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Francis X. Mangan, Charles S. Vavrina, and John C. Howell

The effects of transplant depth on lodging and yield were evaluated in five experiments in Florida and Massachusetts. `Cherry Bomb', `Jupiter', and `Mitla' pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) transplants were set at three depths so that the soil surface was even with the top of the rootball, the cotyledon leaf, or the first true leaf. Seedlings set to the depth of cotyledon leaves or to the first true leaf lodged less than did those set to the top of the rootball. No yield differences were recorded among treatments in Massachusetts; however, total weight of red fruit was greater in treatments that lodged less in 1 of the 2 years, suggesting that lodging delayed maturity. Soil temperature in Massachusetts declined at the level of the rootball as planting depth increased.

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Steven C. Adams

Seed vigor has a very subtle effect on the productivity of greenhouses producing vegetable transplants, celery, cauliflower, lettuce, etc. and on todays highly mechanized automatic or semi-automatic transplanting operations. As greenhouse production technology moves from traditional bare root to plug/tray growing systems and as automatic and semi-automatic transplanting operations increase in number, the impact of poor seed vigor is realized.

Measures to mitigate the impact of poor seed vigor in the nursery are: Seed density grading; increased growing cycle in the nursery, hand culling or replanting. Measures to mitigate the impact of poor seed vigor in automatic transplanting operations: increase the number of people following the planter to replace poor vigor plants; use hand fed transplanters.

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Joyce G. Latimer

Since chemical growth retardants are no longer labelled for use on vegetable transplants, mechanical conditioning provides an alternative method of controlling excessive stem elongation under greenhouse conditions. Mechanical conditioning includes brushing or shaking treatments that physically impact or displace the plant and generally reduce plant growth, increase stem and petiole strength, and improve overall plant quality. The resulting transplants have less breakage during postharvest handling, may be more stress tolerant, and are faster to establish in the field. However, only minor effects on crop yield have been identified. Brushing reduced broccoli transplant size, but improved shoot dry weight gain during field establishment but had no effect on head yield. Brushing is a labor intensive practice for large-scale operations. Current attempts to mechanize brushing require that the plants are uniform in height and treatment tolerant. Additional research in non-contact treatments like shaking or vibration of benches is necessary. The effects of the treatments on stress tolerance and predisposition to disease need to be clarified.

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Darren E. Robinson, Kristen McNaughton, and Nader Soltani

cultivated twice with a field S-tine cultivator and rolling basket harrows in the spring before transplanting. The experimental design was a randomized complete block split-plot design with four replications. The main plot treatments were s

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Charles W. Marr and Mark Jirak

Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill. cv. Jet Star) seedlings grown in small cells (plugs) in trays holding 200, 406, or 648 plants per flat (28 × 55 cm) were larger after 6 weeks as cell size increased, but all were acceptable. Other seedlings, transplanted at weekly intervals from plug trays to plastic cell packs (48 cells per 28 × 55-cm flat), were of similar size during weeks 1-3; seedlings from 648-plug trays were smaller than the others by week 5-6. Seedlings from 200-plug trays planted at weekly intervals into containers where plant-plant competition was absent were larger through 6 weeks than those from 406- and 648-plug trays. Early marketable and total yields were similar for plants held in 406-plug trays 1 to 4 weeks before their transfer to 48-cell flats, but yield decreased for those held 5 to 7 weeks.

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Joyce G. Latimer

`Jupiter' or `Marengo' pepper (Capsicum annuum L.) seedlings maintained under 0%, 30%, 50%, or 80% shade in a greenhouse were brushed 80 strokes twice daily beginning at the cotyledonary, first true leaf, or second true leaf stage. Averaged across shade environments, brushing reduced `Jupiter' and `Marengo' stem length 25% to 36% and 6% to 28%, respectively. However, the percentage of plants exhibiting mechanical damage by brushing ranged from 86% to 93% and 48% to 90% for `Jupiter' and `Marengo', respectively. Transplant quality tended to decrease as brushing was delayed. When brushing of `Marengo' was reduced to 40 strokes twice daily in 1992, plant growth reduction decreased, but the percent damage was about the same. The damage severity, however, was reduced as indicated by higher plant-quality ratings. Pepper plant damage was excessive for the small amount of growth regulation provided by brushing.

