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Roots, side shoots, water content
Last week, in Auckland, we had two days that were simply incredible, with high light levels recorded and temperature to match. I think this perhaps caught a few growers off guard. However, a good warning, in preparation for next month and the onset of spring light.
Plants are basically ‘soft’. I remember visiting a capsicum grower in Ireland, and my colleague, who was English described the weather as soft to the amusement and ridicule of the Irish grower. However, the weather was very easy on the plants with lots of cloud cover and cool temperatures. The terminology was possibly incorrect but I would’ve called our weather, until last week, “soft”.
Root growth is not going to magically increase because of a few nice days of weather, but it will naturally happen as the plant increases its water uptake. Unfortunately, what I have noticed in the past few weeks, is some issues around maintaining good root health. Stress, caused by a sudden change of weather, and then either over watering or under watering, will lead to root damage. Last week was a really good reminder, for myself and growers I advise, we need to start planning the targets in regards to water content and EC.
Last week I took this photo, it clearly shows the issues I am seeing. New root is growing but the roots that are brown have clearly been from an issue arising. The leaf on the plants were also showing signs something was amiss but with a few small adjustments, to temperature settings and irrigation strategy, the plants one week later looked much improved. The emphasis of maintaining root health should never be underestimated. Temperature and fruit load also have a major bearing but having a targeted irrigation strategy will always be high on my agenda.
This is a different plant, within the same crop, as the photo above, taken one week later. You can see the change in roots and the physical change in the crop is extremely satisfying.
Stem Density (tomato and cucumbers)
Some growers may have already or be intending to increase stem density, but you can only achieve this if you have vigour and root systems that are healthy. Growers that are already setting flowers on side shoots will have extra production before the historical and dreaded labour weekend price free fall. Growers that have maintained their crops will benefit from taking side shoots early. Sometimes, if a crop is simply not strong enough taking the side shoot will be counterproductive.