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  • Author or Editor: Yai Ulrich Adegbola x
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We investigated the response of Gaillardia pulchella seeds to desiccation and aging stress to gain some perspective on the germplasm storage potential and seed vigor of this species. Seed–water relations of mature, freshly harvested G. pulchella seeds were characteristic of desiccation-tolerant species. For example, initial seed water potential (−53 MPa) was well below the lethal water potential limit (−15 MPa) for desiccation-sensitive seeds. Desiccation tolerance was confirmed by high (>70%), rapid (t 50 range 4–7 days), and uniform germination following equilibration drying. Likewise, post–saturated salt accelerated aging (SSAA) germination tests indicated a high degree of vigor of fresh seeds. The substantial level of desiccation and aging-related stress tolerance in G. pulchella seeds suggests that these organs potentially display orthodox storage physiology and an ability to endure variable seed bed conditions.

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Transplanting of unrooted cuttings into trays filled with root substrate is an initial process in the production of rooted cuttings. There is potential for companies producing transplants to decrease production costs and increase profit margins by improving the labor efficiency of this process; however, benchmarking between firms is lacking. This study focused on benchmarking labor productivity for transplanting cuttings at young plant operations and identifying key factors that differentiate efficiency between businesses. Data were collected on the transplanting process of 14 U.S. young plant greenhouse companies during their peak production week in 2016. Companies surveyed included nine operations producing bedding plants (BPs) as the major type of transplant. The total weekly labor allocated to transplant cuttings averaged 2109 ± 449 hours (mean ± se) at a labor cost of $26,392 ± $5842 to transplant 1,316,111 ± 273,377 cuttings, resulting in a labor cost of $0.023 ± $0.003 per cutting. For steps within the process of assembling a transplanted tray of cuttings, receiving and handling unrooted cuttings was 3% of the total labor cost, filling trays with root substrate was 8%, inserting cuttings into the root substrate was 70%, supervising was 10%, and moving assembled trays to the greenhouse bench was 8%. The labor cost per cutting varied nearly 5-fold between growers, from $0.010 to $0.049, indicating potential for improved efficiency in higher cost locations. Differences in the labor cost between firms resulted from factors including the plant type produced in each location, with greater handling and grading required for tissue culture and herbaceous perennials compared with BP cuttings, and differences in the hourly labor cost to the business which ranged from $9.23 to $18.66 between locations. Although other factors such as training, available labor pool, and lean manufacturing optimization were observed to affect labor efficiency at individual locations, it was not possible to quantify these effects using the survey approach taken. Benchmarked figures can be used to highlight opportunities to improve labor efficiency and decrease production costs, and to evaluate return on investment for alternative labor-saving approaches including robotic transplanting.

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