March 23, 2009

Understanding Plant Nutrition: Correcting Low Media pH

Iron/manganese toxicity is a common problem when media-pH drops below the ideal level in certain crops, including geraniums, marigolds, lisianthus, and pentas. As media-pH decreases (meaning the pH becomes more acidic), iron and manganese become more soluble, resulting in higher concentrations in the soil solution. For each drop in media-pH by one unit, for example from pH 6.0 to 5.0, solubility of inorganic iron in the growing medium (and availability of this iron for uptake by plants) increases by a factor of 1,000. Geraniums, marigolds and certain other species are very “iron-efficient” at taking up the soluble iron and manganese into their tissue. These species evolved to grow in calcareous (low-iron, high-pH) soils and “harvest” extra iron by exuding acid or chelating agents from their roots into the soil, growing extra root hairs and other processes. When we place those plants into an iron-rich greenhouse media and fertilizer regime, they […]

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February 26, 2009

IHA Adds Fertizilizer To Distribution Mix

Integrated Horticultural Alliance (IHA) and Florikan E.S.A. Corp have engaged in an agreement to provide BFG Supply, Inc., BWI Companies, Inc. and Griffin Greenhouse and Nursery Supplies with controlled release fertilizer blends featuring Florikote & Nutricote products. These products will be distributed by the above IHA members throughout their territories. Florikan E.S.A. Corp will manufacture Florikote and Nutricote blended fertilizer and provide vendor support to the IHA effective immediately. Florikan will also join IHA in their sales efforts with service and support from its sales team that is dedicated to the horticultural market.

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January 12, 2009

Feeding Frenzy

High Fertility Plant Products: Fertility Plus 19-2-19 is designed for today’s heavy feeders and most demanding plants. It’s engineered for more efficient nutrient uptake, and the triple chelation process makes nutrients more available requiring fewer inputs and less waste. This high-nitrate Fertility Plus has no urea, resulting in sturdier and stockier plants that are well-conditioned for store shelves. Organic Alternative Growth Products: Essential Plus 1-0-1 is a 100 percent natural organic product and OMRI certified for organically grown crops, herbs and plugs. Each of its ingredients has been selected to provide a rich source of organic building blocks not found in typical N-P-K fertilizers. This safe alternative to chemical hormones will help eliminate transplant shock and ensure seed germination and good rooting.   Fishy Feed Dramm: Made from fresh fish scraps that would generally fill landfills, Drammatic Organic Liquid Fish fertilizer is an all-natural substitute to chemical fertilizers. The fresh […]

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January 6, 2009

Understanding Plant Nutrition: The Series

Understanding Plant Nutrition: An Introduction Read about the basics on essential nutrients for plant growth, uptake of nutrients and pH’s effect on nutrient solubility. Nutrient Sources: Media Cation Exchange Capacity The authors take a look at the myth that cation exchange capacity is important to soilless media. Limestone and pH Why does limestone need to be added to soilless media? It’s all about pH management. Limestone, Calcium And Magnesium Limestone provides calcium and sometimes magnesium to container media. This article looks at the nutrient content of different types of limestone and how it influences calcium and magnesium levels. Irrigation Water Alkalinity & pH Water alkalinity and pH are two different measurements. This article explains the difference, how to interpret testing results and how to adjust management strategies accordingly. Irrigation Water As A Nutrient Source Water rarely contains enough primary macronutrients, but can be rich in secondary macronutrients. Check out this […]

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December 16, 2008

Constant Variables

Some growers were raised into it, and for some, their customers demand it from them. But for Lloyd Traven of Peace Tree Farm, going organic was more like an epiphany. Traven vividly remembers the moment that forced him to rethink his approach as a grower: After delivering herbs to a customer, Traven recalls standing around chatting with the buyer and watching what the customers were doing with the herbs. “The first thing they do is rub them and then sniff their hands. Second, they start picking the leaves off the plants and start chewing them.” This struck a nerve with Traven. “Every instinct I had was screaming at me to yell ‘No, don’t do that! This came out of my greenhouse. You don’t want to eat this.’” Think about what you ingest. Fertilizers are used in herbs, vegetables and edible ornamentals. They are something you can’t just wash off in […]

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December 16, 2008

Understanding Plant Nutrition: Managing Media EC

High fertilizer levels can be too much of a good thing, leading to excess growth, nutrient toxicity and potential runoff of nutrients into the environment. Conversely, low fertilizer levels can lead to nutrient deficiency symptoms. A basic goal for a nutrition program is to supply nutrients to the crop within an acceptable range for healthy and controlled growth. One way to ensure that nutrients are being supplied at adequate levels is with a soil test. So long as your irrigation water has salt concentrations within an acceptable range and you use a balanced fertilizer containing both macro- and micronutrients that doesn’t contain a lot of useless salts (like sodium or chloride), then there is a good relationship between the nutritional status of the root medium, and the media electrical conductivity (EC) measured using common soil testing methods (Table 1). This last article of our series discusses how to manage media […]

