Current issue: 56(4)
Stored nutrient reserves are closely correlated with survival and growth of transplanted seedlings. Previous studies have proven that combining pre-hardening fertilization (PF) with fall fertilization (FF) built seedling nutrient reserves more effectively; however, their effect on transplanting performance is poorly documented. We investigated the independent and interacting effects of 2 levels of PF and 4 levels of FF on seedling growth, nutrient acquisition and accumulation during different growth phases 1 year after transplanting of Quercus variabilis Blume in a nursery. High PF benefited nutrient reserves and subsequent transplanted seedling growth and tissue nutrient storage at the end of the rapid growth and hardening phases. Fall fertilization with 36 mg N increased stem dry mass and tissue nutrient content at the end of the hardening phase. At the conclusion of establishment, PF and FF showed a significant interaction for N and K uptake from soil. At the end of the rapid growth and hardening phases, high PF consistently increased nutrient uptake. Enhanced N and K uptake occurred following application of 36 mg N of FF at the end of the hardening phase. Distinct roles for PF and FF on 3 phases of transplanted seedlings demonstrated the necessity to evaluate fertilization in terms of nutrient reserves and subsequent transplanting performance in consecutive phases. Combining 100 mg N seedling–1 during pre-hardening with 36 mg N seedling–1 during fall yielded ideal transplanting performance for Quercus variabilis seedlings.