Pretransplant nutritional conditioning (PNC) is defined as select fertilization practices used during greenhouse transplant propagation, condition or predispose the seedlings to tolerate and recover from transplant shock in the field and promote earliness. PNC differs from standard greenhouse fertility practices in many ways. Each crop may require a unique, prescribed NPK PNC regime, rather than “one size fits all” approach. PNC regimes are chosen for crops based on long-term yield superiority in the field and not on the visual appeal of transplants to the human eye. Conditioned seedlings are not hardened with nutrient withdrawal. Research has accumulated over recent years providing new insights to PNC. This will be condensed and reviewed to point out the “pros and cons” of PNC. Possible constraints to commercialization and needs for future research will be discussed.
Barbara A. Neal and Thomas Whitlow
There is broad consensus that we need a greater understanding of the interaction between trees and urban planting sites. This study was conducted to correlate annual increment growth with different street-tree planting specifications, with a primary emphasis on effective rooting volume of soil. The primary site of analysis was Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D. C., with four outlying sites chosen for comparison. From a cohort of 450, a randomly generated sample of 60 Pennsylvania Avenue willow oaks was chosen and increment cores taken at diameter breast height. A total of 60 cores was taken from willow oaks at the comparison sites. The annual incremental growth was measured using a microscope equipped with a computerized stage micrometer. The incremental growth per year in the nursery ranged between 6 and 8 mm and transplant shock generally lasted for 2 to 3 years, until growth regained or exceeded pretransplant levels.
Marc van Iersel
Uprooting and transplanting seedlings can cause root damage, which may reduce water and nutrient uptake. Initiation of new roots and rapid elongation of existing roots may help minimize the negative effects of transplant shock. In this study, seedlings with four true leaves were transplanted into diatomaceous earth and the plants were transferred to a growth chamber, where they were treated with NAA (0, 0.025, 0.25, and 2.5 mg·L-1; 36 mL/plant). The effects of drenches with various amounts of 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA) on the posttransplant CO2 exchange rate of vinca [Catharanthus roseus (L.) G. Don] were quantified. Whole-plant CO2 exchange rate of the plants was measured once every 20 minutes for a 28 day period. Seedlings treated with 0.025 or 0.25 mg·L-1 recovered from transplant shock more quickly than plants in the 0 and 2.5 mg·L-1 treatments. Naphthaleneacetic acid drenches containing 0.025 or 0.25 mg·L-1 increased whole-plant net photosynthesis (Pnet) from 10 days, dark respiration (Rdark) from 12 days, and carbon use efficiency (CUE) from 11 days after transplanting until the end of the experiment. The increase in CUE seems to have been the result of the larger size of the plants in these two treatments, and thus an indirect effect of the NAA applications. These differences in CO2 metabolism among the treatments resulted in a 46% dry mass increase in the 0.025 mg·L-1 treatment compared to the control, but shoot-root ratio was not affected. The highest rate of NAA (2.5 mg·L-1) was slightly phytotoxic and reduced the growth rate of the plants.
Andres A. Estrada-Luna, Fred T. Davies Jr., and Jonathan N. Egilla
Micropropagated chile ancho pepper (Capsicum annuum L. cv. San Luis) plants were transferred to ex vitro conditions to study plantlet performance and selected physiological changes that occur during acclimatization and post-acclimatization. The physiology of the plantlets was characterized by measuring leaf gas exchange and water status. Plant growth was determined by assessing plant height, leaf number, total leaf area, relative growth rate (RGR), and leaf, root, and stem dry mass. Measurements were taken at 0, 1, 2, 3, 6, 12, and 24 days after transplanting. After initial transplanting ex vitro to liner pots with soilless media, plantlet wilting was observed that correlated with reduced leaf relative water content (RWC). Water stress was partially alleviated by a reduction in stomatal conductance (gs), confirming that the in vitro formed stomata were functional and able to regulate transpiration (E) to minimize desiccation losses. Because of this stomatal control, plantlets had minimal transplant shock, recovered, and survived. Prior to transplanting, micropropagated plantlets showed heterotrophic/mixotrophic characteristics as indicated by low photosynthesis [(A) 4.74 μmol·m2·s-1]. During acclimatization, RWC, gs, E, and A were significantly lower 2 days after transplanting. However, within 6 days after transplanting, plantlets recovered and became autotrophic, attaining high A (16.3 μmol·m-2·s-1), gs, and E. The stabilization and improvement of plantlet water status and gas exchange during acclimatization and post-acclimatization closely correlated with dramatic increases in plantlet growth.
