Corky root (CR) of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) is caused by the bacterium Rhizomonas suberifaciens. Current management strategies involve the use of resistant cultivars and crop rotation. The use of transplants as a method to grow CR-susceptible cultivars in CR-infested fields was recently demonstrated. The objective of this study was to evaluate corky root destruction of root systems of direct-seeded and transplanted lettuce. Direct seeded, and three and five week old transplants of CR susceptible `Shawnee' and CR resistant `South Bay' crisphead lettuce were grown in a naturally CR-infested field. Root systems were evaluated at head harvest maturity. When direct seeded, South Bay developed 104% more total lateral root length than did Shawnee. When transplanted at three and five weeks, South Bay developed 50% and 61% more total lateral root length than Shawnee, respectively. Total lateral root length for Shawnee transplanted at five weeks was 100% greater than direct seeded Shawnee. Comparatively, total lateral root length for South Bay transplanted at five weeks was 58% greater than direct seeded South Bay. Tap root lengths and dry weights were not different among planting systems. Transplanting is a possible method for reducing the impact of CR on lettuce lateral root development.
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