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Eric B. Bish, Daniel J. Cantliffe, and Craig K. Chandler

Bare-root strawberry transplants have been conventionally used for establishment of strawberry fruiting fields. These bare-root transplants have variability in vegetative vigor that results in irregular flowering patterns. We have been experimenting with a containerized transplant system to produce uniform transplants. Increasing transplant container volume by increasing perimeter, rather than depth, has resulted in increased plant size, but also increases transplant production costs. This study evaluated three container perimeters (17, 25, 32 cm) and three container shapes (circular, elliptical, and biconvex) such that different cell perimeters had the same greatest diameter. All containers had a depth of 3.5 cm. Root imaging analysis (MacRHIZOTM) was used to measure root growth in the container as well as root growth 3 and 6 weeks after transplanting. Increasing container perimeter led to increased plant growth before and after transplanting, but did not affect fruit production. Transplant container shape did not significantly alter plant growth or fruit production. Biconvex and elliptical containers required 25% and 15% less surface area, respectively. Therefore, a biconvex shaped container can be used to increase plant density during transplant propagation, decreasing surface area needed and reducing production costs.

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William B. Evans and Margaret McMahon

There is significant interest in using non-chemical methods to control seedling height in vegetable transplant production. One method being evaluated is the use of greenhouse films that filter signifcant amounts of far-red light from ambient light, resulting in shorter tranplants. This study was undertaken to evaluate fruit yield and quality of field-grown tomatoes produced from seedlings grown under light-filtering plastics. Tomato seedlings were grown under clear polyethylene tents or light-filtering laminate tents in a polyethylene-covered Quonset greenhouse in northern Ohio. Standard 288 deep plug trays, filled with MetroMix 360, were used. Seedlings were placed under the tents at the cotyledon stage and transplanted 28 days later. Once in the field, they were grown as staked plants under open conditions using locally accepted horticultural practices. Differences in seedling height were detected within a few days after being placed under the tents. Compared to those grown under clear polyethylene tents, seedlings grown under the light-filtering plastic increased in height more slowly and were shorter at transplanting. At harvest, within each of the three cultivars tested, no significant differences in fruit number, yield, or mean fruit size were found between treatments. It is inferred that this non-chemical method for reducing vegetable transplant height may be a viable production option in the future.

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Winston Dunwell, Dwight Wolfe, William Maksymowicz, and Darrell Slone

Alternative use for float system greenhouse space is being studied in Kentucky. High sugar sweet corn (Zea mays L.) cultivars direct seeded into cool soils germinate poorly. A float transplant production system was used to produce high sugar sweet corn transplants that could be planted into cool soils. 100 seeds of sugar enhanced (se) 'How Sweet It Is' and super sweet (sh2) 'Early Xtra Sweet' sweet corn cultivars wars seeded into trays with a cell size of either 19 or 49 ml/cell. The trays were floated on heated or unheated water in the greenhouse. Percent germination was significantly influencedby cultivar. A greater percent germination was observed for 'How Sweet It Is' compared to 'Early Xtra Sweet' and for seeds sown in the 49 ml/cell trays compared to the 19 ml/cell trays. No significant differences resulted from varying the water temperature. Transplants were planted into cool soils with direct seeded sweet corn on April 21, 1992. The use of transplants resulted in a significantly greater plant stand and a two week earlier harvest than the use of the direct seeding.

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Suzanne C. Stapleton, Craig K. Chandler, James F. Price, Daniel E. Legard, and James C. Sumler Jr.

