Honors College Thesis

Soil solarization effects on plant growth variables of field-grown tree saplings

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  • Solarization could be an alternative to chemical controls for soil pathogens and weeds, and it may also influence plant growth factors. Biomass, shoot length, and AMF colonization were examined in red oak (Quercus rubra), Mazzard cherry (Prunus avium), and hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) at J. Frank Schmidt & Son Co. nursery in Boring, Oregon. Solarization plastic was installed summer 2014. A nonsolarized treatment was included. Plants were then seeded. Plants were collected on two dates. Biomass, shoot length, and AMF colonization were measured, and differences were determined using a t-test. Red oak showed little difference between treatments. Mazzard cherry had greater shoot length in the early season solarized treatment. Hawthorn shoot length was greater in the nonsolarized treatment for both dates. Hawthorn root biomass was greater in the solarized treatment, while shoot biomass was greater in the nonsolarized treatment. Mazzard cherry and hawthorn had greater AMF colonization in the nonsolarized treatment. Red oak was examined for ectomycorrhizal fungi; few instances were observed. Solarization can reduce AMF colonization slightly, suggesting an impact on plant growth. Hawthorn may have grown less under the solarized treatment due to AMF suppression by solarization. Reduced pathogen inoculum may explain why solarized Mazzard cherry outgrew nonsolarized.
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