PINE BARK, RICE HULLS, AND OTHER INEXPENSIVE MEDIA FOR GREENHOUSE TOMATO PRODUCTION IN THE SOUTH

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  • 1 Mississippi State University, Truck Crops Research & Extension Center, P.O. Box 231, Crystal Springs, MS 39059

Successful greenhouse tomato businesses are able to keep production and quality high while maintaining reasonable cost controls. One way of controlling costs is to use growing media that are locally available in good supply, and therefore of low cost. In Mississippi. as in other states in the southeast, pine bark is an available byproduct resource from the forestry industry; fines (<=95mm diameter) can be used as a growing medium following composting. Rice hulls are a readily available waste product from rice mills, especially in the Mississippi Delta region; these are suitable after being crushed and composted.

In comparison to plants grown in rock wool, yield from plants in pine bark fines, rice hulls, or sand were higher, while quality was not significantly different in the l-crop/year system. In a spring crop, yield and quality were higher from plants in pine bark, rice hulls, and rock wool than from those grown in sand. On a per plant basis, cost for the rock wool system, perlite system (pre-bagged), perlite (bulk), peat moss, sand, composted rice hulls, and pine bark lines are $1.50, $1.00, $0.35, $0.60, $0.24, $0.22 and $0.17, respectively. Pine bark and rice hulls are good choices for growing media for greenhouse tomatoes in areas where they are available.

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