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C.D. Stanley and B.K. Harbaugh

Methodology was developed to estimate water requirements for production of 20 different potted ornamental plant species with practical application for water conservation in commercial operations. Water requirement prediction equations were generated using pan evaporation to estimate evaporative demand along with plant canopy height and width and flower height as input variables. Coefficients of determination (R2) for the prediction equations among plant species ranged from 0.51 to 0.91, with the lower values mostly associated with plant species with an open or less-uniform growth habit. Variation in water use among different cultivars of marigold also was associated with differences in cultivar growth habit. Estimation of the daily water requirements of potted Reiger begonia and Ficus benjamina using their developed prediction equations was compared to actual water use under common growing conditions to demonstrate the implementation of the method for plant species differing in growth habit.

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C. D. Stanley and G. A. Clark

The use of the recently developed fully-enclosed seepage subirrigation system for fresh market tomato production has demonstrated an improved ability to maintain a water table at a desired level (when compared to conventional ditch-conveyed seepage subirrigation) by means of more precisely controlled application and a greater uniformity throughout the field. This is achieved through use of microirrigation tubing rather than open ditches to convey water to raise the water table to desired levels. When manually controlled, the system has shown to save 30-40% in irrigation amounts primarily due to almost total elimination of surface runoff. An automated control system was designed and evaluated with respect to practicality, durability, and performance of various designs of level-sensing switches. The advantages and limitations of the designs in relation to water table control for tomato production will be presented.

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C.D. Stanley and G.A. Clark

The effect of water table level and fertilizer rates on bell pepper production grown with the fully enclosed subirrigation (FES) system was studied over three fall growing seasons (1992–94). The FES system uses buried microirrigation tubing in the field to convey water for maintaining a water table level and has shown to achieve application savings of 30% to 40% compared to the conventional subirrigation method that maintains a high water table using lateral field ditches. Controlled water table levels of 45, 60, and 75 cm below soil surface and fertilizer rates of 1194, 1716, and 2239 kg·ha–1 (18–0–21 expressed as N–P–K) were used as treatments replicated in time over 3 growing seasons. The 45-cm water table level and 2239 kg·ha–1 fertilizer rate are considered the conventional commercial practices. Results showed that comparable seasonal production levels were achieved among fertilizer rates and water table levels with no significant interactions between treatments. These data indicate that using a lower target water table level allows lower rates of fertilizer to be used because the susceptibility of the fertilizer to leaching caused by excessive rainfall is lessened due to increased soil water storage capacity.

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C.J. Stanley and D.S. Tustin

Many factors contribute to final apple fruit size. Researchers have studied these factors and have developed models, some very complex. Results from many New Zealand regions over several years suggest that early season temperature along with crop load are the key factors driving final fruit size. Accumulated growing degree days from full bloom to 50 days after full bloom (DAFB), accounted for 90% of the variance in fruit weight of `Royal Gala' apples at 50 DAFB under nonlimiting low-crop-load conditions. In turn, fruit weight at 50 DAFB accounted for 90% of the variance in final fruit size at harvest under the low-crop-load conditions. We hypothesise that a potential maximum fruit size is set by 50 DAFB, determined by total fruit cell number, resulting from a temperature-responsive cell division phase. Under conditions of no limitations after the cell division phase, we suggest that all cells would expand to their optimum size to provide the maximum fruit size achievable for that cell number. Factors which affect growth partitioning among fruits, e.g., higher crop loads, would reduce final fruit size, for any given cell number, when grown in the same environment. In Oct. 1999, four different crop loads were established at full bloom on `Royal Gala' trees (M9 rootstock) in four climatically different regions. In Hawkes Bay, similar crop loads were established at 50 DAFB on additional trees. Hourly temperatures were recorded over the season. Fruit size was measured at 50 DAFB and fruit will be harvested in Feb. 2000. These data should provide fresh insight and discussion into the respective roles of temperature and competition during the cell division fruit growth phase on apple fruit size.

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C.D. Stanley and B.K. Harbaugh

A study was conducted to determine the effect of water table depth on water use and tuber yields for subirrigated caladium (Caladium × hortulanum) production. A field-situated drainage lysimeter system was used to control water table depths at 30, 45 and 60 cm (11.8, 17.7, and 23.6 inches). Water use was estimated by accounting for water added or removed (after rain events) to maintain the desired water table depth treatments. In 1998, tuber weights, the number of Jumbo grade tubers, and the production index (tuber value index) of `White Christmas' were greater when plants were grown with the water table maintained at 30 or 45 cm compared to 60 cm. In 1999, tuber weights, the number of Mammoth grade tubers, and the production index, also were greater when plants were grown at water table depths of 30 or 45 cm compared to 60 cm. The average estimated daily water use was 6.6, 5.1, and 3.3 mm (0.26, 0.20, and 0.13 inch) for plants grown at water table depths of 30, 45, and 60 cm, respectively, indicating an inverse relationship with water table depth. While current water management practices in the caladium industry attempt to maintain a 60-cm water table, results from this study indicate that, for subirrigated caladium tuber production, the water table should be maintained in at 30 to 45 cm for maximum production on an organic soil.

