Growth and Yield of Tomato Plants in Response to Age of Transplants

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

Studies were conducted to evaluate growth of tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) transplants in the field in response to age of transplants in Spring and Fall 1989. Transplants were 2 (2W), 3 (3W), 4 (4W), 5 (SW), or 6 (6W) weeks old. Drip and subseepage irrigation were used. In spring, older transplants produced more shoot and root growth up to 2 (T2) weeks after transplanting. At 3 (T3) and 4 (T4) weeks after transplanting, there were no differences between 4W, 5W, and 6W transplants. These trends were independent of irrigation systems. Total yield and early yield were similar for all transplant ages. In fall, shoot growth increased linearly with increasing transplant age at TO, but not thereafter. Chlorophyll a + b increased over time, but no treatment differences were found at T4. At planting, 2W transplants had a higher Chl a: b ratio than older transplants. This difference was reduced at T1 and T2 and became insignificant at T4. These results indicate that no improvement in yields was obtained using the traditional older transplants. Younger transplants might be used to achieve rapid seedling establishment with-minimal transplant production costs.

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