Lauren C. Garner and Thomas Björkman
Excessive stem elongation reduces plant survival in the field and hinders mechanical transplanting. Mechanical conditioning is an effective method for reducing stem elongation during transplant production. This investigation examined the consequences of mechanical conditioning, using brushing and impedance, on subsequent field performance of tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.). Mechanically conditioned transplants of processing tomatoes resumed growth after transplant shock as quickly as did untreated plants, and subsequent canopy development was also equal. In 4 years of field trials, yield was not reduced by mechanical conditioning. Transplants for fresh-market tomatoes may be more sensitive to injury than those for processing tomatoes because they flower sooner after the conditioning treatments. Nevertheless, neither earliness nor defects in the fruits of the first cluster were affected by mechanical conditioning. Early and total yields were equal in both years that fresh-market crops were tested. Thus, there were no adverse effects on field performance of either processing or fresh-market tomatoes as a result of reducing stem elongation by mechanical conditioning before transplanting. Improved wind tolerance was tested both in a wind tunnel and in the field. In wind-tunnel tests, brushed and impeded plants resisted stem bending at wind speeds 4 to 12 km·h–1 higher than did untreated plants. A 70 km·h–1 wind after transplanting killed 12% of untreated plants but only 2% of treated plants. Mechanical conditioning with brushing and impedance produced transplants with desirable qualities without adverse effects on field performance.
Lauren C. Garner and Thomas Bjorkman
Stretching is a problem in high-density transplant production. Mechanical conditioning provides good height control for many crops, but there may be adverse effects on field performance. Mechanical conditioning was applied to processing tomatoes (Ohio 8245) grown in #288-deep flats (=2000 plants/m2) using two methods, brushing and impendance. Brushing was applied by gently stroking the plant canopy with a Styrofoam planter flat 20 times back and forth every morning. The impeded plant canopy was compressed slightly by apiece of Plexiglas suspended overnight. The treatments were applied from canopy closure until transplanting to the field. At transplanting, brushed plants were 31% (1993) and 12% (1994) shorter than control plants, and impeded plants were 25% (1993) and 24% (1994) shorter than control plants. In both years, the caliper of impeded transplants was significantly larger than that of both the control and brushed plants. There was also no reduction in dry weight and no noticeable difference in plant quality between treatments. The treatments did not affect the speed at which the plants recovered from transplant shock or the rate at which they grew in the field. Within 5 weeks after transplanting, there were no significant differences between treatments in biomass, leaf area estimates, stem caliper, flowering, early set, or field yield, despite differences in size at transplanting. Therefore, both brushing and impendance result in sturdy, high-quality transplants without adversely affecting establishment or yield.
Marc van Iersel
Transplanting often causes root damage, and rapid root growth following transplanting may help to minimize the effects of transplant shock. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of NAA and IAA on posttransplant growth of vinca (Catharanthus roseus L.). Bare-root seedlings were germinated in a peat-based growing mix and transplanted into diatomaceous earth 10 days after seeding. Immediately after transplanting, seedlings were drenched with several concentrations of IAA or NAA (62.5 mL/plant). Both auxins increased posttransplant root and shoot growth, but the response was dose-dependent. The maximum growth occurred at concentrations of 10 mg·L-1 (IAA) or 0.1 mg·L-1 (NAA). The growth-stimulating effect of these auxins decreased at higher rates and NAA was highly toxic at 100 mg·L-1, killing most of the plants. Unlike the growth of bare-root seedlings, plug seedling growth was not stimulated by drenching with NAA solutions. These results show that auxins have the ability to stimulate posttransplant growth of vinca, but their effects may depend on the application method, rate, and timing, and transplanting method. Chemical names used: 1-naphthaleneacetic acid (NAA); 1-indole-3-acetic acid (IAA).