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December 16, 2008

Manipulating Crop Fertilization For Better Pest Management

Reducing fertilization is one solution to decelerating pest population growth rate and increasing the effectiveness of pest control. Carlos Bográn, associate professor and Extension specialist at Texas A&M University, will lead a discussion on manipulating crop fertilization at the 25th annual Pest Management Conference presented by Society of American Florists and Greenhouse Grower, and he shared a couple of thoughts about the topic with us. What are some of the benefits growers should know about reducing crop fertilization? “Optimizing fertilizer use to match the plant/product requirements for the specific production system and market will have multiple advantages for growers, including reduction of production costs, reduction of environmental pollution risks and enhanced efficacy of chemical and biological pest control.” OK, reduced costs and environmental impacts are logical benefits. But in a nutshell, how does reduced fertilization impact pest control? “Insect pest populations respond positively to increases in plant nutrition. Excess of […]

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December 3, 2008

New Technologies In Nutrition

The Scotts Company celebrated its 140th anniversary this year, and it evolved greatly since the days of O.M. Scott. The last 25 years have certainly brought many innovative changes to the ornamentals industry as a whole. What will happen in the next 25 years? There will surely be many changes in ornamental production, some that will be impossible to predict at this point in time. However, some recent trends are expected to continue into the foreseeable future: more large production operations, more automation, increasing pressures to reduce material costs, labor and shrinkage, and additional need to reduce waste, environmental impact and adopt sustainable practices. There’s little doubt that the sustainability movement within the horticulture industry will continue to be at the forefront of our industry’s consciousness. As a result, Scotts has developed “The e3 Approach to Sustainability,” which advocates the balance of three important elements–efficiency, economy and ecology–for a more […]

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October 21, 2008

Understanding Plant Nutrition: Managing Media pH

Managing the pH of container media is a challenge in the greenhouse and nursery industry. Many growers face problems associated with their media pH either drifting up or down to levels that result in loss of crop quality and sales. In this article, we will discuss how the factors that we have discussed in previous articles (media, lime, water, fertilizer, etc.) interact to affect pH management. Balancing Factors Consider pH management as a balance (Figure 1). One side of the balance has the basic reactions commonly found in container media (i.e. the reactions that make the media pH increase). The four main basic reactions are: nitrate (NO3-N) fertilizers, irrigation water alkalinity, reactive lime and residual lime. On the other side of the balance are the acidic reactions (i.e. the reactions that make the media pH decrease). The three main acidic reactions are ammoniacal (NH4-N) fertilizers, media lime requirement and plant […]

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September 17, 2008

Understanding Plant Nutrition: Controlled- And Slow-Release Fertilizers

Using controlled-release (CRF) and slow-release (SRF) fertilizers allows growers to supply nutrients for an extended duration without the specialized equipment needed to apply water-soluble fertilizers. These fertilizers are added to the media at mixing or applied to the media surface after planting. Nutrient runoff can be reduced using CRF and SRF, especially compared to applying water-soluble fertilizer through overhead sprinklers. Relying on CRF alone is not always the best solution for nutrient management. For example, even distribution of CRF prills from plant to plant is difficult when growing in cell packs or trays. The correct CRF should be matched to the crop and growing environment so that nutrients are released at the rate required for optimal plant growth – too rapid a release rate can cause media-electrical conductivity to climb too high and damage roots, or too slow a release can result in nutrient deficiencies. In some cases, a combination […]

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August 25, 2008

Powerful Poinsettias

Producing poinsettias in today’s competitive market requires a great commitment of time and energy (and a bit of Tylenol). Taking steps that make your operation more sustainable can greatly increase your overall efficiency, reduce waste and boost your price per finished plant. Preventing nutrient imbalances that lead to deficiencies and toxicities can add a few extra steps at the start of the season, but you will reap the rewards, not to mention avoid the devastating damage a disease can spread throughout your entire greenhouse. Tracking the nutrient and disease status of your crop will improve your efficiency by saving you time on the end. Here are some ways crop tracking can improve your plant quality as well as overall sustainability. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; it may be a cliché, but its message is worthwhile. As we come into another poinsettia season, we often are […]

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July 8, 2008

Understanding Plant Nutrition: Fertilizers And Media pH

Choosing fertilizers can be one of the most important decisions you can make for managing the media pH of container grown crops. It is therefore important to understand how fertilizers raise or lower media pH, which results largely from the form of fertilizer nitrogen (ammoniacal, nitrate or urea). This article will help you understand why fertilizers are classified as acidic or basic and how the reactions produced by the fertilizer affect media pH.  You Can’t Measure Fertilizer Acidity With A pH Meter! Here is a trick question: Which is the most acidic fertilizer in Table 1? The table shows the nitrogen (N):phosphorus (P2O5):potassium (K2O) ratio, the fertilizer label description in terms of potential acidity or basicity, along with the percent of nitrogen in the ammoniacal form (the rest of the nitrogen in these formulas is made up of nitrate). We prepared a solution of 200 parts per million of nitrogen […]

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