KENAF PITH AS A VERMICULITE SUBSTITUTE IN PEAT-BASED MEDIA.

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, P.O. Drawer T, Mississippi State, MS 39762-5519.

Kenaf is an alternative fiber crop being evaluated in Mississippi. Kenaf, primarily grown in Asia, can be used in the manufacture of paper, fiber board, acoustical tiles and compost. The bark is the source of the fiber used, leaving the fiber core or pith for use as a paper additive, poultry litter, or is discarded. The objective of this study was to evaluate the potential use of kenaf fiber core as a vermiculite substitute in a sphagnum peat moss-based medium.

Plugs of Celosia argentea, Viola × wittrockiana, and Impatiens wallerana were transplanted into 10 cm pots containing 5 different sphagnum peat moss-based media modified with the milled fiber core (pith) of kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus) and/or vermiculite. The media were as follows: 5 peat: 0 kenaf : 5 vermiculite (v/v/v); 5 peat : 1 kenaf : 4 vermiculite (v/v/v); 5 peat : 2 kenaf : 3 vermiculite (v/v/v); 5 peat : 3 kenaf : 2 vermiculite (v/v/v); 5 peat : 4 kenaf : 1 vermiculite (v/v/v); and 5 peat : 5 kenaf: 0 vermiculite (v/v/v). Water holding capacity, pore space, pH and media shrinkage were monitored throughout the study along with plant growth and plant quality.