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Timothy K. Broschat and Monica L. Elliott

The use of commercial microbial inoculants, especially arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) fungi, has been widely promoted for woody plants, including palms (Arecacaeae), transplanted into the landscape. AM fungi may promote plant health and development and

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Timothy Coolong

using paper mulch on a larger scale may want to lay mulch and drip irrigation tape with a conventional plastic layer and plant using a water wheel transplanter. Miles et al. (2006) used traditional mulch laying equipment, though hand transplanted, to

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Laurie Hodges, Entin Daningsih, and James R. Brandle

Field experiments were conducted over 4 years to evaluate the effects of antitranspirant (Folicote, Aquatrol Inc., Paulsboro, N.J.) and polyacrylamide gel (SuperSorb, Aquatrol Inc., Paulsboro, N.J.) on early growth of transplanted muskmelon grown either protected by tree windbreaks or exposed to seasonal winds. A randomized complete block design (RCBD) with split plot arrangement was used with wind protection (sheltered and exposed) areas as the main treatment and use of an antitranspirant spray or gel dip as subtreatments. Based on destructive harvests in the field, treatments and subtreatments did not affect dry weight or leaf area index in the first 2 years. Specific contrasts, however, showed that gel application significantly increased fresh weight, dry weight, and leaf area index over that of the untreated transplants whereas the spray application tended to reduce these factors during the first 3 weeks after transplanting. Significant differences between gel and spray subtreatments disappeared by 5 weeks after transplanting. Shelterbelts ameliorated crop microclimate thereby enhancing plant growth. Significantly, wind velocity at canopy height was reduced 40% on average and soil temperatures were about 4% warmer in the sheltered plots compared to the exposed plots during the first 5 weeks post-transplant. Muskmelon plants in the sheltered areas grew significantly faster than the plants in the exposed areas in 2 of the 3 years reported, with the 3-year average fresh weight increased by 168% due to wind protection. Overall transplanting success and early growth were enhanced the most by wind protection, followed by the polyacrylamide gel root dip, and least by the antitranspirant foliar spray. We conclude that microclimate modification by wind speed reduction can increase early muskmelon plant growth more consistently than the use of polyacrylamide gel as a root dip at transplanting or the use of an antitranspirant spray. A polyacrylamide gel root dip generally will provide more benefit during early muskmelon growth than the use of an antitranspirant spray.

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Jean Masson, Nicolas Tremblay, and André Gosselin

This experiment was initiated to determine the effects of supplementary lighting of 100 μmol·s-1·m-2 (PAR) in combination with four N rates (100, 200, 300, and 400 mg N/liter) on growth of celery (Apium graveolens L.), lettuce (Luctuca sativa L.), broccoli (Brassica oleracea italica L.), and tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) transplants in multicellular trays. Supplementary lighting, as compared with natural light alone, increased shoot dry weight of celery, lettuce, broccoli, and tomato transplants by 22%, 40%, 19%, and 24%, and root dry weight by 97%, 42%, 38%, and 21%, respectively. It also increased the percentage of shoot dry matter of broccoli and tomato, leaf area of lettuce and broccoli, and root: shoot dry weight ratio (RSDWR) of celery and broccoli. Compared with 100 mg N/liter, a N rate of 400 mg·liter-1 increased the shoot dry weight of celery, lettuce, broccoli, and tomato transplants by 37%, 38%, 61%, and 38%, respectively. High N fertilization accelerated shoot growth at the expense of root growth, except for tomato where a 16% increase of root dry weight was observed. High N also reduced percentage of shoot dry matter. Supplementary lighting appears to be a promising technique when used in combination with high N rates to improve the production of high quality transplants, particularly those sown early.