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A. James Downer and Ben Faber

Eucalyptus mulch is considered by many horticulturists to be toxic to cultivated plants and weeds. The purpose of this study was to determine the weed suppressive effect of mulch made from various Eucalyptus species. Propagation flats were seeded with 100 seeds each of nine weed species and covered with peat-perlite media, or composted or fresh Eucalyptus globulus, E. citriodora, E. rudus, E. polyanthemos, E. sideroxylon, E. maculata or E. ficifolia. Fresh mulch suppressed germination of all species. Compost mulched weeds seeds germinated more and produced more dry weight than fresh mulch treatments. Barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crusgalli) died in all flats treated with fresh E. sideroxylon.

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A. James Downer, Matthew Shaw and Dennis Pittenser

Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia) and White oak (Q. lobata) are landscape trees which are prone to sudden branch drop. The purpose of this work was to determine the effect of various pruning techniques on growth reduction of one member of a pair of codominant stems. Forty trees of each species were selected with codominant stems. One stem of each pair was pruned by: 1. removing all apical meristems; 2. thinning 50% of branches; 3. heading back to a 10cm stub or, 4. unpruned. Calipers of thinned or headed branches were most retarded while tipped and unpruned branches grew most. Results suggest that pruning by thinning may be an alternative to removal of codominant branches when training young trees.

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A. James Downer, Ben Faber and Richard White

Three polymers (a polyacrylamide, polyacrylate and a propenoate-propenamide copolymer) and three organic amendments (peat moss, wood shavings, and composted yardwaste) were incorporated at five rates in a sandy soil to 15cm depth. Soil moisture content was determined by time domain reflectometry and gravimetrically. Only the highest polymer rates (2928kg/ha [60#/1000sq.ft.]) produced significant increases in soil moisture content and reductions of soil bulk density. Peat moss and yardwaste increased soil water content while shavings decreased water content. Turf quality scores were not affected by polymers but were initially reduced by yardwaste and shavings.

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Dennis R. Pittenger, Donald R. Hodel and A. James Downer

Successful reestablishment of transplanted palms [members of the Arecaceae (Palmae)] depends on rapid regeneration of roots, avoiding injury and desiccation of the trees during transit and handling, and maintaining sufficient soil moisture around the root balls after transplanting. Since landscape contractors and nurserymen spend considerable resources and labor transplanting specimen palms, understanding the seasonality of palm root growth, how palm roots respond when trees are dug, and the effects of canopy manipulation during transplanting will enable them to adopt effective and rational transplanting practices. This manuscript provides a review of research findings that can be applied to maximize reestablishment of transplanted specimen palms.

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Donald R. Hodel, A. James Downer and Dennis R. Pittenger

The optimum time to transplant palms (Arecaceae) is at the beginning of the warm season in temperate climates or at the beginning of the rainy season in tropical climates if irrigation is unavailable. Careful and proper handling, including covering and protecting the leaves and root ball during transplanting to protect them from injury and drying out and immediate planting upon arrival at the new site, helps to ensure rapid and successful establishment. A root ball extending out from the trunk for 30 cm appears to be adequate for most solitary-stemmed species. Larger root balls may be necessary for multistemmed or unusually tall or large specimens. Tying up leaves facilitates handling during digging, transport, and planting, but it is best to untie them after planting. In most instances leaf removal during transplanting does not appear to be advantageous, and it is probably best to remove leaves only when they die and turn brown. Too deep or too shallow planting lowers transplant success and stresses palms, making them susceptible to diseases, disorders, and pests. Amending the backfill when transplanting palms is not beneficial in most cases. However, mulch applied around the base of the palm after transplanting can enhance growth. Keeping the soil, backfill, and surrounding site soil evenly moist helps to ensure successful establishment.

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A. James Downer, Donald R. Hodel and Maren J. Mochizuki

Landscape palms (Arecaceae) are pruned (i.e., leaves removed) to avoid the hazard of falling fronds, to remove diseased or brown leaves, and, in some cases, to minimize growth by diminishing photosynthetic capacity. In studies at two California locations (Long Beach and Irvine), even complete leaf removal every 3 to 4 months for 18 to 21 months resulted in similar new leaf production by queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) or windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei) compared with no pruning or “10 and 2” pruning (industry standard pruning referring to the palm canopy visually beginning at the 10 o'clock position and ending at the 2 o'clock position on a clock face). By contrast, complete leaf removal reduced the number of new leaves of california fan palm (Washingtonia filifera), young mexican fan palm [MFP (Washingtonia robusta)], and taller, more mature MFP by 30%, 23%, and 21% compared with no pruning and “10 and 2” pruning. Leaf petiole length, leaf blade length, leaf blade width, and total palm height were also reduced 19% to 43% after complete leaf pruning compared with no and “10 and 2” pruning of young and more mature MFP. Although “10 and 2” pruning did not reduce growth of any palms, pruning all but the four newest leaves reduced leaf petiole length by 21% for the taller MFP. An important consideration for palm disease control is that tools used for pruning may harbor pathogen inoculum. Flaming pruning saws with a propane torch for 10 s reduced total fungal colonies and palm pathogenic fungi recovered on a selective medium by 95%. Increasing our understanding of palm response to leaf removal and how to minimize unintended consequences of pruning, such as the spread of disease, is an important part of improving palm maintenance.

