MINIMIZING ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS IN FIELD ESTABLISHMENT OF VEGETABLE CROPS

in HortScience
Author: T.K. Hartz1
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  • 1 Department of Botany and Plant Sciences, University of California, Riverside. CA 92521

Overcoming environmental stresses during seedling establishment is crucial to successful vegetable production. In the irrigated production areas of the West stress is most often related to unfavorable temperature, soil or water salinity, or poor soil structure; it is frequently difficult to separate the effects of these stresses since they may all be present to some significant degree. Growers use a variety of techniques to ameliorate these conditions. Advances in seed priming and coating have improved seedling establishment under unfavorable temperatures, particularly for lettuce. The use of sprinkler irrigation for stand establishment has become a widespread practice; sprinkling moderates soil temperature, minimizes salinity in the zone of germination, and reduces soil crusting. By modifying bed configuration growers have been able to increase soil temperature to stimulate germination. Modifying furrow irrigation patterns can create zones of lower salinity. Various chemical treatments have proven effective in reducing soil crusting. The use of transplants is expanding for many crops, both as a means to circumvent seedling establishment problems as well as a technique to obtain earliness.

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