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  • Author or Editor: C. Scagel x
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The ornamental flowering bulb Brodiaea laxa Benth. `Queen Fabiola' was grown with or without arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal (AMF) inoculum in pasteurized or nonpasteurized soil to determine if inoculation altered flower and corm production. The first growing cycle after planting, mycorrhizal inoculation decreased the days to anthesis and increased the number of flowers produced per inflorescence and flower longevity. It also affected the quality of the daughter corm, which influenced flowering the following year. Inoculated plants produced larger daughter corms and more cormels than uninoculated plants, and allocated more biomass to the corms than the cormels, which lowered the average weight of the cormels. Corms produced by inoculated plants also had higher concentration of nitrogen, potassium, zinc, and nonreducing sugars than those produced by uninoculated plants. The beneficial effects of AMF inoculation on flowering and corm/cormel production were generally increased by soil pasteurization. The results indicate that mycorrhizal inoculation may enhance commercial cut flower and corm production of this crop.

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Hardwood cuttings of kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi `Massachusetts') were inoculated with three different types of inoculum of mycorrhizal fungi to determine whether addition of mycorrhizal inoculum into the rooting substrate during cutting propagation increases rooting or root growth, or alters the time for rooting. Cuttings, treated or untreated with rooting hormone prior to sticking into the rooting substrate, were inoculated with either inoculum of an arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF), hyphal inoculum of an arbutoid mycorrhizal fungus (E), or inoculum consisting of colonized root fragments of kinnikinnick (R). Cuttings were placed under mist in a greenhouse with no bottom heat and harvested 35, 56, and 84 days after sticking. Using AMF inoculum in the rooting substrate did not enhance rooting of cuttings, while adding the R or E inoculum to the rooting substrate increased root initiation compared to non-inoculated cuttings. Cuttings inoculated with either the R or E inoculum had greater root initiation than non-inoculated cuttings 56 and 84 days after sticking. When treated with rooting hormone, cuttings inoculated with the E or R inoculum had longer roots and a greater root biomass than non-inoculated cuttings. Mycorrhizal colonization of roots was similar or greater when cuttings were inoculated with the E inoculum than with the R inoculum and application of rooting hormone generally increased root colonization. The use of inoculum composed of root fragments from kinnikinnick during cutting propagation does not appear to be more beneficial than use of hyphal inoculum from a known arbutoid mycorrhizal fungus.

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Many changes in metabolism are known to occur during adventitious root formation, including changes in amino acids, proteins, and carbohydrates. The influence of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) on adventitious rooting of rose was tested by inoculating four cultivars with Glomus intraradices Schenck & Smith. Changes in cutting composition were measured during the initial stages of adventitious root formation. Although there were cultivar-specific differences in response, AMF inoculation generally increased the biomass and number of adventitious roots on cuttings before root colonization was detected. Application of rooting hormone increased this effect. Inoculation with AMF washings also increased the root biomass and number, but only when cuttings were treated with hormone. Changes in cutting composition in response to AMF were detected at 7 to 14 days. Differences in protein concentrations in response to AMF or hormone application were similar, while differences in amino acid and reducing sugar concentrations were not. Concentrations of proteins and amino acids in cuttings at the beginning of the experiment were positively correlated with adventitious rooting, while concentrations of reducing sugars and nonreducing sugars were not correlated with rooting. These results suggests that nitrogen-containing compounds play an important role in adventitious rooting, and that changes in amino acids associated with AMF inoculation were potentially different than those that occurred when cuttings were treated with rooting hormone alone. Carbohydrate concentrations in cuttings were not strongly related to initiation of adventitious roots, but reducing sugar may play a role in regulating part of the response of cuttings to AMF. The response of rose cuttings prior to colonization by G. intraradices suggests that AMF-plant signaling events occurred prior to rooting.

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We assessed whether addition of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (AMF) inoculum or rhizosphere organisms from AMF inoculum alters aspects of flowering, corm production, or corm quality of harlequin flower (Sparaxis tricolor) for two growth cycles after inoculation. Using pasteurized and nonpasteurized growth medium, plants were inoculated with either inoculum of the AMF, Glomus intraradices, or washings of the inoculum containing rhizobacteria. Shoots of plants inoculated with AMF emerged 2 days earlier than shoots on noninoculated plants or plants inoculated with inoculum washings. Flowers on AMF-inoculated plants opened 7-8 days earlier and plants produced more flowers per plant and per inflorescence than noninoculated plants. AMF-inoculated plants partitioned a higher proportion of biomass to cormel production than to daughter corms and had higher concentration and contents of zinc, sulfur, nitrogen, amino acids, and carbohydrates than corms from noninoculated plants. The rhizosphere organisms associated with the AMF inoculum influenced several measures of plant development, growth, and corm production suggesting that there are organisms associated with our AMF inoculum that have beneficial effects on the growth and productivity of harlequin flower. While inoculation with AMF can promote shoot emergence, leaf production, and flower production of harlequin flower, inoculation also alters aspects of biomass partitioning and corm composition that play an important role in the production of this crop for corms and cormels.

