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Choices in substrate for soft fruit cropsOne of the most important choices a soft fruit grower has to make, is the choice of the substrate. The substrate needs to give the plants the best balance between water and air content. Some growers are choosing for an higher amount of water, to be assured the water amount is always “big” enough. For the development of healthy roots and plants it’s better to use a dryer substrate. With a dryer substrate the steering of the plants is much easier. It’s always easier to put water in on a sunny day, than the plant has to take out on a dull day! Also you need to get as less as possible fine material in the substrate: this will compost very fast and is also containing water and no air.
Besides this, it’s very important to use a reliable quality of substrate. "Botanicoir is one of the leading companies in producing high quality coir substrates", said consultan Wim van Wingerden. "Good coir needs always to be washed and buffered. First the coir is being washed with clean water. Afterwards the coir is being buffered with Calcium nitrate. With this treatment the majority of Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Boron and Silicon are further displaced from the coir substrate. Botanicoir has strict rules about the maximum levels of these elements in their products."
Washing and buffering are very important issues: strawberry plants are very sensitive for higher levels of these elements. Before a grower receives his coir substrate, the manufacturer needs to show the analyses with EC, pH, Ca and the spoken elements. For this you need to use the Barium Chloride test. Also at delivery of the substrate it’s recommended to do another analysis.
At the start of your crop, you need to know exactly what kind of nutrients you have in your substrate. That will help you, together with the added fertilizer, to get the best balance of nutrients available for your young plants. That will guarantee a good start of your new crop.
For more information:
Wim van Wingerden
Publication date: 8/31/2017
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