The recommendation for planting highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) in Missouri includes the incorporation of sphagnum peat in the planting hole. This experiment compared the use of fresh and aged pine bark to sphagnum peat as soil amendments at planting. One-year-old highbush blueberry `Blueray' plants were planted in 1983 at Mountain Grove, Mo. Plant height, spread, and number of new canes were recorded from 1983 through 1987. Yield and berry size were recorded from 1985 through 1988. There were no significant differences in these measurements among soil amendment treatments (P = 0.05).
When a 200 ppm N solution as (NH4)2SO4 was percolated through a wet pine bark medium, 6 times the medium volume of the N solution was required to reach an equilibrium of N in the bark. Once equilibrium was reached, the water added, leaching of the ammonium ion was rapid. When twice the medium volume of water was passed through the medium, 85% of the ammonium ions were leached. After analysis of the leachate indicated no N being leached from the bark, 60 ppm of N remained in the bark.
Container-grown Viburnum plicatum Thunb. var. tomentosum (Thunb.) Miq. `Mariesii' were planted in unamended planting holes, tilled plots, and tilled plots amended with aged pine bark. A 36-day drought was initiated 108 days after planting. Amending induced N deficiencies, reduced shoot growth, and increased root growth. Plants harvested from tilled and planting-hole plots at drought initiation had 63% and 68% more dry weight, respectively, than plants from amended plots. Between 8 and 19 days after drought (DAD) initiation, plants from tilled plots maintained higher relative leaf water content (RLWC) than plants from planting holes. Plants in amended plots maintained higher RLWC than both other treatments between 7 and 33 DAD. Amended and tilled treatments had higher relative leaf expansion rates (RLERs) than the planting-hole treatment 8, 11, 13, and 15 DAD. As the drought lengthened, plants in amended plots maintained higher RLERs than plants in tilled plots. While plants in pine bark-amended plots were more drought tolerant than those in tilled plots, it is unclear if increased drought tolerance was caused by the improved rooting environment or N deficiency.
The pour-through (PT) method of nutrient extraction, which involves pouring water on the container media surface and collecting the extract (leachate), was compared to the saturated soil extract (SSE) method for a 100% pine bark medium at container capacity (102% gravimetric moisture). The SSE and PT correlation coefficients, respectively, were 0.99 and 0.94 for N, 0.99 and 0.97 for P, 0.99 and 0.93 for K, and 0.99 and 0.98 for pH. As container media moisture levels increased from 50 to 102%, the PT and SSE soluble salt levels increased 1.5 and 1.6 times, respectively, while nitrate levels increased 1.7 and 1.6 times, respectively. The volume of water applied for the PT was varied from 40 to 100 ml and did not result in extraction of different levels of N, P, K, Ca, or Mg. These data indicate the PT is an alternative to the SSE for nutrient extraction from a pine bark medium.
Potassium concentration was highest in the upper 5 cm of medium after leaching with 10 cm H2O, lowest in the middle of the soil column (10 and 15 cm depths), and intermediate at the bottom of the column. Increasing concentrations of applied K (336, 671, and 1007 kg/ha) increased the K level in each medium tested, except 100% sand, and at each depth in the soil column. After leaching, media containing high percentages of sand (75 and 100%) had a lower K concentration at all applied K rates than media containing high percentages of bark (0 and 25% sand). Cation exchange capacity was greater in bark than sand and is probably the most important factor influencing the movement of K in pine bark and sand media.
Phytophthora diseases are economically important, requiring the use of chemical fungicides and, more recently, biological controls. Recent research suggests that composted bark products may lessen the impact of the disease, even in the absence of these chemicals. An experiment was conducted to compare chemical and biological fungicides to untreated pine bark compost. Impatiens wallerana plugs were transplanted from 288 trays into 1801 trays. All plants were planted into Berger BM-7, 35% composted bark mix (Berger Horticulture, Quebec, Canada). Media was prepared by premixing one of the five following fungicide treatments: 1) Control, 2) Banrot at 0.6 g/L, 3) Root Shield at 1.6 g/L, 4) Actino-Fe at 5.1 g/Ll, or 5) SoilGard at 1.6 g/L. Plants received no fertilizer. Three strains of Phytophthora were grown in 25 °C on clarified V8 media. Pathogenic inoculum was made by macerating the growth media and fungi in 100 ml H2O. Mixture was pulse-blended for 1 min, and an additional 200 mL dH2O was added. Inoculation was 5 ml per plant. Flats were kept on a misting bench, and misted twice daily for 15 min. The experiment was set up using a RBD repeated six times with three plants per rep. Plants were rated weekly for 5 weeks using a damage scale of 0 to 5, with 0 indicating no sign of disease and 5 being dead. Statistical analysis was conducted using a Chi-Square. Disease incidence between the biological, chemical, and composted bark treatments did not differ, with all treatments providing complete control. At least in this study, the use of composted pine bark media provided Phytophthora control equivalent to current chemical and biological fungicides.
