Report Of The Research Committee
Dr. August E. Kehr, Chairman
A total of 31 research proposals were received for funding in 1986. Of these 10 were approved for funding by the Trustees of our American Rhododendron Society Research Foundation.
It is very gratifying to know that individual members of the ARS, local chapters, and the various research organizations look toward the American Rhododendron Society for research support on rhododendrons and azaleas, particularly when public support of funds for such research continues to nose-dive. Present efforts to balance the Federal Budget will most assuredly cause an even greater reduction in public research funds in the near future.
Our modest support of research continues to be one of the best arguments to combat the downward trend. Our grants offer seed money that provides a basis for making funding requests to research administrators, especially in geographical areas where such research is not presently being conducted. Research grant requests have been received this year from states that presently have no known rhododendron or azalea research such as Hawaii, Iowa, Alabama, Utah, Mississippi, Kansas and Louisiana. These requests indicate our ARS research program is creating interest in initiating new research in places where no research has here-to-fore been done.
President Tietjen has appointed several new members of the Research Committee including Don Paden, Richard Brooks, Ted Van Veen, and Bruce Briggs. These new members are greatly welcomed and will add new ideas and new approaches that will assure the continuance of a strong and active committee.
As approved by the Board, the Research Committee will have two subcommittees in the future in order to make the program more efficient and to alleviate the work required of the chairman. Dr. Russell Gilkey will head the sub-committee responsible for follow-up of the research progress after the grants are made. Dr. Mark Widrlechner will head a subcommittee to work with local chapter research chairmen in compiling a list of research problems which need to be solved in the ARS grants program.
Effective July 1, 1986, Mr. George Ring will become Chairman of the Research Committee, replacing August Kehr who has asked to be relieved. Augie has served as Chairman of the committee since its inception in 1971 (with exception of 1977-78). Since 1971 our research program has grown from zero to a present long-term self-sustaining one supported by an endowment fund.
The research projects funded in 1986 are as follows: 1. Publication of a Compendium of Diseases of Rhododendrons and Azaleas — Middle Atlantic Chapter This proposal was submitted by the Middle Atlantic Chapter which authorized $250 to support this publication and requested matching funds of $250 from ARS. This publication will give more extensive coverage of diseases than is available in existing publications. The compendium will be published by the American Phytopathological Society and is being written by a dozen or more authors who are specialists in the diseases to be covered in the publication. It is expected that the book will be available in the spring of 1987. Sponsor is Dr. Sandra McDonald.
2. Establishment of a Permanent Species Collection of Rhododendron, Section Vireya at the Lyon Arboretum — Robert T. Hirano, Lyon Arboretum. The Lyon Arboretum, located in Honolulu, Hawaii, is frost-free and in a climate ideally suited for the growth of Vireya Rhododendrons. This grant will be used by the Arboretum to introduce, propagate, and establish in the field as many new species as possible. This project will assure a permanent garden to safeguard Vireyas and provide a source of plants and seed for ARS members. Contact person: Bill Moynier.
3. Sexual Compatibility in Rhododendron — Dr. John L. Rouse, University of Melbourne, Australia Hybridization between two selected parents often fails and the desired cross cannot be made. The objective of this study is to determine where the cross fails. Is it the failure of the pollen to germinate, failure to grow in the style, failure to effect fertilization, or are there events occurring within the embryo sac? Dr. Rouse has also been studying seed viability in rhododendrons and azaleas. Contact person: August E. Kehr.
4. Rhododendron Mucronulatum Germplasm Evaluation — Lisa K. Schum National Arboretum, Washington, D.C. About 8000 seedlings of R. mucronulatum grown from seed collected in Korea will be evaluated for summer and fall foliage color and texture, flower color, time and duration of flowering, cold and heat hardiness, stress tolerance, disease resistance, growth habit, and ease of growing. Contact person: Dr. Max Byrkit.