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In a commercial nursery propagation system for hick's yew (Taxu×media `Hicksii'), we assessed whether or not the addition of inoculum of the vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhizal fungus (VAMF) Glomus intraradices into the rooting substrate during cutting propagation increased rooting, and how the quantity of inoculum influenced rooting. At 15 and 22 weeks (108 and 156 d) after cuttings were treated with root hormones and stuck, root initiation was higher on cuttings stuck in the rooting substrate containing VAMF inoculum. Increasing the quantity of inoculum in the rooting substrate increased root growth during the early stages of rooting. However the highest level of inoculum tested increased adventitious root initiation without increased root growth. Our results indicate that if VAMF inoculum is used during propagation from cuttings, there are optimal levels required to alter the initiation and growth of roots. For hick's yew, 1:100 or 2:100 (by volume) rates of G. intraradices in the rooting substrate increased the number of primary roots and growth of adventitious roots on cuttings above that achieved by using rooting hormone alone.

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Although northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) fields are often fertigated using soluble or liquid fertilizers, recommendations for applying most nutrients to the crop, including K, are based on the use of granular fertilizers. The objective of the present study was to compare fertigation to granular application of K in a mature planting of Duke, a popular early season blueberry cultivar that ripens from June through July in Oregon and Washington. The plants were grown on raised beds and irrigated using two lines of drip tubing per row. Treatments were initiated in 2016 and included no K fertilizer, a single application of granular potassium sulfate (K2SO4) in April, and fertigation once a week from April to August with soluble K2SO4 or liquid potassium thiosulfate (K2S2O3). Each treatment was applied for 2 years at a total rate of 70 kg·ha−1 K per year. The plants were also fertigated with 168 and 224 kg·ha−1 N in 2016 and 2017, respectively, and 30 kg·ha−1 P per year. Although extractable soil K was initially low at the site (144 mg·kg−1), the treatments had no effect on plant dry weight, yield, fruit quality, or the concentration of K in recently expanded leaves. However, during the first year of the study, K fertigation with K2SO4 or K2S2O3 reduced soil pH and increased the concentrations of K+, Ca2+, Mn2+, and SO4 2− in the soil solution under the drip emitters compared with no K or granular K2SO4, whereas granular application of K2SO4 resulted in higher concentrations of K+ between the emitters than any other treatment. Fertigation also affected the concentration of K in the fruit during the first year, although in this case, the concentration was lower with K fertigation than with no K or granular applications of K2SO4. During the second year, fertigation and granular K continued to result in higher concentrations of K+ in soil solution under and between the drip emitters, respectively, but at this point, extractable soil K was higher with each of the K fertilizers than with no K. Consequently, the concentration of K in leaves sampled from entire plants in late September that year was higher with any of the K fertilizers than with no K. Potassium fertilization also altered concentrations of other nutrients in the plants, including Mg, S, B, Cu, and Mn in the leaves; Ca, Mg, and B in the fruit; Mn and Zn in the woody canes; and P, Mg, S, and Mn in the crown. In many cases, concentrations of these nutrients were higher with one or more of the K fertilizers than with no K. Thus, regardless of the application method, K2SO4 and K2S2O3 appear to be good sources for increasing availability of K and other nutrients in the plants and soil. However, the amount of K in the plants was sufficient at the site, and therefore, none of the fertilizers provided a short-term benefit to growth or fruit production in the present study.

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Recent field observations by growers suggest that increased nitrogen (N) content in nursery trees resulting from foliar sprays with urea in the autumn increases tree susceptibility to infection by Phytophthora syringae. We investigated the effects of soil N availability and spraying pear (Pyrus communis ‘OHF 97’) trees with combinations of urea, chelated copper ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (CuEDTA), and phosphonate-containing fungicides on stem N concentration and susceptibility to infection by P. syringae. Increasing soil N availability increased susceptibility to P. syringae and increased N and amino acid concentration in stems. Spraying trees with urea in the autumn increased concentrations of N and amino acids in stems and had no significant effect on tree susceptibility when stems were inoculated with P. syringae before or after urea sprays. Spraying trees with CuEDTA decreased stem N concentrations and had no significant influence on tree susceptibility to P. syringae when stems were inoculated before or after CuEDTA sprays. These results suggest the relationship between tree susceptibility to P. syringae and tree N concentration may be specific to the form of N, delivery method, or timing of N applications. Trees had higher N concentrations in stems in November than in October and were more susceptible to P. syringae when inoculated in November, suggesting that environmental factors and increasing tree dormancy may be responsible for changes in susceptibility to the pathogen. Spraying trees with fungicides containing fosetyl-aluminum in October or November decreased tree susceptibility to P. syringae. The effects of fungicides containing fosetyl-aluminum on susceptibility were similar regardless of whether trees were sprayed or not with urea or CuEDTA, suggesting that these fungicides can be used in combination with urea or CuEDTA sprays for reducing disease severity caused by P. syringae without impacting growers' objective of increasing tree N content with urea or enhancing early defoliation with CuEDTA.

