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N. Bernstein, A. Meiri, and M. Zilberstaine

In most crop species, growth of the shoot is more sensitive to salt stress than root growth. Avocado [Persea americana Mill.] is very sensitive to NaCl stress. Even low concentrations of salt (15 mm) inhibit tree growth and decrease productivity. Observations in experimental orchards have suggested that root growth in avocado might be more restricted by salinity than shoot growth. In the present study, we evaluated quantitatively the inhibitory effects of salt stress on growth of the avocado root in comparison to the shoot. Seedling plants of the West-Indian rootstock `Degania 117' were grown in complete nutrient solution containing 1, 5, 15, or 25 mm NaCl. The threshold NaCl concentration causing root and shoot growth reduction occurred between 5 and 15 mm. At all concentrations, root growth was much more sensitive to salinity than shoot growth. A concentration of 15 mm NaCl, which did not affect the rate of leaf emergence on the plant and decreased leaf biomass production only 10%, induced a 43% reduction in the rate of root elongation and decreased root volumetric growth rate by 33%. Under 25 mm NaCl, leaf biomass production, leaf initiation rate and leaf elongation rate were reduced 19.5%, 12%, and 5%, respectively, while root volumetric growth and root elongation rate were reduced 65% and 75%, respectively. This strong root growth inhibition is expected to influence the whole plant and therefore root growth under salinity should be considered as an important criterion for rootstocks' tolerance to NaCl.

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David M. Eissenstat, Denise Neilsen, Alan N. Lakso, David R. Smart, Taryn L. Bauerle, Louise H. Comas, and Gerry H. Neilsen

Growers plan most of their horticultural activities around certain shoot phenological stages, such as bloom, veraison, and harvest. Timing of root growth in relation to these stages of the shoot is of interest in fertilization scheduling and in understanding carbon allocation demands of the root system. With the recent use of minirhizotron root observation tubes, a much greater understanding of patterns of root growth has been made possible. In Fredonia, N.Y., 5 years of root investigation in `Concord' grape indicate considerable variability in timing of root flushes. Root flushes could occur any time between bloom and veraison, but were generally not observed after harvest. Wine grapes in the Napa Valley exhibited similar patterns. In apple, root flushes may occur at bloom, but often not after harvest. Consequently, we rarely observed the bimodal distribution of root flushes commonly depicted in textbooks for apple and grape. Our data suggest that general perceptions of the timing of root growth may be in error.

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A. Liptay and S. Nicholls

Tomato transplant (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) root growth in the field was directly related to N level supplied to the transplants as seedlings in the greenhouse. Root growth in the field increased exponentially when N was applied at 50 to 350 mg·liter-1. Transplant growth in multicelled trays increased in a sigmoidal fashion with N, up to 200 mg-liter'. The optimal N range for maximum survival, growth, and early yield in the field was from 100 to 200 mg-liter'. Strength of the seedling stem increased with N level curvilinearly. Seedling survival in the field was highly correlated with seedling stem strength.

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Amy N. Wright, Robert D. Wright, Jake F. Browder, and Brian E. Jackson

Posttransplant root growth is critical for landscape plant establishment. The Horhizotron provides a way to easily measure root growth in a wide range of rhizosphere conditions. Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia L.) plants were removed from their containers and planted in Horhizotrons in a greenhouse in Auburn, Ala., and outdoors in Blacksburg, Va. Each Horhizotron contained four glass quadrants extending away from the root ball, and each quadrant within a Horhizotron was filled with a different substrate (treatment): 1) 100% pine bark (Pinus taeda L., PB), 2) 100% soil, 3) a mixture of 50 PB: 50 soil (by volume), or 4) 100% soil along the bottom of the quadrant to a depth of 10 cm (4 inches) and 100% PB layered 10 cm (4 inches) deep on top of the soil. Root growth along the glass panes of each quadrant was measured biweekly in Auburn and weekly in Blacksburg. Roots were longer in all treatments containing pine bark than in 100% soil. When pine bark was layered on top of soil, roots grew into the pine bark but did not grow into the soil. Results suggest that amending soil backfill with pine bark can increase posttransplant root growth of container-grown mountain laurel.

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Thomas E. Marler and Ruben dela Cruz

Subsoil from an acid soil series was amended with CaSO4, MgO, or Ca(OH)2 to identify chemical factors that may enhance papaya (Carica papaya L.) root growth in these soils. Root length of `Red Lady' and `Waimanalo' seedlings at two stages of development was increased by the addition of each of the materials. The increase in root length was similar for CaSO4 or MgO amendments, and was greatest for Ca(OH)2 amendment. These amendments increased dry weight of new roots for `Red Lady' and increased root length per unit dry weight in one experiment for `Waimanalo'. The results indicate that both Ca deficiency and Al toxicity may be responsible for limiting papaya root growth in the subsoils of the acid soils of Guam. Correcting these chemical factors should improve rooting depth, thereby increasing the volume of soil from which resources are accessible and lessening the susceptibility to toppling during tropical cyclones.

