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Michael W. Olszewski and Grant J. Folin

Purpletop [Tridens flavus (L.) Hitchc.] and big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii Vitman) are incorporated into native grass seed mixes for use in ecological restoration. Alleviation of low seed vigor and poor stand establishment would benefit the restoration process by increasing the animal habitat in restored zones. This study determined the effectiveness of prechilling with distilled water (dH2O) versus potassium nitrate (KNO3), sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) treatments, and short-term storage conditions on seed germination, seedling growth, and stand establishment of purpletop and big bluestem. Prechilling of ‘Niagara, NY Ecotype’ big bluestem for 7 days at 5 °C in dH2O increased final germination percentage (FGP) and germination rate provided caryopses were not dried before sowing. Optimal FGP, germination rate, and germination synchrony were obtained for ‘VA Ecotype’ purpletop after prechilling for 14 days at 5 °C in dH2O without subsequent caryopsis drying or at 0.2% KNO3 with or without subsequent caryopsis drying. Prechilling increased germination synchrony for purpletop but not for big bluestem. NaOCl treatments did not enhance germination or seedling vigor of purpletop or big bluestem. Using nonstored, prechilled caryopses resulted in greater root lengths than stored caryopses or nontreated controls, although optimal purpletop growth required that they be sowed moist, whereas optimal big bluestem growth required that they be dried-back before sowing. In greenhouse experiments, higher seeding rates were correlated with increased number of seedlings for nontreated or prechilled big bluestem and for prechilled purpletop, but not for nontreated purpletop, which had poor stand establishment at all seeding rates. The results indicate that prechilling of caryopses before incorporation into a warm-season grass seed mix increased seedling establishment of purpletop but not big bluestem.

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Michael W. Olszewski, Samara J. Danan, and Thomas J. Boerth

Alkyl phenol ethoxylate (APE) surfactants are used in horticultural substrates but are considered nonbiodegradable, whereas others such as alkyl polyglucoside (APG) are derived from biodegradable sugar compounds. APE reduced total porosity (TP), container capacity (CC), and aeration porosity (AP) whereas APG with polyalkylene oxide block copolymer surfactant (APG/BLK) increased TP, CC, and AP for some substrates but other substrates remained unaffected by either surfactant. We determined substrate leaching fraction (LF) and wettability rating (WR) after drenches of 0.003 to 0.2 mL·L−1 APG/BLK for six bark substrates for three wetting cycles. After the third wetting cycle, five substrates had reduced LF and increased WR. Drenches of 0.2 mL·L−1 APE or APG/BLK for three wetting cycles indicated that APE was more efficacious than APG/BLK for reducing LF or increasing WR. APE was determined to be an effective surfactant for difficult-to-wet substrates, but drenching sometimes reduced TP. No reductions in TP were noted when using APG/BLK. Drenching rates of 0.003–0.2 mL·L−1 APG/BLK for three successive wetting cycles reduced LF and increased WR for most substrates, indicating potential usage for some horticultural applications.

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Michael W. Olszewski, Wallace G. Pill, and Thompson D. Pizzolato

`Moss Curled' parsley [Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Nyman ex. A.W. Hill] schizocarps were osmotically primed in polyethylene glycol at -1.0 MPa for 7 days at 20 °C. The smaller of the two mericarps within a parsley schizocarp had lower germination percentage, but similar rate and synchrony of germination. Osmotic priming increased germination percentage, rate, and synchrony, irrespective of mericarp half. This promotive effect of priming on germination was associated with embryonic advancement as indicated by a doubling of radicle and cotyledon volumes, without changes in lengths of these organs. Periclinal divisions of the lateral expansion meristem, distinct in primed radicles but indistinct in nonprimed radicles, led to radial alignment of the cortical cells and a doubling of cortical volume and thereby increased radicle volume. Each embryonic cotyledon of primed mericarps had three distinct procambial bundles that differentiated along most of the cotyledon length, while nonprimed cotyledons had from zero to three that differentiated only a short way into the cotyledon. Priming increased coyledonary procambium length by 5-fold and volume by 11-fold. Increased embryonic growth due to priming was associated with greater endosperm depletion adjacent to the embryo. The schizocarps frequently separated or partially separated into component mericarps during priming, indicating a weakening of pericarp tissue along the commissural suture and possibly elsewhere.

