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Don Merhaut and Julie Newman

Four types of media [coir, 1 coir: 1 peat (by volume), peat, and sandy loam soil] were evaluated for their effects on plant growth and nitrate (NO 3) leaching in the production of oriental lilies (Lilium L.) `Starfighter' and `Casa Blanca'. Twenty-five bulbs were planted in perforated plastic crates and placed on the ground in temperature-controlled greenhouses. The potential for NO 3 leaching was determined by placing an ion-exchange resin (IER) bag under each crate at the beginning of the study. After plant harvest (14 to 16 weeks), resin bags were collected and analyzed for NO 3 content. Plant tissues were dried, ground, and analyzed for N content. Results indicated that the use of coir and peat did not significantly influence plant growth (shoot dry weight) relative to the use of sandy loam soil; however, substrate type influenced the amount of NO 3 leached through the media and N accumulation in the shoots for `Starfighter', but not `Casa Blanca'.

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Donald J. Merhaut and Julie P. Newman

Lilies are produced throughout the year in coastal areas of California.

Cultural practices involve daily applications of water and fertilizer, using both controlled release fertilizers (CRF) and liquid fertilizers (LF). However, many production facilities are in proximity to coastal wetlands and are therefore at greater risk of causing nitrogen pollution via runoff and leaching. Due to federal and state regulations, nurseries must present a plan of best management practices (BMPs) to mitigate nutrient runoff and leaching and begin implementing these practices in the next 2 years. In the following studies, we determined the potential for nitrate leaching from four different types of substrates (coir, coir: peat, peat, and native soil). There were four replications of each treatment, with a replication consisting of one crate planted with 25 bulbs. Two cultivars were used in two separate experiments, `Star Fighter' and `Casa Blanca'. Nitrate leaching was determined by placing an ion-exchange resin bag under each crate at the beginning of the study. After plant harvest (14–16 weeks), resin bags were collected and analyzed for nitrate content. Plant tissues were dried and ground and analyzed for nitrogen content. Based on the results of these studies, it appears that the use of coir, peat, and soil may not influence plant growth significantly. Substrate type may mitigate the amount of nitrate leaching through the media. However, the cultivar type may also influence the degree of nitrate mitigation, since leaching results varied between the two cultivars.

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Julie P. Newman, J. Heinrich Lieth, and Ben Faher

An irrigation system for monitoring and controlling soil moisture tension in the root zones of potted plants using computer and solid-state tensiometer technologies was evaluated in a commercial greenhouse on 'V-14 Glory' poinsettias over a 10 week period. Replicated benches with separate drip circuits controlled by the computer maintained the soil moisture tension of the potted poinsettia plants between 1 kPa and 5 kPa. The amount of water used by each bench and the amount leached was compared to benches with separate drip circuits that were manually operated by the grower according to standard commercial practice. There was a 65% savings in the total amount of water used for the computer-controlled system and an average weekly reduction of 98.6% in leachate. The differences were significant and there was no measurable reduction in plant quality, even though soil analyses showed slightly elevated EC levels.

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Julie P. Newman, Michael S. Reid, and Linda Dodge

Commercial formulations of silver thiosulfate (STS) were evaluated for their efficacy in promoting postharvest longevity of gypsophila. Argylene, Chrysal AVB, Chrysal OVB, Oasis Dry Flower Conditioner, Rogard RS, and Silflor were compared to the anionic STS complex and to Physan plus sucrose. Flowers were pulse treated, then placed overnight at 2° C in Physan plus sucrose. Flowers treated with Rogard RS, Chrysal OVB, and Physan were held continuously in the solution. Overnight treatments of STS were compared to short pulses at higher concentrations. To simulate the effect of shipment, treated flowers were packed in boxes, then held either for 48 hours at room temperature (12-18° C) or for 60 hours in a range of ethylene concentrations. Individual stems were then placed in Physan plus sucrose. The number of open flowers, buds, and dead flowers was determined on each stem at various intervals. All products effectively extended the display life of gypsophila except Rogard RS and Chrysal OVB. Although overnight treatments with STS formulations were not as effective as pulse treatments, their convenience could warrant commercial use.

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Heather S. Costa, Julie Newman, and Karen L. Robb

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Donald J. Merhaut*, Joseph Albano, Eugene K. Blythe, and Julie Newman

Release patterns of ammonium, nitrate, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese and zinc were measured during an eleven month period for four types of Controlled Release Fertilizers (CRF): Apex 17-5-11, Multicote 17-5-11, Nutricote 18-6-8 and Osmocote 24-4-9. Rate of fertilizer incorporation was 2.3 kg/m3 of nitrogen. Media consisted of 50% composted forest products, 35% ¼%-3/4% pine bark and 15% washed Builder's sand. The media was also amended with 0.60 kg/m3 of dolomite. Fertilizer was incorporated into the media with a cement mixer and placed into 2.6-L black polyethylene containers. Containers were placed on benches outside. Air and media temperature were monitored throughout the 11-month period. Containers were irrigated through a ring-dripper system. Leachate was collected twice weekly. Leachate electrical conductivity, pH, and nutrient content were measured weekly. Significant differences in the nutrient release patterns were observed between fertilizer types throughout much of the experimental period. Release rates were significantly greater during the first 20 weeks of the study compared to the last 20 weeks of the study, regardless of the fertilizer type.

