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Title: Response of forage chicory seedlings to available soil phosphorus in two soils in a controlled environment

item Cassida, Kimberly
item Foster, Joyce
item Gonzalez, Javier
item Zobel, Richard
item Sanderson, Matt

Submitted to: Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/13/2013
Publication Date: 7/9/2013
Citation: Cassida, K.A., Foster, J.G., Gonzalez, J.M., Zobel, R.W., Sanderson, M.A. 2013. Response of forage chicory seedlings to available soil phosphorus in two soils in a controlled environment. Communications in Soil Science and Plant Analysis. 44:1992-2007.

Interpretive Summary: Chicory is a nutritious, productive, drought-tolerant plant that is productive in many regions, but has failed to meet expectations when grown in WV, a situation possibly related to poor phosphorus fertility of WV soils. We tested the effect of phosphorus fertility on chicory cultivars grown in a greenhouse in silt loam soils obtained from WV and PA. Chicory growth was improved by increasing phosphorus fertility in both soils, but a growth advantage for the PA soil was still present. This work is useful because begins to unravel the reasons for disappointing performance of forage chicory in parts of Appalachia. The work will benefit livestock producers because appropriate forage species/cultivar selection and fertility regimes for specific sites will improve reliability and profitability of livestock production for small farms.

Technical Abstract: Differences in growth and chemical composition among forage chicory (Cichorium intybus L.) cultivars grown in WV and PA are possibly related to P fertility of soils. In order to remove the environmental effect, we used silt loam soils from WV and PA to test the effect of available soil P (ASP) on 'Puna', 'Lacerta', and 'Forage Feast' seedlings in a greenhouse trial. The two soils had similar pH and were sub-irrigated continuously with P-free Hoagland's solution. Triple superphosphate was mixed with soils to give treatment ASP concentrations of 13, 24, 35, and 50 mg/kg. Seedlings were harvested at 48 and again at 77 days after planting. Shoot and leaf mass increased with increasing ASP in the first harvest in both soils. Number of leaves per seedling and leaf area increased with ASP only in the WV soil. Shoots and leaves were always heavier, leaf area was greater, and seedlings had more total leaves in PA than in WV soil. Growth responses per unit ASP were greater in the first than the second harvest. Cultivars did not differ for shoot or leaf mass, but Forage Feast had greater leaf area than Puna or Lacerta (473 vs. 368, 349 cm2/seedling, P < 0.01), and cultivars exhibited a complex interaction with soil treatments for number of leaves per seedling. Bolting of Lacerta and Puna during regrowth was more extensive in PA than in WV soil. Equalization of soil ASP and environmental conditions were not successful in removing inherent differences affecting chicory growth from the two soils.