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Brian E. Jackson, Robert D. Wright and Michael C. Barnes

The use of freshly harvested and processed pine trees as a container substrate for greenhouse and nursery crop production is a relatively new concept, and fundamental knowledge of the construction of a pine tree substrate (PTS) for optimal physical properties is insufficient. Therefore, this research was conducted to determine the influence of mixing PTSs produced with different wood particle sizes and adding other amendments to PTS on substrate physical properties and plant growth compared with traditional substrates. Coarse pine wood chips produced from 15-year-old loblolly pine trees (Pinus taeda L.) were ground in a hammermill fitted with either a 4.76-mm screen or with no screen (PTS-NS) allowing a fine and a coarse particle PTS to be produced. Increasing proportions of the finer (4.76-mm) PTS to the coarser PTS (PTS-NS) resulted in increased container capacity (CC) and shoot growth of ‘Inca Gold’ marigold (Tagetes erecta L.). In another study, PTSs were manufactured in a hammermill fitted with different screen sizes: 4.76, 6.35, 9.54, or 15.8 mm as well as PTS-NS. After being hammermilled, each of the five PTSs was then amended (by mixing) with 10% sand (PTS-S), 25% peatmoss (PTS-PM), or left unamended. Pine tree substrates were also produced by adding 25% aged pine bark (PB) to pine wood chips before being ground in a hammermill with each of the five screen sizes mentioned (PTS-HPB). These five substrates were used unamended as well as amended with 10% sand after grinding (PTS-HPBS). Control treatments included peat-lite (PL) and 100% aged PB for a total of 27 substrates evaluated in this study. Container capacity and marigold growth increased as screen size decreased and with the additions of peatmoss (PTS-PM) or hammering with PB (PTS-HPB) to PTS. Container capacity for all substrates amended with peatmoss or PB was within the recommended range of 45% to 65% for container substrates, but only with the more finely ground PTS-4.76-mm resulted in marigold growth comparable to PL and PB. However, when the PTS-NS was amended by mixing in 25% peat or hammering with 25% PB, growth of marigold was equal to plants grown in PL or PB. In a third study, hammering PTS-NS with 25% PB followed by the addition of 10% sand increased dry weight of both azalea (Rhododendron ×hybrida ‘Girard Pleasant White’) and spirea (Spiraea nipponica Maxim. ‘Snowmound’) resulting in growth equal to plants grown in 100% PB. This work shows that amending coarsely ground PTS with finer particle PTS or with other materials (peatmoss, aged PB, or sand) can result in a substrate with comparable physical properties such as CC and plant growth compared with 100% PL or PB.

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Brian E. Jackson, Robert D. Wright and Michael C. Barnes

‘Prestige’ poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd. Ex Klotzsch) were grown at different fertilizer rates in three pine tree substrates (PTS) made from loblolly pine trees (Pinus taeda L.) and a peat-based control. Pine tree substrates were produced from pine trees that were chipped and hammer-milled to a desired particle size. Substrates used in this study included peat-lite (PL), PTS produced with a 2.38-mm screen (PTS1), PTS produced with a 4.76-mm screen (PTS2), and PTS produced with a 4.76-mm screen and amended with 25% peatmoss (v/v) (PTS3). Initial and final substrate physical properties and substrate shrinkage were determined to evaluate changes over the production period. Poinsettias were grown in 1.7-L containers in the fall of 2007 and fertilized at each irrigation with 100, 200, 300, or 400 mg·L−1 nitrogen (N). Shoot dry weight and growth index were higher in PL at 100 mg·L−1 N but similar for all substrates at 300 mg·L−1 N. Bract length was generally the same or longer in all PTS-grown plants compared with plants grown in PL at each fertilizer rate. Postproduction time to wilting was the same for poinsettias grown in PL, PTS1, and PTS3. Initial and final air space was higher in all PTSs compared with PL and container capacity (CC) of PTS1 was equal to PL initially and at the end of the experiment. The initial and final CC of PTS2 was lower than PL. The incorporation of 25% peat (PTS3) increased shoot dry weight and bract length at lower fertilizer rates compared with 4.76 mm PTS alone (PTS2). Substrate shrinkage was not different between PL and PTS1 but greater than shrinkage with the coarser PTS2. This study demonstrates that poinsettia can be successfully grown in a PTS with small particles (2.38-mm screen) or a PTS with large particles (4.76-mm screen) when amended with 25% peatmoss, which results in physical properties (CC and air space) similar to those of PL.

