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Seed Storage and Germination Recommendations

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CropKing Admin
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seed storage

Two common questions we have gotten at Crop King in the past from growers has been the life expectancy of various seeds and average germination time. There are three things you need to know:
How to properly store seeds.
Life expectancy of different properly stored seed.
Different crops can have very different germination times.

NFT Hydroponics

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CropKing Admin
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NFT Lettuce

CropKing offers channel with a slightly raised middle to help the film spread widely rather than concentrate plant roots into the middle of the channel. The CropKing channels have removable top caps to keep dirt from contaminating the nutrient film and to make it easier to clean the channels. These caps are punched with specially sized holes to enable a grower to precisely space crops for best growth. In addition, the covers prevent evaporation loses.

Cultivate15

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CropKing
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CropKing Booth at Cultivate15

Cultivate’15 is in the books and what a great show it was. This convention was aimed at growers, breeders and florists for edible and ornamental plants. With sessions providing information on the latest trends and tools available on the horticulture industry it was a great opportunity to network, search for new suppliers and gain valuable information.

What is Hydroponics?

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CropKing Admin
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Hydroponics is the art and science of growing without soil. The term was first coined by William F. Gericke around 1940 who took the word from the Greek. Gericke was among the first to grow plants on what he called "litter" suspended above a tank of water containing a nutrient solution.Since Gericke's time hydroponics has come a long way. Instead of Gericke's leaky wooden tanks, we now have leak-proof plastic tanks. Instead of Gericke's "litter," hydroponic growers use expanded clay balls, rockwool, perlite, sand or other support medium. In Gericke's day, he made his nutrient solution from manure with chemical additives, but today we can buy a concentrated nutrient solution optimized to suit the plants being grown.

CropKing at Cultivate

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CropKing Admin
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As you may know, the Cultivate'15 agricultural conference is fast approaching and with a record number of attendees in 2014, this year promises to be even more exciting. This is one the CropKing staff's favorite shows because it gives us a chance to not only meet many wonderful people interested in hydroponic vegetable production, but also the ability to interact with a wide variety of like minded professionals in a diverse range of horticultural fields . We are also very excited to use this opportunity to show off some of the new things that CropKing has been developing over the past year.

Nutrient Solution Management in Recirculating Systems

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CropKing Admin
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Hydroponic Bibb Lettuce

In recirculating hydroponic systems producing leafy crops, one of the main factors in the control of the grower is the frequency of tank changes (ie pumping out and turning over the recirculating solution). Since we generally manage the solution based on EC, we are assessing the total amount of solutes in the water. We don’t know the balance of each nutrient individually, so tank changes are carried out to try and maintain necessary levels of nutrients. Essentially, our goal is to change the nutrient solution often enough that we don’t have detrimental buildups of unused ions or depletions of important nutrients. Also keep in mind that different water sources have different background ion levels that can slow or speed up imbalances in the nutrient solution.
This tank change practice is really based on cost efficiency. There are nutrient solution management systems that have the ability to manage based on individual ions, but these are much higher cost than the typical systems installed in small to mid scale greenhouses. This hydroponics system cost savings comes at the price of more frequent tank changes that maintain a safe margin of nutrients in solution.

Cucumber Production- An Overview of OH numbers in 2013 and 2014

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CropKing Admin
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Cucumber

Overview and Data Considerations

This data covers a couple of years of data (2013, 2014). So, the goal is to present to you an overview of crop yields and schedules.
Several of the main cultivars that we carry and that our customers use were trialed. However, these data do not represent all cultivars at all times of year, so comparisons across years are limited,
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that these trials were carried out in relatively small blocks imitating hydroponics at home. Our vine crop greenhouse is mostly dedicated to tomato production, so cucumber trials took place in units of 10-20 buckets on the western side of the greenhouse.
In some respects, these small sections of space dedicated to hydroponic cucumber production are similar to many grower houses, but it is important to remember that yields can vary according to light in different locations within the greenhouse. These trials were all carried out in Lodi, OH, so we cannot account for location variation that may be seen in other areas or seasons.
All of these trials were run with the plant maintained in an umbrella system. The majority of the crops were produced without pinching and were removed when the main leader reached the floor after traveling up to the wire and back down.

Summer 2014 Oakleaf Trial

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CropKing
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Lettuce

Seeding was done by hand into pre-moistened 1” x 1” x 1 ½” cubes of three different media (Grodan 200 ct rockwool, Oasis XL 162, and GrowTech 162). Seeds were germinated in clear water in seeding trays, and were transferred to the nursery and nutrient solution 3 to 5 days after seeding. Seedlings were produced in flowing nutrient solution in the nursery for an additional 10 to 12 days before transplanting. Due to the season, no supplemental lighting was provided during the seedling phase. After transplanting, plants were grown out in the channels for 25 to 28 days until harvest. The nutrient solution was continually cycled through the Fertroller where automatic pH and EC adjustments met programmed solution set points. The pH was maintained at 5.8 by the addition of dilute sulfuric acid. EC was maintained at 1.7 by the addition of concentrated fertilizer solution and source water. Tank changes were carried out every two weeks.

Branching out with Brassicas - Summer trial in NFT production in Ohio

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CropKing
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Brassicas

In the greenhouses that I visit and crops I discuss with growers, it is clear that lettuce still fills a majority of plant spaces in the NFT system. However, we field an increasing number of questions about the many other leafy crop possibilities. Many of the other leafy options are in the Brassica family - cabbage cousins, essentially. These include kale, mustard, mizuna, and pac choi most commonly.

2014 Tomato Trials- Summer Sneak Peak

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CropKing
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Hydroponic Tomatoes

For many of the producers that we serve, beefsteak tomatoes are a large majority of their production. However, trends in consumption and competition are increasing interest in specialty cultivars. From demand for farm to school salad bar items to farmers market mixed baskets, there are a range of options for small fruited and colored tomatoes. While visual interest and taste are critical in these cultivars, it is essential that production be adequate and relatively consistent over the season. These two questions are the reason behind this trial. Exhaustive yield data is not possible on the scale that we trial in our test greenhouse, but early evaluation is essential to begin to make suggestions for growers. So, this evaluation was carried out on small plots of fifteen cultivars to assess plant production throughout the season. These are preliminary trials to determine what cultivars to trial more extensively in the future.

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