10 ways to get the best from your CRF

October 13, 2021
  • Whastsapp

Choosing the best in controlled-release fertilizers (CRF) can help you take your growing operation to new heights. But stellar results depend on more than choosing the right products—you have to use them properly as well. To optimize your CRF, lean on your ICL Territory Manager for expert advice and follow these tips for peak performance:

1. When bumping up, compensate for media and fertilizer displacement.
When you incorporate CRF and bump up to larger containers, the space taken up by the smaller pot displaces what would have been fresh media and fertilizer. Always consider the size of the larger container and compensate for media and fertilizer displacement. Otherwise, you'll lower your fertilizer dose per pot and get shorter longevity for your CRF.

2. Match your CRF's longevity to the crop's growing cycle.
The CRF longevity you choose for a crop should provide that specific crop with proper nutrition throughout the growing cycle. If the product's longevity is too short, it'll run out of steam before the crop finishes. If it's too long, you may experience slow growth—especially upfront.

3. Choose the best CRF formulation for your growing conditions and practices.
We offer multiple CRF formulations to meet specific needs of the crops you're growing, but also to complement where and how you grow. Trialing CRF products is an excellent way to figure out which product or products are truly best for your crops under your growing conditions and practices. Talk with your Territory Manager for more information.

4. Follow recommendations for CRF application rates.
Recommended CRF rates are designed to deliver optimal results. We wouldn't recommend anything else. Skimping to cut costs will affect CRF longevity. While you may squeak by during mild temperatures, your fertilizer won't go the same distance if unexpected high temperatures hit. Don't cheat yourself; a few extra pennies per pot will pay off.

5. Match your application method to your crop and growing practices.
Topdress, subdress, dibble, or incorporate—these CRF application methods all have their place. Be sure you're using the method of application that best suits the crops you grow and your growing practices. Your Territory Manager can help with this, too.

6. Monitor and evaluation your irrigation practices.
Temperature determines your CRF's release, but watering matters. Overirrigation leads to excessive nutrient leaching from the container. That means less nutrient stays available to your plants. Optimize irrigation to minimize leaching, retain nutrient availability, and reap the benefits of your CRF.

7. Maintain your growing media at optimal pH.
If your media's pH is too high, it can restrict the absorption of micronutrients necessary to your crop's success. Conversely, a low pH can cause toxicity instead. By maintaining media in an optimal pH range, you help avoid reduced plant growth and micronutrient antagonisms. Not sure where your media's at? ICL Lab Services can help.

8. Store your CRF and media properly.
Always store your CRF in a dry environment. If you incorporate CRF into your media, use it as soon as possible and keep the media and CRF dry in the interim. Once the CRF is incorporated, it starts to absorb water in the media and release nutrients. That leads to elevated ECs in the media the longer it's stored—especially toward the bottom of the pile.

9. Avoid green bark in your substrate.
Growing media that contains fresh bark, known as green bark, can interfere with CRF. While green bark is generally lighter and cheaper to transport, it can contain higher amounts of substances that repel water and complicate nutrient delivery. Green bark can easily rob some of the nutrients provided by your CRF, leaving your plants with less feed.

10. Use a quality micronutrient package.
A quality micronutrient package with longevity can decrease your likelihood of micronutrient deficiencies. Consider Micromax granular micronutrients for all plants grown in artificial or soilless media. It's designed to increase the efficiency of major nutrients and maximize growth by boosting micronutrient levels in the root zone. Combine it with Osmocote for optimal performance.

When choosing the best controlled-release fertilizer and practices for a quality crop, always look at how the crop is maintained throughout the growing cycle—not just how it finishes. You'll save on chemicals, labor, and time, and you'll experience less disease, pests, and micronutrient deficiencies. That translates to fewer headaches and better margins.

Ready to get the best from your CRF? Give us a call. We're here to help you get growing.