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Garry V. McDonald, Michael A. Arnold, Bruce J. Lesikar, Larry W. Barnes and Don C. Wilkerson

An experiment was initiated in June and Aug. 2004 to determine affects of ozonated fertilizer–injected water on plant growth of chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum× morifoliumT. de Romatuelle `Covington'). Aliquots (20 L) of reverse osmosis water were amended with 0, 50, and 300 mg·L-1 N (21N–3.1P–5.8K) water-soluble fertilizer and exposed to ozone (O3) gas for 0, 30, 60, or 120 s at a flow rate of 300 mL/min. Containers were sealed and allowed to set for 15 min for O3 diffusion. Treated water was used to irrigate plants. Plants were in 10.2-cm pots and grown until floral initiation. Plants were harvested on 12 Aug. 2004 or 24 Nov. 2004. Growth index (height x canopy width × canopy width in a perpendicular direction/3), and shoot and root dry masses were determined. Interactions between fertility concentration and ozone exposure rates were nonsignificant (P≤ 0.05). Significant main effect differences occurred in growth index and shoot/root dry masses in response to fertilizer concentrations, but growth measures were not affected by ozone exposure. Peak ozone concentrations in fertilizer-injected irrigation water averaged 0.21 mg·L-1 O3 (120 s exposure at 300 mL·L-1) after 15 min diffusion time. At 20 min diffusion times, ozone levels dropped to 0 mg·L-1. No gross morphological differences or obvious necrosis typical of ozone damage on chrysanthemum occurred at any O3 exposure level. No observable nutritional deficiencies were noted. Vegetative growth of chrysanthemum was not directly injured by irrigation water that was exposed to ozone gas for 0 to 120 s at a 300 mL/min flow rate.

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Robert D. Wright, Brian E. Jackson, Michael C. Barnes and Jake F. Browder

The objective of this study was to evaluate the landscape performance of annual bedding plants grown in a ground pine tree substrate (PTS) produced from loblolly pine trees (Pinus taeda) or in ground pine bark (PB) when transplanted into the landscape and grown at three different fertilizer rates. Begonia (Begonia ×semperflorens-cultorum) ‘Cocktail Vodka’, coleus (Solenostemen scutellarioides) ‘Kingswood Torch’, impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) ‘Dazzler White’, marigold (Tagetes erecta) ‘Bonanza Yellow’, petunia (Petunia ×hybrid) ‘Wave Purple’, salvia (Salvia splendens) ‘Red Hot Sally’, and vinca (Catharanthus roseus) ‘Cooler Pink’ were evaluated in 2005, and begonia ‘Cocktail Whiskey’, marigold ‘Inca Gold’, salvia ‘Red Hot Sally’, and vinca ‘Cooler Pink’ were evaluated in 2006 and 2007. Landscape fertilizer rates were 1 lb/1000 ft2 nitrogen (N) in 2005 and 0, 1, and 2 lb/1000 ft2 N in 2006 and 2007. Visual observations throughout each year indicated that all species, whether grown in PTS or PB, had comparable foliage quality in the landscape trial beds during the growing period. With few exceptions, dry weight and plant size for all species increased with increasing fertilizer additions, regardless of the substrate in which the plants were grown. For the unfertilized treatment, when comparing plant dry weight between PB and PTS for each species and for each year (eight comparisons), PTS-grown plant dry weight was less than PB-grown plants in three out of the eight comparisons. However, there were fewer differences in plant dry weight between PTS- and PB-grown plants when fertilizer was applied (PTS-grown plants were smaller than PB-grown plants in only 2 of the 16 comparisons: four species, two fertilizer rates, and 2 years), indicating that N immobilization may be somewhat of an issue, but not to the extent expected. Therefore, the utilization of PTS as a substrate for the production of landscape annuals may be acceptable in the context of landscape performance.

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Garry Vernon McDonald, Geoffrey C. Denny, Michael A. Arnold, Donita L. Bryan and Larry Barnes

Seeds of Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich. were collected, germinated, and grown from native stands ranging from Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Twenty-two provenance selections were planted in Summer 2004 in College Station, TX, in 36 replicated single-plant replications per block for a total of 792 trees. Below-average midsummer temperatures and above-average number of rainfall events were conducive to the development of a leaf blight associated with the presence of Cercosporidium sequoiae (Ellis and Everh.) W.A. Baker and Partridge. A survey conducted in Oct. 2007 rated differential defoliation responses among provenances. Selections of Taxodium distichum var. mexicanum (Gordon) from Mexico and south Texas showed defoliation rates from 89% to 96%, whereas T. distichum var. distichum from central Texas had defoliation ratings from 79% to 99%. With the exception of one family collected from the Sabinal River in Texas, the central Texas selections had similar defoliation compared with those from south Texas. Selections of T. distichum var. distichum and one selection of T. distichum var. imbricarium (Nutt.) Croom from southeastern regions (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and east Texas) showed greater tolerance to the presence of the leaf blight with 52% to 80% mean defoliation. A few individuals within these families exhibited little or no symptoms of the leaf blight. In general, those selections from high-rainfall, high-humidity areas had less defoliation associated with the presence of the leaf blight fungus, although defoliation was variable among provenances within all geographical regions. These results suggest that tolerance to defoliation from C. sequoiae could be included in selection criteria when choosing possible germplasm releases from Taxodium distichum.