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  • Author or Editor: Eddie B. Reed x
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The pawpaw [Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal] is a native American tree fruit with potential in edible landscapes and as a new fruit crop. A split-plot experiment (main plot: fertilizer level and subplot potting medium) was conducted in the greenhouse to identify the best growing medium for production of pawpaw seedlings. Seeds were sown in rootrainers containing one of the following media: 1) Promix (control); 2) 6 pine bark:1 mason sand (v/v); 3) 1 mason sand: 1 sphagnum peat; and 4) 4 pine bark:1 mason sand:1 sphagnum peat. When seedlings had at least two to three leaves, weekly fertigation of seedlings began, using 0, 250, or 500 ppm Peters 20N-20P-20K. Germination rate at 10 weeks was similar in all media, at about 80%. The plants were destructively harvested 10 weeks after imposition of fertigation treatments. Both potting media and fertigation influenced leaf number and height; however, there was a significant interaction between these main effects. Leaf number and height for plants in medium 3 were similar to those of the control (medium 1), at about 11 leaves and 18-cm plant height, respectively, at 500 ppm fertigation. Plants in media 2 and 4 were about half as tall and had about half as many leaves as control medium plants at 500 ppm fertigation. Plant leaf area and biomass data will be discussed.

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In an effort to determine the optimal light level for growing pawpaw [Asimina triloba (L.) Dunal] seedlings outside, seedlings were germinated in a greenhouse until the two- to three-leaf stage, at which time they were placed outside and shade treatments were imposed that reduced incident light intensity by 30%, 55%, 80%, and 95%. Control seedlings were left unshaded outside. A randomized block design was used, with 20 replicate seedlings in each experimental treatment per block. Plants were destructively harvested 11 weeks after the start of the experiment. After 11 weeks, the height and number of leaves per seedling were about 35% higher with light to moderate shading (30%, 55%, and 80%) than in control (unshaded) seedlings. Shoot and leaf dry weights of seedlings grown in 30%, 55%, and 80% shade were almost 2-fold greater than control plants. Root dry weight of seedlings in 30% and 55% shade was 2-fold higher than in control plants. Total plant biomass was greatest in the 30%, 55%, and 80% shade treatments, about 2-fold higher than control plants. Total leaf area per seedling increased significantly with up to 80% shading. Seedlings growing under 95% shading had fewer and smaller leaves and reduced biomass production compared to control plants. There was a trend for shaded plants to display a higher leaf chlorophyll content than control plants. Overall, the best seedling growth was achieved in the 30% and 55% shade treatments outdoors.

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Growth of pawpaw (Asimina triloba) seedlings in containers was examined in a factorial greenhouse experiment with four treatment levels of the slow-release fertilizer, Osmocote 14-14-14 (14N- 6.1P-11.6K), incorporated in Pro-Mix BX potting substrate at 0, 0.13, 0.26 or 0.81 kg·m-3 (0, 0.22, 0.44, or 1.37 lb/yard3) and three treatment levels of liquid-feed fertilizer of Peters 20-20-20 (20N-8.7P-16.6K) water-soluble fertilizer at 0, 250, or 500 mg·L-1 (ppm). When plants were harvested 18 weeks after sowing, seedlings subjected to the highest rate of Osmocote 14-14-14 at 0.81 kg·m-3 and liquid-feed at 500 mg·L-1 had the greatest total biomass, about 3-fold greater than nonfertilized plants. In a separate greenhouse experiment, growth of seedlings was examined with Osmocote 14-14-14 as the sole fertilizer source at six treatment levels of: 0, 0.81, 2.22, 4.43, 8.86, or 17.7 kg·m-3 (0, 1.37, 3.74, 7.47, 14.9, or 29.9 lb/yard3). Early seedling growth was hastened in the 2.22 kg·m-3 treatment rate, but delayed in 17.7 kg·m-3 treatment rate, when compared to nonfertilized control plants. When seedlings were harvested 17 weeks after sowing, plants had the greatest shoot, root, and total dry weight with Osmocote 14-14-14 at a rate of 2.22 kg·m-3. Root:shoot ratio decreased from about 1.5 without Osmocote 14-14-14, to about 0.65 at rates of 2.22 kg·m-3 or greater. Based on the results of this study, the slow-release fertilizer, Osmocote 14-14-14, can be used effectively as a sole fertilizer source when incorporated into potting substrate at a rate of 2.22 kg·m-3 or at a reduced rate of 0.81 kg·m-3 when supplemented with weekly applications of liquid-feed fertilizer at a rate of 500 mg·L-1 of Peters 20-20-20, to enhance production of container-grown pawpaw seedlings.

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