a tendency to lower the available nitrogen in the scil to which it is applied.
Tobacco Experiments with Application to Soil of Commercial Organic Materials.
It has been suggested that the source of organic compounds might possibly deter-
mine the yield and quality of the subsequent tobacco crop. Sugar, carbon (char-
coal), dr}- skim milk, and starch were the materials selected for comparison.
They were applied at the rate of two tons to the acre. A fifth plot, to which
nothing was added, was included as a check.
There was little difference in the action of these different materials. The
applications of charcoal or carbon gave the highest yield, as was anticipated from
the appearance of the crop in the field; but the quality of this tobacco lowered
the crop index value.
8 MASS. EXPERIMENT STATION BULLETIN 388
The Absorption by Food Plants of Chemical Elements Important in Human
Nutrition. (Walter S. Eisenmenger and Karol J. Kucinski.) Some plants have
the ability to take up certain chemical elements from the soil in amounts greater
than normal, depending both on the ion involved and on the species of plant.
In previous trials, an increase in the amount of magnesium, sodium, potassium,
and chlorine added to the soil resulted in increased intake by the plant. In the
present experiments, sodium, potassium, and magnesium were compared with
calcium; and phosphate and sulfate were compared with chlorine, bromine, and
iodine, in this respect.
The increased intake of potassium, sodium, or magnesium, due to the addition
of these ions to the soil, was more pronounced than the increase in calcium re-
sulting from the addition of similar chemical quantities of calcium. Also, the
percentage increase of chlorine, bromine, and iodine in the plants when these
elements were added to the soil was higher than that of sulfur or phosphorus
when similar chemical quantities of these anions were added.
This indicates that those elements which are more abundant in sea water than
in soil water are the ones which can be introduced into plant tissue with little
difficulty. In some respects it would seem that our land plants have not fully
adjusted themse'ves to a land environment.
The Intake by Plants of Elements Applied to the Soil in Pairs Compared to
the Intake of the Same Elements Applied Singly. (Walter S. Eisenrnenger and
Karol J. Kucinski.) Cabbage, lettuce, beans, and celery were grown on plots
to which various elements had been added, in pairs, in quantities known to be
excessive but not toxic. Chemicals compounds, used in all possible combina-
tions of two, supplied calcium, potassium, and sodium at the rate of 250 parts per
million of soil and lithium at the rate of 100 parts per million. The exceeding
toxicity of lithium to plants necessitated application at the lower rate and at a
considerable time before planting. The calcium intake by cabbage, celery, and
lettuce was decreased when either sodium or potassium salts were applied with the
calcium. The potassium intake was increased in this combination. The lithium
intake was decreased when potassium was applied with the lithium. The potas-
sium intake was decreased somewhat when plants were grown on a combination
of potassium and sodium.
Magnesium Requirements of Plants. (Walter S. Eisenmenger and Karol J.
Kucinski.) Various species of plants have been grown on a plot known to be
deficient in magnesium. There is little evidence to indicate a reason for the varied
reactions of different plants to the scarcity of magnesium ions in the soil. Dif-
ferent members of the same family react differently. Sudan grass shows no
symptoms, nor does timothy; but regular field corn becomes chlorotic, and hybrid
sweet corn scarcely sets any seed. Pumpkin vines show distinct chlorosis; water-
melons do so only at maturity.
There is evidence now that plants ma\- suffer from the lack cf this element, yet
may not show any chlorosis or lack of chlorophyll formation. Strawberry plants
do not become chlorotic, yet new runners are formed more abundantly and the
strawberry row is wider where magnesium is applied, while the row becomes
narrow where no magnesium is applied. The very common garden weed, purslane
(Portulaca oleracea), called by the farmer "pussley," forms a thick mat where
magnesium was applied and ceases to grow, except in rare instances, where the
soil is deficient in magnesium. If a plant can be found, it is not chlorotic. Apple
leaves from trees on magnesium-deficient soils are not chlorotic, but areas of the
leaves become dark brown and eventualK' die, much like the leaves from a potash-
ANNUAL REPORT, 1941 9
On areas of the plot where linae was applied, the sugar content of the fruits was
increased in some instances. This was true of blueberries and grapes, but not of
The Absorption and Excretion of Potassium and Calcium by the Roots of
Barley in Different Solution Media and Changes in pH. (Walter S. Eisenmenger
and George Wenzel.) Determinations were made of the absorption and excre-
tion of potassium and calcium, by (barley) plants and excised root systems of
barley, from and into one-salt solutions of different concentrations, and into
distilled water. A study of the changes in hydrogen-ion concentration of the
solutions was also included. The salts used were acid potassium phosphate
(KH2PO4), and calcium nitrate (Ca(N03)2). The length of the experimental
period was 72 hours in all tests.
