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  • Author or Editor: Richard C. Beeson Jr. x
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Petunia `Midnight' were grown in drainage lysimeters in an open-sided clear polyethylene covered shelter to evaluate growth responses in response to alternative irrigation strategies. Three irrigation methods were evaluated: tensiometer-controlled automatic irrigation system, regularly scheduled irrigation utilizing an automated controller, and human perception of plant irrigation need. Drainage lysimeters (250 L) were backfilled with native sand field soil to simulate landscape conditions and managed with Best Management Practices. Following establishment, lysimeters irrigated by an automated controller were irrigated 1.3 cm daily. Tensiometer-controlled lysimeters were irrigated when plant available water (2.5 kPa to 1.5 MPa) had declined to 70% or less, and were irrigated back to field capacity. Canopy growth indices and leaf gas exchange measurements were evaluated relative to irrigation strategies. Actual evapotranspiration was calculated for each replication. Daily irrigation resulted in significantly higher assimilation rates, transpiration rates, and final shoot dry weights than the other treatments tested. Assimilation rates and transpiration rates were significantly higher for tensiometer-controlled irrigation than the human judged treatment, but no differences were found in final shoot dry mass.

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Marketable size plants of sweet viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum Ker-Gawl.), waxleaf ligustrum (Ligustrum japonicum Thunb.), and azalea (Rhododendron spp. L. `Southern Charm') grown in 11.4-L containers were irrigated with overhead impact sprinklers at container spacings ranging from 0 to 51 cm apart. Water reaching the substrate surface was quantified and the percentage of that applied calculated as percent capture (% capture). Percent capture is defined as the percentage of water falling above the plant within a projected vertical cylinder of a container that reaches the substrate surface. For all species, % capture increased linearly with the decline in adjacent canopy interaction, which results from canopies extending beyond the diameter of a container. Increases in total leaf area or leaf area outside the cylinder of a container, in conjunction with increasing distance between containers, were significantly (P < 0.05) correlated with increases in % capture for ligustrum and viburnum. Increases in % capture partially compensated for decreases in percentage of production area occupied by viburnum containers as distances between containers increased, but not for the other two species. Under commercial conditions, optimal irrigation efficiency would be achieved when plants are grown at the minimum spacing required for commercial quality. This spacing should not extend beyond the point where canopies become isolated.

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Previous research indicated that bedding plants can be maintained in landscape soils allowed to dry to substantially less than field capacity before irrigation; however, canopy size and aesthetic quality were compromised. Continuing this research, ‘Yalaha’ coleus (Solenostemon scutellarioides) were grown in drainage lysimeters in an open-sided clear polyethylene-covered shelter and a companion uncovered field plot to assess growth characteristics and landscape quality when irrigated at various managed allowable deficits. Using tensiometers, plants were irrigated back to field capacity when plant-available water within a soil was depleted to 70% or 50%. Deficits were evaluated against a control treatment of 0.5 inch daily irrigation. Total irrigation volume applied was significantly greater for the control treatments than deficit irrigation treatments. The net result was 78% and 90% average reductions in total volume applied to lysimeter and field-grown coleus respectively. On average, height was 20% and 15% greater for well-watered controls grown in lysimeters and field plots respectively than plants grown in deficit irrigations. Canopy size of nondeficit controls was 26% and 72% greater on average than deficit treatments in lysimeter and field plots respectively. However, shoot and root dry weights, total biomass, shoot-to-root ratios, and landscape quality were similar among treatments for both locations.

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Isolation of plant roots from soil or substrate for biomass measurement is time-consuming and can be a limiting factor influencing experimental designs, especially with mature woody plants. An electric-powered root separator was developed that sped sample preparation for root dry mass determination with a capacity of 40 L of container substrate or 32 kg of sandy soil. No water was required for machine operation and an estimated fourfold reduction in total processing time was achieved. Extent of root recovery was quantified by processing five woody plant species grown in two different container substrates and in soil, resulting in a minimum yield of 98%.

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An experimental system that allows imposition of precise irrigation treatments with easy and quick observations of unrestricted root growth of woody plants was developed. The system mimics natural deep soil percolation and facilitates rapid assessment of large root populations. It was designed to be relatively inexpensive to build so that treatments could be efficiently replicated. Designs for this star-shaped rhizotron were developed and evaluated with the goals of: 1) optimizing volume and shape for minimal physical restriction and use with mature woody plants; 2) developing a drainage system comparable to natural deep soils; and 3) facilitating ease, accuracy, and duration of data acquisition. The final design allows efficient root observation, uses a wick-type drainage system to provide a near-uniform profile of soil moisture, and is easily manageable for precise long-term data acquisition. This rhizotron has eight independent viewing/sampling windows and holds 0.16 m3 of soil. An associated lightweight and compact camera positioning frame was developed that facilitates acquisition of digital photographs of soil profiles for time-series assessment of morphological and architectural parameters.

