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- Author or Editor: Paul V. Nelson x
A series of experiments was conducted with chrysanthemum cv. Giant Betsy Ross grown in acid-washed quartz sand. The nutrient solution was buffered at pH 7.8 to induce Cu deficiency while Fe, Mn and Zn were supplied in high quantities to avoid simultaneous deficiencies. Nutrient levels in the tissues were monitered by atomic absorption analyses.
The critical range of Cu was established at 6.7 to 7.4 ppm for the first fully expanded leaves of the plant. The deficiency first appeared on the terminal leaves as chlorosis most intensely developed at the leaf blade base. As the leaf became more chlorotic the margin, and particularly the lobes toward the leaf apex, retained a normal green color. Tissues over and adjacent to the vascular tissue did not become as chlorotic as the leaf lamella giving rise to the second symptom which was interveinal chlorosis. At that stage the green pigmentation associated with the vascular tissue occurred in a broader pattern than in Fe deficiency. In the third stage of deficiency veinal chlorosis appeared, followed by necrosis of leaves located immediately below the first fully expanded leaf. There was a concomitant regreening of foliage at the terminal end of the shoot which lasted for a short time. In the final stage the shoot apex died.
Palabora vermiculite having a pH of 9.8 was studied in order to (a) assess the extent of influence the alkaline reaction has upon several crops, and (b) to investigate further, means of correcting the problem where it exists. Four marigold, 3 zinnia, and 1 chrysanthemum cultivars were found to develop normally in this medium without adjustment of pH but the chrysanthemum cultivar ‘Giant Betsy Ross’, which is susceptible to alkaline reaction-induced micronutrient deficiencies, developed symptoms of Fe deficiency. Correction of this problem was accomplished in 2 ways: (a) by incorporation of sphagnum peat moss into the medium, and (b) by a drench with H3PO4 at the rate of 40 meq/100 g dry vermiculite.
Tomato `Marglobe' seed were sown on germination paper in enclosed plastic dishes in a growth room Ammonium was more toxic when applied as the single salt, ammonium sulfate, than when applied as part of a complete Hoagland solution. The lowest toxic ammonium levels were for the single salt 1.5 mM and for the complete solution 4.5 mM. Symptoms included reduced length of primary and particularly lateral roots, reduced numbers of root hairs, and chlorosis, distortion, and slower development of cotyledons. Tomato `Marglobe' seedlings were also grown in 288 cell plug trays in a substrate of 3 sphagnum peat moss and 1 perlite containing no N, P, or K but amended with dolomitic limestone to pH 6.0 They were fertilized every third watering with 4 mM NH4 + NO3, 0.4 mM PO4, and 1.2 mM K from 15 to 28 days after sowing and at double this concentration from 29 to 42 days. A zero leaching percentage was practiced. Ammoniacal-N comprised 25, 50, or 75% of total N. There were no effects of ammonium on root or shoot weights, height or appearance of plants through this period. Plant growth was limited throughout this period by N stress in accordance. with commercial practice. After 42 days N stress was alleviated by again doubling the nutrient solution concentration and applying it with every watering. Ammonium toxicity developed with symptoms of shorter plant height, general chlorosis of lower leaves, and necrosis of the base of lower leaves.
It is desirable to have a large root mass and compact shoot in the final stage of plug seedling production. Marigold `Discovery Orange' was grown for six weeks from sowing in a hydroponic system. Hoagland's all nitrate solution was used at 0.25X for the first three weeks and 0.5X for the final three weeks. P was applied continuously in the control and was eliminated for the first one or three weeks in the two stress treatments. Weekly mot and shoot dry weights indicated: a.) P stress caused an increase in root/shoot ratio with roots larger than in the control plants and b.) restoration of P after a P stress resulted in a rapid shift of root/shoot ratio back to the control level with final root and shoot weights less than in the control plants. A continuous marginal P stress or a stress near the end of seedling production is suggested. Tomato `Marglobe' was grown for five weeks and impatiens `Super Elfin White' for six weeks in a 3 sphagnum peat moss: 1 perlite substrate in 288 cell plug trays. Fertilizer was applied at every third watering at a zero leaching percentage. The control nutrient ratio (mM) was 5.4 NH4+ NO3: 0.5 PO4: 1.6 K while the low P treatments contained 0.15, 0.1, and 0.05 mM PO4 throughout the experiment. The root/shoot dry weight ratios increased in the low P treatments. Tomato plants at 0.15 and 0.1 mM P and impatiens plants at 0.15 mM P had larger roots than the control plants. A continuous stress at 0.15 mM PO4 appears promising.