The intensity of absorption and excretion increased with the length of the ex-
perimental period. In general the absorption increased rapidly after the first
24 hours, while the excretion increased slowly throughout.
The reaction of the media was never stable in the presence of live root systems.
The pH values increased during the daylight hours and decreased somewhat
during the night. The continual change of pH values was, undoubtedly, tied up
with absorption and excretion phenomena of electrolytes, but to state that the
degree of change was absolutely proportional to the rates of absorption and ex-
cretion would imply the exclusion of buffer action and other controlling factors.
The proportion of absorbable ions absorbed during a given period decreased
as the concentration of these ions in the solution decreased. In this way plants
can adapt themselves, to a considerable extent, to solutions of low concentration.
For the first two days potassium was more firmly held by the roots than calcium,
after which calcium was excreted in larger amounts, but no considerable excre-
tion of either was observed. The excretion of ions into salt solutions was greater
than into distilled water.
An equivalent absorption and excretion of calcium and potassium did not
take place, except for extremely short periods.
The results with excised roots show that roots alone are not capable of a uniform
absorption of ions.
Attention is called to the fact that energy exchanges are involved in the proc-
esses of absorption and excretion. Permeability and osmosis alone are inade-
quate to explain these phenomena in the living plant.
Sunflowers and Their Possibilities. (Karol J. Kucinski and Walter S. Eisen-
menger.) This year's growing season was an exceptionally good one for sun-
flowers, which grew to maturity and formed very large seed heads. Seedings
of one seed per hill every 18 inches in 36-inch rows produced a yield of over two
tons per acre of well-formed large seeds. This yield is much larger than that
obtained in past years, indicating that a good corn-growing season is also a good
sunflower season. At the current wholesale market price of sunflower seed the
value per acre is about $225 to $250. This crop would seem to have great pos-
sibilities if grown commercially, even on some of our lands which have a high
per acre valuation. Since it is somewhat difficult during this present national
emergency to import from abroad as much sunflower seed as is necessary, it
might be feasible for some of our farmers to grow the crop commercially.
The cil obtained from sunflower seed is very high in content of vitamins A
and D, but it is used in this country primarily as a drying oil in paints. In eastern
continental Europe the peasant population has always eaten the seed. It has
been thought by some scientists that this seemingly habit-forming practice of
eating the sunflower seed is an instinctive effort on the part of the individual to
supplement his usual deficient diet with the high nutritive contents of the seed.
10 MASS. EXPERIMENT STATION BULLETIN 388
Soil Conservation Research Projects. (Karol J. Kucinski and Walter S.
A Study of the Physical and Chemical Properties of Wind-Blown Soils. Only
certain types of soil in Massachusetts are normally affected by wind. The object
of this study is to determine whether there is any relation between the physical-
chemical properties of these soils and their susceptibility to wind erosion. Soils
from wind-eroded and non-wind-eroded areas have been examined for their
physical and chemical properties, such as mineral and organic colloidal fractions,
plasticity, hygroscopicity, mechanical analysis, heat of wetting, heat of con-
ductivity, capacity of absorption, and such other soil properties as are deemed
cf value. The effect of chemical and physical charges in soil, brought about
by the addition of fertilizer, lime, or organic matter, has been studied by means
of a small wind tunnel. Preliminary tests were sufficiently satisfactory to warrant
the construction of a larger wind tunnel with certain modifications which should
make it more suitable for the purpose.
Experimentation with Topsail Removal. (In collaboration with Arthur B.
Beaumont.) In order to measure the effects of loss of topsoil on yield, the topsoil
(to plow depth) was totally removed from one plot with a bulldozer, while an
adjacent plot was left undisturbed as a check. Spring wheat and white sweet
clover were grown on fertilized and unfertilized portions of these two areas.
