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Effects of Seedling Age on Tomato Growth in Different Crop Seasons.
Three tomato cultivars (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) were planted in Spring, Summer and Fall 1995 to evaluate seedling growth and early fruit yield in response to age of plug seedling.Increasing seedling age would increase plant height, leaf area, shoot and root dry weight, but smaller root:shoot ratio which may be due to the root-restriction stress in small cell size (25ml/cell). The younger seedlings were better in recovery after transplanting, except 5w transplants in summer which showed slower growth rate. One week after transplanting, mean relative growth rate of 5w transplants in summer was only 84.7 mg/gweek which is significantly less than 7w and 9w transplants of 830.5 and 528.6mg/gweek, respectively. Effects of age on growth in spring were not significant at 3 weeks after transplanting. In summer and fall crops the influence of age continued for 4 weeks after transplanting. Cultivars of ''Known You 301'' and ''Asia Veg. No4.'' had similar growth pattern and showed bigger seedling than ''Red Crown'' before transplanting except the root:shoot ratio as well as the restoration growth of transplants after transplanting.The days to flowering after transplanting mainly affected by cultivars and crop seasons. Transplants of ''Red Crown'' began to flower about 2 days earlier than ''Known You 301'' and ''Asia Veg. No.4'', while transplants in spring crop flowered 14 and 21 days earlier than summer and fall crops, respectively. There were no significant differences among transplant age. The younger transplants had fewer internodes preceding to the first inflorescence. Plants grown in spring showed 5-10 internodes less than plants in summer and fall crops.Croping date and cultivars were the major factors influenced the early and marketabl yields. Summer crop had the least yield. Cultivar ''Red Crown'' produced the greatst early and marketable yield. ''Known You 301'' had higher percentage of large fruits in early yield, although fruits harvested were the least. Both early and marketable yields were unaffected by seedling age at transplanting.
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