Container volume and irrigation management affect seedling growth in the nursery and field. We evaluated the effects of container volumes (D40, 656 ml; D60, 983 ml) and subirrigation schedules (85%, 75%, 65%, and 55% of 100% total substrate moisture content, TSMC) on seedling growth in a greenhouse and outplanting performance of Chinese cork oak (Quercus variabilis Blume) for one growing season. In the greenhouse, morphological attributes of seedlings grown at 85% and 75% TSMC in D60 were greater than those grown at 65% and 55% TSMC in D40. After outplanting, seedlings grown at 75% TSMC in D60 were tallest but not different than those grown at 65% TSMC. Shoot (9.2 g), root (28.0 g), and total (37.2 g) biomass of seedlings subirrigated at 55% TSMC in D60 reached maximum values, but shoot biomass for seedlings grown at either 65% or 55% TSMC was similar. Root and total N and K contents of seedlings subirrigated at 65% and 55% TSMC were greater than those grown at 85% and 75% TSMC. Our results suggest that reducing the subirrigation schedule threshold and using a container with more volume could improve oak seedling growth and nutrient accumulation during the first growing season of outplanting.
Sun, Qiaoyu; Dumroese, R. Kasten; Liu, Yong. 2018. Container volume and subirrigation schedule influence Quercus variabilis seedling growth and nutrient status in the nursery and field. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research. 33: 560-567.