Cultivate’15 is in the books and what a great show it was. This convention was aimed at growers, breeders and florists for edible and ornamental plants. With sessions providing information on the latest trends and tools available on the horticulture industry it was a great opportunity to network, search for new suppliers and gain valuable information.
When you first walk into the tradeshow floor you may be overwhelmed by the scope of vendors. There are businesses supplying everything from health insurance, to tray liners, greenhouse construction and automated systems to the breeding companies showing off the latest plants. It’s always good to see our vendors amongst the list including Blue Lab, Link4 Corporation, and our media suppliers such as Grodan and Oasis. The opportunities to see the latest in automated systems and greenhouse construction is very exciting for new growers, and strengthening relationships with current suppliers or looking for new vendors is a great opportunity for more returning visitors.
At Cultivate’15 there were several informative sessions. Of particular interest to us were the lectures related to hydroponic production: “What’s Trending: Indoor Microgreen Production” by Dr. Roberto Lopez (Purdue University), and “Best Media for Hydroponic Greens Products” by Dr. Michael Evans (University of Arkansas). Dr. Lopez discussed the use of LED’s (light emitting diodes) to supplement natural lighting for use in microgreen production. LEDs can be used in edible and indoor ornamental or greenhouse production. Plants grown under LED lighting were shown to be comparable and sometimes more advanced than under high pressure sodium lamps. Increasing lighting can increase the compactness of the plants, and utilizing different color ranges can provide you with more control over flowering, flavor, growth and color of your plants. Exposure to a 50-50 red-blue color combination before harvest can increase the intensity of red coloring for red lettuce and other greens.
Dr. Evans discussed the pros and cons to different hydroponic rooting media including: rockwool, stabilized peat, and phenolic foam. There are a variety of choices ranging from different number of holes affecting the number of seeds per tray and spacing, dibble hole type, and grooving type. The # of seeds per tray/spacing can affect the growth rate of the plant and the number of trays you will need to use to achieve your production goals. Different dibble holes can allow for single or multiseed sowing. The types of grooving include top or bottom and non-grooved (lightly perforated) which holds more water than those with grooving. Over all the different media types performed closely. to one another varying a little by system. At the end of the talk Dr. Evans concluded that the media you choose will really be determined by the crop you’re growing, the system you have, and your personal preferences. We currently offer Grodan rockwool and Oasis grower foam (phenolic) and are doing initial work with Elle Pots as a stabilized peat plug supplier.