Planning ahead to autumn cropping
While the dust is only just settling on a busy spring season for many bedding and nursery stock producers, now is the time to start planning for autumn crops – says technical area sales manager Stephen Briggs. As industry standards constantly change and with the continuing trend in peat reduction in sustainable growing media, he takes stock.
Key to success
Whether you are a bedding grower planning autumn / winter Pansies and Primulas or more specialist such as Cyclamens or Poinsettias, or a nursery stock producer looking at overwintering herbaceous or hardy nursery stock (HNS) ready for early spring sales - having the correct growing media is the key to success.
ICL’s newest growing media raw material - Fibagro Advance Fine – has become a key ingredient in Levington Advance bedding. Indeed, Fibagro Advance Fine is now incorporated at 40% in all bedding mixes as standard.
Mixed with 0-10mm peat, it is perfect for peat-reduced bedding crops as it provides a flowable media that works well with trays and small pots.
More open mix
For crops such as Primula, that require a slightly more open mix, adding coarser raw materials – such as pine bark, Fibagro Advance Standard and coarse grades of peat - helps increase the air filled porosity (AFP). With the shorter days and colder nights of autumn, water usage should be closely managed to ensure plants do not sit in wet growing media.
Fibagro Advance blends well with all raw materials to provide a good structure. While the inclusion of our H2Gro water management agent in mixes promotes excellent wetting, rewetting and water dispersion throughout the growing media.
For peat-free growing, Fibagro Advance and Fibagro Advance Fine mix well with other peat free materials to produce a flowable growing media which can be used for bedding and herbaceous crops. The mixes are designed to run smoothly through potting machines filling trays and pots.
This will no doubt be ‘music to the ears’ of bedding growers, who may have been fearful and/or sceptical about transitioning to peat-reduced and ultimately peat-free media.
Autumn potting herbaceous & HNS
For autumn potting of herbaceous and HNS, an open mix with good drainage is required; this helps ensure roots are not sitting in wet growing media all winter with little or no growth.
Incorporating Fibagro Advance Standard in a peat-reduced or peat-free mix effectively opens up the structure, allowing more air for roots.
Nutrition for the autumn
As we move through the seasons and ever-changing growing media specifications, fertiliser regimes often need adapting.
Osmocote 5, designed specifically for sustainable growing media mixes, or Osmocote Exact High K – which promotes compact growth and good flowering - can be incorporated giving growers peace of mind their crops will have the nutrition needed to succeed.
Alternatively, an extensive range of water soluble fertilisers are available with our Peters Professional and Universol ranges to meet your crops’ requirements.