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Joseph P. Albano

Common chelating agents used in horticultural fertilizers like ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA), and ethylenediaminedi(o-hydroxyphenylacetic) acid (EDDHA) are not readily biodegradable and may persist in the environment, maintaining the capacity to solubilize heavy metals. For this reason, biodegradable chelating agents like ethylenediaminedisuccinic acid (EDDS) are being evaluated for use in horticultural crop production. Therefore, the objectives of the study were to determine the effects of FeEDDS and EDDS on substrate pH and copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and zinc (Zn) solubility in peat-based substrate compared with various Fe and chelate-ligand sources. Extractions were performed using the 1:2 by volume substrate analysis method with an incubation period of 24 hours. The control was distilled deionized water extractions. Iron-source (FS) extractants consisted of 1 mg·L−1 Fe solutions derived from FeEDDS, FeEDTA, FeDTPA, FeEDDHA, and FeSO4. Iron-source extractant solution pH ranged from 7.1 (FeEDDS) to 5.4 (FeSO4). The extract pH for all Fe-source treatments was similar at pH 6.7, demonstrating the buffering capacity of the peat-based substrate. Iron recovery rates for FS treatments were determined after subtracting Fe that was freely extracted with distilled-deionized water: FeSO4 (13%), FeEDDHA (68%), FeEDDS (73%), FeEDTA (102%), and FeDTPA (121%). Iron-source treatments were not different for Mn, averaging 0.03 mg·L−1, and Cu (0.04 mg·L−1) and Zn (0.24 mg·L−1) were greatest in the FeEDDS treatment. Chelate-ligand (CL) extractants consisted of 5 mm solutions of EDDS, EDTA, and DTPA. Chelate-ligand extractant solution pH ranged from 9.7 (EDDS) to 2.3 (DTPA), and extract solution pH ranged from 7.2 (EDDS) to 4.7 (DTPA). Extractant solutions of EDDS and DTPA resulted in the lowest and highest levels of Cu (0.06 and 0.14 mg·L−1, respectively) and Fe (4.3 and 13.1 mg·L−1, respectively) in extract solutions. Overall, these results suggest that there are no negative implications for the use of FeEDDS with peat-based substrate in terms of horticultural crop production based on substrate Fe solubility, which was not different from FeEDTA.

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Joseph P. Albano

Aminopolycarboxylic acid (APCA) complexones, commonly referred to as ligands or chelating agents, like ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) and diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA), are commonly used in soluble fertilizers to supply copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), and/or zinc (Zn) to plants. Offsite runoff and contamination of surface waters with these chelating agents is of increasing concern as a result of their reported ability to remobilize heavy metals in sediments and their low susceptibility to biodegradation. The APCA ethylenediaminedisuccinic acid (EDDS) is a structural isomer of EDTA with the [S,S′] stereoisomer of the complexone, a compound naturally produced by actinomycetes, and is biodegradable. Information on the use of [S,S′]-EDDS as a chelating agent in formulating soluble fertilizers for the production of horticultural crops is limited. Therefore, a series of studies were conducted with the objectives of evaluating Fe[S,S′]-EDDS as an Fe-chelate fertilizer agent in the production of marigold and [S,S′]-EDDS (free ligand) and/or Fe[S,S′]-EDDS spectral properties and vulnerability to photodegrdation. Marigold grown in peat-based media were fertilized with complete nutrient solution containing 1 mg·L−1 Fe from FeEDDS, FeEDTA, or FeDTPA. There was no significant difference in foliar Fe or Mn between Fe-chelate treatments, averaging 140 μg·g−1 and 88 μg·g−1, respectively, nor were there significant differences in leaf dry weight (2.30 g) between Fe treatments. Spectra of [S,S′]-EDDS and Fe[S,S′]-EDDS produced from ferrous or ferric sources of Fe absorbed maximally in the 210 to 230 nm and 238 to 240-nm range, respectively. The [S,S′]-EDDS complexone used in the current study, a 30% assay solution, had chromaphoric properties, appearing light yellow in color. When exposed to light, Fe[S,S′]-EDDS quickly degraded at a rate at least twice that of FeEDTA.