The increases in yield due to fertilization were significant on both areas. How-
ever, the decreases in yield due to topsoil removal are alarming. With spring
wheat, the decrease in yield where the topsoil had been removed was 63 percent
on the fertilized plot and 91 percent on the unfertilized. With white sweet clover,
the results were even mere extreme: where topsoil had been removed, there was
81 percent decrease in yield on the fertilized plot and total cr p failure (100
percent decrease) on the unfertilized plot. These results show the value of the
topsoil and the loss to the farmer if his topsril were totally removed at one time.
Under normal conditions only a small part of the topsoil is removed each year
by erosion, and the farmer is not so conscious of his loss..
Nature of Soil Erosion in Massachusetts. (Arthur B. Beaumont and Karcl
J. Kucinski.) Accelerated water erosion of Massachusetts soils is widespread
but of slight to moderate intensity. However, cultivation of steep slopes through
a long period has caused the removal of the entire original topsoil in places and
its accumulation at the foot of slopes within comparatively short distances from
the point of origin. The character of the soils is important as affecting the nature
of the erosion. Being of medium texture and low in colloidal matter, they have
low suspensibility in water. A preliminary examination of important soil types
gave dispersion ratios ranging from 9.3 to 15.3 with most of them below 11.0.
Because of the low suspensibility of the soils, they are deposited as soon as the
velocity of the water carrying them is slightly lessened. Streams in this section
rarely run muddy, and then only at times of high flood.
The pictures on page 53 illustrate (1) the difference in the suspensibility in
water of Merrimac fine sandy loam, an important soil of the Connecticut Valley,
and Memphis silt loam, an important soil of the Mississippi Valley; and (2) the
depth of topsoil accumulated by sheet erosion of a cultivated Massachusetts
Experimentation with Historical "Soil-Test Plots." (Walter S. Eisenmenger
and Karol J. Kucinski.) Fifty-one years ago a series of plots was inaugurated
to study the effects on the soil and crops of a long-time fixed-fertilizer program.
The purpose was to find out the fertilizer needs of the soil tested. Results of
these tests published about twenty years ago showed "that fertilizer needs are
ANNUAL REPORT, 1941 11
determined as much by the farming system followed and the kind of crops grjwri
as they are by the tj'pe of soil being farmed."
Since that time these plots have been used for experiments with fruit trees,
following the original system of fertilization. The fruit trees have now baen
removed, leaving a field with limed and unlimed portions of plots which for the
past fifty years have had applications of nitrogen, potash, and phosphoric acid,
singly and in various combinations. The check plots have been left unfertilized
during the entire period. Preliminary observations during the past year hive
shown that the fertility level of all the plots is much higher on the limed than on
the unlimed portions. The unlimed portions of the check plots showed crop
failures and indications of nutrient deficiences.
It is the intention to continue this study with the view of observing m )re
carefully the various nutrient deficiencies singly and in combination as they
appear in the various crops to be grown on this area.
Potato Variety Trials. (Ralph W. Donaldson, Walter S. Eisenmenger, and
Karol J. Kucinski.) Based on yields of marketable size, the ranking of potato
varieties grown in plots at the college during the season of 1941 were Sequsia,
Earlaine No. 2, Green Mountain, Russet Rural, Katahdin, Houma, Irish Cobbler,
Red Warba, Sebago, and Chippewa.
Soil Nitrates Lower pH Reactions. (Ralph W. Donaldson, Walter S. Eisen-
menger, and Hrant M. Yegian.) A marked depression of pH reactions which
occurred in potted soil as nitrates formed and accumulated was mentioned last
year in reporting "the effect of fineness of limestone on soil reaction."
Results of a similar trial in progress now, covering a 12-month period, sub-
stantiate the previous findings. In this later trial oats were successively grown
on a duplicate series of limed and unlimed soil, in an attempt to remove by plant as-
similation the nitrates which develop. Both the cropped and the uncropped soil
of any given treatment first exhibited similar reactions except for slight varia-
tions dependent upon ammonia development. When nitrates developed, how-
ever, the uncropped soils dropped about .7 of a pH below corresponding cropped
soils, depending upon the relative amounts of nitrates present. This situation
prevailed within limed and unlimed treatments.
Since the product of organic matter decomposition is ultimately nitrates,
whirh under seme conditions may accumulate in the soil solution and cause a
lowered pH reading, this factor may be important when recommending lime
for sensitive crops like potatoes and tobacco. A field sample which shows high
nitrates after harvest may give a pH reading about .5 lower than a sample taken
during the active growing period of the crop when nitrates are being absorbed.
