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6. Highlights of section

Successful nursery operations in arid zones require an adequate water supply, a nearby source of suitable soil, a well-drained surface area, shelter from wind and sun, accessibility, and knowledge of the planting season. Consideration of soil mixing, container storage, vehicular movement, transplanting, irrigation, seed storage and seed testing for viability, purity, and germination is necessary for a successful layout of the nursery site.

Planting stock can be bare-rooted, or potted plants. A variety of materials can be used to form containers; however, the most common is polythene. Desirable characteristics of soil mixture for containers include lightness, cohesiveness, good water retentive capacity, and high organic and mineral content. The quantity of soil required is directly related to the size of the containers.

Damping-off, a potentially serious problem in nurseries, is a disease which can be chemically controlled with soil acidification (using sulphuric acid), sterilization (with formaldehyde or methyl bromide), and treatment of soil or seeds with fungicides.

Dormancy in seeds can be overcome with a variety of treatments, such as soaking in cold, hot, or boiling water, or in acids. Seeds are commonly sown in seedbeds or seedling trays; then the seedlings are transplanted into containers. Root pruning is a method of encouraging growth of the fibrous lateral root system and of preventing development of a long tap root. In addition to germination from seed, plants may be propagated from stumps, cuttings, or sets.

The size and quality of planting stock, and the conditions related to transportation of the seedlings to the planting site, are also necessary considerations for a successful planting programme in arid zones.

A nursery record should follow the seedlings to the planting site, carrying: name of the nursery, species, date of sowing and date of lifting from the nursery, number of seedlings and mean height of seedlings.

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