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- Author or Editor: Robert J. Dufault x
- HortTechnology x
The first objective of this paper is to review and characterize the published research in refereed journals pertaining to the nutritional practices used to grow vegetable transplants. The second objective is to note those studies that indicated a direct relationship between transplant nutritional practices and field performance. The third objective is to suggest some approaches that are needed in future vegetable transplant nutrition research. Even after review of the plethora of available information in journals, it is not possible to summarize the one best way to grow any vegetable transplant simply because of many interacting and confounding factors that moderate the effects of nutritional treatments. It is, however, important to recognize that all these confounding factors must be considered when developing guidelines for producing transplants. After thorough review of this information, it is concluded that transplant nutrition generally has a long term effect on influencing yield potential. Therefore, derivation of a nutritional regime to grow transplants needs to be carefully planned. It is hoped that the information that follows can be used to help guide this process.
Muskmelon (Cucumis melo) seedlings are transplanted in late winter or early spring before last frost date to ensure early yields; however, this makes them very vulnerable to temperatures cycling between almost freezing and optimal temperatures. To simulate temperature alternations that may occur after field transplanting, `Athena', `Sugar Bowl', `Eclipse' muskmelon, and `Tesorro Dulce' honeydew (C. melo) transplants were subjected to 2 ± 1 °C (35.6 ± 1.8 °F) in a walk-in cooler and then to 29 ± 5 °C (84.2 ± 9.0 °F) in a greenhouse before field planting. In 1998, transplants were exposed to 2 °C for 9 to 54 hours, and for 9 to 81 hours in 1999. `Athena' and `Sugar Bowl' yielded less early melons in both years, whereas `Eclipse' and `Tesoro Dulce' early yields were only reduced in 1999. Total yields of `Athena' decreased linearly in both years with 10% yield reduction occurring with 12 to 21 hours of cold stress. Total yields of `Sugar Bowl' decreased linearly in both years with 11 to 18 hours of cold stress causing 10% yield reduction in 1998 and 1999, respectively. Therefore, early planting before last frosts of all these muskmelon and honeydew cultivars should be done with caution since reductions in early yields are highly probable.
Early spring sweet corn (Zea mays var. rugosa) is usually planted in cold soils at sub-optimal temperatures for seed germination. It is important for growers to understand the relationships among temperature, germination, and vigor of sweet corn in order to plan the earliest planting dates that will not significantly reduce plant stand. The objectives of this research were 1) to determine the minimum temperatures to germinate to 75%, (the minimum germination percent for interstate commerce) for 27 new sweet corn su (sugary), se (sugar enhancer), and sh2 (shrunken-2) cultivars; 2) to determine vigor differences among the phenotypes; and 3) to select the most promising se, su, and sh2 cultivars for cold tolerance and vigor for early spring planting. Seeds of each cultivar were placed along a temperature gradient on a thermogradient table, Type 5001 (Seed Processing Holland, Enkhuizen, The Netherlands), and allowed to germinate over a 7-day period. The gradient treatments were [±2 °F (1.1 °C)] 52, 56, 60, 64, 68, 72, 76, 80, 84, and 86 °F (11.1, 13.3, 15.6, 17.8, 20.0, 22.2, 24.4, 26.7, 28.9, and 30.0 °C). Germination data from thermogradient testing were used to determine the minimum temperatures and time required for su, se, and sh2 cultivars to germinate at ≥75%, defined as minimum acceptable germination percent (MAGP); and the minimum temperature to reach the maximum germination rate (MGR) for a cultivar, defined as the ability to germinate to MAGP at the same rate equally at low and high temperatures. Generally, su phenotypes germinated to MAGP within 4 days, with sh2 requiring 6 days, but with se requiring 5 days. We found that within each phenotype, however, cultivars reacted uniquely to temperature. The most vigorous and cold tolerant su cultivars were `NK 199' and `Merit' which germinated to MAGP at 52 °F with `NK 199' more vigorous than `Merit'. The su cultivar `Sweet G-90' was vigorous at warm temperatures, but the least cold tolerant and desirable for planting under cold conditions. Within the se cultivars, `Precious Gem', `July Gold', and `Imaculata' germinated to MAGP at 52 °F with `Precious Gem' requiring 6 days and `July Gold' and `Imaculata' requiring 7 days. `Accord' was the least cold tolerant se cultivar, requiring at least 60 °F for MAGP with a slow MGR, even at warm temperatures. None of the sh2 cultivars reached MAGP within 7 d at 52 °F, as was also observed for certain su and se cultivars.
Ten triploid and 25 diploid watermelon (Citrullus lanatus) selections were evaluated to determine the temperature range and length of test for which germination index (rate of germination over time) and germination percentages were maximum for expediting vigor and seed testing practices. Temperature interacted with watermelon selection indicating that certain selections germinated faster within specific, but differing temperature ranges. Within 2 days after starting the germination process, 90% of triploid selections and 96% of diploid selections germinated to their greatest level and prolonging germination data collection for one week did not change this relationship. Although optimal temperature ranges may differ among the selections, the one temperature within the range common for all selections evaluated that maximized germination was 85 to 90 °F (29.4 to 32.2 °C) for diploids and 85 °F for triploids.
Seeds of pale coneflower (Echinacea pallida), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium), and valerian (Valeriana officinalis), classified as “old” (1-year-old seed) or “fresh” (seed crop produced in the current year), were germinated at 62, 65, 69, 72, 75, 78, 82, 85, 89, and 92 °F, (16.7, 18.3, 20.6, 22.2, 23.9, 25.6, 27.8, 29.4, 31.6, and 33.3 °C). The optimum germination temperature, defined in this study as the temperature range within which the percent germination is greatest in the shortest period of time, was determined. Old and fresh pale coneflower seed germinated optimally after 5 days at 69 °F. Old purple coneflower seed required 5 d at 78 to 82 °F, but fresh seed germinated optimally after 3 days at 75 °F. Old feverfew germinated optimally after 5 days at 65 °F, but fresh seed germinated to its optimum after 5 days at 69 °F. Old and fresh valerian seed germinated to its optimum after 3 days at 75 °F.
The experiment screened two spring and two fall planting dates in six regions within North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. The objective was to extend the production over the southeastern United States rather than at a single location. Spring harvests lasted from mid-April to early July. Summer-to-winter harvests lasted from mid-August to late January. Collards were not harvested in any of the locations from late January to mid-April or from early July to mid-August. More extensive planting dates may further increase the longevity of production.