Archive for July, 2008

Now back to the mums-

They have been planted about 3-4 week now depending on the size.  The weird thing this year is that with in a few days after planting the liners we had some chlorosis show up in about 10-12 varieties.  Chlorosis is where the leaves of the plants turn yellow and look like they have no chlorophyll.  There is usually a couple of normal causes for this of which low pH or low nitrogen are the  most common but magnesium, iron or manganese deficiencies can also be a cause.  However our pH and nitrogen were at acceptable levels.  So we started investigating, and as we did the chlorosis got worse.   We sent samples to a lab to be analyzed.  The results showed that our pH and fertilizer levers were good but while the plant tissue had plenty of iron there was none left in the soil.  To remedy this we are applying an iron drench with a fertilizer boost to help make up some of the stunted growth.

We are still not sure why we had the problem with the iron.  We’ve narrowed it down to the new Fafard soil we used or the new multi-coat time release fertilizer we used or a combination of the two.  Again we sent samples off to be analyzed.  This who episode emphasizes the risk associated with using new products on a large scale.  Because the iron problem showed up so soon after planting that the Fafard soil did not have enough iron to begin.

The Yoder and Grolink varieties seem to be affected equally.  Some varieties of each are still green while some are a little pale and some are as yellow as bananas.  I’d show you some pictures, but it would only scare you.  At this point I think we will loose a few plants, but we have enough time to resuscitate most of them and have them looking good by the middle of September.

Tis the season to be hot and humid FA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LAAA.  Tis also the season to start the poinsettia production to sell this winter.  Here’s how it starts.

First we put together the Oasis strips that are spaced out in net trays.  The Oasis strips are used as the rooting media for the poinsettia cuttings in place of regular potting soil/peat moss media.  The Oasis strips are a stiff foam similar to the foam/sponge material used in floral arrangement.

Then the trays are laid out on tables in the greenhouse.  The day before the cuttings arrive.  We saturate the strips with overhead watering.

When the cuttings arrive they are sorted and unpacked.

The stems are dipped in rooting powder to stimulate root growth.

The cuttings are stuck into the pre-drilled holes in the Oasis strips.

These cuttings are not in any trouble.  They have been stuck a few hours.  It takes the cuttings a day or so to resatuarate from the shipping process and will look better by tomorrow.

We are in the process of planting the last crop in Bay 3 of our plug house.  These have been stuck for about 24 hours.  You can see the difference a day makes in how they look.  The pale color is nothing to worry about.  This is a white variety.  The leaf color on the whites are alway paler.

This is the planting in Bay 2.  These have been stuck about a week and are looking good.

This is the first crop we stuck in Bay 1 and were planted a day or two before the ones in Bay 2.  They should root out completely by the end of the month and be ready to plant by the first week of August.

Poinsettia crops are long term crops that take 18-20 weeks to produce not like petunias or marigolds that only take about 8 weeks.  In addition to taking longer poinsettias also take a lot more labor hours to grow.  All the pots are hand watered.  They are drenched with fungicides and sprayed with plant growth regulators to prevent diseases and to keep the plants short in the hot Arkansas weather.  They are also checked several times a week for height which is compared to a growth chart that tells us how our crop compares to where we need it to be.

Poinsettias are not my favorite crop, but I like them more each year since we increased production by about 30% this year.

Wasn’t that a Huey Lewis song?

Anyway, I had hoped to have time to do one more chapter of the Mum Chronicles, show you pictures of the poinsettia cuttings we just got in and do a profile on our new sales person, .  We hired two new sales persons but only one is left.  Alas, it must not have been meant to be.  I don’t know why they decided not to stay.  I showered and everything that day.  Oh, well, like I was saying there isn’t going to be time to get to it this week because I am taking a few days off.  My wife and I are off the the Rocklahoma concert bash (5 days of 80’s hair metal bands).  I will be back in the office next week ready to take up the blog and get some other work done as well.

See you next week.

After the planting is done, the main job left on the mums is the watering.  Paul and Charley, the ‘brothers’ in Parks Brothers, used to be row crop farmers so to water our mums we use the same irrigation setup they used when they farmed-with an exception.  We built a large irrigation pond about 10 years ago strictly for the purpose of irrigating our mum crop.  We built it right after a drought where we pumped every pond within a mile of us dry and the water tower dry twice.  At the pond we have a 100 horse-power electric motor to pump the water about 3/4 mile to the mum fields.  We water for 30-90 minutes just about every day depending on the weather.

In addition to watering regularly, we have already had to weed the pots once.  Some windy days and haying on the adjacent field resulted in a high number of pots having grass and weeds sprout.  We also have the occasion dog chase a rabbit through the field and knock over pots that have to be stood up again.

Finally, we also check the fertilize and pH levels in the soil about every 7-10 days to make sure all our numbers are within acceptable ranges.

This year we have some chlorosis showing up.  Chlorosis is usually a result of nutrient deficiencies but all of our nutrient levels look good.  We are trying to determine the cause so we can rectify it, but so far we haven’t had much luck.  We’re going to send some samples of plant tissue and soils off to a lab to be analyzed.  Hopefully, they will be able to determine what the problem is.

Here are a few more pictures from Garvan Woodland Gardens.

Peace Farm Organics
July 2008