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Richard J. McAvoy, Bernard B. Bible, and Michael R. Evans

The early onset of bract necrosis in poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex. Klotzch) is characterized by small dark-stained spots that precede the development of enlarged necrotic lesions. Electron micrographs of adaxial epidermal and subepidermal tissues with early symptoms of necrosis revealed large, electron-dense deposits in cell vacuoles. These spherical bodies resembled condensed tannins observed in the epidermal tissues of peach and apple fruit. Chemical analysis of bract tissues confirmed the presence of condensed tannins. Furthermore, there were higher concentrations of condensed tannin in bract samples with 2-mm-diameter lesions than in samples with lesions <0.5 mm (equivalent to catechin concentrations of 59 and 13 mg·g-1 fresh mass, respectively). No tannin bodies were observed in parallel samples of healthy-appearing bracts in which only trace concentrations of condensed tannins were measured (0.2 mg·g-1 fresh mass). The evidence suggests an association between condensed tannin accumulation in localized areas of the bract and the early appearance of bract necrosis symptoms.

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Michael R. Evans, Richard Harkess, Jeff Kuehny, and Janet Cole

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Jeff S. Kuehny, Matt Taylor, and Michael R. Evans

Biodegradable and plastic containers were evaluated for greenhouse and landscape production of ‘Score Red’ geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum), ‘Grape Cooler’ vinca (Catharanthus roseus), or ‘Dazzler Lilac Splash’ impatiens (Impatiens wallerana) at Louisiana State University (LSU), Baton Rouge, LA; Longwood Gardens (LWG), Kennett Square, PA; and University of Arkansas (UA), Fayetteville, AR. Of the 5-inch containers, the highest geranium and vinca shoot growth occurred in plastic containers compared with bioplastic and rice straw containers. Of the 4-inch containers, paper containers produced the greatest geranium shoot growth compared with the peat containers at LSU and LWG. Shoot growth in impatiens was similar for all container types at all three locations. When all container types were considered, there was no difference in the root growth of geranium or impatiens at all three locations. However, vinca had the highest root growth in paper containers compared with that in peat and coconut fiber. The root:shoot (R:S) ratio of geranium were mixed for all pot sizes, types, and locations. Vinca R:S ratio was highest in both the 4- and 5-inch plastic control containers at LSU and lowest in both plastic containers at LWG. Direct plant containers generally performed well in the landscape as the plants grown in plastic containers at LWG. Plants grown in all tested containers produced marketable plants for both the retail and landscape markets. However, growers and landscapers should be aware of growth differences that may occur when using biodegradable containers and align production practices accordingly.

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Johann S. Buck, Michael R. Evans, and Paolo Sambo

Horticultural root substrates are designed to provide the optimal physical properties for plant growth. These properties include bulk density (g·cm-3), air-filled pore space (% v/v), total pore space (% v/v), water-filled pore space (% v/v), water-holding capacity (% v/v and w/w), and wettability. Whole, fresh parboiled rice hulls were ground to produce four grades with varying particle size distributions. Particle sizes for the four grades ranged from <0.25 to >2.80 mm. Additionally, discrete particle sizes of <0.25, 0.50, 1.00, 2.00, 2.80, and >2.80 mm were produced. For all grade distributions and particle point sizes, physical properties were determined and contrasted against Canadian sphagnum peat. As the proportion of smaller particle sizes in the distributions increased or as the particle point sizes decreased, total pore space (% v/v) and air-filled pore space (% v/v) decreased, while, bulk density (g·cm-3) and water-holding capacity (% v/v and w/w) increased. Additionally, as the proportion of particle sizes from <0.25–0.50 mm increased, the wettabilty of the whole fresh parboiled rice hull material decreased. Particle sizes ranging from 1.00–2.80 mm possessed the physical properties most suitable for plant growth in containerized greenhouse crop production and were most similar to peat.

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Michael R. Evans, Giampaolo Zanin, and Todd J. Cavins

Water-holding capacity represents the volume of water retained by a substrate after a saturating irrigation and drainage, and it is often referred to as container capacity. However, water-holding capacity is a time-specific measurement that is limited to the status of the substrate immediately after saturation and drainage. It does not provide information regarding how quickly water is lost from the substrate, the substrate water status over time, or the irrigation frequency required for a substrate under specific conditions. A new procedure was developed that generated a single numeric value that described the wetness of a substrate and in so doing took into account the substrate's water-holding capacity and drying rate. This value was referred to as an E-value. For substrates included in this study, E-values ranged from a low of 6 for parboiled fresh rice hulls (PBH) to a high of 93 for the commercial substrate Metro Mix 360. The procedure was shown to generate E-values that were as would be expected for the evaluated substrates and also ranked the substrates as would have been expected. Over repeated evaluations, the procedure was demonstrated to have a maximum inherent variability of plus or minus one E-value.

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Sreenivas Konduru, Michael R. Evans, and Robert H. Stamps

Chemical properties of unprocessed coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) husks varied significantly among 11 sources tested. The pH and electrical conductivities were significantly different among husk sources and ranged from 5.9 to 6.9 and 1.2 to 2.8 mS·cm-1, respectively. The \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document}, \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document}, Ca, and Mg levels did not differ significantly among husk sources and ranged from 0.2 to 1.8, 0.2 to 0.9, 2.9 to 7.3, and nondetectable to 4.6 mg·kg-1, respectively. Levels of P, B, Cu, Fe, Ni, S, Zn, Mn, and Mo were all significantly different among husk sources and ranged from nondetectable levels to 33 ppm. The levels of Na, K, and Cl were significantly different among husk sources and ranged from 23 to 88, 126 to 236, and 304 to 704 ppm, respectively. Coir dust (CD) produced by screening of waste-grade coir through 3-, 6-, or 13-mm mesh screens had significantly different fiber content, bulk densities, total solids, total pore space, air-filled pore space, water-filled pore space, and water-holding capacities as compared with nonscreened waste-grade coir. However, screen size did not significantly affect the physical properties of CD. Neither compression pressure nor moisture level during compression of CD blocks significantly affected rehydration of compressed CD or physical properties of rehydrated CD.

