3. Raising Seedlings and Transplantation in a Methodical Way

Transplanting Seedlings to Main Field

Before pulling the seedlings from the seedbed a light irrigation should be given to the seedbed that helps avoid the root damage during pulling.

After lifting the seedlings in the morning, the seedlings are kept in a cool shed and water is sprayed on the leaves in order to recover the seedlings from transpiration stress.

Other agronomic practices for good seedlings

Thinning seedlings for healthy plant stands:

Thinning, the removal of excess seedlings on seedbed, will allow the remaining plants to have access to more nutrients and grow more vigorously. It will also limit root damage when pulling out for transplanting.

Thinning is usually carried out within 2-3 days after the first true leaf has appeared or about 10-12 days after sowing. Here are some recommendations:

• To pull out weak or diseased seedlings from the soil.
• To make sure that the remaining seedlings are about 4 cm away apart within the row.
• To transplant the seedlings to the polybags that can be used subsequently for gap filling.
• This is particularly important when expensive seeds, such as hybrids, are used.

Hardening the seedlings for to increase their survival.

Hardening of seedlings increases their resilience and chances of survival. This is usually done by exposing seedlings to the sun or weather factors 2-3 days before transplanting.

Hardening refers to the gradual exposure of the seedlings on seedbeds to a harsher environment. This increases their resilience and chances of survival after transplanting.

Hardening can be done in different ways, using light, higher temperature, or withholding irrigation.

• To expose seedlings gradually to higher light intensities and/or higher temperatures over a period of 2-3 days prior before transplantation.
• To reduce or withhold irrigation 3-4 days before transplanting.

Transplantation should be carried out in the afternoon because during the night cool climate the seedlings will be able to withstand the stress of transpiration.

Weak and deceased seedlings should be discarded and healthy or normal seedlings should be used preferably.

Seedlings of 4-5 weeks of age measuring about 8-10 cm of height are suitable for transplantation.

The best time of transplantation starts from mid October to Mid November. Planting distance for Cigaratte tobacco should be 75×60 cm.

A single seedling per pit should be used.

While transplanting the tobacco following points need to be addressed.

  1. The main root should be placed in such a manner that it remains straight deep in the soil. It helps in the process so root develops as well.
  2. Care should be taken while covering the base of the stem with soil such that it would never be covered more area of stem portions that was covered in the seedbed by soil. If more stem portions go under the soil, it may be subject to fungal infection causing stem rot disease.
  3. After completing transplantation of a seedling, the base of the seedling should be given a press by fingers so that the seedlings remain erected It helps in fixing to the soil with a good anchorage and appropriate stand for translocation of water and nutrients from the soil.
  4. Apart from the above precautionary measures, some seedlings may be found difficult to survive. So, few of the seedlings should be kept in reserve on the lines for gap filling or in polybag.
Tobacco seedlings
Fig-1.Tobacco seedlings ready for transplanting into the main field.

Transplanting of tobacco Seedlings in Pot

If Tobacco seedlings germinate very thickly, in that event few seedlings should be shifted to pots for advanced cares as seen in Fig.2.for pot cultivation.

Thickly germinated seedlings of Tobacco
Fig.-2.Thickly germinated seedlings of Tobacco.

Under ‘normal’ conditions the tobacco seedlings may be large enough and ready for moving into pots after 3 weeks from the beginning of germination.

Once seeds have germinated and seedlings are suitable enough, they should be shifted with a spatula or knife as in Fig.3 for transplanting into pots.

A seedling is being shifted by a spatula or knife
Fig-3.A seedling is being shifted by a spatula or knife

Transplanting into containers is easily done by making a small hole into the soil and inserting the roots of the tobacco seedling and filling the hole with a little soil mix, Fig 4.

Once the seedling has been transplanted into the pot, it should be watered with a starter fertilizer solution like NPK mix emulsion.

The initial fertilizers at the potting stage should be sufficient food for the plants until they reach transplanting stage, which normally takes approximately 3-4 weeks.

An ideal soil mix should contain Farm Yard Manure (FYM), both Macro and Micro nutrients elements that constitute all 16 essential nutrients elements.

Macro nutrients are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus ( P) and Potassium (K) and Micro nutrients are Sulphur ( S), Boron (B), , Magnesium (Mg), Zinc ( Zn) , Iron ( Fe), Molybdenum (Mo), and Calcium ( Ca) etc.

It is wise to use a low-chlorine fertilizer which only contains nitrogen in nitrate form, e.g, Potassium Nitrate or Ammonium Nitrate etc.

Low Chlorine Nitrogen Fertilizer
Fig.-6. A Low Chlorine Nitrogen Fertilizer.

Over-fertilizing is a serious problem for root damage, as it can cause salt accumulation around the root hairs.

The fertilizer amount will depend largely on the grade of the fertilizer, the natural fertility of the soil, losses of nutrients due to evaporation and leaching.

The fertilizer amount will depend largely on the grade of the fertilizer, the natural fertility of the soil, losses of nutrients due to evaporation and leaching.

It is recommended to apply the nitrogenous fertilizer in multiple splits until flowering. Once the tobacco begins to flower, there should be no need to fertilizer application.

If the seedlings are transplanted in the field, there’s a chance that few of the seedlings may die or be affected due to transplantation stress.

But by growing seedlings in containers, there is no transplantation stress, as a result of no root damage, plants begin to grow spontaneously.

It is recommended to water the pots only in the evening and avoid excess of irrigation. Overhead watering is strictly prohibited for tobacco cultivation.

The roots of tobacco grow within few days after transplantation and the root rhyzospere is quite large with numerous root – hairs that grow beneath the soil on every capillary root tips..