Most tobacco farmers using a transplant system grow their seeds in a greenhouse. This method of production remains the most popular method for predictable, uniform growth of high-quality transplants. Virginia’s Burley Tobacco Production Guide reports that use of a greenhouse reduces labor required for transplant production, gives greater control of environmental conditions and provides increased uniformity of transplants, resulting in a more even-growing crop in the field.
That is not to say that farmers don’t still use outdoor plant beds anymore. For many growers, using both a greenhouse and plant bed is a way to boost productivity. The seeds are first started inside, then are transported outside to a plastic-covered bed to make room for other plants in the greenhouse.
Temperature control in the greenhouse is essential for effective seed germination. The Virginia guide advises that the ideal temperature for seed germination is between 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it is important to note that different varieties of seeds respond differently to temperature. One way to monitor the effects of temperature on your seeds is to use a recording thermometer to track and record daily high and low temperatures.
A standard rule when considering greenhouse temperatures is that higher temperatures are more damaging to seedlings than lower temperatures. Young seedlings in particular are more sensitive to heat and more often are lost as a result of higher temperatures. Appropriate ventilation can help keep your greenhouse cool and remove unwanted moisture that can build up.
Most of your costs during the transplant phase will be in fuel for your greenhouse, so it is important to make the most of your seedlings’ time there. Carefully managing conditions in the greenhouse will result in a higher percentage of usable transplants, lowered production costs and ultimately higher profits at the end of the season.