Advantages of planting seedlings
Traditionally crops such as butternut and other squashes were directly sown. However, improved nursery techniques and production methods have revolutionised farming in South Africa resulting in the trend to plant seedlings rather than seed.
Farmers who change from seed to seedlings experience the following advantages:
- Uniformity due to planting of homogeneous seedlings.
- Improved final field stand and more efficient harvesting.
- Losses of expensive seed are minimised with effective use of plugs.
- Reduced risk as a result of shorter exposure in the field to pests and diseases such as rodents.
- Use of seedlings usually leads to earliness in yield.
- Germination losses in harsh climatic conditions such as extreme heat and cold are overcome.
- Reduced time in the field contributes to saving of water and other resources.
- Predictable delivery times of seedlings from the nursery helps to improve planning and crop cycling.
Another important benefit of replacing seed with seedlings is that directly sown plants will develop a deep tap root. This does not happen with seedlings as the root system develops differently. Watering techniques should also be adapted accordingly for seedlings.