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Developed by Chris Blanchard, Flying Rutabaga Works, January 2013
In addition to providing a critical jump on the production season, transplant production mitigates risk in vegetable production by providing a controlled environment for the germination and young-plant stages. This allows growers to achieve solid stands of crops, and to avoid pests which can damage tender seedlings. It also reduces risks in stand establishment and weed control, as well as providing a reliable method for season extension in Iowa and the Upper Midwest.
The choice of equipment and supplies used in producing transplants can affect the profitability of the transplant production enterprise. As the scale of a vegetable operation increases, the amount of work that goes into transplant production also increases. Much of the work in the transplant house requires attention to detail and a certain level of skill, and large plantings can create large workloads that need to be completed in a short period of time.
The Transplant Production Decision Tool seeks to provide information and options to organic and conventional market farms in the Upper Midwest about the options available as they scale up to meet the increasing demand for local and organic produce. In the pages of this section, we profile the transplant production methods of several small- and large-scale growers. We also look at the options available in several phases of the transplant production process – seeding, germination, benches, irrigation, and putting plants out in the field.
Read news release about this project. This project was funded by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture (see project description) as part of a grant to the Iowa Organic Association, where the tool can also be found at www.iowaorganic.org/transplant-decision-tool. Established by the 1987 Groundwater Protection Act, the Leopold Center supports the development of profitable farming systems that conserve natural resources.