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Northwood seeds

Tell me about float tray systems

BigBonner

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#21
Anyone use these? The problem I'm having is trying to find a "tray" for the float tray to set in and float. I'll probably end up (tonight) making a wooden box and seal it with beeswax/paraffin to make it water tight. Any ideas for a container? I have 3- 72 cell trays.

Randy B

Take a 2 X6 and cut to the size of your tray . Nail it together to form a frame around the tray . You can put a plywood bottom to it or , like we do , lay it on the ground and then lay plastic sheeting in the bottom and overlaping the sides like a swimming pool .put 3 inches of water in it on a level surface . Then float tray .
 

deluxestogie

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#22
Randy,
I've seen shallow plastic "tubs" that are marketed for storing things under a bed. Probably generic brand.

Bob
 
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#24
Hi,
I am new here and want to ask if this floating tray system is used for any particular reasons versus other seed propagation methods ?
I have never grown tobacco before and only heard that the seed is almost invisable to the naked eye.

I will spend some time reading here soon and hope to find my way thanks to your postings!

D
 

Jitterbugdude

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#25
Bigbonner will have to weigh in on this but I think the big commercial growers use them because of the ease of use, low mortality of the transplants and planting time and reduction in overall costs. I really don't see the need for them for the average back yard tobacco grower. I'm trying them out this year because I always have to be experimenting with something!
Randy B
 
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#26
I agree with jitterbug. For folks like Larry that are growing acres of tobacco and thousands of plants per acre. They have to have some way to start all those plants. The space used for each individual plant becomes a big issue when you are talking about hundreds of thousands of plants. So a method of growing thousands of plants in a very tiny spcae per plant (some float trays have as many as 200 cells per tray) and the float system is one way of doing that. IT also effectively deals with many other side issues. Feeding for example. Weeds are drastically reduced. The seedlings are also already in a package that can then be placed on the planter and handled so they can be planted. I am fairly sure Larry woudl love to be able to start his plants with nothing but the concern of starting healthy plants. But the truth is he has a lot of things that must work together. The end result must be a start that is heatlhy and can withstand the process of being passed through a machine to be planted. Hardly the same process we can use when growing a few dozen starts that we can actually spend time dusting off the individual leaves. It is hardly the "Best" way to start a plant. But it is the Best way to start thousands of plants. get them moved and to a field and pump them through a machine and still end up with living growing organisms. The same is true for you. The best system for you is the one that meets your needs and still produces the healthiest sprout. It will be effected by how many plants you grow, how much space you have. what type of lighting you have available and. One of my sprouts is as big as 4 of Larry's at 6 weeks of age. Larry thinks my plants are to pampered. Wait until he finds out I water them with perrie and my fertilizing crew delivers dinner on silver trays wearing tuxedos. That is a joke but it is very comparable to the detailed care a gardener can give a plant and mechanized mega scale issues a farmer must overcome.
 

BigBonner

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#27
A home grower can handle a couple hundred easily with out the float system . You can also sew outside tobacco beds . Pull the plants when you are ready to field plant .

Pampered maybe . I can grow a average of 170 plants in a 13.5" X 26.5" area . They may not be as pretty as a pot grown plant but here is what they will look like when ready for harvest .
This is CT Broad Leaf


Don did a excelent post on starving plants of water . This is true . I like to cut the water out from under my float plants a few days sometimes a week before planting . This may yellow the plants tuffens them up . When I mow ( Trim ) the large leaves off the plants this also tuffens the up so when they are planted they take off growing .
When we plant tobacco the plants are hand fed into the transplanter one at a time . Brickle green plants will snap off above the rootline , tuffen plants won't break so easy .
 

Jitterbugdude

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#28
Is there a specific time when I begin to fertilize my float tray tobacco? For instance, do you automatically start fertilizing a certain amount of days after sprouting?

Randy B
 

BigBonner

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#29
Was the soil fortified with fertilizer ?

If so then you should add fertilizer to the water at 2 weeks or a few days less .
If not then you should and a small amount at seeding .
 

Jitterbugdude

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#30
It was the soil you sent me along with the float trays. If I had to guess I would say it has fertilizer already mixed in.
If it does have fertilizer already in the "soil" do I have to add anymore before planting outside 6 weeks or so from now?
 

BigBonner

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#31
It was the soil you sent me along with the float trays. If I had to guess I would say it has fertilizer already mixed in.
If it does have fertilizer already in the "soil" do I have to add anymore before planting outside 6 weeks or so from now?
The soil was fortified .