5. Cold Hardiness of Flower Buds of Rhododendron Taxa — Harold Pellet and Susan Moe, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Flower buds of rhododendrons and azaleas will be acquired from grower members of the Society who have large collections. These buds will be evaluated for maximum cold hardiness capability. This information will provide knowledge of one important aspect of cold hardiness that can be accurately measured, using techniques previously perfected. Flower buds are the least hardy plant tissue. The cold tolerance of the buds sent to researchers will be compiled and published for ARS members. Contact person: Dr. Don Paden.
6. Breeding Cold Hardy Azaleas and Rhododendrons — Harold Pellett and Susan Moe, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. This grant supports a long-term ongoing research project which has already resulted in extremely hardy cultivars made available to the Society. These researchers have also sent seed to the Seed Exchange and plants to the Rhododendron Species Foundation. In addition to cold hardiness, increased emphasis will be placed on mildew resistance and foliage quality. Contact person: Dr. Don Paden.
7. Developmental Studies of Microsporogenesis and Use of Anther Culture to Produce Haploid Plants of Selected Cold Hardy Rhododendrons — Cooperative between Herman Losely and Dr. David Leach. Despite the rather ominous-sounding title the objective of this research is to develop very hardy breeding lines of rhododendrons that will pass on their high levels of cold hardiness to their offspring. In brief they will be true breeding for cold tolerance. This pioneering research will involve growing plants from anther tissue including determination of the timing of pollen spore cell formation in rhododendrons and azaleas, doubling of chromosome numbers to form true breeding lines, and the assessment of chromosome numbers by microscopic examination. Contact person: Dr. D.L. Hinerman.
8. Nutrient Deficiency Symptoms of Rhododendrons — Van D. Jolley, Tim Davis and J.C. Brown. This research will result in color photos which will depict for the homeowner the appearance of rhododendron and azalea leaves suffering deficiencies of minor elements. There will be separate color photographs for deficiencies of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, boron, and molybdenum. This project will will be the first of its kind anywhere for rhododendrons and azaleas. I predict that the results of this study will be a useful set of photographs that can be instrumental in correcting soil deficiencies for every member of the Society. Contact person: Dr. Russell Gilkey.
9. Evaluation of Trap Designs for Monitoring and Control of Black Vine Weevil — Gary). Couch, Waltham (Mass.) Experiment Station. This research will result in the development of a black vine weevil trap suitable for every home gardener. It will enable the home gardener to determine if he has black vine weevils in his garden and how bad an infestation. The trap will also be useful to control the weevils. It is expected that the design and construction will be made available to ARS members. Contact person: Mr. John Alexander.
10. Screening of Rhododendron Seedlings for Tolerance to Phytophthora — Robert L. Ticknor, North Willamette Experiment Station. Root rot continues to be a serious disease for homeowners and gardeners. The most satisfactory control is breeding plants for resistance. This research has been supported by previous grants and is resulting in cultivars which grow in soil infested with the root rotting organism without resort to chemical control. It is therefore a biological control (non-chemical control) of this disease. This project is cooperative with the Cornell University Plantations and the disease resistant plants are being tested for cold hardiness at Ithaca, New York where sub-zero temperatures of -10° F. are common. Contact person: Dr. Frank Mossman.
The Research Committee is convinced the above research will be of benefit to each member of the Society. When the results become available, all will be published in the ARS Journal for use of the membership.
We are doing our best to be of service to the membership and welcome suggestions and improvements for the Society's research program at all times. Our definition of research is solving needs whether it be need for a publication, a plant collection, information, or new methods. If you have a need, you need research. Let us know your needs.
Dr. Russell Gilkey
Dr. Sandra McDonald
Dr. Gustave A.L. Mehlquist
Mr. George Ring III
Dr. Robert Ticknor
Mr. Bruce Briggs
Dr. Richard Brooks
Dr. Don Paden
Dr. Mark Widrlechner
Dr. August E. Kehr, Chairman