Tomato production under greenhouse conditions needs vigorous seedlings to reduce the loss of plants after the transplant. Different local substrates such as agave bagasse, pine bark and coconut fiber complemented with peat, expanded clay, vermiculite and pure peat for tomato seedlings production were tested. The seed germination, root ball compaction, height of the seedling, stem diameter, and total dry weight were quantified. The stem diameter observed in Agave - bagasse + peat + expanded - clay + vermiculite (30:60:5:5 v/v) (BMTAEV3), Agave - bagasse + pine - bark + peat + expanded - clay + vermiculite (30:30:30:5:5) (BMCPTAEV4), Agave - bagasse + peat + expanded - clay + vermiculite (50:30:10:10) (BMTAEV5), Sphagnum peat (SUNSHINE® 3) 100% (M3SC), and Agave - bagasse + peat + expanded - clay + vermiculite (40:40:10:10) (BMTAEV6) treatments were in acceptable parameter range to commercial use, but BMTAEV3, BMTAEV5, and BMTAEV6 treatments show better germination, root ball compaction, a bigger height and diameter, getting tomato seedlings with vigor to the transplant. The local substrata overcome the commercial growth medium parameters in seedlings evaluation. It is shown that mixtures of agave-bagasse with expanded clay, and vermiculite are a substrate alternative for tomato seedlings production, reducing the use of expensive and scarce material such as peat by up to between 40 and 60% (v/v).
Key words: Agave by-product, parameters, substrate, transplant, tomato seedlings.
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