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  • Author or Editor: Jennifer Llewellyn x
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The recycling of irrigation water may cause the dispersal of plant pathogens. Irrigation water disinfected with 2.4 mg·L−1 of free chlorine for 5 min was overhead-applied to 17 container-grown nursery plants for 11 weeks in a commercial nursery to evaluate the response of container-grown nursery plants to chlorine. No visual symptoms of injury or growth reduction were observed on the evergreen shrubs (Juniperus horizontalis, Thuja occidentalis, Buxus microphylla, Picea glauca, Rhododendron catawbiense, Taxus media, and Chamaecyparis pisifera), but there were visual injuries and/or growth reduction on some of the deciduous shrubs (Salix integra, Hydrangea paniculata, Prunus ×cistena, Weigela florida, Physocarpus opulifolius). Symptoms of anthracnose were reduced on Cornus alba plants treated with chlorinated water. The chlorine treatment did not affect leaf chlorophyll content. The chlorine treatment killed all fungi and oomycetes in the irrigation water (DNA multiscan). Although there were visible leaf injuries and growth reduction on some of the deciduous plants, chlorine injury did not render them unsalable. Results suggest that irrigation water treated with 2.4 mg·L−1 free chlorine for 5 min will effectively control the dispersal of common plant pathogens without reducing the market value of container-grown plants.

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To minimize fertilizer and water use, and NO3-N runoff from container culture, growth, and nutrient status of forsythia (Forsythia ×intermedia Zab. ‘Spring Glory’) in No. 2 containers were compared in response to a controlled-release fertilizer (CRF; Nutricote 18-6-8 100-day at rates of 2, 4, and 6 kg·m−3) and placements (incorporation and topdress) under three irrigation strategies [drip-irrigated low (25% or less) leaching fraction (DrLoLF), hand-sprinkled low leaching fraction (HsLoLF), and hand-sprinkled high (50% or less) leaching fraction (HsHiLF)]. In a coexperiment under drip irrigation only, forsythia response was also examined under incorporation, topdress, and dibble fertilizer placements with the same CRF rates applied as single or split dose. Dibble fertilizer placement was superior to both incorporation and topdress in this order. Maximum growth of forsythia occurred at rates of 4.7 kg·m−3 with dibble. With incorporation and topdress, maximum growth was not achieved even at the 6 kg·m−3 maximum rate tested. Forsythia grew better with incorporated than with topdressed CRF with the DrLoLF treatment. The response was reverse with HsHiLF or showed no differences with HsLoLF. Under drip irrigation, greater concentrations of NO3-N generally leached from incorporation and dibbled containers in this order than from topdress. Less nitrate was leached from the topdressed containers because less was released from the CRF prills. At the 6 kg·m−3 CRF rate, total cumulative NO3-N leachings were 76, 85, and 22 kg·ha−1 (45 × 45-cm container spacing) for dibbling, incorporation, and topdress, respectively, under drip irrigation. Split application of CRF greatly reduced NO3-N in leachate, although plant growth also was reduced as a result of less availability of and uptake of nutrients under this strategy.

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Phytotoxic responses of five container-grown nursery species (Spiraea japonica ‘Goldmound’, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Grandiflora’, Weigela florida ‘Alexandra’, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’, and Salix integra ‘Hakura Nishiki’) to chlorinated irrigation water and critical free chlorine thresholds were evaluated. Plants were overhead-irrigated with water containing 0, 2.5, 5, 10, and 20 mg·L−1 of free chlorine for 6 weeks. The following measurements were used to assess the treatments: visual injury, growth, leaf chlorophyll content index, leaf chlorophyll fluorescence, leaf net CO2 exchange rate, and stomatal conductance. All species exhibited one or more signs of chlorine injury, including foliar necrotic mottling, foliar necrosis and chlorosis, decreased plant height, and increased premature abscission of foliage with species varying in sensitivity to free chlorine concentrations of irrigation water. The results indicated that the critical free chlorine threshold of S. japonica, H. paniculata, W. florida, and S. integra was 2.5 mg·L−1 and 5 mg·L−1 for P. opulifolius. Our results suggested that irrigation water containing free chlorine less than 2.5 mg·L−1 should not adversely affect the growth or appearance of ornamental woody shrubs.

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