Removing and Handling Modular Vegetable Seedlings from Nursery Trays

Lawrance N. Shaw


Tray-grown transplants have largely replaced bare-root seedlings in tomato, pepper, and other vegetable production. These tray-grown seedlings are commonly referred to as plugs, transplants, modular seedlings or by several trade names but in this paper they will be called modular seedlings which seems to be a popular term understood internationally. This paper addresses the mechanical removal and handling of modular seedlings so they can be transplanted by machine or by hand. Probably the first mechanism developed for seedling removal was a pegged board that had wooden dowels arranged so that they could register with the tray drain holes and would push all the seedlings out of the tray when the tray was pushed down over the pegs. Devices using this design are now being sold. This same technique of loosening and removing seedlings is used on several experimental and commercial automated transplanting machines. On some machines whole rows are removed enmass and on others individual seedlings are pushed out. Other removal methods including pulling and blowing are utilized on other machines and these will also be discussed. Various systems are utilized to handle the seed lings after they are removed from the tray cells and these are usually seedling conveying and plant setting mechanisms.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283