Using Grodan for Lettuce and Herbs

Using Grodan for Lettuce and Herbs 

In recent years there has been
a worldwide increase
in the consumption
of lettuce and fresh herbs. Naturally this has led to an increase in production.  More and more growers are now opting to use GRODAN
as their substrate.
The benefits of
using GRODAN in the production process are:
  • It is an
    inert and hygienic substrate
  • The speed and
    uniformity of germination and growth.
  • There is
    sufficient substrate volume to propagate to the
    desired plant size.
  • Once it is
    placed in the gutter or raft system the
    propagation blocks provide further stability.
Inert and clean
GRODAN stone wool
is an inert and hygienic
substrate, so it provides your crop with a clean,
disease free start. Furthermore, stone wool retains its structure throughout the cultivation
cycle. Filters remain clean and free from blockages, cleaning between crops is
easier and more importantly, faster, allowing less downtime between crops. The
fact that it is also inert means that all applied nutrients and
water are directly available for the growing crop. The combination of faster turnaround
and faster growth adds to the possibility of extra cultivation cycles during
the year.
Uniformity and speed of germination and growth
One of the most critical
stages of cultivation is germination. Seed holes cut into the stone wool plugs provide
the perfect air/water ratio around the seed which facilitates a high
germination percentage. More importantly, as the stone wool substrate is
uniformly saturated, each seed has the same germination environment, which provides uniformity in
emergence and initial growth. The speed and uniformity of growth which
follows results in a higher quality end product. It also provides a crucial opportunity
for additional cultivation cycles during the year.
Substrate volume to propagate the desired plant size
There are two distinguishable
stages in the production process; propagation and final production.
With the propagation of lettuce, a favorable microclimate is required. This is partly achieved
by retaining a high plant density. 
In GRODAN trials, we have seen that when the propagation period
is extended (21-24 days), the microclimate created results in more speed in
final production. Also, as larger plants are used, the production cycle is shortened,
once again providing an opportunity for additional cultivation cycles during
the year.
In order to extend the propagation
period you also require a larger substrate volume (i.e. AO
36/40 or MM40/40). This larger volume allows more root growth and
more stability.  Crucially, it also
allows irrigation to be managed. Often in propagation, too much water is given.
This results in weaker plants with greater susceptibility to disease.
Having the right irrigation strategy with the right substrate volume will give
you the possibility to be critical to the moment of irrigation. Having a precise irrigation
strategy will also retain the roots within the plug and therefore result in less
damage during transplanting.
To improve the irrigation strategy, we would suggest that you weigh
the blocks or AO sheets to decide if irrigation is needed (table 1).
Table 1. Indicative weights to irrigate the
blocks or AO sheets.
Grodan product
Approximate substrate volume
Indicative weight to base irrigation on (±60% WC)
MM 40/40
64 ml per block
40 gram per block
AO 36/40
40 ml per plug
3926ml per sheet
24 gram per plug
2.4 kg per sheet

Stability during use in gutter or raft system

Depending on the production system
which is used, the
GRODAN propagation component provides a certain degree of stability. For plants in
gutter systems, suitable products are MM blocks or the AX
plugs (figure 1). For plants in a raft system an AO plug is recommended, as its tapered
base makes planting
into the raft faster.
Figure 1. Left picture showing Grodan AX  plugs with basil seedlings, middle Grodan MM
blocks with lettuce during propagation stage, right picture showing Grodan AO
GRODAN stone wool
will give you an inert, clean substrate which provides fast, uniform
germination and growth. Whether you have a raft or gutter system, we have a plug or block that
will fit your needs.

For more information
contact Hort Americas at 469-532-2383 or 

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