Soil and tissue standards and procedures have not been developed for plug seedlings. Turn-around time for foliar analysis is often adversely long for timely crop corrections. Visual assessment occurs after damage has occurred. Many plug growers have tried but abandoned soil testing due to erratic results. Of the three monitoring systems, soil testing offers the best potential, but can it be effectively refined for plugs? Petunias were grown in 288-plug trays under six fertilizer regimes. Fertilization or waterings were applied at 9:00 am, and 1 hour later, soil solutions were squeezed out and analyzed. Soil levels after fertilization and watering were too variable to inscribe a curve, while levels after fertilization formed a curve consistent with growth of the seedlings. Twice, soil samples were taken 1, 4, 8, and 24 hours after a fertilizer application. Some soil solution concentrations 1 and 4 hours after fertilization were 51 and 36 ppm for NH4-N, 46 and 32 ppm for PO4-P, and 147 and 84 ppm for NO3-N, respectively. Soil testing can be used for plug production, but samples must be taken after a fertilizer application and at a specified length after the application.
Soilless container medium components such as peatmoss and perlite have almost no capacity to retain PO4-P, and preplant amendments of triple superphosphate (TSP) are readily leached. Al amendments were tested to reduce P losses from these media. Al2(SO4)3 solutions at rates of 320 and 960 μg Al/cc were applied to a 70 peat: 30 perlite medium and dried at 70C. Adsorption isotherms were created at 25C for the Al2(SO4)3-amended media and an unamended control using solutions of Ca(H2PO4)2 at concentrations of P ranging from 0 to 500 μg·ml–1. Isotherms showed that P retention increased as Al concentration increased. In a greenhouse study, Dendranthema ×grandiflorum `Sunny Mandalay' was grown in these media with 100 g P/m3 from TSP incorporated into the mixes before planting. PO4-P, soluble Al, and pH were determined on unaltered medium solutions collected throughout the cropping cycle and foliar analyses were determined on tissue collected at mid- and end-crop. The highest rate of Al was excessive and resulted in low pH and soluble Al levels in the medium solution early and in the cropping cycle, which were detrimental to plant growth. When Al was applied at 320 μg/cc, soluble Al levels in medium solution were not significantly higher than in the unamended control, PO4-P leached from TSP was reduced, and sufficient PO4-P was released throughout the cropping cycle to result in optimal plant growth.
A sustained release nutrient source suitable for maintaining steady, low (1 mM) N concentrations in the soil solution was sought as a component to be used in a system for reducing nutrients in the effluent of an open greenhouse cropping system. Several nutrient sources were evaluated as a N source incorporated singly in a medium of 1 sphagnum peat moss: 1 vermiculite and used to produce Chrysanthemum × morifolium `Sunny Mandalay'. All nutrients except N were applied additional to the sources tested. Sources tested included specific non-viable bacterial (B) and fungal (F) organisms from commercial biotechnological production lines, a microbial sludge mixture (S) from waste-water treatment, poultry waste-methane generator sludge (PS), mico-Osmocote (O), unsteamed bonemeal (BM), poultry feather meal (FM), and three-yeer aged pine needles (PM) at rates from 0.15 to 1.3 kg N·m-3. Based on periodic vacuum extracted soil solution analyses, leaf analyses, and plant growth, the efficacy of sources was in the order B, O> BM> S> PS> F, FM> PN. The 3 best sources provided sufficient N for 6 weeks; however, growth parameters did not differ from a complete liquid fertilization control until after 9 weeks. N in soil solution from the bacterial cells was at weeks 1, 3, 5, and 7: 142, 200, 73, and 3, mg·l-1, respectively.
