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Comparative response of 4 southern pine species to fertilization effects of phosphorus nitrogen phosphorus and nitrogen phosphorus potassium magnesium sulfur applied at planting



Comparative response of 4 southern pine species to fertilization effects of phosphorus nitrogen phosphorus and nitrogen phosphorus potassium magnesium sulfur applied at planting



Forest Science 22(4): 487-494



Seedlings of sand (Pinus clausa var. clausa), slash (P. elliottii var. elliottii), loblolly (P. taeda) and longleaf pine (P. palustris) planted on an intensively prepared, excessively well-drained Sandhills site in west-central Florida (USA), were treated immediately after planting with varied rates and scheduled application of P, NP and NPKMgS fertilizers. N-P fertilizers, especially at the highest rates, reduced survival of all 4 spp. 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%) was lower than that for sand (86%), slash (88%), and loblolly pine (91%). Longleaf survival was also adversely affected by heavy NP fertilization. None of the 4 spp. showed significant growth response to P or NP fertilizers, but height growth increases of 25% for sand, 16% for slash, 28% for loblolly, and 17% for longleaf pine were recorded after 3 yr when KMgS was applied with the highest rate of NP fertilizer. Foliage collected 3 yr 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 4 spp. following application of the N2P2KMgS treatments appeared causally related to fertilizer-stimulated growth. On this site, and perhaps on similar intensively prepared Sandhills sites, K deficiency limits the growth potential of these 4 spp. and their capacity to respond to NP fertilizer. This deficiency is manifest in young trees by dormant-season foliage K concentrations below 0.30%. Concentrations in the range 0.35-0.40% appear to reflect K sufficiency in all 4 spp. Over-all, fertilizer treatments at 3 yr from planting, sand pine was the tallest, then slash, loblolly and longleaf pine respectively.

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