Yes . When the plants are about the size of a penny or seeded for two weeks add fertilizer . 20-10-20 water soluable is best for burley . I use a fertilize tester to get mine in exact amounts for the plants . Too much and they grow to tender and too fast . Too little they will yellow and not grow .

For cigar and flue varietys I use less fertilizer than I do for my burley .
 

BigBonner

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#33
Thanks!

Why do you use less fertilizer for your flue varieties than for burley?
Last year I grew flue and Ct Broad Leaf and some other varietys in the same bed as my burley plants .They all were fertilized exactly like my burley normally is . They out grew my burley and had larger leaves and were a bit taller . This tells me they grew too fast . Burley will do the same thing if I over fertilize them . Cutting the fertilizer should make the plants want to grow instead of pushing them to grow .The fast grown plants are more tender and snap off at the stalk easy . Over fertilizing the plants they will sit there and feed .Under fertilizing the roots will hunt for their food making them tuff .

Lets put it this way if you eat fast foods with alot of calories you will big and grow fat . If you eat leaner foods you grow big and strong .
 

BigBonner

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#35
Thanks.. So by adding less fertilizer do you mean instead of shooting for something like a .9 on your TDS meter you would shoot for .5?
Probably a 0.75 . you can adjust as the plants get older .

If you have a DS meter test your water source . Add the fertilizer amout of .7 to your water number .
If your tap water is 0.2 add .7 to that to total .9 Higher amounts of fertilize can be used but it makes burley grow too fast . For Broad leaf or other varietys you can make it .75 to .8 and if the plants yellow then add just a littel more . I would adjust to my water source .
 

jeapadrenaline

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#37
Yes, very interesting. I am so limited for indoor space that i am considering trying this next year. I can't seem to source any trays though. But we have tons of tree nurseries around who raise coniferous trees for the forestry, and i belieeve they use float trays. May try to giet a couple used trays if they can't get me new ones. This is my first year for tobacco and its ok, but not what i hoped ro get. With a float system i would be able to start enough plants early enough to ger them in thw ground as soon as the weather permits and therefore gwt them to harvest before frost. I have a feeling i may nor be able to get more than maybe 50% of my plants harvested this year due to start failures, late planting an a short season. Plus all my garden area is virgin ground this year, so lots more work than it would otherwise be.
 

Jitterbugdude

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#38
I'm sold on them after using them for the first time this year. I used the 72 cell tray, everything sprouted and they grew like weeds. There was no replanting into bigger cups, just plant directly into the float tray and you're done. Another nice thing about them is the space they save. A float tray is something like 3 feet x 18 inches. I don't know what 72 Styrofoam cups take up space wise but I'll bet it's a lot more
 

DrBob

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#39
I have many (50+} 288 cell float trays and (5) 200 cell trays all unused that I would sell. They measure 13 x 26 x 3" deep.
Bob
 

LeftyRighty

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#40
Park Seeds has seed starter sets, that are essentually a float tray system. They come complete with bottom tray, cell blocks, growing sponges (soil), and top cover. Not exactly inexpensive, but reuseable, and the soil plugs can be bought for subsequent years.
as an example http://parkseed.com/parks-double-bio-dome-with-80-jumbo-cells/p/96039/
I have used the 120-cell system for many years for annuals - works well. I tried it a couple years ago with tobacco, but I think the cells were too small and too close together, and the 80-cell system would work better. But it did work for me, and I may do it again. Check out their website - they have a wide range of systems available.

Several things I've learned using these:
The top cover is useless - don't need it, the soil plugs absorb/retain enough moisture for seed starting. Using the top cover creates too moist an environment and increases potential for damping-off or mold. But it may be needed in a really dry climate.
Just water in the bottom tray is sufficent to start seed. After the first true leaves appear and are dime-size, fertilizer at 1/8 to 1/4 strength can be added to the water. More than enough until they go in the ground.
The soil sponges are great - no need to create your own soil mix.
Since 100% germination cannot be expected with tobacco seed, I recommend 2 or 3 seeds per cell, then just pick out the extra for one plant per cell. Since the soil sponges are a homogenius block (not loose soil), and the root grows into the sponge, they can't be picked out to re-transplant.
Since the sponges are a solid block, they can be pushed out of the cell and re-located to another cell, if desired.
When the cells are planted in the ground, the top of the sponge needs to be covered with soil. They're just like those peat 'Jiffy-Pots' - will wick and evaporate too much moisture from the soil.

The only reason I don't use this for tobacco any more is that I want to be able to start multible seeds in a pot of loose soil, so I can transplant all viable sprouts. It is a very convienient and complete system, good for newbies, as you don't have to re-invent a seed starting system from scratch.
 
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