The use of locally grown transplants in Florida strawberry (Fragari×ananassa Duchesne) production has increased since the release of the cultivar Sweet Charlie by the University of Florida in 1992. Previous research has shown that nursery region can influence production patterns of other strawberry cultivars through differences in photoperiod and temperature exposure. Transplants of `Sweet Charlie' strawberry (bareroot and plug plants) from sources representing northern (Canada, Massachusetts, Oregon), southern (Alabama, Florida) and mid latitude (North Carolina) transplant production regions were compared for plant vigor, production, and pest incidence at Dover, Fla. in 1995-96 and 1996-97. Total fruit production was not significantly different forplants among the plant source regions in 1995-96, but total yield from southern source plants in 1996-97 was significantly lower than northern and mid latitude plant sources. Monthly production of marketable fruits varied among the three plant source regions in December, January, and February, during which time market prices fell 46% in 1995-96 and 56% in 1996-97. Plants from northern and mid latitude sources produced significantly greater fruit yield in December than plants from southern sources. Differences among plant sources were detected for early flowering, initial crown size, incidence of foliar disease, arthropod pests, mortality, and fruit weight. Geographic location of strawberry transplant sources influenced fruiting patterns and other components that may affect profitability of `Sweet Charlie' strawberry production in west central Florida.

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D.R. La Bonte, A.Q. Villordon, J.R. Schultheis, and D.W. Monks

The influence of a black polyethylene tunnel cover (BTC) was evaluated for its effect on quantity and quality of sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] transplants in plant beds in Louisiana and North Carolina. Use of BTC increased production of `Beauregard' transplants from 63% to 553% in comparison with the bare ground control. `Jewel' was less responsive; BTC treatments increased transplant production by at least 48% in Louisiana over the bare ground control, but no increase was observed in North Carolina. Individual transplant weight was at least 34% less in BTC treatments than in the control. The first harvest of cuttings in BTC beds was at least 14 days prior to that in control beds. Transplant quality was assessed as yield of storage roots in repeated trials that extended throughout the normal growing season. Yield of storage roots was not affected by BTC in early season plantings, but was frequently lower for BTC treatment transplants in middle and late season plantings. We therefore do not recommend this method as a means of increasing sweetpotato plant production from bedded roots.

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Puffy Soundy, D.J. Cantliffe, G.J. Hochmuth, and P.J. Stoffella

`South Bay' lettuce transplants were grown in F392A styrofoam Speedling® flats at different levels of N to evaluate the effect of N on transplant quality and subsequent yield and head quality in the field. Plants were irrigated eight times over a 4-week growing period by floating flats for 30 min in nutrient solution containing eight 0, 15, 39, 45, or 60 mg·liter–1 N supplied from NH4NO3. Dry shoot mass, leaf area, and plant height increased linearly with increasing N rates and dry root mass and stem diameter increased in a quadratic fashion. Transplants with the greatest plant biomass were, therefore, produced with 60 mg·liter–1 N. Plants from the 15, 30, 45 and 60 mg·liter–1 N treatments were planted in sandy soil in plastic-mulched beds under drip irrigation. To optimize lettuce head maturity among the treatments, plants from the N treatments were harvest 53, 56, and 59 days after transplanting (DAT). The optimum time to harvest was determined to be 56 DAT. There was no yield response (measured in terms of head mass) or quality response (measured in terms of head height, head diameter, head compactness or core length) to N applied during transplant production. This indicated that transplants produced with 15 mg·liter–1 N gave equally good yield to those produced with 30, 45, or 60 mg·liter–1 N when N was applied via flotation irrigation.

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Liliek S. Utami, Robert L. Geneve, Robert G. Anderson, and Sharon T. Kester

Satin flower (Clarkia amoena ssp. whitneyi - syn. Godetia) is a cool season native to the Western U.S. being studied for its potential use as a cutflower crop in Kentucky. In May 1989, plants of `Grace Salmon' were transplanted to the field into black fabric mulch. A factorial experiment was conducted with three pinching treatment (no pinch, pinched early at the third mode prior to transplanting, and pinched in the field at the third mode after the first flower bud was visible) and at three spacings (15, 30 end 45 cm). There were significant main and interaction effects for both pinching and spacing for the number of flowering stems, stem length and plant diameter. However, no treatment combination consistently produced flowering stems of sufficient length for commercial quality. This may be due to the later spring planting date and hot weather in 1989. In an attempt to increase flower stem length, Godetia `Grace Salmon' plants have bean transplanted on April 10, 25 and May 10, Plants will be pinched in the greenhouse or grown without pinching et 45 or 15 cm spacing, respectively, The. effect of supplemental lighting and long days during transplant production will also be considered,

