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Comparative Response of Four Southern Pine Species to Fertilization: Effects of P, NP, and NPKMgS Applied at Planting

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Seedlings of sand, slash, loblolly, and longleaf pine planted on an intensively prepared, excessively well-drained Sandhills site in west-central Florida were treated immediately after planting with varied rates and schedules of application of P, NP, and NPKMgS fertilizers. Nitrogen-phosphorus fertilizers, especially at the highest rates, reduced survival of all four species below that of the controls. But in sand and slash pine, inclusion of KMgS (as potassium-magnesium sulfate) with the NP fertilizer negated this effect. Three years after fertilization was started, survival of longleaf pine (59 percent) was significantly lower than that for sand (86 percent), slash (88 percent), and loblolly pine (91 percent). Longleaf survival was also most adversely affected by heavy NP fertilization. None of the four species showed significant growth response to P or NP fertilizers, but height growth increases of 25 percent for sand, 16 percent for slash, 28 percent for loblolly, and 17 percent for longleaf pine were recorded after 3 years when KMgS was applied with the highest rate of NP fertilizer. Foliage collected 3 years after fertilization showed significant differences in concentration of N, P, K, Ca, Mg, and S associated with tree species and differences in P, K, and Ca related to fertilizer treatment. But only the substantial and highly significant increase in foliage K observed for all four species following application of the N2P2KMgS treatments appeared causally related to fertilizer-stimulated growth. The data suggest that on this site, and perhaps on similar intensively prepared Sandhills sites, K deficiency limits the growth potential of these four species and their capacity to respond to NP fertilizer. This deficiency is manifest in young trees by dormant-season foliage K concentrations below 0.30 percent. Concentrations in the range 0.35 to 0.40 percent appear to reflect K sufficiency in all four species. Species height ranking over all fertilizer treatments at 3 years from planting was sand > slash > loblolly > longleaf. Forest Sci. 22:487-494.

Keywords: Sand pine; critical nutrient levels; foliage analysis; loblolly pine; longleaf pine; slash pine; species comparisons

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Research Forester, Tennessee Valley Authority, National Fertilizer Development Center, Muscle Shoals, Alabama 35660

Publication date: 1976-12-01

More about this publication?
  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
    Other SAF Publications
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