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Huge demand for coir causes production problems:
Belgium: Concerns about misuse of young coir materials
In Western-Europe, concerns have been addressed about the use of coco substrates in strawberry crops. According to sources, some growers in Belgium in particular suffered from insufficient fruit quality, probably as a result of the combination of extreme weather conditions and fast crop growth in August-September and the use of groundwater instead of rainwater.
Due to lack of enough rainwater supply, many growers where forced to switch to groundwater that was of a poor quality and had high silicium contents. Growers say that the use of this water did not go well with some of their coco substrates, probably because there was a lot of young coco fibre in their substrate mix. The young material is said to be not ready for full buffering purposes.
An anonymous coir supplier told us that it can happen that young material comes on the market as a result of shortages. "Due to the huge demand, the supply in some production countries can not always keep up with the demand. Some producers have not enough capacity and time available to buffer and wash their material. This is where it goes wrong."
The coir supplier however, assures that his company always ensures that no material younger than six months leaves their production facilities. "We operate a fixed production process to buffer and wash the coir and other than being a bit more wet than usual, none of our material can leave our factory too early. When we are asked for material that we haven't got we always have to say no. Some suppliers however, are afraid to miss out on orders and they go ahead by supplying too young material or they mix this with other material. This creates a lot of concerns, inconsistency and can have huge impacts on the quality at the growers and the name of coco peat substrate as a whole."
Coir substrate certifier RHP is currently investigating the misuse of young coir in combination with the use of groundwater in strawberry crops.
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