For example, it is conceivable that a potato soil during the active growing period
of the crop may show low nitrates in the soil solution and test pH 5.5; yet when
tested after harvest, with nitrate accumulated, it may test pH 5.0, for which a
light lime application might (wrongly) be suggested. Whether such differences
occur under field conditions at least merits consideration.
Borax Trials on Several Crops. (Ralph W. Donaldson, Walter S. Eisenmenger,
and W. G. Colby.) Applications of borax to established stands of alfalfa have
been continued on more than 20 farms in the State. Both spring and fall applica-
tions at 25 and 50 pound rates have been compared, with no evidence at all of in-
jury from the higher rates. In fields where alfalfa "yellows" appeared this season,
borax applied prior to this spring effected marked control. This was evident also
in single treatments of 25 pounds per acre applied in the fall of 1939, indicating,
thus far at least, a two-season carry-over from treatment. The effect of borax
applied in the spring was less marked in controlling yellows on the crop which
12 MASS. EXPERIMENT STATION BULLETIN 388
followed. A marked deficiency of normal rainfall occurred following application
of the borax. Evidence that borax may contribute to longevity of alfalfa is
indicated by plant response t j two seasons' applications compared with the check
in two fields.
Borax was broadcast at 25 pound rates in strips on a variety of crops growing
on six market garden farms. The treatments were made early in May, without
regard to planting time and seedling stage. In no case did growers observe any
injurious effects from the borax.
Fertilizer containing 20 pounds of borax per ton was drilled in bands at a ton
rate on an acre of Cobbler potatoes planted by D. Wilson Smith, Scituate. There
were no symptoms of plant injury which could be attributed to the borax.
Oat Variety Tests. (W. G. Colby.) Eleven named varieties of oats, including
several of the recently developed, smut-resistant strains, were grown at Amherst
during the past season. The results are reported in Control Bulletin 111, Seed
Inspection (pages 92-93), where these named varieties are compared with a
number of lots of commercial seeds.
The Effect of Arsenious, Arsenic, and Antimony Oxides on Soil and Plant
Growth. (Walter S. Eisenmenger and Hrant M. Yegian.) Pot culture studies
under greenhouse conditions on the effect of arsenious, arsenic, and antimony
oxides on Merrimac fine sandy loam and subsequent crop growth are being con-
tinued. Six successive crops, barley and buckwheat alternating, were grown in
the same soil in pots during 1939 and 1941. On June 11, 1941, tobacco seedlings
were transplanted to these treated pots. The tobacco was harvested Novem-
ber 14, 1941.
Arsenious oxide, 500 p. p.m., retarded the growth of tobacco and prevented
blossoming; while 500 p. p.m. with organic matter produced a fully mature,
normal plant. Concentrations of 1000 p. p.m. or over of arsenious oxide were
very toxic even in the presence of organic matter.
Arsenic oxide, 750 p. p.m. reduced the growth of tobacco and prevented blos-
coming; 750 p. p.m. with organic matter, however, produced a fully maturCf
normal plant. Concentrations of 1000 p. p.m. or over of arsenic oxide, with or
without organic matter, were very toxic to tobacco.
The arsenic content of a few of the tobacco leaves, stems, and seeds was de-
terminedi by the micro Gutzeit method, modified according to C. C. Cassil.
The results of these analyses may be summarized as follows:
1. At the low concentration of arsenic (240 p. p.m. As) in the soil, the stems
and leaves contained 3 to 6 p. p.m. As, while none was detected in the seed.
2. At the higher concentration of arsenic (480 p. p.m. As) in the soil, the
stem and leaves contained 12 to 18 p. p.m. As, and no seeds were produced.
3. Indications are that the concentration of arsenic in the tobacco leaves
exceeds that in the stems. The number of determinations, however, was not
great enough to warrant definite conclusions at this time.
The tobacco plants in pots containing 1500 and 2000 p. p.m. arsenious oxide
made no growth during the five-month period. At the end of five months these
plants were transplanted to AsgOs free soil. While these plants have resumed
growth, it is not a norma! but a rosette growth. This may be due either to the
age of the transplants, short daylight conditions, presence of arsenic in the plant,
or to a combination of all these factors.
