Newfoundland vegetable transplant program doubles volume to assist growers
May 6, 2020 By Newfoundland & Labrador Department of Fisheries and Land Resources
To address Newfoundland and Labrador’s food security needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, the province’s Department of Fisheries and Land Resources is doubling the volume of vegetable transplants available under the Vegetable Transplant Program – from 1.7 million transplants in 2019 to three million in 2020
Three million transplants have the potential to produce approximately 3.8 million pounds of vegetables, and will assist commercial vegetable producers in the upcoming growing season.
Seeding has commenced at the Wooddale Centre for Agriculture and Forestry Development in Wooddale, with strict adherence to COVID-19 safety precautions as staff work to take on the challenging task to prepare additional transplants. Sixty-five successful program applicants have been notified, and transplants are expected to be available in June.
The Vegetable Transplant Program provides eligible farmers with high-quality vegetable transplants to increase the variety of produce grown in Newfoundland and Labrador, and promote higher marketable yields, early harvest, and earlier returns. The province’s growing season is often on the cooler, shorter side. Transplanting field crops allows plants to reach full maturity in a short growing season, promotes higher marketable yields, and allows for production of a more diverse variety of crops compared to direct seeding. While vegetable transplants have many advantages over direct seeding, not all producers have access to the infrastructure required to produce transplants, which can be quite costly to construct.The provincial government is also researching best management practices for these crops, focusing on increased production and greater profitability. Plants are grown in 200-cell trays and sold for $2.00 per tray.
The Vegetable Transplant Program provided 1.7 million vegetable transplants to 54 commercial farmers in 2019, compared to 255,800 transplants distributed to 25 farmers in 2018. Crop varieties in this year’s program include broccoli, cabbage, onion, kale, cauliflower, rutabaga (turnip) and lettuce, all grown at the Wooddale Centre greenhouse facility. Farmers and new entrants who demonstrated strong compliance with the 2019 program received highest priority for 2020 allocations.
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