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Michael A. Arnold, Garry V. McDonald, and Donita L. Bryan*

Most available information on the effects of planting depths for trees necdotal and/or testing of interactions with other important cultural practices implemented during landscape establishment is lacking. Green ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica H. Marshall, hypoxia tolerant species) and bougainvillea goldenraintree (Koelreuteria bipinnata Franchet, hypoxia intolerant species) were grown from seed in 2.3-L containers which were transplanted to 9.3-L black plastic and grown to a marketable size. Root-collars of the plants were maintained level with the surface of the substrate. Green ash (1 May 2001) and bougainvillea goldenraintree (27 Apr. 2001) were transplanted to clay soil field plots with the root-collars at a 7.6 cm above soil grade, at grade, or 7.6 cm below grade. Planting depths for each species were in factorial combinations with 0, 8, 15, or 23 cm of pine bark mulch covering 2.4 m2 of soil beneath each tree. After 2 years, survival of bougainvillea goldenraintrees planted below grade was one third that of those planted at or above grade. Planting below grade reduced survival of green ash by 25% after 3 years. Even the thinnest layer of mulch reduced bougainvillea goldenraintree height and trunk diameters. Height and trunk diameter responses interacted with planting depth for green ash. Mean soil moisture levels were slightly less negative with 8 cm of mulch (-5.8 kPa) compared to bare soil (-9.1 kPa), but increasing mulch thickness to 23 cm (-16.2 kPa) inhibited penetration of irrigation water/rainfall. This data suggests that planting with the root-collar at or above grade greatly enhances survival and growth potential of green ash and bougainvillea goldenraintree and that mulch application should be only at thin layers to inhibit weeds.

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Garry Vernon McDonald, Geoffrey C. Denny, Michael A. Arnold, Donita L. Bryan, and Larry Barnes

Seeds of Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich. were collected, germinated, and grown from native stands ranging from Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Twenty-two provenance selections were planted in Summer 2004 in College Station, TX, in 36 replicated single-plant replications per block for a total of 792 trees. Below-average midsummer temperatures and above-average number of rainfall events were conducive to the development of a leaf blight associated with the presence of Cercosporidium sequoiae (Ellis and Everh.) W.A. Baker and Partridge. A survey conducted in Oct. 2007 rated differential defoliation responses among provenances. Selections of Taxodium distichum var. mexicanum (Gordon) from Mexico and south Texas showed defoliation rates from 89% to 96%, whereas T. distichum var. distichum from central Texas had defoliation ratings from 79% to 99%. With the exception of one family collected from the Sabinal River in Texas, the central Texas selections had similar defoliation compared with those from south Texas. Selections of T. distichum var. distichum and one selection of T. distichum var. imbricarium (Nutt.) Croom from southeastern regions (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and east Texas) showed greater tolerance to the presence of the leaf blight with 52% to 80% mean defoliation. A few individuals within these families exhibited little or no symptoms of the leaf blight. In general, those selections from high-rainfall, high-humidity areas had less defoliation associated with the presence of the leaf blight fungus, although defoliation was variable among provenances within all geographical regions. These results suggest that tolerance to defoliation from C. sequoiae could be included in selection criteria when choosing possible germplasm releases from Taxodium distichum.

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Donita L. Bryan, Michael A. Arnold, R. Daniel Lineberger, and W. Todd Watson

Three spineless phenotypes of Acacia wrightii G. Bentham ex A. Gray were identified with aesthetic landscape potential. Experiments in seed, cutting, grafting, and tissue culture propagation were undertaken to perpetuate this desired spineless phenotype. Germination percentages for mechanically scarified seeds ranged from 33% to 94%, however yield of spineless seedlings was low (0% to 34%). Sulfuric acid scarification for 10, 20, 30, or 60 minutes hastened and unified germination compared to nontreated seeds by 7 to 8 days. Vegetative propagation was successful for softwood cuttings. Rooting measures increased with auxin (2:1 indole butyric acid to naphthalene acetic acid) concentrations from 0 to 15000 mg·L–1, with maximum rooting percentage (70%), root number (9.2), and root length (12.4 cm) per softwood cutting at 15000 mg·L–1 auxin 8 weeks after treatment. Rooting was not successful for semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings. Whip-and-tongue or T-bud grafting was not successful. Tissue culture of shoots from in vitro germinated seedlings indicated that shoot proliferation was greatest in Murashige and Skoog (MS) medium with 15 μm zeatin. The number of shoots that rooted in vitro increased with increasing concentrations of indole-3-butyric acid from 0 to 25 μm.