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Michael W. Olszewski, Courtney A. Young, and Joel B. Sheffield

Illinois bundleflower [Desmanthus illinoensis (Michx.) MacMill. ex B.L. Rob. & Fernald] and showy ticktrefoil [Desmodium canadense (L.) DC.] are legumes native to North America used during meadow restoration efforts. However, insufficient or slow germination or reduced emergence may result attributable to seedcoat-mediated reductions in permeability to water. The objective of this research was to determine the effectiveness of a single-speed electric scarifier lined with 40-grit sandpaper for increasing germination and seedling growth of two native legumes. Seeds of Illinois bundleflower and showy ticktrefoil were mechanically scarified for 3, 6, or 12 s before they were subjected to germination and vigor testing. After scarification, final germination percentage (FGP), germination rate, and uniformity at multiple temperatures (15, 20, and/or 20 to 30 °C) were improved for Illinois bundleflower. However, FGP decreased for showy ticktrefoil, whereas germination rate and uniformity increased. For both species, there was a decline in FGP with longer scarification durations. Illinois bundleflower seed subjected to scarification and accelerated aging (AA) had higher FGP than non-scarified seed subjected to AA (59% and 6%, respectively), whereas both scarified and non-scarified seed of showy ticktrefoil subjected to AA had low FGP (11% and 18%, respectively). Mechanical scarification increased electrical conductivity (EC) of leachates for both species, but scarified showy ticktrefoil seed subjected to AA resulted in the highest EC compared with all other treatments, indicating a reduction of vigor. Evaluation of a seedling grow-out test 3 weeks after sowing confirmed that emergence was enhanced after 3 s of mechanical scarification of Illinois bundleflower seed but that scarification of showy ticktrefoil seed decreased emergence and increased the number of abnormal seedlings. Mechanical scarification resulted in peripheral damage and seed tissue obliteration of both species as indicated by viewing with a stereomicroscope. We conclude that scarifier limitations caused excessive physical damage of showy ticktrefoil. For Illinois bundleflower, however, mechanical scarification using an electric scarifier increased emergence from 18% (non-scarified seed) to 77% after 3 s of scarification and FGP from 32% (non-scarified seed) to 87% after 3 s of scarification. Compared with responses from non-scarified Illinois bundleflower seeds, scarification treatment also resulted in 24% faster germination and 37% more uniformity.

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Michael W. Olszewski, Marion H. Holmes, and Courtney A. Young

There is a lack of quantifiable data concerning physical analyses specific to shallow-depth green roof substrates and their effects on initial plant growth. Physical properties were determined for green roof substrates containing (by volume) 50%, 60%, or 70% heat-expanded coarse slate and 30% heat-expanded fine slate amended with 20%, 10%, or 0% landscape and greenhouse waste compost. Each substrate also was amended with hydrogel at 0, 0.75, 1.50, or 3.75 lb/yard3. There were no differences in total porosity among substrates containing 0%, 10%, or 20% compost, although total porosity increased for all substrates amended with hydrogel at 3.75 lb/yard3. Container capacity increased in substrates containing 3.75 lb/yard3 hydrogel, except for substrates containing 10% compost where hydrogel had no effect. Aeration porosity decreased when 10% or 20% compost was added to substrates. Determination of aeration porosity at an applied suction pressure of 6.3 kPa (AP-6.3 kPa), indicated that AP-6.3 kPa was higher in substrates containing 0% compost than substrates containing 20% compost. Shoot dry weight and coverage area measurements of ‘Weihenstephaner Gold’ stonecrop (Sedum floriferum) and ‘Summer Glory’ stonecrop (Sedum spurium) were determined 9 weeks after plug transplantation into substrates. Both stonecrop species responded similarly to substrate amendments. Initial plant growth was greater in substrate containing 20% compost and 3.75 lb/yard3 hydrogel than nonamended substrate resulting in 198% and 161% higher shoot dry weight and coverage area, respectively. Alkaline heat-expanded slate and acidic compost components affected initial pH of substrates, but there was less variation among final substrate pH values. We conclude that compost and/or hydrogel amendments affected physiochemical properties following incorporation into slate-based green roof substrates, resulting in greater initial plant growth, and that these amendments may have practical applications for improving growing conditions on green roofs.

