Reducing Transplant Stress in Field Vegetables - Frequently Asked Questions

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 Why bother with transplants?
  • Decreased seed requirements and costs
  • Reduced labour requirements for thinning
  • Uniform planting density
  • Accelerated crop development
  • Earlier crop maturity and longer harvest window
  • Increased returns due to earlier harvests, improved yields and crop quality
  • Increased crop uniformity
  • Allow the use of potentially higher quality cultivars/varieties which require longer seasons
Tips or techniques for reducing transplant stress
  • Ensure that transplants have a good root system.
  • Ensure that transplants are the appropriate age and size (not too big or too old) as younger plants tend to establish faster and experience less shock.
  • Ensure that transplants are properly hardened off. This process is designed to allow plants to prepare/adjust to the harsher environmental conditions outside of the greenhouse. This may involve:
    • Allowing plants to dry out slightly
    • Reducing fertilizer
    • Placing in direct sunlight or outside during day
    • Reducing or increasing temperature for 2 to 5 days depending on planting conditions
  • Ensure that transplants have root ball moisture topped up before planting.
  • When planting:
    • Transplants must be placed at the proper depth.
    • Soil should be firmly packed around the root ball.
    • Plants should receive a dose of high phosphorus water-soluble fertilizer after planting.
    • Plants should be watered in after planting as this ensures that there is adequate moisture and soil to root contact.
  • Avoid activities that remove or damage roots.
  • Planting should take place on calm, cool, overcast days as opposed to hot, dry and windy days.
  • Some shelter or additional protection may be required.

Prepared by Robert Spencer, Ag-Info Centre, Alberta Agriculture & Forestry
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Robert Spencer.
This document is maintained by Brenda McLellan.
This information published to the web on May 12, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on September 5, 2017.