The antimony oxide treatment did not affect the growth of tobacco at any
concentration (250 to 2000 p. p.m. antimony oxide).
вАҐBy John W. Kuzmeski, Senior Chemist, Control Laboratory of the Massachusetts Agricultural
ANNUAL REPORT, 1941 13
Hybrid Field Corn. (Hrant M. Yegian.) There is a definite need for an early-
maturing hybrid field corn for the higher plateau regions of Worcester County and
the western counties of Massachusetts. Accordingly, 64 strains of hybrid seed
corn were planted for trial during the past season. A few of these strains, which
matured in 90 to 100 days, will be tested next season in Athol, Massachusetts,
against the local-grown varieties in that region. Last season 180 inbred lines and
single crosses were crossed with Wis. (CC4XCC8). Most of these crosses will
be tested for earlj- maturity and yield this coming season at the College Farm.
Onion Breeding. (Hrant M. Yegian.) Hybrids between Allium fistulosum
(type Nebuka) and A. cepa (type Ebenezer) were secured in the spring of 1940.
All the flowers of two umbels from Nebuka plants were emasculated twice daily
for about two weeks and dusted daily with pollen grain from Ebenezer. Of the
230 plants from one of the umbels 80 percent were hybrid between the two species.
Only 10 percent of the plants were hybrid from the second Umbel. Although there
were no apparent morphological differences between the hybrids and the Nebuka
at the seedling stage, the hybrid plants could be recognized in the field by their
vigor, the semi-circular leaves growing close together, and the color of the bulbs.
Some of these hybrids will be treated with calchicine in an effort to secure tetra-
Sufficient seed for testing has been produced from a strain of Ebenezer selection
that will mature bulbs about two weeks earlier than the valley-grown varieties.
Final field tests will be made before the strain is recommended to the growers.
Data from a two-year preliminary experiment show that there is no significant
difference between the yield of set onions grown in double rows and those grown
in single rows 14 inches apart. Planting sets in double rows 4 inches apart and
placing the double rows 24 inches apart would greatly facilitate the use of power
Influence of Soil Fertility on Productiveness of Pasture Species. (Walter S.
Eisenmenger and Hrant M. Yegian.) It has long been observed that there is a
close relationship between the fertility of the so'l and the botanical composition
of the vegetation growing upon it. It would be of great interest, therefore, to
know whether there are specific levels of soil fertility which are required by
different species of pasture plants in order that they may thrive and maintain
themselves over an extended period.
The data covering one year of preliminary field plot experiment on the effect
of four levels of soil fertility on thirteen species of grasses in pure stand warrant
the following general statements:
1. That all the species responded to increase in soil fertility.
2. That the species which produced poorly at a low fertility level gave much
greater percentage increases in yield at higher fertility levels. Meadow foxtail,
for example, produced an average of 0.19 pounds of dry hay in the plots that had
no fertilizer, and 0.54 pounds (184 percent increase) in the plots treated at the
rate of 1600 pounds of 5-8-7 per acre. On the other hand, meadow fescue, which
averaged 0.48 pounds of dry hay in no-treatment plots, produced 0.76 pounds
(58 percent increase) at the highest fertility level (1600 pounds 5-8-7 per acre).
However, in each of the four levels of soil fertility, the species which produced
greater total dry weight in no-treatment plots outyielded the species which
produced poorly in no-treatment plots.
3. That the better-producing species were those well adapted to the climate.
Apparently temperature is one of the important factors influencing yield. Peren-
nial rye grass and fowl bluegrass did well in cool weather, but during the heat of
summer they dried out; whereas meadow fescue, reed canary grass, and orchard
grass maintained comparatively well-sustained growth throughout the season.
14 MASS. EXPERIMENT STATION BULLETIN 388
Experiments at Amherst with Pasture Seeding Mixtures. (W. G. Colby.)
For the purpose of studying different strains of grasses and legumes under actual
grazing conditions, three series of plots were laid out in 1940, on land which had
been brought to a high state of fertility through the liberal use of lime, manure,
and commercial fertilizer. Two series of 19 plots each were seeded August 23,
1940, and a third series of 13 plots was seeded April 18, 1941. The same mixtures
were included in each series as far as possible. In several instances, limited seed
supplies prevented the use of certain mixtures in more than one or two of the