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P. Chris Wilson and Joseph P. Albano

Nitrate-nitrogen (N) losses in surface drainage and runoff water from ornamental plant production areas can be considerable. In N-limited watersheds, discharge of N from production areas can have negative impacts on nontarget aquatic systems. This study monitored nitrate-N concentrations in production area drainage water originating from a foliage plant production area. Concentrations in drainage water were monitored during the transition from 100% reliance on fertigation using urea and nitrate-based soluble formulations (SF) to a nitrate-based controlled-release formulation (CRF). During the SF use period, nitrate-N concentrations ranged from 0.5 to 322.0 mg·L−1 with a median concentration of 31.2 mg·L−1. Conversely, nitrate-N concentrations during the controlled-release fertilization program ranged from 0 to 147.9 mg·L−1 with a median concentration of 0.9 mg·L−1. This project demonstrates that nitrate-N concentrations in drainage water during the CRF program were reduced by 94% to 97% at the 10th through 95th percentiles relative to the SF fertilization program. Nitrate-N concentrations in drainage water from foliage plant production areas can be reduced by using CRF fertilizer formulations relative to SF formulations/fertigation. Similar results should be expected for other similar containerized crops. Managers located within N-limited watersheds facing N water quality regulations should consider the use of CRF fertilizer formulations as a potential tool (in addition to appropriate application rates and irrigation management) for reducing production impacts on water quality.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Marigolds under iron deficiency stress exhibited characteristics associated with iron efficiency (e.g. induced reductase and rhizosphere acidification). Ferric reduction rates for roots of the minus Fe-DTPA treatment group was 0.97 μmol·g FW-1·h-1, 14 times greater than the 17.9 μM Fe-DTPA treatment group. Excised primary lateral roots from the minus Fe-DTPA and 17.9 μM Fe-DTPA treatment groups embedded in an Fe reductase activity gel visually confirmed an increased Fe reduction rate for the minus Fe-DTPA treatment group. The pH of the nutrient solution one week after initiation of treatments indicated that the minus Fe-DTPA treatment group was 1 pH unit lower than the 17.9 μM Fe-DTPA treatment group at 4.1 and 5.1, respectively.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Irradiation of, ferric ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (FeEDTA, iron chelate)-containing commercial fertilizer solutions by fluorescent plus incandescent lamps resulted in the loss of both FeEDTA and soluble iron (Fe), and the formation of a yellow-tan precipitate that was mostly composed of Fe. The ratio of soluble Fe:manganese (Mn) was altered due to FeEDTA photodegradation from 2:1 in the nonirradiated solutions to 1:4 in the irradiated solutions, respectively. Storing fertilizer solutions in containers that were impervious to light prevented FeEDTA photodegradation.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Irradiating a ferric ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (FeEDTA)-containing commercially available soluble fertilizer with ultraviolet (UV) and blue radiation from high intensity discharge (HID) lamps caused the photooxidation of the FeEDTA complex, resulting in the loss of 98% of soluble iron. The loss of soluble iron coincided with the development of a precipitate that was mostly composed of iron. The effects of using an irradiated FeEDTA-containing fertilizer solution on plant growth and nutrition under commercial conditions were studied. Application of the irradiated fertilizer solutions to greenhouse grown tomato plants (Lycopersicon esculentum) resulted in lower levels of iron (6%) and zinc (9%), and higher levels of manganese (8%) and copper (25%) in leaf tissue compared to control plants that received a nonirradiated fertilizer solution. Leaf macronutrient levels (phosphorous, potassium, calcium, and magnesium), leaf dry weight, leaf number, and plant height was not affected by application of the irradiated fertilizer solution.

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Mary C. Halbrooks and Joseph P. Albano

A specific physiological disorder of the recently matured leaves of Tagetes erecta has been demonstrated to be associated with high levels of iron and manganese in affected tissues. In previous work by the authors, the disorder was inducible and increased in severity with increasing levels of iron DTPA supplied to plants grown in peat-based media, but was much less severe when iron DTPA treatments were applied to plants grown hydroponically. At low concentrations of iron DTPA in solution, the occurrence of the disorder was more closely correlated with increased levels of manganese in leaf tissue than iron, Objectives of this study were to determine the effects of iron chelate (DTPA) on occurrence of the disorder and the availability of iron and manganese in the media in the absence of added manganese. Iron DTPA (1, 5, 15, and 20 ppm) was supplied to two cultivars of Tagetes erecta, `Voyager' and `First Lady', grown in a commercial peat-based media product under controlled environmental conditions. Concentrations of iron and manganese in leachate samples taken weekly, and in symptom and non-symptom tissue at harvest, and the progression of the symptoms in leaf tissue over time. will be discussed.

