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V.M. Russo

The efficacy of using potting media and fertilizers that are alternatives to conventional materials to produce vegetable transplants needs clarification. Bell pepper, onion and watermelon seed were sown in Container Mix, Lawn and Garden Soil, and Potting Soil, which can be used for organic production in greenhouse transplant production. The alternative media were amended with a 1× rate of Sea Tea liquid fertilizer. Comparisons were made to a system using a conventional potting medium, Reddi-Earth, fertilized with a half-strength (0.5×) rate of a soluble synthetic fertilizer (Peters). Watermelon, bell pepper and onion seedlings were lifted at 3, 6, and 8 weeks, respectively, and heights and dry weights determined. Watermelon were sufficiently vigorous for transplanting regardless of which medium and fertilizer was used. Bell pepper and onion at the scheduled lifting were sufficiently vigorous only if produced with conventional materials. Additional experiments were designed to determine the reason(s) for the weaker seedlings when the alternative products were used. Seedlings maintained in transplant trays, in which media amended weekly with Sea Tea were required to be held for up to an additional 34 days before being vigorous enough for transplanting. Six-week-old bell pepper, or 8-week-old onion, seedlings were transferred to Reddi-Earth in pots and supplied with Sea Tea or Peters fertilizer. Bell pepper treated with Peters were taller and heavier, but onions plants were similar in height and weight regardless of fertilizer used. Other pepper seed were planted in Reddi-Earth and fertilized weekly with Sea Tea at 0.5×, 1×, 2×, or 4× the recommended rate, or the 0.5× rate of Peters. There was a positive linear relationship between seedling height and dry weight for seedlings treated with increasing rates of Sea Tea. Other pepper seed were planted in to Potting Soil, or an organically certified potting medium (Sunshine), and fertilized with a 2× or 4× rate of Sea Tea or a 1×, 2×, or 4× rate of an organic fertilizer (Rocket Fuel), or in Reddi-Earth fertilized with a 0.5× rate of Peters. There was a positive linear relationship between the rate of Rocket Fuel and heights and dry weights of bell pepper seedlings. However, even at the highest rate seedlings were not equivalent to those produced with conventional practices. Plants treated with the 4× rate of Sea Tea were similar to those produced using conventional materials. Use of Sunshine potting medium and the 4× rate of Sea Tea will produce bell pepper seedlings equivalent in height and dry weight to those produced using conventional materials. The 4× rate of Rocket Fuel used in Sunshine potting medium will produce adequate bell pepper seedlings. The original poor showing of seedlings in the alternative potting media appears to be due to fertilization with Sea Tea at a rate that does not adequately support seedling development.

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Cary L. Rivard, Olha Sydorovych, Suzanne O'Connell, Mary M. Peet, and Frank J. Louws

used to justify the lack of grafting in the United States. The first is that U.S. labor costs are too high for manual grafting to be a feasible component of transplant production. Second, U.S. tomato fruit production systems may not generate the

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Ajay Nair and Brandon Carpenter

decrease production costs associated with thinning of seedlings in the field ( Biai et al., 2011 ; Schrader, 2000 ). In the transplant production phase, growing medium plays an important role in plant health. Most growers use a soilless mix as it reduces

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Ajay Nair, Mathieu Ngouajio, and John Biernbaum

To optimize the production system, most vegetable crops are established from greenhouse-grown transplants. Transplant production is a critical phase that significantly affects growth and development of the crop in the field ( Dufault, 1998 ). Some

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James M. Dangler

Transparent polyethylene is used to enhance sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas (L.) Lam.] transplant production in hotbeds and unheated field beds. Black plastic is used also in unheated field beds. The use of these bed covers, however, frequently results in transplant damage due to overheating. Despite the positive results obtained by using rowcovers in sweetpotato transplant production, recommendations for their use are not included in extension publications. Successful adoption of rowcovers by sweetpotato transplant producers in Alabama is illustrated.

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Toyoki Kozai and Tadashi Ito

Commercial transplant production in Japan has been increasing rapidly since 1985. Transplant production began with plug seedlings for bedding plants, followed by carnation and Chrysanthemum plug transplants vegetatively-propagated using cuttings. Next, production more recently includes plug seedlings of lettuce and cabbage, and micropropagated tubers of potato plants and grafted transplants of tomato, eggplant, cucumber, and watermelon plants. The reasons for the rapid increase in commercial production of transplants will be reviewed. The current “cutting edge” practices include hardening before shipping or planting. The pros and cons of current transplant production systems in Japan will be discussed. Recent research advances in production of micropropagated, grafted and seedling transplants are reviewed with special reference to environmental control for hardening or acclimatization. Research on robotic or automated systems for micropropagation, grafting, and transplanting currently developed in Japan are described.

