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  • Author or Editor: James N. Smith x
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Vegetative 6-cm Euphorbia pulcherrima `Freedom' cuttings were placed in black 200-ml bottles containing humic acid solutions, nutrient solutions, or deionized water. Humic acid solutions were prepared using Enersol SC (American Colloid, Arlington Heights, Ill.). Concentrations of 500, 750, and 1000 mg/L humic acid were compared to solutions containing mineral element concentrations equivalent to those contained in humic acid solutions. After 4 weeks, 88%, 75%, and 88% of cuttings had rooted in the 500, 750, and 1000 mg/L humic acid solutions, respectively. Cuttings placed in nutrient controls or deionized water failed to form roots after 4 weeks. Average root fresh mass was 175, 80, and 72 mg for cuttings placed in 500, 750, and 1000 mg/L humic acid solution, respectively. Average number of roots formed per cutting ranged from 21 in the 500-mg/L solution to 6 in the 1000-mg/L solution. Average lengths ranged from 26 mm in the 500-mg/L to 12 in the 1000-mg/L solution. As humic acid concentration increased, average root fresh mass, average number of roots, and the length of the longest root significantly decreased.

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Fifteen-centimeter (1700-ml) containers were prepared for this experiment by sealing the drainage holes with insect screen (Hummert International, Earth City, Mo.) that had openings of 0.026 cm × 0.0805 cm. Containers were filled with substrates composed of either a 80% sphagnum peat or 80% coir. The remainder of the substrates was composed of perlite. Rooted cuttings of Euphorbia pulcherrima `Freedom' were planted into the containers and the containers were sealed with the insect screen and plants were allowed to grow and the substrate to age for 2 weeks. Fungus gnat (Bradysia spp.) larvae were collected using potato disks placed on the surface of infested substrates. After 3 days, larvae were collected from the disks, and 10 larvae were added per container. Uninoculated controls were included. After a period of 6 weeks, the adult population was sampled by placing 2.5 × 5.0-cm yellow sticky cards in each container. The larval population was sampled by placing a 4-cm-diameter potato disk on the substrate surface of each container. Fungus gnat larvae and adults were recovered from both sphagnum peat and coir-based substrates. Neither the number of adults nor the number of larvae recovered were significantly different between sphagnum peat and coir-based substrates.

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Coir and peat-based substrates were tested for their effectiveness in inhibiting the development of fungus gnat populations. The first experiment was conducted in July under relatively high temperatures (20 to 35 °C) and a second experiment was conducted in April under relatively low temperatures (20 °C). Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. ex Klotzch `Freedom' plants were planted into 18-cm-diameter containers filled with substrates containing 80% sphagnum peat or coir, with the remainder being perlite. Half of the containers of each substrate were inoculated with fungus gnat larvae and sealed with either cheesecloth or thrips screen for Expts. 1 and 2, respectively. After 6 and 8 weeks for Expts. 1 and 2, respectively, fungus gnat adult and larval populations were sampled. Adults and larvae were recovered from coir and peat-based substrates in both experiments. In Expt. 1, significantly more adults and larvae were recovered from coir-based than peat-based substrates. In Expt. 2, significantly more adults and larvae were recovered from the peat-based than coir-based substrates. In a third experiment, the peat- and coir-based substrates used in Expts. 1 and 2 were used as well as the Iowa State greenhouse substrate, which contained 40% Sphagnum peat, 40% perlite, and 20% loam (v/v). Helianthus annuus L. `Pacino' seeds were sown into 18-cm-diameter containers filled with the test substrates. Natural infestation was allowed to occur for 6 weeks, after which time potato disks were used to sample the fungus gnat larvae population. Larvae were recovered from all substrates, and there was no significant difference in the number of larvae collected from the three substrates. Based on the results of these experiments, we concluded that coir does not inhibit the development of fungus gnat larvae populations and, when presented with options, fungus gnats will infest coir-based substrates as readily as peat-based substrates.

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