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Bert T. Swanson and James B. Calkins

Five composted Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) (garbage) products and a composted manure were evaluated as container growing media components on eight woody and herbaceous plants. Plant growth response to the different composts and to the quality of compost used was species-specific. Media UM Manure 100 provided the greatest increase in plant height across all species during the first year. However, only one species, V. lentaga, actually ranked number one in UM Manure 100. J.h. `Blue Chip' and A. tuberosa both grew the tallest in Control I. The remaining five species grew tallest in five different media. Therefore, several amended media can provide increased plant height for specific species; however, the top three media for plant height across all species were: #1 UM Manure 100, #2 Prairieland 50, and #3 Pennington 50. Plant height was the lowest in Recomp 100 media. Pennington 50 provided the greatest increase in plant volume. Media producing the highest plant dry weights across all species were: #1 Prairieland 50, #2 Pennington 50 and #3 UM Manure 50. Plants grown in Recomp 100 had the lowest plant dry weight. Media physical properties such as media drainage and aeration were affected by amendment quality and quantity.

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James B. Calkins and Bert T. Swanson

Media fertility, nutrient availability, and subsequently plant nutrition are critical factors that can be modified by growers to produce quality container-grown plants. The trend in container fertility has been toward incorporation of slow-release fertilizers; however, fertility release curves are variable and fertilizer longevity for many fertilizers is limited. Seventeen slow-release fertilizers were compared for longevity and plant performance over a 2-year production cycle using deciduous and evergreen plant materials. Plant growth was quantified based on height, volume, branching, dry weight, and quality. Soil fertility levels based on leachates were followed. Nutrient release for the incorporated fertilizers evaluated was variable. Fertility treatment effects were species-dependent. Several incorporated, slow-release fertilizers, especially those high in nitrogen and having extended release curves, including Nutricote 20–7–10, Scotts Experimental 24–6–10 and 26–6–11, Scotts Prokote Plus 20–3–10, Sierra 17–6–10, Sierra High N 24–4–6, Sierra Experimental 24–4–8, Woodace 21–4–10, Woodace 23–7–12, and Woodace Briquettes 23–2–0, show promise for use in 2-year container production systems.

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Bert T. Swanson and James B. Calkins

Fourteen herbicides or herbicide combinations, a wood chip mulch, a chipped rubber tire mulch, and a newspaper mulch were evaluated for weed control efficacy and potential phytotoxicity using 12 species of herbaceous perennials under field-growing conditions. Nineteen herbicides or herbicide combinations were similarly evaluated under container-growing conditions using 11 species of herbaceous perennials. The effect of herbicide application time also was monitored through application of herbicides to dormant and actively growing plants. Herbicides and mulch treatments were compared to weeded and nonweeded controls. Herbicide phytotoxicity effects were dependent on the age and species of the herbaceous perennial and herbicide application timing. Herbicide injury was generally greater for newly established plants compared to established plants. Although injury was usually reduced when herbicides were applied to dormant plants, injury was sometimes greater when herbicides were applied in early spring compared to applications made in late spring after complete herbaceous perennial emergence. This effect resulted in injury to young shoots that had emerged before the earliest possible time that herbicides could be applied in early spring. A wood chip mulch provided the most effective weed control and highest quality plants under field growing conditions. Several of the herbicides evaluated demonstrated potential for weed control in both field and container herbaceous perennial production systems and landscape plantings.

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Bert T. Swanson, James B. Calkins, and Debra L. Newman

A manual for certified nursery and landscape professionals has been developed by the University of Minnesota Extension Service in conjunction with the Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association (MNLA). The purpose of the certification manual is to facilitate the improvement of basic skills and knowledge of nursery and landscape professionals, to further the education and training of competent nursery and landscape professionals, and to serve as a training and reference manual for most levels of nursery and landscape culture and management. The manual consists of thirty-four chapters covering all aspects of woody plant biology and culture: abiotic and biotic plant stress; landscape design; installation and maintenance; plant marketing, merchandising and sales; and laws, regulations and safety concerns for nursery, landscape and garden center personnel. A concise glossary, the American Standard For Nursery Stock, and an illustrated nursery catalog are also included in the manual. The manual is an important part of the MNLA Certification Program whose purpose is to improve the skills, knowledge and, expertise of nursery and landscape professionals. The Certification Program also strives for faster recognition and promotion of professionalism within the industry and to the general public.

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James B. Calkins, Bert T. Swanson, Daniel G. Krueger, and Karin R. Lundquist

A study was designed to ascertain the efficacy, water use efficiency, runoff potential, and cost effectiveness of four container irrigation systems: overhead sprinkler irrigation, in-line trickle irrigation, capillary mat with leaky hose, and sub-irrigation. Results were species dependent. Plant growth was best under capillary mat and trickle irrigation treatments, however, differences in plant growth and performance between irrigation treatments were minimal. Differences in water use, however, were quite significant. Overhead irrigation was inefficient regarding water use while capillary mat and trickle systems used much lower volumes of water. Conservative irrigation systems which maintain acceptable plant growth using less water and reduce runoff from container production areas can clearly benefit growers by reducing production and environmental costs.

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Bert T. Swanson, James B. Calkins, Daniel G. Krueger, and Theresa L. Stockdale

Media fertility is a critical factor in the successful production of container grown plants. Fertility treatments including fertigation and slow-release fertilizers (topdressed and incorporated) were compared. Fertility treatments were studied over a two-year period on a variety of deciduous and evergreen plant materials. Plant growth was quantified based on height, volume, branching, and quality. Soil fertility levels based on leachates were followed during the study. Nutrient release for incorporated fertilizers tested was variable although less so than when the same fertilizers were topdressed. Fertility treatment effects were species-dependent. Several incorporated, slow-release fertilizers, especially those high in nitrogen (Sierra 17-6-10, Sierra High N 24-4-6, Woodace Briquettes 23-2-0, Woodace 21-4-10), show promise for use in two-year container production systems.

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Laurie Robinson-Hipple, Faye Propsam, James B. Calkins, and Bert T. Swanson

Media fertility, plant nutrient availability, and subsequent plant nutrition are critical factors in the production of quality landscape plant materials. The method of mixing slow-release fertilizers into the media prior to planting is becoming more widespread. This study evaluates different controlled-release fertilizers, their rates of release, and three methods of irrigation regarding water-use efficiency and effects on plant growth performance. The combined effects of fertility and irrigation practices on nutrient loss to the environment are also being monitored. Although the ranking of fertility treatments, based on plant quality, varied among species, Woodace 21–4–10, Sierra 17–6–10, Sierra High N (24–4–6, Scotts 20–7–10, (270–26.67 lb/yd3), Woodace 20–5–10, Polyon 25–4–12, Nutricote 18–6–8 (270–30 lb/yd3), and Nutricote 18–6–8 (270–20 lb/yd3) produced high-quality plants for most of the species evaluated. The control and Nutri-Pak 18–6–12 treatments resulted in relatively poor-quality plants across the board. The effects of irrigation techniques on leachate analysis are being completed.