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  • Author or Editor: Jerry Sartain x
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The effects of potassium (K) on stress tolerance of turfgrass have been documented for some environmental stresses but not for shade tolerance. ‘Captiva’ st. augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze] was evaluated in this research project to determine the effects of K and shade on turf performance. The study was conducted at the University of Florida Envirotron Turfgrass Research Laboratory in Gainesville, FL. Grasses were planted in 15.2-cm plastic pots in a climate-controlled glass house. Two consecutive studies were conducted, the first from 20 May to 24 Oct. 2009 and the second from 18 Jan. to 20 June 2010. Grasses were placed in either full sun or under shade structures covered with woven black shadecloth to provide 30%, 50%, or 70% shade. Potassium was applied as potassium chloride (KCl) (0–0–62) at four rates (0, 0.6, 1.2, or 2.4 g·m−2) every 30 days. In both trials, turf visual quality and color scores and dry weight (DW) of shoot and root were lowest at 70% shade and highest at 30% shade. Turf visual quality score increased as K rate increased. Leaf length increased and leaf width decreased as shade level increased. Leaf tissue total Kjedahl nitrogen (TKN) and K concentration increased as shade level increased from 0% to 70%. Thatch DW was greatest at 70% shade and lowest at 30% shade. In the first trial, turf treated with a higher K rate had longer leaf length and greater root DW. Results from this study showed that ‘Captiva’ could maintain acceptable visual quality at up to 50% shade and that K at 2.4 g·m−2 may help turfgrass grow in a shaded environment by improving turf visual quality score, root growth, and leaf tissue K concentration. Additional field plot research should be conducted to verify these responses.

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Determination of nutrient release duration from controlled-release fertilizers (CRFs) or soluble fertilizers encapsulated in polymer, resin, or sulfur covered fertilizer coated with a polymer differs among manufacturers, but may be determined as 75% to 80% nitrogen (N) release at a constant temperature (e.g., 20 to 25 °C). Increases or decreases in temperature compared with the manufacturer release determination temperature increase or decrease CRF N release; thus, coated fertilizer may release more rapidly than stated during the fall season when soil temperatures in seepage-irrigated tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) production can reach 40.1 °C. The objectives of this study were to evaluate N release duration of CRFs by measuring N release from CRFs incubated in pouches under polyethylene mulch-covered raised beds and to determine the CRF duration suitable for incorporation into a fall tomato fertility program. In 2011 and 2013, 12 and 14 CRFs from Agrium Advanced Technologies, Everris, Florikan, and Chisso-Asahi Fertilizer were sealed in fiberglass mesh pouches (12.7 × 14 cm) that were buried 10 cm below the bed surface in a tomato crop grown using commercial production practices. A data logger collected soil temperature 10 cm below the bed surface. Pouches were collected and N content was measured eight times through two fall seasons. A nonlinear regression model was fit to the data to determine N release rate. During the 2011 and 2013 seasons, minimum, average, and maximum soil temperatures were 21.2 and 19.2, 25.7 and 23.5, and 32.2 and 27.7 °C, respectively. Seasonal total CRF N release was between 77.6% and 93.8% during 2011 and 58.3% and 94.3% in 2013. In 2011, PCU90 and in 2013, PCU90 and PCNPK120 had the highest seasonal total percentage N release (PNR) and FL180 had the lowest in both years. A nonlinear regression fit N release from CRF with R 2 = 0.85 to 0.99 during 2011 and 0.49 to 0.99 during 2013. Nitrogen release from all CRFs was faster than the manufacturer’s stated release, probably as a result of high fall bed temperatures. A CRF or CRF mixture containing CRFs of 120- to 180-day release duration may be recommended, but the CRFs must release greater than 75% N during the season.

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Controlled-release fertilizers (CRFs), a vegetable production best management practice in Florida, are soluble fertilizers (SFs) coated with a polymer, resin, or a hybrid of polymer coating sulfur-coated urea. In 1994, a Controlled Release Fertilizer Taskforce developed an accelerated temperature-controlled incubation method (ATCIM) to predict column-incubated CRF nitrogen (N) release for regulatory purposes. Determination of CRF field N release uses a field method such as a pouch field study, which requires multiple samples and high costs for laboratory N analysis. If the ATCIM may be used to predict CRF N release in the field, then vegetables growers will have a faster and lower-cost method to determine N release compared with the pouch field method. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the correlation of the ATCIM and the pouch field method as a predictor of N release from CRFs in tomato production in Florida. In 2011 and 2013, 12 and 14 CRFs, respectively, were incubated in pouches placed in polyethylene mulched raised beds in Immokalee, FL, and extracted in the ATCIM during 2013. The ATCIM CRF results were used individually and grouped by release duration to create predicted N release curves in a two-step correlation process. The two-step processes predicted the percentage N release of individual CRF with R 2 of 0.95 to 0.99 and 0.61 to 0.99 and CRFs grouped by release duration with R 2 of –0.64 to 0.99 and –0.38 to 0.95 in 2011 and 2013, respectively. Modeling CRF N release grouped by release duration would not be recommended for CRF 180-d release (DR), because coating technologies behaviors differ in response to high fall soil temperature in polyethylene mulched beds. However, with further model calibration, grouping CRFs of 90 to 140 DR to simulate the CRF N release profile may allow the ATCIM to predict CRF N release without performing the pouch field method, which currently negated the usefulness of the ATCIM in a tomato production system.

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Citrus production in Florida is commonly affected by a high degree of spatial variability of soils. Therefore, this study developed rapid indicator crop bioassays to evaluate the relationships between indicator crops and citrus production at various soil depths. A citrus grove was divided into five productivity zones based on existing tree canopy volume using GIS software (“very poor,” “poor,” “medium,” “good,” and “very good”). Visual ratings of percentage cover were collected from each zone using a 1-m2 quadrant. Six random soil samples were collected between the tree rows from each productivity zone at four depths (0 to 15, 15 to 30, 30 to 45, and 45 to 60 cm). Greenhouse bioassay experiments used sorghum and radish crops grown in soil sampled from four depths. Overhead photographs of potted radish plants were captured periodically with a SLR digital camera to calculate leaf area by image processing. Shoot weights, shoot length, root weights, and leaf nutrient concentrations were measured at harvest (56 and 21 days after germination for sorghum and radish, respectively). Germination, shoot length, and shoot weight of sorghum and radish were significantly affected by the productivity zone. Sorghum (0 to 30 cm), radish (0 to 45 and 0 to 60 cm) and weed cover were strongly correlated (r ≈0.50 to 0.60***) with citrus yield and canopy volume at the lower two depths. The strong relationships (r > 0.50***) of sorghum and radish shoot weights and weed cover with soil properties at greater depths demonstrated the important role of cumulative root zone depth of 60 cm in differentiating citrus productivity. These results revealed that citrus production in poor areas of the grove was limited by the shallow depth of productive soil, and citrus productivity could be successfully mapped using indicator crop bioassays with soil samples taken at multiple depths.

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