Soil and growing media temperature is critical to good root development. April and May last year was very warm and sunny, if a little on the dry side. Whereas this year has been dry but cold, overcast and very windy. This has made growing conditions very difficult; especially in outside unprotected crops. Weather conditions such as rain and cold directly affect the growth rate of new roots. Poor rooting will limit the quantity of nutrients the plant has access to, meaning growth will be reduced. The repeated frosts in April have either damaged flowering and fruiting plants knocking them back a good 2-3 weeks or potentially affecting final yield. Additional foliar feeding can partly remedy this of course, but better outcomes will occur if the main issue of poor rooting is solved first, rather than just treating the symptoms of poor growth.
The continued low temperatures have caused soils and growing media to stay very cold compared to an average year. Rooting and biological action in the rhizosphere has therefore been reduced, but now we are expecting warmer night and day temperatures as well as increased sunlight hours which will increase growth rates. With cold soils, poor rooting and plant wanting to grow we may see some early Trace Element deficiencies as the soil biology and roots struggle to catch up.
One particularly important element in this respect is iron. Iron deficiency presents itself as interveinal chlorosis of the youngest leaves, meaning that they appear yellow and often have dark green veins. Iron is vital for chlorophyll production, which is the essential ‘driving force’ behind photosynthesis and growth. Therefore, a lack of this element will greatly impact productivity of the plant.
To combat cold and wet conditions our agronomist suggests a combination of products to help plants overcome stress quickly and recover active growth:
HortiPhyte contains the fast-acting, highly mobile phosphite (PO₃) form of phosphorus, rather than the usual phosphate (PO₄). Its effect is to increase the rate of energy transfer within the plant, resulting in boosted root and shoot initiation and development. Whether applied as a foliar spray or via the roots, HortiPhyte is transported readily around the plant and so quickly supports and encourages rooting through cold, wet weather.
HortiBoost takes plant nutrition beyond conventional fertilisers by combining a unique and powerful package of 20 essential amino-acids, humic acid complex, seaweed and also major and minor nutrients.
HortiBoost will increase the health status of your plants by increasing their resilience to abiotic stress. The amino acids in HortiBoost act as a shortcut to rapid recovery by providing plants a ready-made toolkit of essential components for rapid growth and repair. When applied during and after cold, or other forms of stress, it’s the ideal product to turn crops back to full productivity.
As well as all other trace elements, HortiBoost contains a generous iron content of over 1%, providing the iron essential for growth and recovery easily and rapidly when applied as a foliar spray, bypassing unavailable iron in the growing media.
A Note About Growing Media:
Active recovery from cold and stress needs all the growing media to be available and conditioned to absorb nutrients and water. Weather conditions at this time of year can change very quickly and vary enormously, for example this time last year we were basking in a heatwave. Growers need to allow for these rapid changes in growth and water requirement, and be ready to respond accordingly. If growing media becomes dry, either as irrigation has not been required due to lack of growth, or due to rapid plant uptake, it can be very difficult to re-wet and irrigation can be wasted. Dry patches of media will lead to uneven growth and lost productivity.
HortiHydrate Pro acts in three ways to improve irrigation spread evenly through any growing media, lowering the surface tension and allowing uniform wetting. By creating the optimum moisture profile plants have the benefit of all of the growing media to utilise. This means crops have better access to more nutrients and water for growth.