So July has gone and we are heading out of the EU, we didn’t win the football, Murry won Wimbledon and we have a new Prime Minister. With all this going on is it only me that has noticed hardly a week has gone by without rain this year? Maybe by the time you read this it will have stopped raining and we will have a hose pipe ban and a national shortage of sun cream lotion but at the moment all we can hope for is an Indian Summer!
ICL's - Stuart Gammage, Technical Area sales manager for The East
The amount of rainfall we have had over in East Anglia has been extreme for what normally is one of the dryer parts of the country. From what we are seeing over the whole of the UK it has been a wet and fairly cold season so far for most of us. This will have stressed plants out with very different day and night temperatures and the high rainfall washing out the nutrition available in the growing media.
Hungry plants that lose their colour, and lack growth, are not only no good for sales but also become stressed making the increasingly prone to pest and disease attacks. It’s therefore important to check that EC levels (Electrical Conductance is a measure of total nutrients) in your crops are where you need them to be. With the amount of rainfall; we may have saved on irrigation, but if you also feed when irrigating then all you will have relied on mainly is the feed in the growing media.
One of my jobs when I worked as technical assistant manager on a large scale CNS nursery was to carry an EC probe with me at this time of year. Even if plants look healthy you can normally see the EC dropping away. The key is to act before the plants start showing signs of stress.
EC probes are available that you can insert directly into the growing media to give you an average reading. Alternatively you can use an EC pen and do the water through pot test, this is where you gather a selection of plants, place them on a grid above a tray and then water them with similar volumes of water on all tests to get some run through. By dipping an EC pen into this water will give you an EC reading. Don’t forget to take a reading of your water first, before you water the plants so you know what EC lift you are getting and also regularly calibrate your EC meter to get a more accurate reading. It is also important to make sure the moisture content is similar when doing these readings so best to try and do them an hour after an irrigation cycle has been given.
Once you have your results and you find your reading are below 200 micro seimens, you will need to top up the feed levels, this can be achieved using topdressing, inserting feed tablets or feeding through your irrigation system to help gain the colour back into your crops. If your reading is above 800 micro seimens then this too high and you will need to overhead irrigate the crop with plain water to flush through the high levels to bring the levels back to a safe reading.
If this all seems complicated then send a GM sample to a lab such as NRM or ask you FACTS qualified ICL Technical Area Sales Manager for further advice.
Fingers crossed summer will arrive at some stage this year, or at least the weather keeps dry longer than a week.