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G.H. Neilsen, J. Beulah, E.J. Hogue and R. Utkhede

The effects of various nonfumigant planting-hole treatments on growth and yield of apple (Malus domestics Borkh.) trees were measured during the first 3 years after planting. Eight orchards diagnosed as having a replant problem were monitored. First-year shoot growth, the number of blossoms in the second year (inmost orchards), and first-year trunk cross-sectional area increment (TCAI) in 50% of test orchards were increased by monoammonium phosphate (MAP) fertilizer+ peat, MAP+ mancozeb, or MAP + peat + a bacterial antagonist. By the end of year 3, TCAI generally was not affected by treatments, but treatments resulted in more blossoms by the third season in two of seven orchards that blossomed in the second season. Cumulative yield after 3 years increased significantly in only three orchards, with the best treatment, MAP+ peat, resulting in cost recovery in only one orchard. Inadequate K or Cu nutrition may have reduced growth in some of the orchards, which were characterized by a wide range in yields, independent of planting-hole treatment.

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G.H. Neilsen, E.J. Hogue, D. Neilsen and P. Bowen

Zinc supplied as a fulvic-based Zn compound was absorbed and retranslocated to unsprayed new growth as effectively as zinc sulphate in apple seedlings of low Zn status grown hydroponically in the greenhouse. Similarly, fulvic- and humic-based compounds were as effective as zinc sulphate at improving short-term growth and Zn uptake into new tissues in Zn-deficient apple seedlings, with the best growth occurring at spray concentrations of Zn at 500 mg·L-1. Under field conditions, Zn concentration of peeled and washed `Jonagold' apples at harvest was increased, without phytotoxicity, by two or four postbloom sprays of fulvic Zn. It is therefore possible to use this material safely as an effective Zn-source after bloom. However the mobility of the foliar-applied Zn is limited and any yield response by treated apple orchards of marginal Zn nutrition is unlikely to occur in the short term (within two growing seasons).

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G.H. Neilsen, E.J. Hogue and P. Parchomchuk

Application of high rates of P in the year of planting increased the number of flower clusters and fruit set the subsequent year on newly planted `Macspur McIntosh', `Summerland Red McIntosh', `Jonagold', and `Jonamac' apple (Malus domestica Borkh.) on dwarfing rootstock (M.26 and M.9) in three separate experiments. The effect occurred whether P was applied at rates of 36 or 48 g P/tree as granular monoammonium phosphate (11 N-23.6 P-0K) uniformly mixed with 100 or 180 liter of soil in the planting hole or at rates of 17.5 and 35 g P applied as soluble ammonium polyphosphate (10N-14.6P-0K) with the irrigation water. A leaf P concentration range between 0.20% and 0.36% was associated with the acceleration of fruiting.

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G.H. Neilsen, E.J. Hogue, T. Forge and D. Neilsen

`Spartan' apple (Malus×domestica Borkh.) trees on M.9 (T337) rootstock were planted in April 1994 at 1.25 m × 3.5 m spacing. Seven soil management treatments were applied within a 2-m-wide strip centered on the tree row and arranged in a randomized complete-block experimental design. Treatments included a weed-free strip (check) maintained with four annual applications of glyphosate; surface application of 45 t·ha-1 of Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) biosolids applied in 1994 and again in 1997; mulches of shredded office paper; alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) hay; black woven polypropylene; and shredded paper applied over 45 t·ha-1 GVRD-and Kelowna-biosolids applied in 1994 and 1997. All experimental trees were fertigated with phosphorus (P) in the first year and with nitrogen (N) annually. Cumulative yield for the first five harvests was higher for trees subjected to any soil management treatment relative to check trees. Maximum cumulative yield, exceeding check trees by 80%, was measured for trees grown with a shredded paper mulch with or without biosolids application. Trees from the three shredded paper treatments were the only ones significantly larger than check trees after six growing seasons. No increases in leaf nutrient concentration were consistently as sociated with improved tree performance. Notable effects included increased leaf P concentration associated with biosolids application, increased leaf K concentration after alfalfa mulch application and temporary increases in leaf Zn and Cu concentration associated with application of biosolids high in Zn and Cu. Use of both mulches and biosolids amendments benefits growth of trees in high density plantings despite daily drip irrigation and annual fertigation.