Akira Sugiura, Yoshiko Matsuda-Habu, Mei Gao, Tomoya Esumi, and Ryutaro Tao
In persimmon, plant regeneration from cultured cells usually takes place through adventitious bud formation. If somatic embryogenesis were possible, the efficiency of mass propagation and genetic engineering would be greatly improved. We attempted to induce somatic embryogenesis from immature embryos and plant regeneration from the induced embryos. Hypocotyls and cotyledons from immature ‘Fuyu’ and ‘Jiro’ seeds were cultured in the dark in Murashige and Skoog medium solidified with gellan gum and supplemented with 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D) and 6-benzyladenine (BA) at various concentrations. Callus formation started at ≈2 weeks of culture, and the callus formation rate was highest at 3 or 10 μm combinations of 2,4-D and BA. The initially formed calli gradually became brown or black from which white embryogenic calli (EC) appeared secondarily. After ≈8 weeks of culture, globular embryos were formed from these EC, and the formation proceeded until 20 weeks of culture. Formation of globular embryos was higher with ‘Fuyu’ than ‘Jiro’, especially with hypocotyls. When EC with globular embryos were transferred to fresh medium with no plant growth regulators, ≈70% developed to the torpedo-type embryo stage in 6 weeks. The torpedo-type embryos thus formed were germinated and rooted in agar medium with or without zeatin in several weeks without entering dormancy. After germination and rooting, the plantlets were transferred to the same medium and acclimatized for another 4 weeks. As the embryos germinated and rooted simultaneously, the plantlets were easy to grow in pots without transplanting shock. This is the first report on plant regeneration through somatic embryogenesis of persimmon.
Jonathan R. Schultheis and Robert J. Dufault
Pretransplant nutritional conditioning (PNC) of transplants during greenhouse production may improve recovery from transplanting stress and enhance earliness and yield of watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thumb.) Matsum. & Nakai]. Two greenhouse experiments (Expts. 1 and 2) and field experiments in South Carolina and North Carolina (Expt. 3) were conducted to evaluate N and P PNC effects on watermelon seedling growth and their effects on fruit yield and quality. `Queen of Hearts' triploid and `Crimson Sweet' diploid watermelon seedlings were fertilized with N from calcium nitrate at 25, 75, or 225 mg·liter–1 and P from calcium phosphate at 5, 15, or 45 mg·liter–1. In the greenhouse, most variation in the shoot fresh and dry weights, leaf count, leaf area, transplant height, and root dry weight in `Queen of Hearts' and `Crimson Sweet' was attributed to N. Cultivar interacted with N, affecting all seedling growth variables, but not leaf area in Expt. 2. To a lesser extent, in Expt. 1, but not in Expt. 2, P interacted with cultivar, N, or cultivar × N and affected shoot fresh and dry weights, leaf count and leaf area. In the field, transplant shock increased linearly with N, regardless of cultivar or field location. The effect of PNC on plant growth diminished as the growing season progressed. For both cultivars at both locations, N and P PNC did not affect time to first staminate flower, fruit set, fruit width or length, soluble solids concentration, or yield. Vining at Charleston for both cultivars was 2 days earlier when N was at 75 rather than 25 mg·liter–1, without further change with the high N rate. At Clinton, the first pistillate flower was delayed linearly the higher the N rate for `Crimson Sweet'. At Charleston, hollow heart in the `Queen of Hearts' increased nearly 3 times when N PNC rate was tripled (from 75 or 225 mg·liter–1), while N had no effect on hollow heart in `Crimson Sweet'. In contrast, at Clinton, hollow heart in either cultivar was affected by P PNC, not N. PNC with 25N–5P (in mg·liter–1) can be used to reduce seedling growth and produce a more compact plant for easier handling, yet not reduce fruit quality or yield.
Shinsuke Agehara and Daniel I. Leskovar
field ( Garner and Björkman, 1999 ; Latimer and Mitchell, 1988 ). In addition, the imbalance between transpiration demand and water uptake capacity can result in severe transplant shock and poor stand establishment ( Agehara and Leskovar, 2012