Around 1990 we initiated the very first crop growing on coco for the culture of growing roses, and this was followed for 5 years intensively.
However coco pith is an organic material, it showed it selves to be very stable from the start, and after 5 years the structure did not or hardly not show any decomposing. This was very remarkable!
Unfortunately there is quite some coco in the market that is not stable. Those materials do decompose already from the start using it as a substrate, but also when this is added to a potting soil mixture. This results in less air around the roots, what causes of lots of growth problems.
How is that possible?
The coco we were using at the start in 1990 was from a source that was stored on heaps for many years, and the coco pith we used was selected to be between 2 and 5 years old material.
Nowadays we have automated the process, and has developed to an industrial way of manufacturing coco in large volumes. Some manufacturers use and sell the product immediate after the processing. This material is very fresh, and it does not give a good stability for growing.
What has been done about that?
Thanks to Dutch research by RHP we know so much more about the stability of coco. So called “respiration tests” (developed by RHP around 2005) measure the speed of the decomposing of organic materials. Since our first very positive tests in roses (1990-1995) we did never use any fresh/young coco for raw material.
For Dutch Plantin these new RHP tests were confirming that we were already on the right road for stable quality from our start in coco in the late eighties. Only well aged coco is stable, that is our specialism!
Dutch Plantin has invested lots of money in large bunkers to store massive volumes of coco for longer time. During this time the coco becomes his stability, what is of great importance for the growers.
How can I recognize the not-stable coco?
The colour can indicate, but it can change quite fast from light yellow into light brown, further to brown – dark brown. Often you can only notice during the crop when the coco was sold too young:
Coco pith turns into a sort of sludge, material that gets very dark of colour and finer structure. The air ratio drops down dramatically and the substrate volume is decreasing, going down.
Coco chips which are not stable loose volume and water capacity. They also break down too early and the substrate turns too wet as well.
Dutch Plantin only sells stable coco products, for the customers to succeed in maximum yield.