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Eugene K. Blythe, Jeff L. Sibley and Ken M. Tilt

Stem cuttings of Hydrangea paniculata Sieb., Rosa L. `Red Cascade', Salvia leucantha Cav., and Solenostemon scutellarioides (L.) Codd `Roseo' were inserted into six rooting substrates: monolithic slag [(MgFe)2Al4Si5O18], sand, perlite, vermiculite, Fafard 3B, or fine pine bark. Rooting, initial shoot growth, and ease of dislodging substrate particles from root systems upon bare-rooting by shaking and washing cuttings rooted in monolithic slag were compared to cuttings rooted in the five other substrates. Rooting percentage, number of primary roots per rooted cutting, and total root length per rooted cutting for cuttings rooted in monolithic slag were generally similar to the five other substrates. Particles of monolithic slag were dislodged more readily from root systems by shaking than were the other substrates. Gentle washing removed almost all particles of monolithic slag and sand from the root systems of all taxa and removed almost all particles of pine bark from all taxa except S. scutellarioides `Roseo'. Monolithic slag had a bulk density similar to sand, retained less water than the other substrates, and was similar to perlite, vermiculite, and pine bark in particle size distribution. Our studies indicate that monolithic slag, where regionally available, could provide a viable material for producing bare-root cuttings.

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D.M. Cole, J.L. Sibley, E.K. Blythe, D.J. Eakes and K.M. Tilt

`Formosa' azalea (Rhododendron indicum) was grown for 4 months in 7.6-L (2 gal) containers in four substrate blends: 100% pine bark (PB) (by volume), 1 PB: 1 cotton gin compost (CGC), 3 PB: 1 CGC, and 3 PB: 1 peat (PT) at three irrigation levels [600, 1200, and 1800 mL·d-1 (20.3, 40.6, and 60.9 floz/d)] in a polyethylene-covered greenhouse. Plants were evaluated for growth on a biweekly basis using a growth index. Roots were evaluated visually at the end of the study using a 0 (no root growth) to 5 (root bound) scale. Initial physical properties were determined and leachates were collected every 30 days. There was no difference in percent increase in growth across irrigation and substrate treatments. Visual root rating was greatest (4.5) for azaleas grown in 3 PB: 1 PT and least (3.5) in 1 PB: 1 CGC. The two PB/CGC blends improved water-holding capacity (WHC) in comparison to 100% PB, with 1 PB: 1 CGC exhibiting the greatest WHC among all four substrates. Bulk density was greatest with the CGC-amended substrates. Leachate pH tended to increase and electrical conductivity (EC) tended to decrease with increasing irrigation volume. Leachates from the CGC-amended substrates were less acidic and EC tended to be similar or greater than leachates from the 100% PB and 3 PB: 1 PT substrates.

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J.L. Adrian, C.C. Montgomery, B.K. Behe, K.M. Tilt and P.A. Duffy

In-field (IF) and above-ground (AG) container production of landscape ornamentals are both conventional methods which were compared to a newer production method, pot-in-pot (PIP). Our objective was to determine costs and economic feasibility for each method. Model nurseries were synthesized to represent a 4-ha nursery utilizing 2 ha of production area operating over a three-year period. Finished plant material were grown in 40-L containers for above-ground and pot-in-pot production, and 2 m ball and burlapped material for in-field production. One budget was constructed to reflect costs for Lagerstroemia indica, Cornusflorida, and × Cupressocyparis leylandii under each production method. Capital requirements and annual fixed costs for all three species were lowest for IF and highest for PIP production. Variable costs for all tree species were lowest for IF and highest for AG with PIP intermediate. With better utilization of a given production area, PIP had the lowest total cost of production, followed by AG and IF methods.

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C.C. Montgomery, B.K. Behe, J.L. Adrian and K.M. Tilt

Aboveground container production revolutionized woody plant production. In-ground pot-in-pot container production combines the benefits of container production with traditional field production. Our objective was to determine the specific costs of production for field-grown, aboveground container, and pot-in-pot production methods for Lagerstroemia indica. We found differences in production cost with varying levels of input required by each production method. Pot-in-pot production systems had higher fixed and variable costs and a higher initial capital investment compared to the other two production methods. However, per unit production costs were similar to aboveground container production due to lower labor and equipment requirements.

