Minimizing Environmental Stress in Field Establishment of Vegetable Crops in the Southwestern United States

in HortTechnology
Author: T.K. Hartz1
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  • 1 Vegetable Crops Department, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.

Overcoming environmental stresses during seedling establishment is crucial to successful vegetable production. In the irrigated production areas of the southwestern United States, stress most often is related to unfavorable temperature, soil or water salinity, or poor soil structure; it is frequently difficult to separate the effects of these stresses because they may all be present to some significant degree. Growers use a variety of techniques to ameliorate these conditions. Advances in seed technology have improved seedling establishment under unfavorable temperatures, particularly for lettuce. The use of sprinkler irrigation for stand establishment has become a widespread practice; sprinkling moderates soil temperature, minimizes salinity in the zone of germination, and reduces soil crusting. By modifying bed configuration, growers have been able to increase soil temperature to stimulate germination. Modifying seed placement and furrow irrigation patterns can create zones of lower salinity. Various chemical and physical treatments have proven effective in reducing soil crusting. The use of transplants-has expanded for many crops, both as a means to circumvent seedling establishment problems, as well as a technique to obtain earliness.