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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This information published to the web on May 12, 2004.
Last Reviewed/Revised on September 5, 2017.