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Cindy L. McKenzie and Joseph P. Albano

Tomato irregular ripening (TIR) disorder is associated with sweetpotato whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) biotype B feeding and is characterized by incomplete ripening of longitudinal sections of fruit. Our objective was to determine the effect of time of sweetpotato whitefly infestation on plant nutrition and the development of TIR disorder. Healthy tomato plants (Solanum lycopersicum ‘Florida Lanai’) were introduced to sweetpotato whitefly infestations at different developmental stages of plant growth: 1) five to seven true leaves, 2) flower, 3) green fruit, and 4) breaking red fruit and were compared with noninfested control plants of the same age. Plants were fertilized every 7 to 14 days. Plant nutrition was monitored over time between the noninfested control and the longest infestation interval (five to seven true leaves) and between all infestation intervals at harvest. Sweetpotato whitefly (egg, nymph, and adult) and plant parameters (height, canopy diameter, number of leaves, flowers, and fruit per plant) were taken every 7 to 14 days after sweetpotato whitefly infestation. Almost all of the fruit (99%) produced by tomato plants infested with sweetpotato whitefly at stages 1 and 2 (78 and 56 days of sweetpotato whitefly exposure, respectively) developed TIR with fruit exhibiting internal and external symptoms. Plants infested at stage 3 (35 days of sweetpotato whitefly exposure) had 79% to 80% of the fruit develop TIR. Surprisingly, 58% of fruit from plants infested at stage 4 (14 days of sweetpotato whitefly exposure) also developed the disorder, indicating that tomatoes may need to be protected from sweetpotato whitefly until harvest to avoid this disorder. Seed germination was unaffected by TIR. Plants infested with sweetpotato whitefly had mean foliar levels of calcium, copper, iron, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc that were greater than in noninfested control plants at final harvest for both studies, regardless of time of infestation.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

We have shown previously that Fe-chelates incorporated into soluble fertilizers are vulnerable to photodegradation, and that such solutions can cause modifications in root reductase activity. The objective of this research was to determine the effects of Fe-chelate photodegradation under commercial production conditions. Marigolds were grown in a greenhouse and transplanted stepwise from #200 plug trays to 804 packs to 11.4-cm (4.5-inch) pots. Plants were harvested at the end of each stage, and treatments consisted of either irradiated (complete loss of soluble Fe) or non-irradiated fertilizer solutions ranging from 100-400 mg/L N (0.5–2 mg/L Fe). In the plug and pack stages, foliar Fe was significantly lower and Mn significantly higher in plants treated with the irradiated than nonirradiated fertilizer solutions, averaging 97 μg·g–1 and 115 μg·g–1 Fe, and 217 μg·g–1 and 176 μg·g–1 Mn, respectively. Fe(III)-DTPA reductase activity of roots of plugs treated with the irradiated fertilizer solution was 1.4-times greater than for roots treated with the non-irradiated fertilizer solution. Leaf dry weight in the plug and pack stages was not affected by treatment, and averaged 0.1 g and 1.2 g per plant, respectively.

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Joseph P. Albano and William B. Miller

Our objective was to assess the susceptibility of seven marigold varieties to Fe toxicity. Marigold varieties included were one hedge type, `Orange Jubilee'; five semi-dwarf types, `First Lady', `Gold Lady', `Orange Lady', `Marvel Gold', and `Yellow Galore'; and one dwarf type, `Discovery Orange'. Plants were grown in a greenhouse in a soilless medium and treatments consisted of 0.018 mm (low) and 0.36 mm (high) Fe-DTPA incorporated into a nutrient solution. Plant height was not affected by Fe treatment and ranged from 32 cm in `Orange Jubilee', 13 to 14 cm in the semi-dwarf varieties, and 7.0 cm in `Discovery Orange'. Leaf dry weight per plant was not affected by Fe treatment and ranged from 1.15 g in `Orange Jubilee', 0.68 to 0.95 g in the semi-dwarf varieties, and 0.56 g in `Discovery Orange'. Symptoms of Fe toxicity only developed in the high Fe treatment, and the percent leaf dry weight separated at harvest as symptomatic ranged from 97% in `Orange Jubilee', 55% to 85% in the semidwarf varieties, and 15% in `Discovery Orange'. The Fe concentration in leaves in the high Fe treatment was 5.7-times greater in `Orange Jubilee', 2 to 3-times greater in the semi-dwarf varieties, and 1.6-times greater in `Discovery Orange' than in the low Fe treatment. Based on these findings, `Orange Jubilee' and `Discovery Orange' were the most and least susceptible varieties, respectively, to Fe toxicity of the seven marigold varieties evaluated in this study.