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James A. Bryan and John R. Seiler

Foliar application of the synthetic growth regulator BA was evaluated for increasing the duration and extent of Fraser fir [Abies fraseri (Pursh.) Poir.] seedling growth. Aqueous solutions of 0, 222, or 444 μm BA (0, 50, or 100 ppm) were sprayed on the shoots of Fraser fir seedlings biweekly from 18 until 38 weeks after planting. Foliar sprays of 444 μm BA increased seedling height 19%, increased shoot weight 57%, reduced root weight 22%, and increased total weight 27%. Apical meristem activity was stimulated and the long periods of dormancy typical of Fraser fir seedlings were avoided. Chemical name used: 6-benzylaminopurine (BA).

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D. Joseph Eakes, Robert D. Wright and John R. Seiler

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William H. Rein, Robert D. Wright and John R. Seiler

Stem cuttings of Blue Rug juniper (Juniperus horizontalis Moench `Wiltonii'), `Hino-Crimson' azalea [Rhododendron (Lindl.) P1anch `Hino-Crimson'], and `Helleri' holly (Ilex crenata Thunb. `Helleri') were propagated in 1 peat: 1 perlite (v/v) at one of five moisture levels based on medium dry weight (125%, 250%, 375%, 500%, or 625%). Cutting survival and percentage of rooted cuttings were highest at the highest medium moisture level in all three species. Incidence of cutting basal rot was not directly related to medium moisture level, but more to the growth stage of the stock plant. Midday xylem water potential (ψ) of cuttings for each species was highest in the wettest propagation medium and lowest in the driest medium. During propagation, stem cutting ψ below - 2.0 MPa occurred even in the wettest medium tested, and frequently reached - 4.0 MPa in cuttings in the driest treatment (125%). Basal water uptake by cuttings was highest in the wettest medium moisture level. Water uptake was highest during the first few days after insertion, and thereafter decreased until root emergence.

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D. Joseph Eakes, Robert D. Wright and John R. Seiler

The influence of K nutrition (25, 75, 150, 300, 450, and 600 mg K/liter) and moisture stress conditioning (MSC) (exposing plants to four sublethal dry-down cycles) on leaf water relations, evapotranspiration, growth, and nutrient content was determined for salvia (Salvia splendens F. Sellow `Bonfire'). Potassium concentration and MSC had an interactive influence on osmotic potential at full (π100) and zero (π0) turgor. Differences in osmotic potential between MSC and non-MSC plants for π100 and π0 increased with increasing K concentration. Increasing K concentration and MSC resulted in active osmotic adjustment and, consequently, increased cellular turgor potentials. Foliar K content increased with increasing K concentration and MSC. High K concentrations and MSC both reduced plant evapotranspiration on a per-plant and per-unit-leaf-area basis. Greatest shoot dry weight occurred for plants grown with 300 mg K/liter and non-MSC. Total leaf area increased with increasing K concentration, but MSC had little effect.

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D. Joseph Eakes, Robert D. Wright and John R. Seiler

We determined the influence of moisture stress conditioning (MSC) (exposing plants to four nonlethal dry-down cycles) on gas exchange and water loss of Salvia splendens F. Sellow `Bonfire'. During day 1 following final irrigation, no differences in leaf water potentials (ψL) were observed due to MSC. However, MSC plants had lower midday net photosynthesis (Pn), transpiration (E), and leaf conductance (gL) than controls. Stomatal inhibition of photosynthesis (SI) of MSC plants was greater than that of controls. Further, the lack of differences in mesophyll resistance to CO2(rm due to MSC indicate gas exchange differences during day 1 were stomatal in nature. During day 2, MSC plants exhibited greater Pn, E, and gL, while SI and rm were greater for controls. MSC plants maintained positive Pn rates and .turgor and lower ψL than control plants during day 2. Higher water-use efficiency estimates were observed for MSC plants than for controls.

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Brian E. Jackson, Robert D. Wright and John R. Seiler

The objective of this study was to evaluate a pine tree substrate (PTS) for decomposition, changes in physical and chemical properties, and substrate carbon dioxide (CO2) efflux (microbial activity) during a long-term production cycle under outdoor nursery conditions. Substrates used in this study were PTS constructed using a 4.76-mm hammer mill screen and aged pine bark (PB). Plastic nursery containers were filled with each substrate and amended with either 4.2 or 8.4 kg·m−3 Osmocote Plus fertilizer and planted with Cotoneaster horizontalis or left fallow. Substrate solution chemical properties and nutrient concentrations were determined each month during the summers of 2006 and 2007 in addition to measuring substrate CO2 efflux (μmol CO2/m−2·s−1) as an assessment of microbial activity. Substrate breakdown (decomposition) was determined with particle size analysis and physical property determination on substrates at the conclusion of the study (70 weeks). Substrate solution pH was higher in PTS than in PB at both fertilizer rates in 2006, but pH levels decreased over time and were lower in PTS at both fertilizer rates in 2007. Substrate solution electrical conductivity levels, nitrate, phosphorus, and potassium concentrations were all generally higher in PB than in PTS at both fertilizer rates through both years. Pine tree substrate decomposition was higher when plants were present in the containers [evident by an increase in fine substrate particles (less than 0.5 mm) after 70 weeks], but breakdown was equal at both fertilizer rates. Shrinkage of PTS in the presence of plants was equal to the shrinkage observed in PB with plants, but shrinkage was higher in fallow PTS containers than PTS with plants. Substrate air apace (AS) was highest in PTS and container capacity (CC) was equal in PB and PTS at potting. Substrate AS decreased and CC increased in both substrates after 70 weeks but remained in acceptable ranges for container substrates. Substrate CO2 efflux rates were higher in PTS compared with PB at both fertilizer rates indicating higher microbial activity, thereby increasing the potential for nutrient immobilization and substrate breakdown. This work provides evidence that PTS decomposition is unaffected by fertilizer rate and that substrate shrinkage in containers with plants is similar to PB after two growing seasons (70 weeks), which addresses two major concerns about the use and performance of PTS for long-term nursery crop production. This work also shows that the higher microbial activity in PTS increases the potential of microbial nutrient immobilization, which is likely the reason for the lower substrate nutrient levels reported for PTS compared with PB over 70 weeks.