Potassium fertilization in bareroot nurseries in the southern US: a review

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David B. South


This review covers most of the published literature on potassium (K) fertilization in bareroot seedbeds with the intent to concentrate on the southern United States. The timing and rates of K fertilization for bareroot seedlings are often based on logic and myths and, as a result, K recommendations vary considerably. Some recommend bareroot pine seedlings be fertilized with twice as much K as nitrogen (N) while others apply less than 100 kg ha-1. It was determined that several long-held claims about K fertilization are invalid. Nursery seedbeds do not need to contain four times as much available K as N and the belief that extra K fertilization will increase freeze tolerance or drought resistance of non-deficient seedlings is invalid. There are no data to support the claim that K fertilization increases root growth or assists in the formation of terminal buds. For sandy seedbeds, there is no need to apply K before sowing. Adding extra K during the fall does not increase seedling morphology or seedling performance when loblolly pine seedlings, at lifting, have more than 0.5% K in needles. A reduction of K fertilization can be achieved by reviewing foliar tests prior to K top-dressings.


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How to Cite
South, David B. “Potassium Fertilization in Bareroot Nurseries in the Southern US: A Review”. REFORESTA, no. 8 (December 31, 2019): 25-59. Accessed September 27, 2023. https://journal.reforestationchallenges.org/index.php/REFOR/article/view/114.
Review articles
Author Biography

David B. South, School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, AL

Emeritus Professor