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Root growth of containerized lodgepole pine seedlings in response to Ascophyllum nodosum extract application during nursery culture

Abstract

Vigorous root growth immediately after spring planting is crucial to ensure a well-developed root system before the occurrence of drought events associated with climate change. The objective of this study was to enhance spring root growth of containerized lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta Dougl. var. latifolia Engelm.) seedlings. Seedling culture began in April. In September, seedlings were root drenched with an extract of the brown marine alga Ascophyllum nodosum (L.) Le Jolis in finisher fertilizer at rates of 1:750, 1:500, and 1:250. Finisher fertilizer alone served as control. Applications were made three or six times. Seedling culture continued until lifting in December, and then seedlings were freezer stored. Frequency of application had no effect on root growth, whereas rate of application had a significant effect. Compared with control, the 1:750, 1:500, and 1:250 rates significantly reduced total length of the root system in mid October. After overwintering and growing under favorable environmental conditions for 21 d, the 1:500 rate significantly increased the total number of white roots, as well as the number of both short and long white roots. These results suggest that application of Ascophyllum nodosum extract may be a valuable nursery practice to increase spring root growth, thereby enhancing drought resistance.

Authors

Joanne E. MacDonald, Jen Hacking, Yuhui Weng, Jeff Norrie

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