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Ben A. Faber, A. James Downer, Dirk Holstege and Maren J. Mochizuki

Soil testing is an important component of a plant nutrient management program for farmers, home gardeners, and agricultural service personnel. Results from five commercially available colorimetric soil test kits were compared with standard laboratory analyses for pH, nitrate–nitrogen (NO3), phosphorus (P2O5), and potassium (K2O) content for Salinas clay loam soil with three cropping histories. The kits ranked in accuracy (frequency of match with analytical laboratory results) in the following sequence: La Motte Soil Test Kit, Rapitest, Quick Soiltest, Nitty-Gritty, and Soil Kit at 94%, 92%, 64%, 36%, and 33%. NO3 was most accurately determined by Rapitest and Quick Soiltest, P2O5 by Rapitest, and pH by La Motte Soil Test Kit. K2O was determined with equal accuracy by all but Soil Kit. The composition of the extractants may be an important factor affecting the accuracy of the test kit. For example, all kit extractants for K2O were composed of the same chemical and matched analytical laboratory results 82% of the time. By contrast, kits using an acid-based extractant for NO3 analysis more frequently matched the analytical laboratory results than kits using a zinc-based extractant (P ≤ 0.0001). La Motte Soil Test Kit had the largest range of pH measures, whereas Rapitest was relatively easy to use and interpret and is a practical choice for home gardeners or landscapers; both were more than 90% accurate for this soil type. Although an important limitation of commercial test kits is the approximate or categorical value of nutrient content (i.e., low, medium, high), accurate test kits can yield results quickly and economically for improved nutrient management.

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Donald R. Hodel, Peter J. Beaudoin, A. James Downer and Dennis R. Pittenger

In a study in southern California, five species of palms [king palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana), mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis), queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana), windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), california fan palm (Washingtonia filifera)] grown in 1-gal containers were planted in 12 × 12 × 12-inch holes in sandy loam (five species) and in clay loam (two species) with the backfill amended using a commercially available, composted, nitrogen-stabilized douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) shavings product incorporated at 0%, 25%, and 50% by volume. After 18 months, all palms were fully established. Crown volume, stem diameter, visual quality, quantity of new leaves produced, and percent total nitrogen, potassium, and magnesium in leaves did not differ significantly among the three treatments for all species or among treatments within a species. Thus, in this study there was no benefit from amending the backfill with this type of organic amendment when planting palms.

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Dennis R. Pittenger, A. James Downer, Donald R. Hodel and Maren Mochizuki

The responses of five landscape palm species [king palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana), mediterranean fan palm (Chamaerops humilis), queen palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana), chinese windmill palm (Trachycarpus fortunei), and california fan palm (Washingtonia filifera)] to three levels of irrigation [50%, 25%, and 0% (no irrigation) of reference evapotranspiration] were evaluated in a coastal mediterranean climate in Irvine, CA. Cumulative leaf production varied greatly among the species, but only king and chinese windmill palms produced more leaves with additional irrigation. All species maintained at least minimally acceptable visual quality at the no-irrigation treatment. Mediterranean fan and california fan palms expressed near optimum performance with no irrigation. Many established landscape palms can maintain at least minimally acceptable appearance for an extended period with little or no supplemental water in coastal mediterranean climates. However, when rainfall plus irrigation is less than 50% of reference evapotranspiration, sensitive landscape palms could be expected to appear less attractive and grow less. Responses of palm species in this study were similar to those of many other landscape tree and shrub species, but the water needs of landscape palms are considerably less than those of commercial date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), oil palm (Elaeis guineensis), or coconut palm (Cocos nucifera).

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A. James Downer, Janice Y. Uchida, Donald R. Hodel and Monica L. Elliott

Palms (Arecaceae) are affected by a variety of pathogens, most of which are fungi. We detail pathogens, host ranges, disease description, diagnosis and epidemiology as well as management for the significant, usually fatal, diseases affecting palms grown in the continental United States and Hawaii. These include fusarium wilt (Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. canariensis) of canary island date palm (Phoenix canariensis), diamond scale (Phaeochoropsis neowashingtoniae), ganoderma butt rot (Ganoderma zonatum), lethal yellowing (Candidatus Phytoplasma palmae subgroup 16SrIV-A), and diseases caused by Nalanthamala (Gliocladium), Phytophthora, and Thielaviopsis. We have omitted the leaf spot and minor blight diseases that often affect palms but pose no long-term consequence to their health and survival. Visual symptoms of lethal palm diseases are often similar, necessitating the isolation or detection of the pathogen with cultural, microscopic, or molecular methods. Management of palm diseases is varied, often requiring in-depth knowledge of the biology of the pathogen and its' infection process. Quarantine, eradication, sanitation, and proper species selection and culture are necessary practices to limit the spread of new and existing diseases of palms in landscapes and nurseries.