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Steerable substrate reduces losses in Calla

Calla cultivation is characterised by the immense range of varieties encompassing a huge diversity of cultivars, each with its own, specific features. Growers also have to deal with the various origins of the bulbs and their quality. Diverse systems and methods are used in nurseries that propagate calla in pots, or grow cut flowers. Therefore, it’s quite a challenge to grow good plants successfully.

Breeders and suppliers of bulbs already take steps to facilitate the process. In the preliminary stages, they not only examine the external traits, but also apply important selection criteria to bulb quality and shelf-life. Bulb growers are becoming increasingly aware that correctly storing bulbs is an essential part of producing a healthy bulb suitable for planting up to be grown further. A sound foundation
increases the chance of success for the growers.

Steerable substrate
In its testing facility ‘de Kas’, Van der Knaap’s Research & Development department has conducted intensive research for many years into the right choice of substrate for calla cultivation. The results provided by the various studies have led to a series of practical trials aimed at optimising the substrates to better suit the needs of existing and new customers. The result is a steerable substrate. This is important, especially in calla cultivation, to prevent losses and to maximise plant development and growth.

A steerable substrate is a substrate that can be influenced, and steered, by applying certain cultivation measures. Maintaining a good, airy structure, correct water distribution ratio, rapid uptake of water and moderate water retention properties are important parameters. If these factors can be managed properly, losses can be significantly reduced.

Pots and cut flowers
The basic demands placed on substrate for growing plants in pots or as cut flowers are virtually identical at the start of cultivation. The substrate must be able to absorb moisture easily, must not remain too wet and must be able to drain away excess water equally easily. This will ensure healthy root development without plant loss in every season of the year. The requirements start to differ as cultivation progresses. For example, with cut flowers the stem length and thickness are important, so irrigation and nutrition are essential. Excess moisture is undesirable, but plentiful irrigation must remain possible if necessary. On the other hand, plants grown in pots should not be allowed to develop long stems. They can be propagated on drier substrate, but care must be taken to avoid flowers dying caused by a lack of water. It is also important to consider the shelf life of the plants further on in the chain. The substrate must offer a sufficiently large moisture buffer.

The specific properties of coco in the mixture also make the difference in calla growing. The right combination of the various raw materials ensures better rooting of the entire rootball or container. This gives the advantage of fewer visible roots on the outside of the pot or container. The influence of climate on the outside of the pot or container has a negative impact on the roots; good root development
in the entire rootball makes a plant less vulnerable.

For more information
Van der Knaap
Theo Bouwman
T: +31 (0)174 525050

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