Coir substrate producer, Botanicoir, is adding a brand-new substrate grow bag to their range, with excellent free draining properties, and it’s ideal for crops, such as tomatoes, that prefer a dryer growing environment with a high air fill porosity.
One Southport based salad company has seen excellent results on a tomato crop. Flavour Fresh production manager, Andy Roe, has been carrying out trials with the new substrate, and initial results have been impressive. The tomato plants are visibly more generative, which in turn creates a better yield, and a more flavoursome product.
“We started the 5,000m2 trial in December 2016, which is a real test, because its notoriously a difficult time for establishment and growth, due to short daylight hours. But the tomatoes are thriving,” says Andy.
The Dry XD substrate is being tested against Botanicoir’s Breeze and Dry bags, which are both performing well in the situation, but take a little more management than the Dry XD, which is very forgiving if the plants are over watered.
“Some coco fibres can sit too wet overnight for tomatoes. In the trials, we irrigate during the day, and the free draining properties of the Dry XD allow the coir to remain dryer overnight. I’ve overwatered before, and the coir has corrected itself in just 12 hours,” he says.
Andy explains that, if a substrate is too wet, the tomatoes will have a poorer flavour, reduced shelf life, quality issues and ultimately a lower yield. However, with the right root environment, all of these aspects are greatly improved and the eating experience is far superior to a crop that has sat in wet substrate.
“When testing the fruit, we look at sugar levels, kilograms per square metre, cracking of the skin and whether the soil moisture is balanced, as fluctuations in soil moisture can increase the chances of blossom end rot. The trials will continue until November, but initial results are extremely promising,” adds Andy.
As with many of Botanicoir’s products, the Dry XD comes in a dehydrated block in a polythene growbag, making it light and easy to transport. When water is added, the block expands from 20 mm to 80mm deep in a matter of hours.