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Responses of Nondormant Black Willow (Salix nigra) Cuttings to Preplanting Soaking and Soil Moisture

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Address correspondence to S. R. Pezeshki, email pezeshki@memphis.edu

Abstract

The use of willow cuttings for streambank stabilization is a common practice in riparian ecosystems throughout the United States. Many environmental factors govern the outcome of such planting. However, other factors such as preplanting treatments, planting methods, and physiological status of cuttings (dormant vs. actively growing) may also be crucial in determining the survival of willow cuttings. Actively growing (nondormant) Black willow (Salix nigra) cuttings, 30 cm in length and 1 cm in diameter at the base, were subjected to three soaking treatments (0, 7, and 15 days) prior to planting. Following the initial treatment, cuttings were grown in a greenhouse in pots under three soil moisture regimes (well-watered but not flooded, permanently flooded, and intermittently flooded). Plant gas exchange, growth, biomass, and survival were measured. Results demonstrated that soaking for 7 days was beneficial to early development of cuttings in the well-watered (control) soil moisture regime, enhancing percent bud flush and survival significantly. However, 15 days of soaking proved to be detrimental to survival of cuttings irrespective of soil moisture regimes. Results also demonstrated that the beneficial effects of 7-day soaking were limited to the well-watered soil moisture regime but not to the flooded or intermittently flooded regimes. Soaking nondormant cuttings may be worthwhile if the planting site is likely to present ample soil moisture but nonflooded conditions to the transplanted cuttings.

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