Seven organic materials including 1) the bacterium Brevibacterium lactofermentum (Okumura et al.) in a nonviable state, 2) a mixture of two bacteria, Bacillus licheniformis (Weigmann) and Bacillus subtilis (Ehrenberg), plus the fungus Aspergillus niger (van Tieghem) in a nonviable state, 3) an activated microbial sludge from waste-water treatment, 4) sludge from a poultry manure methane generator, 5) unsteamed bonemeal, 6) aged pine needles, and 7) poultry feathers were evaluated to determine their pattern and term of N release and the possibility of using them as an integral part of root media releasing N at a steady, low rate over 10 to 12 weeks for production of Dendranthema × grandiflorum (Ramat.) Kitamura `Sunny Mandalay'. These were compared to the inorganic slow-release fertilizer micro Osmocote (17N-3.9P-10.8K) and a weekly liquid fertilizer control. All organic sources released N most rapidly during the first 2 weeks, followed by a decline, which ended at 6 to 7 weeks. Brevibacterium lactofermentum, bonemeal, and micro Osmocote treatments resulted in about equal growth, which was similar to growth of a weekly liquid fertilizer control for 9 weeks in the first and for 12 weeks in the second experiment. The period of N release could not be extended through increased application rate of source due to the high initial release rate. It was not possible to lower source application rates to achieve an effective, low soil solution concentration due to the large variation in release rate over time. Efficiency of N use varied among plants grown in media treated with various microorganismal sources and was highest in those treated with B. lactofermentum. Nitrogen release from ground poultry feathers was inadequate, and additions of the viable hydrolyzing bacterium B. licheniformis to feathers failed to increase soil solution N levels. Attempts to retard mineralization of B. lactofermentum by cross-linking proteins contained within the bacterium by means of heat treatment at 116C vs. 82C failed. While anaerobic poultry manure sludge proved to be an inefficient source of N, it provided large amounts of P. Organic sources released primarily ammoniacal N, which raised the medium pH by as much as one unit, necessitating the use of less limestone in the medium formulation.
Soilless substrates have little capacity to sorb PO4. One way to reduce PO4 leaching during production is to increase the substrate retention of PO4. Adsorption isotherms were created at 25 C for alumina (aluminum oxide); the 2:1 calcined clays arcillite (montmorillonite plus illite) and attapulgite.; and a medium of 70 peat: 30 perlite using solutions of KH2PO4 at rates of P ranging from 0 to 20000 μg·ml-1. Material sorbed at the rate resulting in maximum P adsorption was then desorbed 22 times. Sorbing concentrations necessary to establish an equilibrium P concentration of 10 μg·ml-1 in the substrate solution were estimated from these curves. Materials were-charged with P at these estimated rates and evaluated in a greenhouse study in which each material was tested at 10 and 30% by volume of a 70 peat: 30 perlite substrate used to produce Dendranthema × grandiflorum `Sunny Mandalay'. Phosphate, K, and pH were determined on unaltered soil solutions biweekly throughout the cropping cycle and foliar analyses were determined on tissue collected at mid- and end-crop. Isotherm and greenhouse data indicated that alumina, arcillite, and attapulgite effectively retained and slowly released K as well as PO4 over time. Alumina was most effective at retaining P, sorbing 16800 μg/cc compared to 3100 and 7800 μg P sorbed/cc for arcillite and attapulgite, respectively, when sorbed at P concentrations resulting in an equilibrium concentration of approximately 10 μg P/ml.
It is a common practice in greenhouses to apply fertilizers with a high proportion of N in the NO3 form to achieve short, compact shoots and a moderate (25% or greater) proportion of NH4 or urea for large shoots. However, this practice is not substantiated in the scientific literature. Two experiments were conducted in a greenhouse to assess effects of N form on development. In the first, Petunia hybrida `Mid-night Dreams' was treated with five ratios of NH4:NO3 or urea:NO3 in a factorial arrangement with three concentrations of N (50-low, 100-adequate, and 200-high mg/L at each irrigation). In the second experiment six species of bedding plants were treated in a factorial arrangement of five ratios of NH4:NO3 and two pH levels (acceptably low, 5.4-5.8, and unacceptably low, 4.6-5.2). In all comparisons, height and dry weight of shoots grown with 100% NO3 were equal or larger than the plants grown with combinations of N. There was a general trend for plants to be shorter and lighter at higher NH4 or urea proportions. These results refute the hypothesis that shoot size is under the control of N form. Depth of green foliar color correlated positively with proportion of NH4 or urea. Reputed NH4 toxicity symptoms of chlorosis, necrosis, and curling of older leaves occurred only at adversely low pH levels below 5.2 in experiment 2. Resistance of plants to this disorder under conditions of pH levels in the range of 5.4 to 5.8, high N application rates, and applications of 100% NH4 indicates that bedding plants during commercial production are fairly resistant to this disorder.