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J.W. Prevatt, G.A. Clark, and C.D. Stanley

Three vegetable irrigation systems, semi-closed subirrigation (seepage), fully enclosed subirrigation (seepage), and drip irrigation, were evaluated for use on sandy soils with naturally high water tables to determine comparative irrigation costs for tomato production. Investment, fixed (ownership), and variable (operating) costs were estimated for each irrigation system. The investment costs of the drip irrigation system were significantly greater than those for the semi-closed and fully enclosed irrigation systems. The variable costs, however, for the semi-closed system were considerably less than those for the fully enclosed and drip irrigation systems. The semi-closed irrigation system, therefore, was determined to be the least-cost tomato irrigation system under present fuel cost and nonlimiting water supply conditions.

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A.L. Shober, C. Wiese, G.C. Denny, C.D. Stanley, and B.K. Harbaugh

Concerns over the environmental impact and economics of harvesting sphagnum and reed-sedge peat have increased the desire to identify acceptable peat substitutes for use in container substrates. This preliminary study evaluated the use of composted dairy manure solids as a substitute for sphagnum or reed-sedge peat in container substrates for production of woody ornamental shrubs and assessed potential leaching of nutrients. Walter's viburnum (Viburnum obovatum), sandankwa viburnum (Viburnum suspensum), and japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum) were grown in 3-gal plastic containers with seven substrates containing (by vol.) 60% pine bark, 10% sand, and 30% sphagnum peat (S), reed-sedge peat (R), and/or composted dairy manure solids (C). Substrate composition had no effect on plant quality ratings for any species, growth index (GI) of walter's viburnum, or shoot and root dry weight of walter's viburnum and japanese privet. However, the GI of japanese privet and sandankwa viburnum was the lowest when grown in substrates containing a high percentage of reed-sedge peat (0S:3R:0C). Substrate effects on average nitrate + nitrite nitrogen leachate losses were minimal over the 88-day leachate collection period. However, the substrate containing the highest proportions of composted dairy manure solids (0S:0R:3C) generally had the highest average ammonium nitrogen and dissolved reactive phosphorus losses compared with other substrates. All substrates tested as part of this study appeared to be commercially acceptable for production of container-grown woody ornamental shrub species based on growth and quality. However, average nutrient losses from containers differed depending on the peat or peat substitute used to formulate the substrates.

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C. D. Stanley, G. A. Clark, E. E. Albregts, and F. S Zazueta

Sixteen field-located drainage lysimeters (each 60 cm wide, 2.44 m long, 60 cm deep) designed specifically for determination of water requirements for fruiting strawberry production (season - Oct to April) were installed in 1986. Each lysimeter was equipped with individual micro-irrigation and drainage collection systems automated for minimal management input. Initially, computer control (using a low-cost microcomputer) was used to continuously check switching-tensiometers located in each lysimeter and apply irrigation water as needed, A drainage suction (-10 MPa) was applied continuously to simulate field drainage conditions. Manually-installed lysimeter covers were used to protect the plots from interference from rainfall when needed, Initial irrigation application treatments were set at four levels of soil moisture tension controlled by tensiometers and were measured using flow meters for each lysimeter. This paper will discuss problems that were experienced with the initial setup (difficulty in measuring actual application amounts, tensiometer and computer control, elimination of rainfall interference, uniformity of irrigation application, and salinity in the rooting zone) and the modifications (pressurized reservoir tanks, construction of motorized rain-out shelter, micro-irrigation emitters used, and fertilization program) which have been made to overcome them,

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Amy L. Shober, Christine Wiese, Geoffrey C. Denny, Craig D. Stanley, Brent K. Harbaugh, and Jianjun Chen

Recent concerns over the environmental impact of peat harvesting have led to restrictions on the production of peat in Florida and other areas. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the use of composted dairy manure solids as a substitute for sphagnum or reed-sedge peat in container substrates on the growth of Solenostemon scutellarioides L. Codd ‘Wizard Velvet’, Tagetes patula L. ‘Safari Queen’, and Begonia ×hybrida ‘Dragon Wing Red’ and to examine the nutrient content in leachate from pots. Plants were grown for 5 weeks in a greenhouse in 15-cm plastic pots with seven substrates containing various proportions of sphagnum peat (S) or reed-sedge peat (R) and composted dairy manure solids (C), each with 20% vermiculite and 20% perlite. Substrate composition had no effect on plant quality ratings, number of flowers, or root dry mass for any of the plant species evaluated. Substrate composition did not affect the growth index (GI) or shoot dry mass of S. scutellarioides ‘Wizard Velvet’ or the GI of T. patula ‘Safari Queen’. However, growth of B. ×hybrida ‘Dragon Wing Red’ (GI and shoot dry mass) and T. patula ‘Safari Queen’ (shoot dry mass only) was highest in the 3S:0R:0C substrate. The substrates containing sphagnum peat and/or composted dairy manure solids (3S:0R:0C, 2S:0R:1C and 1S:0R:2C) had the highest NH4-N losses through the first 7 d of production. The 0S:3R:0C substrate had the highest initial leachate NO3+NO2-N losses and this trend persisted throughout most of the production cycle. Significantly more dissolved reactive phosphorus was leached from substrate mixes containing composted dairy manure solids than mixes containing only sphagnum or reed-sedge peat materials through 19 d after planting. All substrates tested as part of this study appeared to be commercially acceptable for production of container-grown bedding plant species based on plant growth and quality. However, nutrient losses from the containers differed depending on the peat or peat substitute used to formulate the substrates.