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Carlos A. Parera and Daniel J. Cantliffe

`Verina' leek (AIlium porrum L.) seed germination is normally reduced at temperatures > 25C. Leek seeds were primed in aerated solutions (1.5 MPa, 10 days at 15C) of d-mannitol (mannitol), polyethylene glycol-8000 (PEG), KNO, and a nonaerated solution of PEG-8000 (PEG). At high temperatures mannitol, PEG, and PEG significantly enhanced germination percentage relative to KNO, or the control. At constant 30C, the mannitol, PEG, and PEG treatments increased final germination almost 10 times and the coefficient of velocity (COV) was improved compared to KNO, and the control. 10 growth chambers with alternating day/night temperatures (38 to 28C or 32 to 22C, 10 to 14 hours, respectively), primed seeds had significantly higher emergence and a larger COV than the control. In a greenhouse study under good conditions for germination, total emergence of primed and nonprimed seeds was similar; however, mannitol, PEG, and PEG led to a significantly higher COV than the control or KNO, treatments. These controlled-environment results demonstrate that priming leek seeds via mannitol, PEG, and PEG may promote early emergence at high temperature and improve stand uniformity for container transplant production.

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M.J. Lamb, G.H. Clough, and D.D. Hemphill Jr.

Watermelon [Citrullus lanatus (Thunb.) Matsum. and Nakai `Crimson Sweet'] was seeded in a commercial peat medium in multicell containers. Five NO3: NH4 ratios and five levels of supplemental Ca were combined factorially in a 100N-31P-265K mg·liter-1 pretransplant nutrition regime. The medium was amended with CaCO3 in 1989; the medium was not amended in 1990. Dry-matter accumulation had decreased with increasing NH4-N 3 weeks after seeding both years. In 1989, increasing NH4-N also had decreased seedling growth by the last sampling date due to decreased NH+ 4 uptake. Shoot N concentration was higher in 1990 than 1989, but N uptake was similar. On the first sampling date in both years, increasing the Ca concentration decreased seedling growth and increased medium electrical conductivity (EC). In 1990, increasing the Ca concentration raised shoot N concentration but did not increase seedling growth or N uptake. Either N form at 100 mg N/liter and Ca at 4 to 8 mmol·liter-1 were optimal for watermelon transplant production, but Ca at >8 mmol·liter-1 suppressed transplant growth.

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Ruey-Chi Jao, Chien-Chou Lai, Wei Fang, and Sen-Fuh Chang

Effects of light generated by red and blue light-emitting diodes on the photomixotrophic growth of Zantedeschia jucunda `Black Magic' plantlets in vitro and tuber formation after transplant under the same PPF and photoperiod were investigated. All five treatments had the same photosynthetic photon flux (PPF, 80 ± 5 μmol·m-2·s-1) and photoperiod (16 hours daytime/8 hours nighttime), leading to the same daily light integral. Results showed that the tubular fluorescent lamp (TFL) treatment had the highest value on chlorophyll content and dry weight accumulation than other treatments using light-emitting diodes (LEDs). In LED treatments, there were no significant differences on dry weight and growth rate but with significant differences on chlorophyll content and plant height when blue light LEDs were added. It revealed that blue light was involved in plant height and chlorophyll development control mechanism. Results also showed that minor difference in 28 days of transplant production (in vitro) among treatments does not extends after 6 months of tuber formation stage grown in greenhouse. At present, blue LEDs cost much more than that of red LEDs, results of this study suggested that using red LEDs alone and powered with AC is feasible for the commercial production of Zantedeschia plantlets in vitro.