Management of Nitrogen and Irrigation in Lettuce Transplant Production affects Transplant Root and Shoot Development and Subsequent Crop Yields

in HortScience
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  • 1 University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Horticultural Sciences Department, 1251 Fifield Hall, PO Box 110690, Gainesville, FL 32611

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) `South Bay' transplant growth and development were evaluated at 0, 30, 60, 90, and 120 mg·L–1 N fertigated at frequencies of every 1, 2, 3, or 4 days in a floatation production system to produce plants with optimum roots and shoots which easily pull from trays. Greenhouse experiments (four) were conducted to evaluate root and shoot weight, percent transplant pulling success, and leaf N content, 28 days after sowing (DAS). Field trials, using transplants produced in Greenhouse experiments 2 and 4, were conducted to evaluated subsequent yield, head quality characteristics, and leaf N content. Generally, as N concentrations increased, dry shoot weight and leaf N concentration increased, and root:shoot ratios decreased linearly or quadratically. Lettuce transplants grown in a floatation irrigation system fertigated every second to third day with 60 to 90 mg·L–1 N resulted in transplants with optimum root systems to achieve the highest pulling success rate from flats. Subsequent yields and head quality were optimum for pretransplant production fertigation N concentration of 60 to 90 mg·L–1, regardless of irrigation frequency.

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