JARS v41n4 - Research Committee Report - 1987

Research Committee Report - 1987
George Ring
Fairfax, Virginia

Research sponsored by the American Rhododendron Society made another step forward in 1987 with the award of grants for six more projects. Since its inception with the first awards made in 1973, the Research Foundation of the American Rhododendron Society has funded 61 studies. Projects approved for funding in 1987 by the Trustees of the Research Foundation are listed below.

1. "Adaptability Of Evergreen Rhododendron Cultivars For The Great Plains As Influenced By Landscape Experience" - John C. Pair, Kansas State University.

This study will screen 40 or more cultivars for hardiness and then evaluate the selected cultivars under different growing conditions and exposures. Dr. Pair has obtained input from an ARS member growing rhododendrons in Oklahoma. The work will help to push back the limits of growing rhododendrons in the Midwest by providing recommendations on cultivars and cultivation methods.

2. "Cold Hardiness Of Flower Buds On Rhododendron Taxa" - Harold Pellett and Steve McNamara, University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

This study is a continuation of research started last year. Its objective is to evaluate the maximum cold hardiness of rhododendron flower buds. Rhododendrons representing a wide range of cold hardiness will be included in the study. Additional flower buds will be obtained from growers having large collections.

3. "Micropropagation Procedures For The Rhododendron Hybrid R. smirnowii x R. yakushimanum And Its Parents, R. smirnowii and R. yakushimanum " - Dr. Mark Bridger, University of Connecticut.

Micropropagation (tissue-culture) of indumented plants has not progressed as fast as that of non-indumented plants because of problems in disinfecting indumented scions. The objective of this study is to develop more dependable procedures for tissue-culture of indumented rhododendrons by (a) defining adequate disinfection procedures, (b) determining optimum concentrations of cytokinins and sugars, (c) identifying procedures to acclimate plantlets to the greenhouse.

4. "A Study Of The Water Storing Cells In Vireya Rhododendrons" - Dr. Clifford Desch, Conway, Massachusetts.

Some preliminary studies have shown that the types of water storing cells in Vireya rhododendrons vary widely between species and within a species, depending on its geographical location. This variation can be significant when selecting forms for hybridization and distribution that are more resistant to drought. The objectives of this study are to investigate the water-storing cells of Vireya rhododendrons and relate their characteristics to bio-geographical and altitude patterns.

5. "Testing Of SUBDUE 2E/5G and ALIETTE 80% For Suppression Of Phytophthora Root Rot In Established Plantings" - Fir Butler (Mrs. Merlin K.), Rhody Ridge Arboretum Park, Bothell, Washington.

The studies will test the fungicides combined with assessment of supplementary culture methods. Dr. Fred McElroy of Penisu-Lab, Kingston, Washington, is an advisor on formulation and timing of fungicide applications. The ARS grant will supplement funds of the arboretum and is to be used for laboratory tests. The study has been underway for two years with an interim report showing some promise of a successful technique for saving infected plants. This is another instance where a relatively small grant from the ARS helps to produce results associated with a larger study.

6. "Calcium-Magnesium Study On Rhododendrons" - Dr. Robert Ticknor, Oregon State University.

The objectives of the study are to obtain analytic data on the growth and foliar nutrient content for various calcium-magnesium concentrations and ratios in rhododendron fertilizers. The ARS grant funds will be used for leaf and soil analyses. A grant from the Oregon Association of Nurserymen will provide funds for other expenses of the project.

As has been the case in every year since 1981, only about 1/3 of the research proposals received could be funded with the proceeds available from the Research Foundation Endowment Fund. While the fund has risen to $125,000, there are many deserving proposals which cannot be funded from the limited income it generates.

This year saw the first gift from an individual designated for a specific study - on hybridization of kalmia and rhododendron. A few hybridizers have made crosses between the two genus in the past, but whether true hybrids have resulted is uncertain. Hybridization between kalmia and rhododendrons is interesting genetically, but more important, if successful, it has the potential for introducing the drought, cold and heat tolerance of kalmia into rhododendron hybrids. Proposals will be evaluated for research in this area.

During the past year, Russell Gilkey compiled a summary of the status of all research grants awarded by the Research Foundation. Dr. Gilkey has sought to determine whether the results of ARS sponsored research have been published, the name of the ARS liason and other historical data.

Mark Widrlechner has updated the "Areas of Research on Rhododendrons and Azaleas of Interest to the American Rhododendron Society" by including recommendations for research topics received from members. At present, Dr. Widrlechner is identifying those topics considered to be highest on the list of priorities by members and by the ARS Research Committee. The list is sent each year to agencies and individuals who express an interest in submitting a research proposal to the ARS.

The ARS Research Committee's definition of research continues to be that of meeting needs and helping members and others better understand and grow rhododendrons and azaleas. If you have a need, whether it be a publication, plant collection information, new methods or materials, let us know.

Research Committee Members include: A. Richard Brooks; Bruce Briggs; Russell Gilkey, Ph.D.; August Kehr, Ph.D.; Sandra McDonald, Ph.D.; Gustav A. L. Mehlquist, Ph.D.; Donald Paden, Ph.D.; Ted Van Veen; Mark Widrlechner, Ph.D.; Robert Ticknor, Ph.D., Special Advisor; George Ring, Chairman.