Jérôme Crenn: "More and earlier root development"
(Jérôme Crenn) In 2016-2017, Thomas Plants is set to develop the use of RootmaXX cubes. For nearly thirty years, Thomas Plants has been producing and marketing young vegetable plants (cabbage, grafted tomato, grafted aubergine, cucumber, sweet pepper, lettuce, onion, etc.). Four years ago, Jean-Yves and Michel Thomas set up a subsidiary, Provence Plants, in Tarascon in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône, France. Some of the young plants produced in Ploubazlanec are sent to Tarascon every week to be raised there. This makes it easier to supply southern producers but also to offer growers in Brittany a different typology of young plant and a more sturdy one.
The young tomato plants are delivered to growers in November, December and January to be raised in heated glasshouses. Next comes production in multi-span polytunnels and then in cold tunnels. Since the beginning of soilless tomato production, Cultilène has been Thomas Plants’ preferred partner for growing media. “We raise our young plants in 252-plug trays and then in stonewool cubes,” explains Jérôme Crenn, product manager at Thomas Plants. “The quality of the plugs and cultivation cubes is essential. But we also appreciate the listening relationship and dialogue we have with Cultilène. When we have requests for improvement, they listen and we move forward together. For example, at our request Cultilène created a circular dip on top of the cube which serves as a water reservoir. They also introduced ‘spikes’ under the cube to reduce contact between the roots and the ground”.
Real added value
After using HR cubes and then PC cubes for a few years, Thomas Plants tested RootmaXX cubes in 2015, on 110,000 young plants. “The use of cross-fibres facilitates root colonisation of the cube,” explains Jérôme Crenn. “We have seen more and faster root development. Generally, we look at the bottom of the cubes to see the root development. With RootmaXX cubes, there are more roots inside the cube and fewer roots underneath it. This is a plus point because these roots are less easily damaged, which then creates fewer entry points for pathogens. To see the root development in a RootmaXX cube, you need to unwrap it.” The cubes were tested in tomato, cucumber and aubergine at different times of year. “In summer, there are fewer problems with root development,” says Jérôme Crenn. “But in winter the lack of light makes it a little harder for the roots to develop. For growers, root development in the cube is an important criterion for rapid colonisation of growing media. The improvements we saw in cucumber were even more spectacular than in tomato.” The water retention of the cubes is similarly satisfactory . “In our case, we adapt our watering to the type of cube. But for growers, who practise pre-planting, the cubes must have a fairly high water retention capacity to get through that two or three-week period without having to water all the time.” Finally, after some modifications, the cubes were made suitable for the extensive plant handling mechanisation used at Thomas Plants. “RootmaXX brings real added value,” says Jérôme Crenn.
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Jérôme Crenn: "More and earlier root development"
(Jérôme Crenn) In 2016-2017, Thomas Plants is set to develop the use of RootmaXX cubes.
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