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Michael Olszewski, Wallace Pill, Thompson D. Pizzolato, and John Pesek

Germination studies indicated that increasing priming duration (-1.0 MPa at 20 °C for 7, 14, or 21 days) increased `Moss Curled' parsley [Petroselinum crispum (Mill.) Nyman ex A.W. Hill] germination rate quadratically and seed moisture content linearly. A histological and anatomical study was conducted to identify and/or quantify principle mericarp organ or tissue volume changes influenced by priming duration. Embryo volume increased as priming duration increased from 7 to 21 days (0.014 to 0.034 mm3), and this was due more to radicle (0.007 to 0.022 mm3) than to cotyledon (0.006 to 0.011 mm3) growth. Concomitant with increased embryo volume was increased volume of the depleted layer (space formation, surrounding the embryo), from 0.038 after 7 days to 0.071 mm3 after 21 days, and increased hydrolysis of central endosperm (a thick-walled endosperm type). In nonprimed mericarps, central endosperm cells constituted 97% of the endosperm volume. The remaining 3% was comprised of 1% depleted layer and 2% distal endosperm (small, thin-walled, and irregularly shaped endosperm cells). During 7 or 21 days of priming, ≈10% or 40%, respectively, of central endosperm cells were hydrolyzed centrifugally around the embryo with a corresponding decrease in volume of central endosperm with thick cell walls. In addition, distal endosperm cells adjacent to the depleted layer, containing reserve materials, were digested of contents following 21 days priming, and sometimes, following 7 days priming. A long priming duration resulted in degradation of pericarp tissues, as indicated visually and by a decline in pericarp volume. We hypothesize that priming duration of parsley primarily influences radicle growth and centrifugal digestion and utilization of central and distal endosperm, resulting in a larger depleted layer required for embryo volume increases. Secondary events influenced by priming duration include cotyledon growth and degradation of pericarp tissues.

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Wallace G. Pill, Thomas A. Evans, Michael W. Olszewski, Robert P. Mulrooney, and Walter E. Kee Jr.

'Maffei 15' baby lima bean seeds were sown every 6 cm in rows 76 cm apart to yield a nominal stand of 215,000 plants/ha at two locations in Delaware over 2 years. Seedlings were thinned within 2 weeks of planting to provide 0%, 16.7%, 33.3%, and 50.0% stand reduction at two in-row spacing patterns to determine subsequent effects on vegetative and reproductive growth. Shoot fresh weight per square meter was decreased only in 2003 by 21% and bean fresh weight per square meter was decreased only in 2004 by 13.8% when plant stand decreased to 50%. This disproportional vegetative and reproductive growth response to stand reduction resulted from a compensatory linear increase in shoot fresh weight, usable pod number, and bean fresh weight of individual plants. Thus, 'Maffei 15' lima bean tolerates a considerable loss of plant stand with little or no effect on yield.

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Andrew M. Birmingham, Eric A. Buzby, Donte L. Davis, Eric R. Benson, James L. Glancey, Wallace G. Pill, Thomas A. Evans, Robert P. Mulrooney, and Michael W. Olszewski

A mechanical planter was developed to sow seed of baby lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) in small plots. The mechanical seeder allowed small plots to be quickly and consistently seeded at a fixed spacing. Seeds were manually spread along a 10-ft (3.0 m) base plate containing 50 holes of slightly larger diameter than the seed length and at the desired seed spacing [2.4 inches (6 cm)]. Once all the holes were filled, a slider plate below the base plate containing holes of the same diameter and spacing, but which were slightly offset, was slid horizontally so that the holes of the base and slider plates aligned and the seeds dropped to the bottom of the furrow. Compared to manual planting, the mechanical planter increased the precision of seed placement and reduced the time needed to plant 50 seeds. The planter was easy to use and transport, and was inexpensive.