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Abstract

Needle starch metabolism was studied during graft development of Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens Englemann ‘Hoopsi’) scions on Norway spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst] rootstocks. Starch accumulated during the initial stages of union formation, but the rate of accumulation slowed over time. Peak starch content in developing greenhouse grafts was ≈30% and, in lath house grafts, ≈50% of that in 3-year-old grafts forced in the greenhouse. Prior to budbreak, starch content declined rapidly, stabilizing at pre-grafting levels during shoot elongation. Grafts with misaligned unions accumulated starch during the first week, but the starch content then declined. Preventing photosynthesis in scions during union formation prevented starch accumulation, but did not affect graft success or subsequent scion growth. We concluded that neither starch accumulation nor current photosynthesis in the scion were required during union development.

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Abstract

The study evaluated the roles of storage carbohydrates and neutral lipids in the success of Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens Englemann ‘Hoopsi’) grafts. These scions do not require photosynthesis nor receive photosynthates from the rootstock during union development. Carbohydrate and neutral lipid contents, along with respiration and scion water relations, were measured during union development. Stored carbon compounds were sufficient to supply the needs of the scion during the 9 weeks of union development. Estimates of carbohydrate use indicated that decreases in sugar content (bark and needle) were insufficient to account for more than 25% of the estimated respiration. The results indicate that the quantity of carbon storage compounds is not a factor in graft success. We propose that neutral lipids may be the major carbon reserve of the scion during graft formation.

Open Access

Although effects of irrigation frequency and volumes on overall plant establishment and growth have been reported, previous research has not examined how intermittent exposure to substrate water limitation affects partitioning of growth between root tips and buds and how this influences episodic growth patterns. The research presented here examines these effects on Ligustrum japonicum during the establishment period. Plants were exposed to two irrigation treatments: short wetting and drying cycles (SC, 2 days) and long wetting and drying cycles (LC, 7 days). Intermittent water limitations (LC) resulted in new shoot dry mass reductions of ≈28% compared with well-irrigated counterparts, particularly diminishing leaf growth. Water limitation effects on root-to-shoot ratio were dependent on plant growth stage. LC increased root-to-shoot ratios only when plants were at shoot flush, resulting in poor correlations (r = 0.53) between this ratio and differential percent volumetric water content, which was directly influenced by irrigation frequency. Patterns of shoot and root growth varied considerably between these clonal plants, which may be an important consideration on analyses of populations of woody plants. Large periods of episodic growth were not observed for most of the experimental period, but only after plant establishment. Root growth was similar in both treatments and there was no clear arresting of root growth during the experimental period. SC plants started bud expansion earlier than LC and had more shoot flushes and cumulative shoot growing points. A 7-day irrigation cycle was sufficient to establish two-year-old L. japonicum plants; however, shoot growth was less pronounced than root growth compared with plants irrigated on a 2-day cycle.

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During Fall 2003, a study was conducted to determine the effect of soil amendments on growth and response of Pentas lanceolata `New Look Red' in the landscape. Pentas were grown in 250L drainage lysimeters in an open-sided clear polyethylene covered shelter filled with local top soil (Apopka fine sand). The treatments used were non-amended top soil (control) and soil amended with either compost (5% by volume) or clay (5% by volume) in the top 15 cm. Best Management Practices were followed. Irrigation frequency and rate were regulated using a tensiometer-controlled automatic irrigation system. When plant available water in each soil type had declined to 70% or less, the plants were irrigated back to field capacity. Data were recorded on initial and final growth indices, shoot dry weight, and root dry weight. Final growth indices between control and soil amended with compost were not different; however, growth in the clay-based soil was significantly less than the compost-based soil type. The mean shoot dry weight (77.2 g) produced from plants in compost amended soil type was significantly higher than either control (57.45 g) or clay amended (54.92 g) soil types. No significant differences were found for either initial growth indices or root dry weight among the three treatments.

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Root ball slicing is often recommended for root-bound woody ornamentals to promote new root development during establishment in the landscape. It is a common practice among gardeners, but not necessarily landscapers, to disrupt root-bound annuals during transplant. However, little if any evidence exists for such practices. Therefore, this study evaluated the effect of root ball condition of annual bedding plants on landscape establishment and growth. Begoniasemperflorens were transplanted from 0.72-L (#1) containers into field plots in an open-sided clear polyethylene covered shelter and managed with Best Management Practices. Three root ball conditions were evaluated: non root-bound (6-week-old plants), root-bound (10-week-old plants), and root-bound with the bottom 1 cm of the root ball removed. Shoot and root dry masses and growth indices were collected weekly for 12 weeks and evaluated relative to root ball condition by linear regression analysis. Nonroot-bound plants had significantly greater biomass, growth indices, height, and root dry weights than the other treatments tested. No significant differences were found between root-bound and manipulated root-bound plants for any parameter examined. The data indicate that the practice of disrupting root-bound plants has no benefit on establishment or growth of annual bedding plants in the landscape.

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