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  • Author or Editor: Wallace Pill x
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Seed treatments, gels, and planters associated with fluid drilling are reviewed in detail. The future of fluid drilling likely lies predominantly in the sowing of primed seeds rather than germinated seeds in the carrier gel. The primed seeds may be hydrated before fluid drilling to enhance germination and seedling emergence. The gel can carry a variety of chemical or biological additives appropriate for the crop and seedbed conditions. The positional advantage resulting from additive incorporation in the fluid-drilling gel represents a more eflicient, cost-effective, and environmentally sound application method than others such as binding or spraying.

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We examined the efficacy of coir dust (CD)—the short fibers and dust from the mesocarp of coconuts (Cocos nucifera L.)—as an alternative to sphagnum peat (SP) in 50 SP : 50 vermiculite (% volume) medium. Shoot dry mass of coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata L.) or `Red Robin' tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) after 5 weeks' growth in up to 50 CD : 50 vermiculite (% volume) was similar to that in 50 SP : 50 vermiculite and a commercial peat-lite (Pro-Mix BX). These growth responses depended on preplant controlled-release fertilizer (CRF) [Osmocote 17N-3.9P-10.8K at 11.5 lb/yd3 (4 kg·m−3)] and/or a post-transplanting weekly solution fertilization (SF) at 350 ppm (mg·L−1) N from 21N-2.2P-16.6K. Compared to SP, CD had lower bulk density and cation exchange capacity (volume basis) and higher C to N ratio, pH, total porosity, and container capacity. We conclude that CD is an adequate alternative to SP in soilless container media.

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`Moss Curled' seeds of parsley (Petroselinum crispum L.) were primed osmotically in polyethylene glycol or matrically in fine, exfoliated vermiculite at -0.5 MPa for 4 or 7 days at 20 or 30 °C with 0 or 1 mm GA3. All priming treatments stimulated and hastened germination. Matric priming resulted in greater germination (89%) than osmotic priming (83%) when seeds were primed for 7 days at 30 °C, but priming agent had no effect on germination percentage following priming at 20 °C or for 4 days. In seeds primed for 4 days at 20 or 30 °C, matric priming hastened germination more than did osmotic priming. Germination was generally less synchronous with matric than with osmotic priming. Increasing priming time from 4 to 7 days increased the rate of germination, but increased germination synchrony only when seeds were primed a t 20 °C. Inclusion of 1 mm GA3 during priming had little or no effect on germination. All matric priming treatments (other than 4-day priming) were repeated to assess seedling emergence in a greenhouse (25°C day/22 °C night). Priming increased the percentage, rate and synchrony of emergence, and increased hypocotyl length at 3 weeks after planting. Priming at 30 °C with 1 mm GA3 resulted in the greatest emergence percentage, hypocotyl length, and shoot dry weight. We conclude that matric priming is a satisfactory alternative to osmotic priming of parsley seeds. Chemical name used: gibberellic acid (GA3).

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Raw, pelleted or germinated seeds of `Cortina' lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) were sown in phenolic foam cubes preplant soaked in water or fullstrength nutrient solution (2 mmho·cm−1, 2 dS·m−1). The seeds were left uncovered or covered with fine vermiculite (grade 5), and seedling emergence characteristics were subsequently determined. Shoot fresh masses and their coefficients of variation (cv) by 9 days after planting (1 or 2 true leaves) and by 31 days after planting (4 or 5 true leaves) also were determined. Soaking the cubes in nutrient solution rather than water increased seedling emergence percentage and rate, and increased shoot fresh masses by 9 or 31 days after planting. This increased shoot fresh mass was accompanied by lower cv of shoot fresh mass by 9 days after planting, but not by 31 days after planting. Covering seeds with vermiculite decreased emergence from 99% to 93%, but increased shoot fresh mass by 9 and 31 days after planting when cubes were soaked in water, but not in nutrient solution. Seed treatments influenced shoot fresh mass at 9 and 31 days after planting in the order germinated > pelleted > raw. Germinated seeds resulted in lower cv of shoot fresh mass (24%) than raw or pelleted seeds (29%) by 31 days after planting. Thus, sowing germinated seeds into foam cubes soaked in full-strength nutrient solution, with or without covering the seeds with vermiculite, produced the heaviest and most uniform seedlings.

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A mechanical planter was developed to sow seed of baby lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) in small plots. The mechanical seeder allowed small plots to be quickly and consistently seeded at a fixed spacing. Seeds were manually spread along a 10-ft (3.0 m) base plate containing 50 holes of slightly larger diameter than the seed length and at the desired seed spacing [2.4 inches (6 cm)]. Once all the holes were filled, a slider plate below the base plate containing holes of the same diameter and spacing, but which were slightly offset, was slid horizontally so that the holes of the base and slider plates aligned and the seeds dropped to the bottom of the furrow. Compared to manual planting, the mechanical planter increased the precision of seed placement and reduced the time needed to plant 50 seeds. The planter was easy to use and transport, and was inexpensive.

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