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Stephen B. Gaul, Eric D. Nelson, and Michael R. Evans

Rooted cuttings of 22 different Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzsch cultivars were grown in root substrate inoculated with 0, 5000,15,000, and 30,000 oospores of Pyuthium ultimum Trow per 10-cm containers. The root substrate was a mixture of 50% peat, 30% perlite, and 20% soil, adjusted to a pH 5.5. Plants were grown in a greenhouse with a temperature range of 15-32 °C, and were fertilized daily with 200 ppm N (Excel 15-5-15, Scotts Co. Marietta, Ga). After 8 weeks, roots were rated for disease incidence and root fresh and dry weights were determined. The data were analyzed using ANOVA with six blocks in a 22 × 4 factorial design, linear regression, and cluster analysis. Significant differences among the responses of the cultivars were found. The slopes of the regression equations, using the log10 of the inoculum level for the X axis, were more positive for disease incidence and more negative for fresh and dry root weights in the more susceptble cultivars. The cultivars were separated, by the cluster analysis, into three groups, less susceptible, moderately susceptible, and highly susceptible. Cultivars Marblestar and Galaxy Red were representative of less susceptible, `Pepride' and `Jolly Red' were representative of moderately susceptible, and `Snowcap' and `Success' were representative of highly susceptible cultivars.

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Sreenivas Konduru, Michael R. Evans, and Robert H. Stamps

Chemical characteristics of saturated media extracts of coconut (Cocos nuc L.) coir dust were determined from material from different sources (producers and countries) and were found to be source-dependent. For all samples tested, the pH was between 5.5 and 6.6, and the electrical conductivity ranged from 0.2 to 2.4 cm–1. Nitrate-N levels were between 0.3 and 8 ppm, and ammoniacal-N levels were 0.2 ppm or less. Calcium and Mg levels ranged from 1 to 24 and 1 to 3 ppm, respectively. Potassium and Cl levels ranged widely from 16 to 686 and 24 to 600 ppm, respectively. Sodium levels were between 28 and 53 ppm. The levels of B, Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn were <1 ppm. Although there were significant differences between producers within a country, sources originating from different countries were found to have the greatest differences in chemical characteristics.

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Michael R. Evans, Sreenivas Konduru, and Robert H. Stamps

Physical properties differed significantly among five Philippine-produced coconut (Cocos nucifera L.) coir dust sources. Bulk densities ranged from 0.04 to 0.08 g·cm–3. Air-filled pore space, water-filled pore space, and total pore space ranged from 9.5% to 12.6%, 73.0% to 80.0%, and 85.5% to 89.5% (v/v), respectively. Total solids accounted for 10.5% to 14.5% of total volume, and water-holding capacities ranged from 750% to 1100% of dry weight. Significant differences existed in particle size distribution, with the largest differences occurring for particle sizes <8.0 mm and 0.25 to 0.50 mm in diameter. Chemical properties were determined for 12 sources from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, or Indonesia. The pH and electrical conductivities ranged from 5.6 to 6.9 and 0.3 to 2.9 mS·cm–1, respectively, and were significantly different among sources. No significant differences occurred among samples with respect to Fe, Mn, Zn, B, Cu, NH4-N, and Mg concentrations. Coir dust samples contained Fe, Mn, Zn, B, and Cu at 0.01 to 0.07 mg·L–1. The levels of NH4-N and Mg were 0.1 to 0.2 and 1.0 to 7.4 mg·L–1, respectively. Significant differences occurred between sources for Ca, Na, and NO3-N, with levels (mg·L–1) ranging from 1.0 to 24.3, from 22.3 to 88.3, and from 0.4 to 7.0, respectively. The widest ranges occurred in K (19 to 948 mg·L–1) and Cl (26 to 1636 mg·L–1). Sources differed with respect to cation exchange capacities, with values ranging from 38.9 to 60.0 meq/100 g.

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Michael R. Evans, James N. Smith, and Raymond Cloyd

Fifteen-centimeter (1700-ml) containers were prepared for this experiment by sealing the drainage holes with insect screen (Hummert International, Earth City, Mo.) that had openings of 0.026 cm × 0.0805 cm. Containers were filled with substrates composed of either a 80% sphagnum peat or 80% coir. The remainder of the substrates was composed of perlite. Rooted cuttings of Euphorbia pulcherrima `Freedom' were planted into the containers and the containers were sealed with the insect screen and plants were allowed to grow and the substrate to age for 2 weeks. Fungus gnat (Bradysia spp.) larvae were collected using potato disks placed on the surface of infested substrates. After 3 days, larvae were collected from the disks, and 10 larvae were added per container. Uninoculated controls were included. After a period of 6 weeks, the adult population was sampled by placing 2.5 × 5.0-cm yellow sticky cards in each container. The larval population was sampled by placing a 4-cm-diameter potato disk on the substrate surface of each container. Fungus gnat larvae and adults were recovered from both sphagnum peat and coir-based substrates. Neither the number of adults nor the number of larvae recovered were significantly different between sphagnum peat and coir-based substrates.