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Virginia Thaxton, Ed Bush, Ann Gray, and Paul Wilson

Proper irrigation practices are important in the production of container-grown woody ornamentals. When choosing irrigation methods, nurserymen must attempt to maximize production and comply with public policies mandating decreased water usage and runoff. One of these methods schedules irrigation based on plant demand, using tensiometers to measure matric potential of the substrate. While tensiometers have been used successfully with agronomic crops in the field, their effectiveness in irrigation management of large container-grown woody ornamentals has not been extensively tested. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of four irrigation treatments (7 cb tensiometer setting, 14 cb tensiometer setting, 1 time a day application, 4 times a day application) on the production of the ornamental tree Bald Cypress over a 9-month period. Growth differed significantly among treatments. The highest growth index was observed in the 4 times a day and the 7 cb tensiometer treatments, followed by the 1 time a day and 14 cb treatments, respectively. Effluent and leachate (pH, EC, N, P, K) were also measured. Percent effluent volume was highly variable, with maximum volume occurring in June for the 7 cb setting (82%) and in October for the 1 time a day treatment (47%). Higher pH values (7.0 to 8.0) initially occurred in the timed irrigation treatments and higher EC values (2.0–6.0 mmhos) were found in tensiometer treatments; over time, differences among treatments decreased for both variables. Substrate concentrations of N, P and K varied significantly among treatments, while no significant differences were found in the leaf tissue analysis.

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Edward Bush, Ann Gray, Virginia Thaxton, and Paul Wilson

Proper irrigation management is essential for producing quality container-grown woody ornamentals and reducing off-site runoff. Research has shown that tensiometers can be used as an effective tool to schedule irrigation for woody ornamentals. The objective of this experiment was to compare the effect of cyclic and tensiometric irrigation methods on growth of lantana. Lantana camara `New Gold' liners were established in a 3 pine bark: 1 peat:1 mason sand (by volume) medium. Low-tension switch tensiometers were compared to scheduled overhead [one time a day (1×) at 0600 and cyclic irrigation three times a day (3×) at 0600, 1200, and 1800] for the production of 1-gallon lantana plants. Three low-tension tensiometers (1/block) were set at 7 cb and allowed to irrigate over a 12-hour period. Three separate planting dates occurred and then terminated after ≈7 weeks. Tensiometric irrigation increased root and shoot growth compared to scheduled irrigation for the 24 May 1999 harvest date. Cyclic irrigation produced plants with shoot and total root weights >1× and tensiometer treatments for the September harvest date. Tensiometers sharply reduced irrigation requirements compared to scheduled irrigation volume by at least 50% of the 1× and 3× treatments weekly. Analysis of nutrients in leachate for June indicated increased B and Fe concentrations in the 3× irrigation treatment. Lower concentrations of Ca, Mg, and Na were measured in August. Lantana growth was acceptable for all irrigation treatments and harvest dates.

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Edward Bush, Ann L. Gray, Virginia Thaxton, and Allen Owings

Previous research has shown the effectiveness of prodiamine (FactorÆ)as a preemergent herbicide. The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the efficacy and phytotoxicity of prodiamine applied to several woody ornamental and weed species. Phytotoxicity effects were evaluated on eight ornamental species: azalea (Rhododendron indicum `Mrs. G.G. Gerbing'), dwarf yaupon (Ilex vomitoria `Nana'), dwarf mondograss (Ophiopogon japonicus `Nana'), ixora (Ixora coccinea), lantana (Lantana camara `New Gold'), Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana), weeping fig (Ficus benjamina), and daylily (Hemerocallis fulva). Preemergent herbicide treatments (control-nontreated, 2 lbs aia Factor®, and 4 lbs aia Factor®) were applied to ornamentals twice during the experiment at twelve week intervals. There was a reduction in top dry weight for azalea and dwarf mondograss for both 2 and 4 lbs aia treatments. No significant growth reductions were measured for daylily, dwarf yaupon, ixora, lantana, live oak, and weeping fig. The efficacy experiment consisted of four weed species: barnyardgrass (Echinochloa crusgali), crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis), coffeeweed (Sesbania exaltata), and pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus) and five preemergence herbicide treatments (control-nontreated, control-Rout® at 100 lbs/A, Factor® 1 lb aia, Factor® 2 lbs aia, and a tank mixture of Factor® 1 lb aia plus Gallery® 1 lb aia) applied to bark-filled containers. Twenty-five weed seeds of each species were broadcast over each container following herbicide applications. The high rate of Factor®, Rout®, and the combination of Factor®+Gallery® significantly reduced weed dry weight compared to the control. All preemergence herbicides significantly reduced weed counts and height in a similar manner.