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R.C. Beeson Jr.

Photinia plants produced in 11.4-liter polyethylene containers using a pine bark-based medium were transplanted into a well-drained sand and irrigated on alternate days. Polyethylene barriers were placed under half the root balls at transplanting to limit gravitational water loss. Plant water potential was measured diurnally between irrigations, and root growth was determined at 4-month intervals. Plants with barriers averaged higher cumulative daily water stress than control plants over the year, although predawn and minimum water potentials were similar. Growth index and trunk diameter were similar for the plants over barriers and controls, but the former were taller after 1 year. Plants with barriers had twice the horizontal root growth into the landscape site as control plants, resulting in twice the root mass in the landscape after 1 year.

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D.M. Glenn and W.V. Welker

We determined how differences in peach tree water use and shoot and root growth due to ground cover treatments are affected by tree response and soil conditions in the adjacent soil environment. Ground cover combinations of bare soil (BS), a killed K-31 tall fescue sod (KS), a living Poa trivialis sod (PT), and a living K-31 tall fescue sod (LS) were imposed on 50% of the soil surface in greenhouse studies. The ground cover on 50% of the soil surface influenced root and top growth of the peach trees [Prunus persica (L) Batsch], water use, and NO3-N levels in the opposing 50%, depending on the competitiveness of the cover crop (LS vs. PT and KS) and characteristics of the soil (BS vs. KS). Tree growth was allometrically related to root growth.

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Fahed A. Al-Mana, Hesham H. Abdel-Kader, and Ritchard J. Bisarove

Effects of mefluidide, paclobutrazol, and their mixture on shoot and root growth of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L. `Wendy') and creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra L. `Dawson') were studied under container culture. Mefluidide applied alone or in combination with paclobutrazol caused significant reduction in shoot and root growth of perennial ryegrass and red fescue. These treatments also enhanced turf green color of both species and increased their root–shoot percentage, with no major effect on turf quality. Paclobutrazol applied alone reduced shoot height of perennial ryegrass and red fescue by 10% and 32%, respectively, and caused little reduction in their shoot weights, with no effect on turf quality and color. Although paclobutrazol applied alone reduced the root length and percentage of root–shoot dry weight of perennial ryegrass, it did not affect red fescue.

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Amy N. Wright, Robert D. Wright, Brian E. Jackson, and Jake A. Browder

Rhizosphere pH preferences vary for species and can dramatically influence root growth rates. Research was conducted to determine the effect of root zone pH on the root growth of BuxusmicrophyllaSieb. & Zucc. `Green Beauty' (boxwood) and KalmialatifoliaL. `Olympic Wedding' (mountain laurel). Boxwood plants removed from 3.8-L containers and mountain laurel plants removed from 19-L containers were situated in the center of separate Horhizotrons™. The key design feature of the Horhizotron is four wedge-shaped quadrants (filled with substrate) that extend away from the root ball. Each quadrant is constructed from glass panes that allow the measurement of roots along the glass as they grow out from the root ball into the substrate. For this experiment, each quadrant surrounding a plant was filled with a pine bark substrate amended per m3 (yd3) with 0.9 kg Micromax (Scotts-Sierra, Marysville, Ohio) and 0, 1.2, 2.4, or 3.6 kg dolomitic limestone. All plants received 50 g of 15N–3.9P–9.8K Osmocote Plus (Scotts-Sierra), distributed evenly over the surface of the root ball and all quadrants. Plants were grown from May to Aug. 2003 in a greenhouse. Root lengths were measured about once per week throughout the experiment. Root length increased linearly over time for all species in all substrates. Rate of root growth of boxwood was highest in pine bark amended with 3.6 kg·m3 lime and lowest in unamended pine bark. Rate of root growth of mountain laurel was lowest in pine bark amended with 3.6 kg·m3 lime. Results support the preference of mountain laurel and boxwood for acidic and alkaline soil pH environments, respectively.

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J. Roger Harris, Richard Smith, and Jody Fanelli

Rapid posttransplant root growth is often a determining component of successful establishment. This study tested the effect of transplant timing on first-season root growth dynamics of bare-root Turkish hazelnut trees. Trees were either harvested and planted in the fall (F-F), harvested in the fall and planted in the spring after holding in refrigerated storage (F-S), or harvested and planted in the spring (S-S). All trees were transplanted into 51-L containers, adapted with root observation windows. Root growth began in F-F and F-S trees 1-2 weeks before spring budbreak, but was delayed in S-S trees until ≈3 weeks after budbreak. Budbreak was 6 days earlier for fall-harvested than for spring-harvested trees. No new roots were observed before spring. Root length accumulation against observation windows (RL) was delayed for S-S trees, but rate of increase was similar to F-F and F-S trees soon after growth began. Seasonal height, trunk diameter growth, and RL were similar among treatments. Surface area of two-dimensional pictures of entire rootballs was not correlated with seasonal RL.