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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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Shravan Dasoju, Michael R. Evans, and Brian E. Whipker

Paclobutrazol drenches were applied at 0, 2, 4, 8, 16, or 32 mg a.i./pot to potted sunflowers (Helianthus annuus L. `Pacino') to determine its effect on growth. Plant height was shorter as paclobutrazol dose increased up to 16 mg; however, additional increases in dose had little effect on height. Severe height retardation of `Pacino' plants was evident at 16 and 32 mg. Plants treated with 2 mg of paclobutrazol were 17% and 25% smaller in diameter than untreated plants in Expts. 1 and 2, respectively. Plant diameter was smaller as paclobutrazol dose increased up to 16 mg, with additional increases in dose having little effect on plant diameter in Expt. 2. Plants treated with 16 or 32 mg of paclobutrazol exhibited phytotoxicity symptoms including crinkled leaves and stunted growth, and smaller and greener leaves. Sunflower plant growth was greater in the summer (Expt. 1) than in winter (Expt. 2). In the summer higher doses of paclobutrazol will be required than in winter for growth control. Marketable sized plants grown in 15- to 16.5-cm-diameter pots were produced with doses of paclobutrazol at 2 and 4 mg in both seasons, and doses up to 8 mg can also be used in summer for growth control.

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

Coir and peat-based substrates were tested for their effectiveness in inhibiting the development of fungus gnat populations. The first experiment was conducted in July under relatively high temperatures (20 to 35 °C) and a second experiment was conducted in April under relatively low temperatures (20 °C). Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzch `Freedom' plants were planted into 18-cm-diameter containers filled with substrates containing 80% sphagnum peat or coir, with the remainder being perlite. Half of the containers of each substrate were inoculated with fungus gnat larvae and sealed with either cheesecloth or thrips screen for Expts. 1 and 2, respectively. After 6 and 8 weeks for Expts. 1 and 2, respectively, fungus gnat adult and larval populations were sampled. Adults and larvae were recovered from coir and peat-based substrates in both experiments. In Expt. 1, significantly more adults and larvae were recovered from coir-based than peat-based substrates. In Expt. 2, significantly more adults and larvae were recovered from the peat-based than coir-based substrates. In a third experiment, the peat- and coir-based substrates used in Expts. 1 and 2 were used as well as the Iowa State greenhouse substrate, which contained 40% Sphagnum peat, 40% perlite, and 20% loam (v/v). Helianthus annuus L. `Pacino' seeds were sown into 18-cm-diameter containers filled with the test substrates. Natural infestation was allowed to occur for 6 weeks, after which time potato disks were used to sample the fungus gnat larvae population. Larvae were recovered from all substrates, and there was no significant difference in the number of larvae collected from the three substrates. Based on the results of these experiments, we concluded that coir does not inhibit the development of fungus gnat larvae populations and, when presented with options, fungus gnats will infest coir-based substrates as readily as peat-based substrates.

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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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Brian E. Whipker, Shravan K. Dasoju, and Michael R. Evans

Drench applications of paclobutrazol or uniconazole were applied at doses of 0, 0.0025, 0.005, 0.01, 0.02, or 0.04 mg a.i./pot (28,350 mg = 1.0 oz) to vegetatively propagated `Aurora', `Medallion Dark Red', and `Pink Satisfaction' geranium (Pelargonium ×hortorum L.H. Bailey). Geranium total plant height, leaf canopy height, and plant diameter responded similarly to drench applications of either paclobutrazol or uniconazole. There was a significant quadratic relationship between plant growth regulator (PGR) dose and total plant height and leaf canopy height for `Aurora' and `Medallion Dark Red', with total plant height and leaf canopy height being shorter as paclobutrazol or uniconazole doses increased up to 0.02 mg. However, doses of ≥0.02 mg had little additional effect on total plant height and leaf canopy height. Most of the total height control achieved by the use of PGRs was primarily due to a reduction of leaf canopy height, rather than inflorescence height. Doses of 0.005 to 0.01 mg of either PGR produced marketable sized potted plants of `Medallion Dark Red' and `Pink Satisfaction'. `Aurora', which was the most vigorous cultivar, required doses of 0.01 or 0.02 mg of either paclobutrazol or uniconazole to produce marketable sized potted plants.

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Shravan Dasoju, Michael R. Evans, and Brian E. Whipker

Paclobutrazol drench applications of 0, 2, and 4 mg a.i./pot were applied to `Pacino' potted sunflowers (Helianthus annuus L.) and `Red Pigmy' tuberous rooted dahlias (Dahlia variabilis Willd.) grown in substrates containing 50%, 60%, 70%, or 80% (by volume) sphagnum peat or coir, with the remainder being perlite, to study the efficacy of paclobutrazol (Bonzi). Potted sunflower plant height differed significantly for peat- and coir-based substrates, with greater plant height being observed in coir-based substrates. Plant diameter was significantly greater at higher percentages of peat or coir in the substrate at 2 and 4 mg of paclobutrazol. Inflorescence diameter also was significantly decreased as paclobutrazol concentration increased. When the percent of height control from the untreated plants for potted sunflower was compared between coir and peat-based substrates, the percent height reduction was similar for peat- and coir-based substrates at 2 mg of paclobutrazol and height control was greater at 4 mg of paclobutrazol in coir-based substrates. The differences in plant growth observed in peat- and coir-based substrates can be attributed to differences in physical properties of these substrates. Dahlia plant height, diameter, and number of days until anthesis were not influenced by substrate type or percentage. However, dahlia growth was significantly reduced as paclobutrazol concentration increased. Coir-based substrates did not reduce the activity of paclobutrazol drenches compared to peat-based substrates, although to compensate for the greater amount of plant growth in coir-based substrates, paclobutrazol concentrations may need to be increased slightly to achieve a similar plant height as with peat-based substrates.

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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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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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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.