle, and top zones, respectively. The used peat, dairy manure, and wood fiber containers had strengths of less than 15 N for each zone. Tensile strength of all new containers was 10 kg. The plastic, bioplastic, solid ricehull, slotted ricehull, paper, and coconut fiber containers had used strengths that were similar to plastic containers. Total water used for wood fiber containers was higher than plastic containers. Irrigation intervals for plastic containers were similar to bioplastic, solid ricehull, slotted ricehull, paper, and coconut fiber containers. The irrigation interval for plastic containers was 1.32 days and the wood fiber container had the shortest irrigation interval at 0.61 day. Container absorption for coconut fiber containers was 255 mL and was higher than plastic containers. Wood fiber container absorption was 141 mL and lower than plastic containers. Plastic, bioplastic, solid ricehull, and slotted ricehull containers had no visible algal or fungal growth. The wood fiber containers had 79% of the container walls covered with algae or fungi and the bottom and middle zones had 100% algae or fungi coverage. The bottom zone of rice straw, dairy manure, and peat containers also had 100% algae or fungi coverage. The bioplastic, solid ricehull, and slotted ricehull containers in this study proved to be good substitutes for plastic containers. These containers retained high levels of punch and tensile strength, had no algal and fungal growth, and required a similar amount of solution as the plastic containers to grow a cyclamen crop. The peat, dairy manure, wood fiber, and rice straw containers proved not to be appropriate substitutes for plastic containers because of the low used strengths, high percentage of algal and fungal coverage, and shorter irrigation intervals as compared with plastic containers.

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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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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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Robert H. Stamps and Michael R. Evans

A comparison was made of Philippine coconut coir dust and Canadian spaghnum peat as components of three growing media for greenhouse production of Dieffenbachia maculata `Camille'. The soilless media were prepared using coir or peat in various amounts (by volume) combined with pine bark, vermiculite, and/or perlite (Media A–50% coir/peat: 25% vermiculite: 25% perlite; Media B–40% coir/peat: 30% vermiculite: 30% bark; Media C–50% coir/peat: 50% bark). Chemical and physical properties of the soils were determined at the beginning and the end of the five-month production cycle. Plant root and top growth and grades were determined at the end of the experiment. Initially, saturated media extracts from coir-containing media had elevated K, Cl, and soluble salts levels compared to peat-containing media; however, by the end of the experiment those levels were lower in coir- than in peat-based media. Water-filled pore space and water-holding capacities were generally higher and air-filled pore space lower in coir- than in peat-based media, probably due to differences in particle size distributions. There were no interaction effects on plant growth between growing media and coir versus peat. Plant root and top growth in Media A > Media B > Media C and plant top growth was greater in coir- than in peat-based media. Differences in growth could be due, in part, to differences in media water-holding capacities.

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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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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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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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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.

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Jack A. Hartwigsen and Michael R. Evans

Cucumis sativus (cucumber), Pelargonium × hortorum (geranium), Tagetes patula (marigold), and Cucurbita pepo (squash) seed were sown into plug cells (5 ml volume) filled with a germination substrate containing peat, vermiculite, and perlite. After the seed were sown, the substrate was saturated with solution containing 0 (deionized water) 2500, or 5000 mg/L humic acid (HA). Additional treatments included seed which were sown into the substrate and saturated with nutrient solutions corresponding to the nutrient concentration of each humic acid solution. Seed were placed in a growth chamber and maintained at 22°C and under a 12-h photoperiod with a PPF of 275 μmol·m–2·s–1. After 10 d for cucumber and squash and 14 d for marigold and geranium, plants were harvested and root and shoot fresh mass recorded. Shoot fresh mass was not significantly affected by treatment for any of the species tested. Except for squash, root fresh mass was significantly increased by humic acid treatments. For cucumber, root fresh mass ranged from 0.24 g in deionized water to 0.34 g in 2500 and 5000 mg/L HA. Geranium root fresh mass ranged from 0.03 g in deionized water and 5000 mg/L HA to 0.05 g in 2500 mg/L HA. Marigold root fresh mass ranged from 0.02 g in deionized water to 0.03 g in 2500 and 5000 mg/L HA. Root fresh mass for nutrient controls were similar to those for deionized water.

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Andrew A. Waber and Michael R. Evans

Euphorbia pulcherrima `Freedom' (poinsettia) were grown in coir dust, sphagnum peat, and perlite at the following ratios (respectively) 20:0:80, 40:0:60, 60:0:40, 80:0:20, 0:20:80, 0:40:60, 0:60:40, and 0:80:20 (v/v) substrates. Days to anthesis were not significantly different between substrates. Heights were greater for plants produced in 80% coir compared to plants grown in 80% peat. Overall, plants grown in coir-based substrates were taller than plants grown in peat-based substrates. Plants grown in 60% coir had a greater number of lateral shoots, increased shoot fresh weight and increased bract area compared to plants grown in 60% peat. Overall, plants grown in coir-based substrates had greater shoot fresh weights compared to plants grown in peat-based substrates. Lilium longiflorum `Nellie White' (lily) plants were grown in 40:0:20:40, 0:40:20:40, 0:57:14:28, 0:73:9:18 (v/v sphagnum peat: coir dust: loam: perlite) substrates. As the proportion of coir in the substrate increased, height, and shoot and root fresh weights increased. Nodes to flower, days to flower, and number of flowers were not significantly affected by substrate.