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D. Neilsen, P. Parchomchuk, G.H. Neilsen and E.J. Hogue

Direct application of fertilizers in irrigation water (fertigation) is an efficient method of supplying nutrients to fruit trees. Information is needed on the relationship between irrigation and N inputs on N availability in order to target nutrient applications to meet plant demands. Soil solution was collected from permanently installed suction lysimeters and NO3-N concentration was measured over the growing season in three experiments: 1) comparison of sprinkler irrigation + broadcast fertilizer with weekly fertigation + daily drip irrigation; 2) comparison of (NH4)2SO4 or Ca(NO3)2 as N sources under daily fertigation; and 3) comparisons of combinations of irrigation applied at either fixed rates or to meet evaporative demand and fertilizer (Ca(NO3)2) applied daily either at fixed rates or to maintain a given concentration in the fertigation solution in two soil types—loamy sand and silt loam. Trials are located in high density apple plantings of either `Gala' or `Empire' apple (Malus × domestica Borkh.) on M.9 rootstock. Nitrate-N concentration in the soil solution measured at 30 cm deep remained higher, over more of the growing season, for weekly fertigation + daily drip irrigation than for a single broadcast fertilizer application + sprinkler irrigation. With daily Ca(NO3)2 fertigation, soil solution NO3- N concentrations increased and decreased rapidly with the onset and end of fertigation respectively, remained relatively constant during the intervening period and were directly proportional to either the amount of N or the amount of irrigation water added. Daily fertigation with (NH4)2SO4 resulted in less control of NO3-N availability in the root-zone than with Ca(NO3)2, which may be problematic for precise timing of N nutrition. Except for the fixed irrigation rate applied to the loamy sand soil, soil solution NO3-N concentrations at 30 cm beneath the emitter were similar to average concentrations in the fertigating solution, for all methods of irrigation management in both soil types. Elevated NO3-N concentrations in soil solution below the root zone (75 cm deep) were detected in the loamy sand regardless of methods of N application and irrigation although there was some evidence of less leaching to this depth, under scheduled irrigation. In the silt loam soil, considerably lower concentrations of NO3-N were found beneath the root zone than at 30 cm deep for all of irrigation procedures and frequently there was insufficient water moving to 75 cm to provide sample. Tree growth in the loamy sand was less than in the silt loam soil; was limited by low application of irrigation water in 1992 and 1993; was unaffected by NO3-N concentration in the root zone, indicating that N inputs could be minimized by adding N to maintain concentrations of 75 μg·mL-1 or possibly less. Nitrogen inputs may also be reduced if fertilizer N and irrigation water could be retained within the root zone. For coarse-textured soils this will require precise additions of water and possibly soil amendments to improve water holding capacity.

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J.E. Brown, R.P. Yates, W.T. Hogue, C. Stevens and V.A. Khan

Yellow crookneck `Dixie' hybrid summer squash, Cucurbita pepo L. var. melopeop Alef., was evaluated at E.V. Smith Research Center, Shorter, Alabama. Summer squash was grown in single rows spaced 6 feet apart. Plants were seeded 18 inches apart within 20-foot row plots. Treatments were: 1) black plastic mulch (BPM), 2) yellow painted plastic mulch (YPM), 3) white plastic mulch (WPM), 4) bare soil (BS), 5) aluminum painted plastic mulch (APM) and 6) bare soil with Diazinon insecticide (BSI). Aphid traps caught more aphids in BS or BPM plots than those from APM or YPM plots. The onset of mosaic disease incidence of squash infected with the two viruses identified as zucchini yellow mosaic and cucumber mosaic was delayed by as much as three weeks when compared to BSI or BS. Summer squash planted in APM, WPM, YPM and BPM produced 96%, 98%, 75% and 21%, respectively, more total squash yield than that produced on bare soil (control). A higher percentage of green squash (virus infected) was produced from plants grown over BPM (72%), BSI (68%), BS (59%), YPM (57%) or WPM (57%) than from APM (39%)

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G.H. Neilsen, D. Neilsen, L.C. Herbert and E.J. Hogue

A split-plot experimental design was imposed in the year of planting and maintained for the first five growing seasons in a high density apple orchard on M.9 rootstock planted at 1.5 m (within row) × 4 m (between row) in a loamy sand soil susceptible to K deficiency when drip-irrigated. Four N-K fertigation treatments involving low (N1) and high (N2) rates of N combined with 0 (K0) or 15 g K/tree per year (K1) were applied in five replicated and randomized main plot units. Subplots consisted of three-tree plots of each of the apple cultivars Gala, Fuji, Fiesta and Spartan. Soil solution monitoring indicated the maintenance of distinctly different soil solution N and K concentrations in the respective N-K treatments during the study. The most important plant response was prevention of the development of K deficiency by the K1-fertigation treatment. Fertigation of 15 g K/tree generally increased leaf K, fruit K and Mg concentrations, fruit size and yield and fruit titratable acidity and red coloration at harvest for all cultivars. K fertigation also decreased leaf Mg and B concentrations, fruit N, P and Ca concentration and fruit firmness. In addition to leaf K concentrations <1%, K deficiency was associated with fruit K concentrations <100 mg/100 g fresh weight and soil solution K concentration <5 mg·L-1. Increasing the rate of fertigated N when growth was constrained by K deficiency increased leaf N and Mn and decreased leaf P and B, but had no effect on tree vigor or fruit production and quality.