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Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
Agricultural Research & Education Center
IFAS, University of Florida
5007-60th Street East
Bradenton, Florida 33508-9324
Bradenton AREC-Research Report BRA1982-20 October, 1982
TOMATO SEEDLING NUTRIENT REQUIREfIEIITS ON SIX MEDIA:
AH EVALUATION OF FEDIA AND SEED RESERVES
S. S. Uoltz1
Vegetable and ornamental seedling production is big business in Florida,
operating with machine-like precision in the production of millions of quality
plants. Growth rate and quality of plants are controlled by adjusting nutrition,
watering and plant environment to produce transplants on schedule that will
withstand the drastic change in being moved from a covered structure into the field
operation. Earlier work (7) provided some background for the present study.
While much research has been performed on tomato nutrition in general, somewhat
less has been done on the early nutritional requirements of seedlings (1-7).
The objective of the experiments reported here was to assess the nutrient reserves
of tomato seeds and the wide range of media on which they were grown. The media
selected represent the full gamut of physical-chemical characteristics of media
and media components available to transplant seedling producers, but do not
include slow-release fertilizers.
'Ualter' tomato seeds were germinated in quintuplicate 2" pots, thinned to
one seedling per pot and were irrigated with nutrient solutions, either complete
or from which nutrient elements had been omitted one at a time. Nutrient elements
were furnished at the following ppm rates: nitrogen (N)-200, phosphorus (P)-50,
potassium (K)-150, calcium (Ca)-200, magnesium (Mg)-75, sulfur (S)-75, boron
(B)-0.2, copper (Cu)-0.2, iron (Fe)-2, manganese (Mn)-1, molybdenum (Mo)-O.1,
and zinc (Zn)-l. Nutrient stock solutions were purified of chemical contaminants
by autoclaving with CaCO3 (2 g/L) or by re-crystallizing chemical salts where
appropriate. Nutrient solutions were applied twice weekly to run-through (30 to
50 ml per pot) and watered with deionized water as needed the remainder of the
week. Data were collected and seedlings harvested 4 weeks from seeding.
Media included commercial (unwashed) builders sand, German peat, virgin
Myakka fine sand, horticultural perlite, expanded vermiculite and a potting mix
composed of 1/3 Florida Peat, 1/3 F1yakka fine sand and 1/3 expanded vermiculite
amended with 2 Ibs. superphosphate containing 4% FTE 503 fritted trace elements
and 10 Ibs. dolomitic limestone per cubic yard.
Results are presented in Table 1 in terms of seedling height and fresh weight,
expressed as percentage of the complete nutrient solution control plants for
purpose of comparison. Plant weight in this instance is obviously a much better
parameter for evaluating nutrition than plant height. Perlite was apparently
almost devoid of available N, P, K, Ca, Mg, S, B, and Cu. Builders sand furnished
inadequate amounts of N, P, K, Ca, S, B, and Mn. The potting mix supplied
adequate P, K, Mg, S, Cu, Fe, Min and Zn and was seriously lacking only in N.
1Professor of Plant Physiology.
Vermiculite was lacking in N, P, S, B, and Zn. Myakka fine sand supplied less than
adequate amounts of N, K, S and Cu. Peat was deficient in N, P, K, S, Mn and Zn.
The latter two media were physically and chemically not well suited to seedling
production under the experimental regime imposed; the experimental procedure
was favorable to "nutrient supplying capacity bio-assay" but not for good
horticultural production. Inclusion of usual amendments would correct this
but would interfere with nutrient bioassay.
This report points out combined weaknesses and strengths of media and
seed (indicated) as nutrient sources. Such basic information may be used in
transplant seedling production as a guide in the effort to achieve economic,
quality production of seedlings that will survive and grow well in the field;
however, quality remains to be quantified for most situations.
1. Halsey, L. H. 1971. Single harvest yields of several tomato cultivars
in relation to seed size. Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 84:110-112.
2. Jaworski, C. A. 1966. Yield and growth uniformity of tomato transplants
in relation to nutrition levels. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 89:577-583.
3. Locascio, S. J. and
G. F. Warren. 1959. Growth pattern of the roots of
Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 74:494-499.
4. Locascio, S. J., G. F. Warren, and G. E. Wilcox. 1960. The effect of
phosphorus placement on uptake of phosphorus and growth of direct-seeded
tomatoes. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 76:503-514.
5. Wilcox, G. E. and R. Langston. 1960. Effect of starter fertilization
on early growth and nutrition of direct seeded and transplanted tomatoes.
Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 75:584-594.
6. Wilcox, G. E.
1966. Tomato seedling response to phosphorus rate and
fertilizer bands. Proc. Amer. Soc. Hort. Sci. 88:521-526.
7. Woltz, S. S. and J. P. Jones. 1972.
to variations in inorganic nutrition.
Response of Manapal tomato seedlings
Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc. 85:175-177.
Relative height (% of control) Relative fresh weight (% of control)
Nutrient(s) Builders fine Potting Builders fine Potting
omitted sand Perlite Vermiculite sand Peat mix sand Perlite Vermiculite sand Peat mix
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