The Transition of the California Processing Industry from Direct-seeding to Transplanting

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  • 1 University of California, Cooperative Extension, Colusa, CA, 95932

The California processing tomato industry continues to utilize transplants as a primary method of obtaining final plant stands. About 75% of the anticipated 2006 acreage will be transpanted, up from 0% a scant 20 years ago. This trend is being driven by increasing hybrid seed costs, the desire to utilize the land for multiple crops per year, potential water savings, and enhanced weed management options. The history of this transition will be traced, identifying positive and negative impacts of reliance on transplants. An economic evaluation suggests that stand establishment using transplants costs at least $250 per acre more than direct-seeding. A cost-benefit analysis is considered. The movement to transplants has reduced seed sales and many hybrid seed variety prices are tripling in 2006, as seed companies attempt to recoup R&D costs with declining markets. This “differential seed pricing,” and its implications, are discussed in detail.

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