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Old December 7, 2010   #27
Fusion_power's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Alabama
Posts: 2,050

Study carefully before you do this. It is dangerous if you don't watch carefully and know what to do.

The "big boys" do tomato plants by growing them in huge greenhouses that never get below about 70 degrees. A tomato plant can be forced to salable size in 5 weeks at this temp and that is exactly what the "big boys" want. Unfortunately, these plants have never been stressed and when you set them out in the garden, they sulk for 2 or 3 weeks before deciding to grow.

Folks like me who grow up to 50,000 plants a year usually are a bit more in touch with their plants. I grow in a greenhouse and I definitely use the cold treatment methods when feasible. There are a few gotchas that you must know how to avoid. The first is that low temps significantly slow down plant growth. Allow an extra week or two for cold treated seedlings to grow. The second is that tomato seedlings are VERY sensitive to excess water. What's excess? You must let tomato plants dry out until they just start to wilt if you want them to be healthy. Give them plenty of water when they are dry, just be sure they are thoroughly dry before you water. The last caution is that you need air circulation even when it is cold. Be sure you have a fan blowing across the seedlings at least part of the day. It encourages the plant to grow a sturdy stem.

Does it work?

I can assure you that cold treatment of tomatoes is VERY effective. It shortens time to first flower truss and boosts overall production.

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