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Peat and coir are commonly used for substrate production of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium sp.). Perlite is also typically added to improve drainage and stability of the media. The purpose of the present study was to determine how various combinations of each affect growth and nutrition in highbush blueberry. Two cultivars, ‘Liberty’ northern highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum L.) and ‘Jewel’ southern highbush blueberry (interspecific hybrid of V. corymbosum L. and V. darrowii Camp.), were grown for 3 months in media containing 0%, 10%, 20%, or 30% perlite, by volume, and a 1:0, 2:1, 1:2, or 0:1 ratio of peat and coir. At 95 days after transplanting, total dry weight of the ‘Liberty’ plants was greatest in pure peat and progressively less as more coir or perlite was added to the media. Total dry weight of ‘Jewel’ also declined with increasing amounts of perlite but, in this case, was unaffected by the ratio of peat and coir. The response of the plants to perlite did not appear to be a function of pH or nutrition and was most likely related to the effects of perlite on media water relations. Response to peat and coir, on the other hand, may have been due to nutrition and salinity of the media. In both cultivars, a higher amount of peat in the media improved uptake of N, P, Mg, and S and decreased uptake of K, B, Zn, and Na. Coir, on the other hand, contained higher concentrations of Na and Cl than peat. These findings suggest that the use of high amounts of perlite in the media could be detrimental when growing highbush blueberry in substrate, and some cultivars may grow better in peat than in coir.

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Plant growth, water use, photosynthetic performance, and nitrogen (N) uptake of ‘Merritt’s Supreme’ hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) were investigated. Plants were fertilized with one of five N rates (0, 5, 10, 15, or 20 mm from NH4NO3), irrigated once or twice per day with the same total daily amount of water, and grown in either a paper biodegradable container or a traditional plastic container. Greater N rate generally increased plant growth index (PGI) in both plastic and biocontainers. Leaf and total plant dry weight (DW) increased with increasing N rate from 0 to 20 mm and stem and root DW were greatest when fertilized with 15 mm and 20 mm N. Plants fertilized with 20 mm N had the greatest leaf area and chlorophyll content in terms of SPAD reading. Container type had no influence on DW accumulation or leaf area. N concentrations (%) in leaves, roots, and the entire plant increased with increasing N rate. N concentrations in roots and in the entire plant were lower in biocontainers compared with plastic containers. Greater N rate generally increased daily water use (DWU), and biocontainers had greater DWU than plastic containers. The 20 mm N rate resulted in the highest net photosynthetic rate measured on 11 Sept. and 22 Sept. (65 and 76 days after treatment). Net photosynthetic rate (measured on 8 Oct.) and stomatal conductance (g S) (measured on 27 Aug., 22 Sept., and 8 Oct.) were lower in biocontainers compared with plastic containers. Two irrigations per day resulted in higher substrate moisture at 5-cm depth than one irrigation per day, and slightly increased PGI on 19 Aug. However, irrigation frequency did not affect photosynthetic rate, g S, or N uptake of hydrangea plants except in stems. Considering the increased water use of hydrangea plants when grown in the paper biocontainer and lower plant photosynthesis and N uptake, the tested paper biocontainer may not serve as a satisfactory sustainable alternative to traditional plastic containers.

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Container production has many advantages over traditional in-ground (field) production, including less damage occurring to the root system when transplanted, better establishment after transplanting, decreased labor and land acquisition costs for production, and increased product availability and longevity in the retail market. Growing plants in containers, however, alters root growth and function and can change root morphology. Numerous factors influence root growth in containers. Roots of container-grown plants are subjected to temperature and moisture extremes not normally found in field production. The effects of substrate aeration (Ea) as well as water holding capacity (Pv) interact with different pot characteristics, resulting in changes to root morphology. Successful plant establishment after transplanting is often linked to root health. This review focuses on the roles of substrate physical and chemical properties, container characteristics, and temperature in altering root growth in container-grown woody nursery crops. Root circling, planting too deeply or “too-deep syndrome” (TDS), and the use of composts as container substrates will also be examined.

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