Vegetable growers require vigorous transplants in order to reduce the period of transplant shock during early stand establishment. Organic media containing solid humic substances (HS) are amendments that have not been comprehensively explored for applications in containerized vegetable transplant production systems. In this study, HS (1% v/v
) were applied to a peat-based growth medium to evaluate pre- and post-transplant growth modulation of four economically important vegetable species. Those were: pepper, tomato, watermelon, and lettuce. Seeding for all species was performed in two periods in order to evaluate their post-transplant yield performance under drought (water deficit vs. well-watered) and heat (hot vs. cool season) stresses. Compared with control, HS-treated plants had: (1) increased leaf and root biomass after transplanting due to faster growth rates; (2) lower root/shoot ratio before transplanting, but higher after 10 days of field establishment; and (3) increased root length and surface area. The negative effects of heat and drought stresses on crop yield were more prominent in control plants, while HS-treated transplants were able to mitigate yield decreases. The results clearly demonstrated the benefits of using solid HS as a management input to improve transplant quality in these crop species.
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