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  • Author or Editor: Margaret M. Saska x
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Growth response of five ornamental willows (Salix), with sales potential for the cut-stem industry, was assessed in a 1-year container trial studying various concentrations of fertilizer. Plants were grown in 3-gal nursery containers fertilized with five concentrations of 18N–2.6P–6.6K controlled-release fertilizer (100-day release period) with micronutrients, applied as top dressings at 0, 10, 20, 40, and 60 g/container. Yield data were collected on the commercially important parameters including total stem length, stem quantity, and fresh weight of stems. Additional effects of fertilization on the timing of tip abscission and floral bud burst were also evaluated. Total stem length and fresh weight increased for all willows in the fertilized treatments compared with control; however, treatments above 40 g/container did not result in an increase of these parameters. Kori-yanagi willow (S. koriyanagi) had the highest yields across all treatments of fertilization. Fertilizer applications extended the period of stem elongation by delaying tip abscission for all willows, and for ‘The Hague’ willow (S. gracilistyla × S. caprea) tip abscission was delayed by 44.0 days at 40 g/container treatment compared with control. Floral bud burst dates, which differed greatly among willows, were unaffected by applications of controlled-release fertilizer.

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To assess the current state of willow (Salix) cultivation for specialty cut flower production, a mail survey following the tailored design method polled willow growers in North America (n = 52). The instrument posed questions on business identity and cultural practices, including plant spacing, fertilization, irrigation, and pruning methods. A 69% response rate was achieved. The general grower profile was of a specialty cut flower producer with multiple years of experience growing willows. For the majority of respondents, willow was a supplemental source of income, complementing a larger product selection of woody and herbaceous species for cut flower production with annual sales for the crop of less than $25,000. The majority of producers had a generally positive outlook on this crop as growers expressed strong support for the importance of willow in their product selection, for customer satisfaction, as well as for future intentions to increase production acreage, and even to extend seasonal markets. However, the non-scientific nature of willow production was revealed by wide variations in basic cultural practices and by very limited use of scientific plant names by the growers and frequent inability to accurately identify their selections, as well as the identification of growers' own personal experience as a main source of knowledge. The results of this survey helped researchers to identify a set of questions to improve the understanding of the fundamentals of willow production through the development of precise commercial production practices, standardization of variety names, and stimulation of further development of this crop through market expansion.

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