498 PB 204 PROVIDING A CONSTANT, OPTIMUM, MOISTURE/AIR RATIO IN PLUG TRAYS DURING SEED GERMINATION AND SEEDLING GROWTH

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40546-0091

The automatic subirrigation system consists of a capillary mat placed above a constant water level in a reservoir. The optimum mat height above the water level was established by slanting a flat surface so the difference in vertical height from one end of the surface to the other was 25 cm. A ground cover providing water movement but not root penetration was placed over the mat. The capillary mat extended beyond the lowest end of the slopped surface and into the reservoir, the mat at the lowest end of the slopped surface was at the same vertical height as the water in the reservoir and remained constantly saturated. Plug trays were placed at intervals of 2.5 cm in vertical height above the water level. An average of 96-100% germination was obtained with marigold, tomato, impatiens and pepper seed in trays placed 5-7.5 cm in vertical height above the water level. These seedlings continued to develop and reached transplanting stage quicker than other trays. The rate and % germination was less in trays placed on the surface nearer to the height of the water in the reservoir. Germination in trays above 12.5 cm was greatly reduced and seed that did germinate did not develop and eventually died.

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