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Home Publications National Nursery Proceedings 1994 Effects of Contrasting Fertilizer Regimes on Greenhouse Growth and Outplant Performance of Containerized Jack Pine

Effects of Contrasting Fertilizer Regimes on Greenhouse Growth and Outplant Performance of Containerized Jack Pine

Jack pine seedlings were raised in Jiffy #165 containers at nine fertilizer regimes to assess whether pre-plant characteristics could be related to subsequent outplant performance. Seedlings received a top dressing of between 0 and 49 mg N per seedling over a twelve week greenhouse growing period in the summer of 1989. At rotation end, only the two lowest fertilizer regimes, representing less than 4.1 mg N per seedling,displayed significantly decreased height, diameter, and total dry weight. Toxic growth response to high N levels was not detected. Three years after planting on a sandy outwash site, seedling stem volume was significantly higher in fertilizer treatments which delivered more than 11 mg N per seedling. Stem volume increase was 20-58 % more than the conventional regime of 8.1 mg N per seedling. Field growth was positively related (R2= 0.82) with increasing shoot to root ratios of seedlings at the greenhouse; coeffcient of determination was much weaker with all other preplant seedling parameters. Nitrogen content in seedlings also showed a high positive coefficient of determination (R 2= 0.71) with field performance. The greatest plantation response was evident in seedlings that contained 31% more nitrogen than conventional seedlings prior to planting. It is postulated that N content is the more useful predictor of seedling outplant performance as it is a robust measure of pre-plant seedling size and nutrient status. Our results indicate that jack pine seedlings be reared under regimes which deliver more than 11 mg N per seedling to induce luxury consumption of fertilizer in tissue, which effectively `loads' seedlings with nitrogen at greenhouse rotation end and stimulates enhanced growth after planting. Additionally,the build up of a nutrient reserve by high fertilizer regimes prior to planting offers a cost-efficient and specialized advantage to jack pine seedlings over site vegetation competing for early establishment in sandy plantations. The utility of high N fertilizer application in enhancing early field performance of jack pine along with the facility of implementing such luxury consumption fertilizer regimes in the greenhouse suggests that N content is a beneficial complementary parameter for assessing seedling quality in containerised stock programmes.

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Author(s): G. S. Henderson, W. Smith, B. Nicks

Publication: National Nursery Proceedings - 1994

Event: Combined Western Forest Nursery Association and the Forest Nursery Association of British Columbia
1994 - Moscow, ID