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Julie P. Newman, Linda L. Dodge, and Michael S. Reid

Commercial floral products with claimed anti-ethylene effects were evaluated for their efficacy in promoting postharvest longevity of gypsophila (`Perfecta', `Gilboa', and `Golan' baby's breath, Gypsophila paniculata L.). These products were applied according to label directions and compared to a laboratory preparation of silver thiosulfate (STS) prepared as a short pulse treatment and as an overnight treatment; they were also compared to the new anti-ethylene gas, 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP). After these pretreatments, the flowers were exposed to ambient air or to 0.7 ppm ethylene gas for 36 hours; other flowers received a simulated shipping treatment. Products containing adequate concentrations of silver consistently extended the display life of gypsophila. Products with low concentrations of silver (<10 ppm) or containing aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG) offered no more protection than treatments without anti-ethylene compounds. Overnight treatments with STS were as effective as short pulse treatments. Although 1-MCP pretreatment helped prevent the effects of ethylene on flowers that were open at the time of pretreatment, it provided no protection for buds that opened subsequently. There were no marked differences in ethylene sensitivity among three gypsophila cultivars.

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Julie Newman, Kristine Gilbert, Ben Faber, Donald Merhaut, Laosheng Wu, Jay Gan, and Richard Evans

Nursery growers must implement “Best Management Practices” (BMPs) to mitigate runoff and leaching of pollutants. However, there is little data on the effectiveness of BMPs, and further research is needed. Growers require training to minimize runoff and capital to comply with evolving regulations. We collected irrigation efficiency data at 26 nursery sites using catch cans. Uniformity value was calculated as: DU = 100 × (Average of the “Low Quarter”/Average of All Measurements). Results showed that one-third of the nurseries had irrigation uniformities below 67%, and only one nursery exceeded 82%. Continuous flow monitoring at 10-minute intervals was conducted at three nursery sites to determine daily and monthly variation. One hundred samples of the runoff were taken four times at each nursery and analyzed for nitrate, chloride, and sulfate. We developed a 29-page checklist of BMPs to reduce runoff, which we used to survey 53 growers in Ventura County. After completing the survey, 20 growers applied for funds from a 1.2 million dollar cost-share program that we initiated. This program provides funds to implement improved technologies to reduce runoff and/or conserve water; funds were awarded to 18 nurseries. We are collecting monitoring data from each cooperating nursery implementing improvements. These data measure the number of BMPs used by growers, provide a current “snapshot” of the industry, and document the effectiveness of future BMP implementation. We offer on-farm consulting, and conducted eight water quality/irrigation educational programs—four in Spanish. We elevated grower awareness concerning regulations and options for reducing runoff, and the data will be useful in evaluating future improvements.

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Julie P. Newman, Joseph P. Albano, Donald J. Merhaut, and Eugene K. Blythe

Release characteristics of four different polymer-coated fertilizers (Multicote, Nutricote, Osmocote, and Polyon) were studied over a 47-week period in a simulated outdoor, containerized plant production system. The 2.4-L containers, filled with high-fertility, neutral-pH substrate, were placed on benches outdoors to simulate the environmental conditions often used for sun-tolerant, woody perennials grown in the southwestern United States. Container leachates were collected weekly and monitored for electrical conductivity, pH, and concentrations of NH4 +N, NO3 N, total P, and total K. Concentrations of most nutrients in leachates were relatively high, but fluctuated frequently during the first third of the study period, and then gradually decreased and stabilized during the last 27 weeks. Osmocote often resulted in greater NH4 + and total inorganic N concentrations in leachates than other fertilizers during weeks 1 through 5, whereas Multicote produced higher NH4 + in leachates than most of the other fertilizer types during weeks 9 through 12. Overall, total P concentrations were greater with Multicote during a third of the experimental period, especially when compared with Osmocote and Polyon. Differences were also observed among treatments for leachate concentrations of K, with Polyon and Multicote fertilizers producing greater K concentrations in leachates compared with Osmocote during several weeks throughout the experimental period. Leachate concentrations of NO3 N and P from all fertilizer types were usually high, especially from week 5 through week 30.

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Joseph P. Albano, Donald J. Merhaut, Eugene K. Blythe, and Julie P. Newman

Nutrient release characteristics of four different controlled-release fertilizers (Osmocote, Nutricote, Polyon, and Multicote) were monitored during an 11-month period in a simulated outdoor nursery production facility. Although no plants were used in the experiment, fertilization rates, irrigation regimes, and cultural practices simulated those typically used to produce fast-growing, high-nutrient-requiring containerized woody ornamentals. Fertilizer prill release characteristics were monitored through analyses of leachates, which were collected weekly. Concentrations of Mg, Mn, Zn, Cu, and Mo were relatively high during the first 5 to 10 weeks of the experiment, then declined and usually stabilized during the remainder of the study. However, Mn and Zn displayed erratic increases in concentrations several times throughout the study. Calcium concentrations did not increase until the fifth week, rapidly peaked to about 300 mg·L–1, and then decreased and leveled off to ≈80 to 100 mg·L–1 during the remainder of the study. Several significant differences were observed between treatments. The Osmocote treatment had significantly greater Ca and Mg concentrations in the leachate than the other fertilizer types during the last 6 weeks of the study, whereas the Nutricote treatment often had significantly greater Fe concentrations than leachates from other treatments, especially during the last 26 to 35 weeks of the study, and significantly greater Zn concentrations than the other CRFs during the last 21 weeks of the study. Based upon U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, concentrations of Fe were often more than the allowable limit of 0.3 mg·L–1 with all fertilizer types, but especially with Nutricote. Concentrations of Mn and Cu also exceeded federal guidelines, particularly during the first several weeks of the study.