Following propagation, seedlings, rooted cuttings or grafted plants are usually transplanted into a container or the field for additional growth prior to sale to the consumer.
In the greenhouse, transplanting has been traditionally done by hand. However, because of reduced access to labor, more growers have recently been investing in mechanical transplanters.
Greenhouse enterprises have gone to plugs for bedding plant production. Plugs are grown in small cells to optimize greenhouse space.
However, they must be transplanted to larger spacing to finish the crop.
Individual plugs are removed from the flat and inserted into larger trays that will ultimately be sold to the consumer.
This machine pushes plugs out of the plug sheet to make hand transplanting easier.
Increasingly, large greenhouse growers are moving to mechanical transplanting plugs because it optimizes labor. The machine lifts seedlings from plug trays and moves them to larger transplant packs.
This type of operation puts a premium on seed germination and vigor in the initial plug flat. Skips in the plug flat results in empty transplant cells that need to be back filled.
Mechanical transplanting robots reduce labor costs and can be time efficient.
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Transplants for nursery crops can be greenhouse or field grown. They are usually mechanically transplanted into the field. This operation is relatively labor intensive.
Three to six workers ride on the transplanter and insert seedlings into cones on the transplanter that deliver the transplants to fingers that insert the transplant into the furrow row.
Vegetable crops can also be grown from transplants. The process is similar to nursery crop transplanting.
Workers move transplants from the flat and drop them into cones that deliver the transplants to fingers that place them into the furrow row.
The advantage of transplants verses direct seeding is that the grower gets more harvestable plants.