192 Controlling Early Growth of Marigold and Tomato Plugs

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture and Crop Science, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210

Some transplanted crops, like tomato and marigolds, tend to stretch very early after germination, especially if grown in low light environments. By the time growers apply growth regulators (PGRs), the stretching of the hypocotyl has already occurred and sprays are ineffective. Seeds of marigold `Bonanza Gold' and tomato `Sun 6108' were soaked for 6, 16, and 24 h in paclobutrazol solutions of 0, 500, and 1000 ppm. After imbibition, seeds were dried for 24 h before sowing in plugs. Sixteen, 26, and 36 days after sowing, seedling height and percent emergence were measured. Increasing concentrations of PGR and time of imbibition produced shorter seedlings. Tomato seedling heights measured 36 days after sowing were 1.9, 1.5, and 1.7 cm when imbibed in water for 6, 16, and 24 h, respectively. When PGR was used at 500 ppm, seedling heights were: 1.4, 1.2, and 1.2 cm, respectively. Similar reductions were observed for marigolds. It was hypothesized that some seeds have coats that are impermeable to PGRs. These impermeable coats might serve as PGR carriers, delivering the chemical into the growing medium of the plug cell. When the root emerges from the seed, it absorbs the growth regulator. These preliminary results indicate that this method of PGR application may be feasible and could benefit plug growers of marigold and other ornamental plant species prone to early stretching (e.g., cosmos).

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