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Substrate Acidification by Geranium: Temperature Effects
- Sudden pH decline (SPD) describes the situation where crops growing at an appropriate pH rapidly (within 1-2 weeks) cause the substrate pH to shift downward one to two units. 'Designer Dark Red' geraniums (Pelargonium xhortorum Bailey) were grown in three experiments to assess possible effects of temperature on SPD. The first experiment tested the effect of four day/night temperature regimes (14 °C day/10 °C night, 18 °C day/14 °C night, 22 °C day/18 °C night, and 26 °C day/22 °C night) on substrate acidification. At 63 days after transplanting (DAT), substrate pH declined from 6.8 to 4.6 as temperature increased. Tissue phosphorus (P) of plants grown at the highest three temperatures was extremely low (0.10%-0.14% of dry weight), and P stress has been reported to cause acidification. It was not possible to determine if the drop in substrate pH was a singular temperature effect or a combination of high temperature and low P. To resolve this, a second experiment tested a factorial combination of the three highest temperatures from the first experiment and five preplant P rates (0, 0.065, 0.13, 0.26, or 0.52 g·L-1 substrate). Regardless of tissue P concentrations, which ranged from deficient to above adequate, substrate pH decreased with increasing temperature. At 63 DAT, in the 0.065 and 0.13 P treatments, tissue P was deficient and pH decreased with increasing temperature from 5.6 to 4.7 and 5.9 to 4.7, respectively. In the 0.26 P treatment, tissue P was adequate at the lowest temperature and there was no acidification. At the mid- and highest temperatures, tissue P was deficient and statistically equivalent, yet pH decreased to 5.2 and 4.7, respectively. In the highest P treatment, tissue P levels were unaffected by temperature, above adequate, and pH declined with each increase in temperature from 6.5 to 5.0. The results at 63 DAT once more showed that temperature acted independent of tissue P and caused geraniums to acidify the substrate. In the third experiment, the amount of acidity produced by roots of plants grown at the two highest temperatures used in the first two experiments was quantified. Plants grown at the higher temperature produced 28% more acid per gram dry root. The results herein indicate that high temperature can induce SPD by geranium.
Taylor, M.D. , Nelson, P.V. , Frantz, J.M.
Pelargonium hortorum , ornamental plants , nursery crops , growing media , pH , air temperature , night temperature , phosphorus , plant nutrition , nutrient deficiencies , acidification , root exudates , roots
- Includes references
- Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 2008 July, v. 133, no. 4
Journal Articles, USDA Authors, Peer-Reviewed
- Works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties are not copyrighted within the U.S. The content of this document is not copyrighted.