HortScience, 2007-12-01, Vol.42 (7), p.1705-1709
Holding practices for balled and burlapped conifers may inadvertently impact nutrient availability and tree growth. The objective of this study was to examine the effectiveness of several nutrient treatments to maintain or enhance the growth and foliar nutrition of Colorado spruce (Picea pungens Engelm.) trees while they were in a mulch-holding bed. Sixty 1.5 to 1.8-m tall Colorado spruce trees with 61-cm (24 inch) diameter root balls were heeled into a holding bed of fresh pine bark mulch during 2002 and 2003. The treatments applied to the root balls were a control (pine bark without fertilizer), 114.2 g Osmocote (Scotts, Marysville, OH) 15N–3.9P–10K distributed over the top of the ball, one Ross Gro-Stake (Easy Gardener, Waco, TX) 10N–4.3P–8.3K Evergreen fertilizer spike (113 g) per ball, one-half cartridge (≈8.5 g) of Ross Root Feeder (Weatherly Consumer Products, Lexington, KY) 10N–5.2P–10K evergreen fertilizer injected into the root ball at four points, or a 1:1 biosolids-based compost:pine bark mixture (by volume). Trunk diameters and tree heights were measured and foliar samples for nutrient analyses were collected before applying these treatments and at the end of the growing season 20 or 17 weeks later. The 2003 trees were transplanted to a landscape site in 2004, and the height growth of their terminal leaders were measured at the end of the next two growing seasons. Overall, Colorado spruce trees appeared normal while they were held in the mulch beds the first season after nursery harvest. Changes in tree height and trunk diameter by the end of the first season after harvest were unaffected by the nutrient treatments. By fall of both years, needles from trees treated with the mixture of 1:1 compost:bark had the highest levels of foliar N, Mg, Ca, S, and B. Trees treated with the fertilizer spike in 2002 had similar levels of N and S in their needles compared with compost:bark-treated trees, whereas in 2003, spike-treated trees had the second highest levels of foliar N and S, and these levels were significantly higher than those of trees receiving the control or other fertilizer treatments with the exception of N in needles from fertilizer-injected trees in 2002. Plant-available N, however, was highest in the root balls of Osmocote- and fertilizer spike-treated trees only in 2003. Leaders on the 2003 trees that received the compost:bark or fertilizer spike treatments grew at least 70% or 36% taller, respectively, than those trees receiving the other treatments by the end of the second growing season in a managed landscape. Although all nutrient treatments failed to promote increases in tree heights and trunk diameters while the trees were held in a mulch bed for the first growing season after digging, the compost:bark mixture and, to some extent, the fertilizer spike improved foliar nutrition during this time.
Agronomy. Soil science and plant productions ; Biological and medical sciences ; Fundamental and applied biological sciences. Psychology ; General agronomy. Plant production ; Generalities. Analysis and diagnosis methods ; Soil-plant relationships. Soil fertility. Fertilization. Amendments
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