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  • Author or Editor: Eugene K. Blythe x
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The pour-through method is a simple and useful technique for on-site monitoring of pH and electrical conductivity (EC) in container nurseries, and has also been used in numerous research studies focused on substrates, plant nutrition, and plant production. Linear models, including the special cases of analysis of variance and linear regression analysis, are often used for statistical analysis of extract data and are readily available as procedures in statistical software packages. Certain assumptions, including normality of the data values or model residuals, are required to develop valid statistical inferences using linear models. This study evaluated the normality of pH and EC variables using data obtained from 100 extract samples collected weekly over 12 weeks using the pour-through method from a uniform containerized substrate (25 pine bark : 18 peatmoss : 7 sand blend amended with calcium sulfate and top-dressed with Polyon 17N–2.1P–9.1K + micros, a 365-day controlled-release fertilizer, at 10 g/container) in 2.8-L containers. Graphical techniques (histograms and QQ plots) and formal goodness-of-fit tests (tests based on the empirical distribution function, moment tests, and the Shapiro-Wilk regression test) were used to demonstrate methods for assessing normality. The variables pH and EC both exhibited relatively normal distributions. For comparative purposes, the transformed variables ln(pH), 10–pH, and ln(EC) were also evaluated. The latter two variables exhibited significant departures from normality, whereas ln(pH) did not. Average weekly EC exhibited positive correlations with time-lagged, average weekly substrate temperature, suggesting that nutrient release from the controlled-release fertilizer could be more dependent on temperature in the second to fourth weeks preceding extraction than on temperature in the week immediately preceding extraction.

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Nursery growers develop container substrate blends based on factors such as cost, availability of substrate components, and the physical and chemical properties of the blends. Comparative examination of potential substrate blends typically involves comparison of measured values one variable at a time; however, multivariate methods are available that can allow simultaneous consideration of all variables. In this study, 127 container substrate blends were prepared, each blend containing two to four of 11 individual substrate components with at least one inorganic component (soil, sand, soil + sand, soil + perlite) and at least one organic component (coir, peatmoss, compost, pine bark, cedar bark, redwood shavings, fine-grade coconut husk chips, and medium-grade coconut husk chips). One blend containing only soil and perlite was an exception. Mean values for air space, container capacity, and bulk density were determined using five samples of each blend in #1 (2.84 L) containers. Among the 127 blends, air space ranged from 5.1% to 40.4% (by volume) and container capacity ranged from 24.8% to 59.4% (by volume). Bulk density among the blends ranged from 0.35 g·cm−3 to 1.00 g·cm−3 with bulk densities below and above ≈0.55 g·cm−3 represented almost exclusively by blends with and without perlite, respectively. Principal components analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis (Ward's method) were used to group the blends into eight groups based on the three physical property variables with each group distinguishable from all other groups based on simultaneous consideration of the three variables. In this study, we demonstrate that exploratory multivariate statistical techniques can be used to create groups of substrate blends, thus providing information to assist nursery growers in identifying and comparing substrate blends with similar or dissimilar physical properties among blends containing similar or different inorganic and organic components and proportions of those components.

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In the southern and eastern United States, azalea stems cut during the spring for propagation may be infested with Rhizoctonia spp. Multiple methods were evaluated in a series of laboratory experiments for the purpose of eliminating Rhizoctonia from stem cuttings of Rhododendron L. ‘Gumpo White’ [‘Gumpo White’ (Satsuki) azalea] to prevent spread of azalea web blight during the propagation phase of nursery production. Leafless stem sections were inoculated with an isolate of binucleate Rhizoctonia anastomosis group P (AG P). Disinfestants (sodium hypochlorite, hydrogen dioxide, and quaternary ammonium chloride) or fungicides (chlorothalonil + thiophanate-methyl and flutolanil) applied at several rates (below, at, and above label rates) did not eliminate Rhizoctonia AG P from stem sections. Recovery of Rhizoctonia AG P was not reduced by submersing stem pieces in 45 °C water, but was eliminated at water temperatures of 50 °C or greater. Mortality of Rhizoctonia infesting azalea stem pieces was best explained by a cubic regression model. Mortality increased with increasing time (0, 1.5, 3, 4.5, 6, 7.5, 9, 10.5, 12, 15, 18, and 21 min) in water at 50 and 55 °C and with increasing temperatures (52, 55, 58, 61, 64, 67, and 70 °C) when stem pieces were submerged for 30 and 60 s. The duration of hot water treatment at which 99% of stem pieces were predicted to be free of Rhizoctonia was 20 min 16 s at 50 °C and 5 min 19 s at 55 °C. The average water temperature at which 99% of the stem pieces were predicted to be free of Rhizoctonia was 60.2 and 56.9 °C when stem pieces were submerged for 30 and 60 s, respectively. Only minor leaf damage occurred on terminal, leafy stem cuttings when submerged in 50 °C water after 40 min. Severe leaf damage did occur if cuttings were submerged long enough in water of 55 °C or greater. Leaf damage was predicted to exceed a proportional leaf damage value of 0.25 (indicating severe damage) when leafy stem cuttings were submerged in 55 °C water for longer than 13 min 54 s or for 30 and 60 s with water temperature greater than 57.4 and greater than 56.8 °C, respectively. Of the methods tested, submersion in hot water has the greatest potential for eliminating Rhizoctonia AG P from azalea stem cuttings. Submerging stem pieces in 50 °C water for 21 min eliminated Rhizoctonia and provided the least risk for development of severe leaf damage.