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Donita L. Bryan, W. Todd Watson, Leonardo Lombardini, John J. Sloan, Andrew D. Cartmill, Geoffrey C. Denny, and Michael A. Arnold

Tree transplanting practices influence plant survival, establishment, and subsequent landscape value. However, transplanting practices vary substantially within the horticultural industry. Of particular importance is the location of the root collar relative to soil grade at transplant. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of factorial combinations of planting depths, root collar at grade or 7.6 cm either above or below grade, and soil amendments on container-grown (11 L) Quercus virginiana Mill. Soil treatments included a tilled native soil (heavy clay loam, Zack Series, Zack-urban land complex, fine, montmorillonitic, thermic, udic paleustalfs), native soils amended with 7.6 cm of coarse blasting sand or peat that were then tilled to a depth of 23 cm, or raised beds containing 20 cm of sandy loam soil (Silawa fine sandy loam, siliceous, thermic, ultic haplustalfs). A significant (P ≤ 0.05) block by soil amendment interaction occurred for photosynthetic activity. Incorporation of peat significantly decreased the bulk density of the native soil. Planting depth had no significant effect on photosynthetic activity or stem xylem water potential at 3 months after transplant. Soil water potentials did not statistically differ among treatments.

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Donita L. Bryan, Michael A. Arnold, Astrid Volder, W. Todd Watson, Leonardo Lombardini, John J. Sloan, Luis A. Valdez-Aguilar, and Andrew D. Cartmill

Planting depth during container production may influence plant growth, establishment, and subsequent landscape value. A lack of knowledge about the effects of common transplanting practices may lead to suboptimal performance of planted landscape trees. Planting depth, i.e., location of the root collar relative to soil grade, is of particular concern for posttransplant tree growth both when transplanted to larger containers during production and after transplanting into the landscape. It is unknown whether negative effects of poor planting practices are compounded during the production phases and affect subsequent landscape establishment. This study investigated effects of planting depth during two successive phases of container production (10.8 L and 36.6 L) and eventual landscape establishment using lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia Jacq.). Tree growth was greater when planted at grade during the initial container (10.8 L) production phase and was reduced when planted 5 cm below grade. In the second container production phase (36.6 L), trees planted above grade had reduced growth compared with trees planted at grade or below grade. For landscape establishment, transplanting at grade to slightly below or above grade produced trees with greater height on average when compared with planting below grade or substantially above grade, whereas there was no effect on trunk diameter. Correlations between initial growth and final growth in the field suggested that substantial deviations of the original root to shoot transition from at-grade planting was more of a factor in initial establishment of lacebark elm than the up-canning practices associated with planting depth during container production.

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Geoffrey C. Denny, W. Todd Watson, Leonardo Lombardini, Wayne A. Mackay, Alma R. Solis-Perez, Donita L. Bryan, and Michael A. Arnold

Seedlings from 13 open-pollinated families of Taxodium distichum (L.) L.C. Richard from the gulf coast, central and south Texas, and Mexico were grown in a nursery in College Station, Texas. Forty seedlings per family were measured on three dates during the production cycle; 99, 109, and 133 days after sowing in Spring and Summer 2004. A two-step cluster analysis based on height and trunk diameter created 3 clusters of families. Cluster 1 had a mean height of 32 cm and a mean trunk diameter of 3.3 mm. Cluster 2 had a mean height of 33 cm and a mean trunk diameter of 3.4 mm. Cluster 3 had a mean height of 43 cm and a mean trunk diameter of 4.1 mm. Although clusters 1 and 2 are statistically significantly different, practically there is little difference between the two. The families from Mexico and central Texas were all in cluster 1 or 2 and the families collected from the gulf coast were all placed in cluster 3, with the exception of a single family from Biloxi, Miss., which was placed in cluster 1. Analysis of covariance revealed that family membership and days after sowing were both highly significant, as well as an interaction between family and days, for height. Families from Mexico and central and south Texas were 10 to 15 cm shorter than the families from the gulf coast, with the exception of the single family from Biloxi, Miss. Only days and the interaction between family and days were significant for trunk diameter. A pattern similar to the cluster analysis means was seen among the families for trunk diameter in the analysis of covariance.