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Jonathan M. Frantz, Gregory E. Welbaum, Zhengxing Shen, and Ron Morse

“Float-bed” (FB) is a simple hydroponic system used by the tobacco industry for transplant production. “Ebb-and-flood” (EF) is a modified FB system with periodic draining of the bed to limit water availability and control plant growth. Field-bed cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. gp. Capitata) transplant production was compared with FB, EF, and overhead-irrigated plug-tray greenhouse systems. Plants were produced in May and June and transplanted in a field near Blacksburg, Va., in June and July of 1994 and 1995, respectively. Beds for FB and EF production consisted of galvanized metal troughs (3.3 × 0.8 × 0.3 m) lined with a double layer of 0.075-mm-thick black plastic film. In 1994, both EF and FB seedlings were not hardened before transplanting, were severely stressed after transplanting, and had higher seedling mortality compared with plants from other systems. Plug-tray transplants showed the greatest increase in leaf area following transplanting and matured earlier than seedlings produced in other systems. In 1995, EF- and FB-grown cabbage plants were hardened by withholding water before transplanting, and seedlings had greater fresh mass and leaf area than plug-tray or field-bed seedlings 3.5 weeks after transplanting. Less succulent cabbage transplants were grown in EF and FB systems containing 66 mg·L-1 N (40% by nitrate) and 83 mg·L-1 K. Compared with the FB system, the EF system allowed control of water availability, which slowed plant growth, and increased oxygen concentration in the root zone. Both EF and FB systems are suitable for cabbage transplant production.

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Jonathan M. Frantz, Gregory E. Welbaum, Zhengxing Shen, and Ron Morse

“Float-bed” (FB) is a simple hydroponic system used by the tobacco industry for transplant production. “Ebb-and-flood” (EF) is a modified FB system with periodic draining of the bed to limit water availability and control plant growth. Field-bed cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. gp. Capitata) transplant production was compared with FB, EF, and overhead-irrigated plug-tray greenhouse systems. Plants were produced in May and June and transplanted in a field near Blacksburg, Va., in June and July of 1994 and 1995, respectively. Beds for FB and EF production consisted of galvanized metal troughs (3.3 × 0.8 × 0.3 m) lined with a double layer of 0.075-mm-thick black plastic film. In 1994, both EF and FB seedlings were not hardened before transplanting, were severely stressed after transplanting, and had higher seedling mortality compared with plants from other systems. Plug-tray transplants showed the greatest increase in leaf area following transplanting and matured earlier than seedlings produced in other systems. In 1995, EF- and FB-grown cabbage plants were hardened by withholding water before transplanting, and seedlings had greater fresh mass and leaf area than plug-tray or field-bed seedlings 3.5 weeks after transplanting. Less succulent cabbage transplants were grown in EF and FB systems containing 66 mg·L-1 N (40% by nitrate) and 83 mg·L-1 K. Compared with the FB system, the EF system allowed control of water availability, which slowed plant growth, and increased oxygen concentration in the root zone. Both EF and FB systems are suitable for cabbage transplant production.

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Jim E. Wyatt

Comparisons were made between conventional and float system growing methods for tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) transplants and subsequent production. Effects of cupric hydroxide application to the interior surface of plant-growing trays were compared to untreated controls. Tomato transplants grown in the float system had higher fresh and dry weights; were larger after establishment in the field; and produced higher early yields of small, medium, and large tomatoes than plants grown by conventional methods. Mean fruit weight was higher from conventionally grown transplants early in the season. Total number of fruit and total yield were not affected by transplant production method. Transplants grown in cupric hydroxide-treated trays were larger and had fewer roots emerging through the bottom of the trays than transplants grown in untreated trays. Cupric hydroxide treatment had no effect on tomato earliness, yield, or mean fruit size.

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Warley M. Nascimento and Sherlie H. West

The effects of seed priming on seedling development of muskmelon (Cucumis melo L.) under laboratory and greenhouse conditions were studied. Seeds of `Top Net, SR' muskmelon were primed for 6 days in darkness at 77 °F (25 °C) in KNO3 (0.35 m) aerated solution. After germination in petri dishes at 77 °F, primed and nonprimed seeds were transferred to either paper towels (laboratory study) or trays, which were placed in greenhouse conditions. Leaf area and fresh and dry mass of roots and shoots were measured at 15 and 30 days. In germination under laboratory conditions, primed seeds germinated ≈16 and 60 hours earlier than nonprimed seeds at 77 °F and 63 °F (17 °C), respectively. Priming caused no beneficial effect on shoot and root development either in laboratory conditions or during transplant production in the greenhouse.