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Auxin solutions prepared with sodium cellulose glycolate (SCG; a thickening agent, also known as sodium carboxymethylcellulose) and applied to stem cuttings using a basal quick-dip extend the duration of exposure of cuttings to the auxin and have previously been shown to increase root number and/or total root length on stem cuttings of certain taxa. In a series of three experiments, 3.75-cm stem sections (representing the bases of stem cuttings) of three ornamental plant taxa were dipped to a depth of 2.5 cm for 1 s in solutions prepared with selected rates of SCG using either deionized water or a 10% dilution of an alcohol-based rooting compound (Dip 'N Grow). Each stem section was weighed before and after being dipped in the solution. Regression equations were determined for each experiment and the rate of SCG providing the maximum ratio of SCG solution weight to stem piece weight was determined by setting the first derivative of the regression equation equal to zero. Maximum adhesion of solution was obtained using SCG at 13.35 to 13.71 g·L−1 with an average rate of 13.5 g·L−1.

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Submerging terminal leafy cuttings of Rhododendron L. ‘Gumpo White’ (‘Gumpo White’ azalea) in 50 °C water for 21 min was previously shown to eliminate binucleate Rhizoctonia species, the cause of azalea web blight, from plant tissues. Before considering commercial use of this practice, a better understanding of the rooting response and tissue sensitivity of evergreen azalea cultivars to 50 °C water was needed; therefore, the current study was conducted. Terminal cuttings of the azalea cultivars Conleb (Autumn Embers), Fashion, Formosa, Gumpo White, Hardy Gardenia, Hershey Red, Macrantha Pink, Midnight Flare, Red Ruffles, Renee Michelle, Roblel (Autumn Debutante), and Watchet were collected and submerged or not submerged in 50 °C water for 20 min before propagation in one experiment. All 12 cultivars tolerated 50 °C water for 20 min. Cuttings collected from the 12 cultivars were submerged in 50 °C water for 20, 40, 60, and 80 min in a second experiment. The cultivars varied in sensitivity when exposed to 50 °C water for 60 to 80 min resulting in differing responses in root development and final leaf count. In a third experiment, degrees of leaf damage caused by hot water submersion or by leaf removal were evaluated for the effect on root development and subsequent leaf count on rooted cuttings of ‘Gumpo White’ and ‘Roblel’. Induced incremental increases in leaf damage from hot water resulted in incremental reductions in the final leaf count and extent of root development for ‘Gumpo White’ and ‘Roblel’ while increasing percentage of leaf removal caused no reduction until 75% or greater leaf area was removed. Despite the risk imposed by submersing azalea cuttings in 50 °C water, all 12 azalea cultivars were tolerant of submersion durations long enough to eliminate binucleate Rhizoctonia species from stem and leaf tissue with only a low likelihood of sustaining detrimental damage.

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Stem cuttings of golden euonymus (Euonymus japonicus `Aureo-marginatus'), shore juniper (Juniperus conferta `Blue Pacific'), white indian hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica `Alba'), and `Red Cascade' miniature rose (Rosa `Red Cascade') were successfully rooted in plugs of a stabilized organic substrate that had been soaked in aqueous solutions of the potassium salt of indole-3-butyric acid (K-IBA) at 0 to 75 mg·L–1 before inserting the cuttings. Cuttings were rooted under intermittent mist in polyethylene-covered greenhouses with rooting periods appropriate for each species. Rooting percentages showed some increase with increasing auxin concentration with juniper cuttings, but were similar among treatments for the other three species. Number of roots per rooted cutting increased with increasing auxin concentration with cuttings of juniper, Indian hawthorn, and rose, and was greatest using around 60 mg·L-1 K-IBA for cuttings of juniper and Indian hawthorn and 30 to 45 mg·L-1 K-IBA for cuttings of rose.