In the southeastern United States, inconsistent pine bark (PB) supplies and overabundance of cotton gin by-products warrant investigation about the feasibility of replacing PB with cotton gin compost (CGC) for container horticultural plant production. Most research on the use of composted organic substrates for horticultural plant production has focused on shoot growth responses, so there is a need to document the effect of these substrates on root growth. In 2004, `Blitz' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum), `Hot Country' lantana (Lantana camara `Hot Country'), and weeping fig (Ficus benjamina) were placed in Horhizotrons to evaluate root growth in 100% PB and three PB:CGC substrates containing, by volume, 60:40 PB:CGC, 40:60 PB:CGC, and 0:100 PB:CGC. Horhizotrons were placed in a greenhouse, and root growth in all substrates was measured for each cultivar. Physical properties (total porosity, water holding capacity, air space, and bulk density) and chemical properties (electrical conductivity and pH) were determined for all substrates. Physical properties of 100% PB were within recommended guidelines and were either within or above recommended ranges for all PB:CGC substrate blends. Chemical properties of all substrates were within or above recommended guidelines. Root growth of all species in substrates containing CGC was similar to or more enhanced than root growth in 100% PB.
Tomatoes are the most abundantly produced greenhouse vegetable crop in the United States. The use of compost substrates has increased in recent years for the greenhouse production of many vegetables, bedding plants, and nursery crops. `Blitz' tomatoes were grown during the spring and fall growing seasons in 2004 in six substrate blends of pine bark (PB), a traditional production substrate in the Southeastern U.S., and cotton gin compost (CGC), an agricultural by-product, to assess the potential use of CGC as a viable replacement for PB for the production of greenhouse tomatoes. Treatments ranged from 100% PB to 100% CGC. During both growing seasons, plants grown in substrates containing CGC produced similar total, marketable, and cull yields compared to plants grown in 100% PB. Substrates containing 40% or more CGC had significantly higher EC levels both initially and throughout both growing seasons than did 20% CGC and 100% PB blends. Initial and final pH of all substrates was similar during both studies and remained within recommended ranges for greenhouse tomato production. Water-holding capacity increased as the percent CGC increased in each substrate blend, indicating the need for less irrigation volume for substrates containing CGC compared to the 100% PB control. Results indicate that CGC can be used as an amendment to or replacement for PB in greenhouse tomato production.
Pine bark-filled containers periodically fertilized with NH4-N were heated from 21C to 28, 34, 40, 46, or 52C for daily exposures of 1, 2, 4, 6, or 24 hours over 20 days. Concentrations of NH4-N and NO3-N in medium solution extracts were determined every 5 days. Medium solution NH4-N concentration was higher at constant (24 hours) exposure to 40C than at lower temperatures or exposure times. There was a similar increase in NH4-N concentration for a 2-hour·day–1 exposure to 46C, with further increases in NH4-N for longer exposure times. By day 10, NH4-N concentration was highest after 1 hour·day–1 exposure to 52C. Decreases in medium solution NO3-N concentration generally coincided with the increases in NH4-N. These results indicate that container medium thermal periods, similar to those observed in nurseries of the southern United States, may inhibit nitrification, thereby influencing NH4-N: NO3-N ratios in the medium solution of plants fertilized with predominantly ammoniacal N sources.
Pine bark-filled containers periodically fertilized with a (NH4)2SO4 solution were heated from 21°C to one of 5 temperatures (28°, 34°, 40°, 46°, or 52°C) for a daily exposure duration of 1, 2, 4, 6, or 24 hours. Medium solution extracts were analyzed for NH4-N and NO3-N every 5 days for 20 days. Treatment temperature of at least 40°C and a daily exposure duration of 24 hours was necessary to inhibit nitrification, thereby increasing NH4-N concentration in the medium solution. Similar increase in NH4-N was found for a 2 hr/day exposure to 46°C, with further increases in NH4-N at longer exposure times. By day 10, the maximum level1 of NH4-N concentration in medium extracts was found after a 1 hr/day exposure to 52°C. Decreases in medium solution NO3-N concentration generally coincided with the increases in NH4-N. Results indicate that high container temperatures may increase the ratio of NH4-N to NO3-N in the medium solution of plants fertilized with predominantly ammoniacal N.