Growth and Economic Assessments of Kenaf Core as the Major Component in Greenhouse Potting Media

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  • 1 Dept. of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mississippi State Univ., Box 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762.

Two types of ground kenaf core (fresh and aged) were used in concentrations from 70% to 100% (v/v) in combination with peat for use as greenhouse potting media, and were compared to two commercial mixes in completely randomized-block designs. Greenhouse crops of Boston fern (Nephrolepis), Impatiens, and pansies (Viola) were grown in the different mixes. Irrigation was conducted regularly, based primarily on the average need of all the plants. Kenaf-based media did not retain water as well as the commercial mixes; consequently, impatiens and pansies displayed slower growth rates. However, no differences were noted for fern growth in 70% kenaf compared to commercial mixes. A second study on plants that were grouped by media type and watered as needed provided different results. Ferns grew equally well in all media, but Impatiens grew best in 70% fresh kenaf. Kenaf-based media were less costly than the commercial mixes, and the cost decreased steadily as the kenaf proportion increased. The lower cost of kenaf, coupled with the decreasing availability of peat, should make kenaf-based media an attractive alternative to conventional greenhouse potting media.

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