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Release patterns of ammonium, nitrate, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese and zinc were measured during an eleven month period for four types of Controlled Release Fertilizers (CRF): Apex 17-5-11, Multicote 17-5-11, Nutricote 18-6-8 and Osmocote 24-4-9. Rate of fertilizer incorporation was 2.3 kg/m3 of nitrogen. Media consisted of 50% composted forest products, 35% ¼%-3/4% pine bark and 15% washed Builder's sand. The media was also amended with 0.60 kg/m3 of dolomite. Fertilizer was incorporated into the media with a cement mixer and placed into 2.6-L black polyethylene containers. Containers were placed on benches outside. Air and media temperature were monitored throughout the 11-month period. Containers were irrigated through a ring-dripper system. Leachate was collected twice weekly. Leachate electrical conductivity, pH, and nutrient content were measured weekly. Significant differences in the nutrient release patterns were observed between fertilizer types throughout much of the experimental period. Release rates were significantly greater during the first 20 weeks of the study compared to the last 20 weeks of the study, regardless of the fertilizer type.

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Stem cuttings of Hydrangea paniculata Sieb., Rosa L. `Red Cascade', Salvia leucantha Cav., and Solenostemon scutellarioides (L.) Codd `Roseo' were inserted into six rooting substrates: monolithic slag [(MgFe)2Al4Si5O18], sand, perlite, vermiculite, Fafard 3B, or fine pine bark. Rooting, initial shoot growth, and ease of dislodging substrate particles from root systems upon bare-rooting by shaking and washing cuttings rooted in monolithic slag were compared to cuttings rooted in the five other substrates. Rooting percentage, number of primary roots per rooted cutting, and total root length per rooted cutting for cuttings rooted in monolithic slag were generally similar to the five other substrates. Particles of monolithic slag were dislodged more readily from root systems by shaking than were the other substrates. Gentle washing removed almost all particles of monolithic slag and sand from the root systems of all taxa and removed almost all particles of pine bark from all taxa except S. scutellarioides `Roseo'. Monolithic slag had a bulk density similar to sand, retained less water than the other substrates, and was similar to perlite, vermiculite, and pine bark in particle size distribution. Our studies indicate that monolithic slag, where regionally available, could provide a viable material for producing bare-root cuttings.

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Mineral nutrient uptake of Encore® azalea ‘Chiffon’ (Rhododendron sp.) affected by nitrogen (N) rate, container type, and irrigation frequency was investigated. One-year-old azalea plants were planted in two types of 1-gallon containers: a black plastic container or a biodegradable container (also referred to as a biocontainer) made from recycled paper. Azalea plants were fertilized with 250 mL of N-free fertilizer twice weekly plus N rates of 0, 5, 10, 15, or 20 mm from ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3). All plants were irrigated daily with the same amount of water through one or two irrigations. Plants fertilized without N had the lowest concentrations of phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), and magnesium (Mg) averaged in the entire plant, which were at deficient levels for azalea species. High N rates of 15 or 20 mm resulted in the highest plant average concentrations of P, K, Ca, and Mg. Concentrations of micronutrients including iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), and boron (B) showed varied trends affected by different treatments. With high N rates of 15 and 20 mm, paper biocontainers increased uptake of both macro- and micronutrients in terms of total nutrient content (mg or μg per plant) compared with plastic containers. One irrigation per day increased root concentrations of Cu and Zn and root contents of Fe, Zn, Cu, and B, but decreased leaf K concentration compared with two irrigations per day. The beneficial effects of high N rates and biocontainers on mineral nutrient uptake of Encore® azalea ‘Chiffon’ likely indirectly occurred through increasing plant growth.

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The form of nitrogen (N) in fertilizer can influence plant growth, nutrient uptake, and physiological processes in the plant. However, few studies have been conducted on the effects of N form on tall bearded (TB) iris (Iris germanica L.). In this study, five NH4:NO3 ratios (0:100, 25:75, 50:50, 75:25, and 100:0) were applied to investigate the response of TB iris to different N form ratios. NH4:NO3 ratios in fertilizer did not affect the leaf, root, and rhizome dry weight, or total plant dry weight. Plant height and SPAD reading were affected by NH4:NO3 ratios in some months, but not over the whole growing season. Neither spring nor fall flowering was influenced by NH4:NO3 ratios. Across the whole growing season, leachate pH was increased by higher NH4:NO3 ratios. At the end of the growing season, concentrations of phosphorous (P), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), zinc (Zn), copper (Cu) in leaf; calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), Mn, boron (B) in root; and N, P, Mg, Fe, Mn, and Zn in rhizome tissues were affected by NH4:NO3 ratios. Greater NH4:NO3 ratios increased the uptake of Fe, Mn, and Zn. The net uptake of N was unaffected by NH4:NO3 ratios, which indicates TB iris may not have a preference for either ammonium or nitrate N.

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