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Mary B. Musgrove, J. David Williams, Bridget K. Behe and Kenneth M. Tilt

Before analyzing the responses of Alabama garden center employees about the training they had received, we determined how satisfied 100 Alabama Master Gardeners were with the employee-s who helped them in the store from which they most often purchased plants for their homes, landscapes, or gardens. We mailed the primary survey to 472 employees of 130 retail garden center businesses in Alabama to determine the percentage of employees who received job training and the amount, frequency, and methods of training they received while working for their current employers (37% responded). Employees were categorized as managers (28%) or subordinate employees (72%) and full-time (72%) or part-time (28%). Forty-four percent of the employees had received some training at the time they were hired. Training continued for 68% of the respondents. Only 39% of the employees had a written description of their job responsibilities discussed with them. Most (85%) believed the training they received had prepared them to do their jobs well, but 82% said more training would increase their confidence in their work performance. Most employees were trained by one-on-one instruction (60%) and small-group sessions (5 or fewer persons) (65%). Few employees received training from videotapes (5%) or educational seminars (26%), and most that did were managers and full-time employees.

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Eugene K. Blythe, Jeff L. Sibley, Ken M. Tilt and John M. Ruter

In five experiments, singlenode cuttings of `Red Cascade' miniature rose (Rosa) were treated with a basal quick-dip (prior to insertion into the rooting substrate) or sprayed to the drip point with a single foliar application (after insertion) of Dip `N Grow [indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) + 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA)], the potassium salt of indole-3-butyric acid (K-IBA), or the potassium salt of 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (K-NAA); a single foliar spray application of Dip `N Grow with and without Kinetic surfactant; or multiple foliar spray applications of Dip `N Grow. Spray treatments were compared with their respective basal quick-dip controls {4920.4 μm [1000 mg·L-1 (ppm)] IBA + 2685.2 μm (500 mg·L-1) NAA, 4144.2 μm (1000 mg·L-1) K-IBA, or 4458.3 μm (1000 mg·L-1) K-NAA}. Cuttings sprayed with 0 to 246.0 μm (50 mg·L-1) IBA + 134.3 μm (25 mg·L-1) NAA, 0 to 207.2 μm (50 mg·L-1) K-IBA, or 0 to 222.9 μm (50 mg·L-1) K-NAA resulted in rooting percentages, total root length, percent rooted cuttings with shoots, and shoot length similar to or less than control cuttings. Exceptions were cuttings sprayed with 0 to 2.23 μm

(0.5 mg·L-1) K-NAA, which exhibited shoot length greater than the control cuttings. Addition of 1.0 mL·L-1 (1000 ppm) Kinetic organosilicone surfactant to spray treatments resulted in greater total root length and shoot length. Repeated sprays (daily up to seven consecutive days) had no or negative effects on root and shoot development.

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W.G. Foshee, W.D. Goff, K.M. Tilt, J.D. Williams, J.S. Bannon and J.B. Witt

Organic mulches (leaves, pine nuggets, pine straw, grass clippings, and chipped limbs) were applied at depths of 10, 20, or 30 cm in a 3 × 3-m area around young pecan [Carya illinoinensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] trees. These treatments were compared to an unmulched herbicide treatment and a common bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] sod. Trunk cross-sectional areas (TCSAs) of the mulched trees were larger than those of trees in the sod or unmulched plots and increased linearly as mulch depth increased. All mulches influenced TCSA similarly. Mean TCSA for mulched trees increased 14-fold compared to an increase of 8-fold for the unmulched trees and the sod in this 3-year study. Thus, common yard-waste mulches can be used effectively to increase growth of young pecan trees.

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W.C. Dunwell, D. Fare, M.A. Arnold, K. Tilt, G. Knox, W. Witte, P. Knight, M. Pooler, W. Klingeman, A. Niemiera, J. Ruter, T. Yeager, T. Ranney, R. Beeson, J. Lindstrom, E. Bush, A. Owings and M. Schnelle

The Southern Extension and Research Activities/Information Exchange Group-27 (SERA/IEG-27) is sponsored by the Southern Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors. Thirteen universities and the U.S. National Arboretum cooperate with official representatives from extension and research programs. The objective of the group is to identify, evaluate, select, and disseminate information on superior, environmentally sustainable, landscape plants for nursery crop production and landscape systems in the southeastern U.S. Plants are distributed to members responding to a request from cooperators for plant evaluation. Those who agree to cooperate are expected to grow the selected liner to landscape size, then transplant it in a landscape setting. The plant is rated for insect, disease, and cold damage, heat stress, growth rate, ornamental flowering and fruiting, fall color, commercial production potential, landscape potential, invasiveness potential, and insect disease transmission potential. Growth rate is evaluated annually by recording plant height and width. Initial bloom date is reported followed by bloom duration in days. Following evaluation, the group collectively and individually disseminates information gained from the plant evaluation system to a wide variety of audiences.