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Anthurium Cultivation in Synthetic Substrate (Geotextile)

This publication is about the Experiment carried out by the Agricultural Engineer Alexis Vera and the Agricultural Producer Gabriel Convit, about the possibility of carrying out the entire Anthurium production process on a fully synthetic substrate. This experiment was conducted at Finca Los Manantiales (located in the Las Lajas Sector, Guaicaipuro Municipality, Miranda State, Venezuela) and had successful results.

We, the Sowing A Country team, intend that this publication fulfill the following functions: Serve as a document on this research, disseminate the knowledge obtained by Alexis Vera and Gabriel Convit in this experiment and expand our knowledge on Anthurium Production.

We want to start by mentioning that Anthurium is a very large botanical genus that has more than 600 species discovered, it is thought that the origin of these plants is between South America and Central America; It should be noted that they live wildly in forests of countries such as Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador. However, commercially grown cultivars correspond largely to hybrids developed in the Netherlands with the intention of obtaining brightly colored flowers and specific sizes.

The experiment on the cultivation of this plant in synthetic substrate begins when the Agricultural Producer Gabriel Convit decides to include in his production unit a cultivation house with a controlled environment for floricultural production. Motivated that the climatic and geographical conditions present at Finca Los Manantiales are excellent for Anthurium, Gabriel Convit decides to work with this crop.

Gabriel's production unit is located on a mountain that has a very steep slope, which allows little space for vehicular passage and storage of materials; Therefore, the use of coconut (commonly used as a substrate for the cultivation of Anthurium) was not a very feasible option.

The transportation of the coconut in a truck, from the coastal zone to the Las Lajas Sector of the Guaicaipuro Municipality, Miranda State, would have been a difficult and expensive task; reason why Gabriel preferred to study other possibilities. 

Although the cultivation of Anthurium in soil is possible, it should be noted that cultivating long in the same place can bring complications from soil fungi and Anthurium is a crop that is established for a long time, since a plant can be in production for 5 or 10 years. For this reason, for commercial plantations where large amounts of money are invested to achieve flowers with export quality, the use of inert substrates such as coconut fiber and shell is recommended.

Gabriel then needed a substrate where Anthurium could be rooted and where soil fungi had no chance of forming, but which in turn was light and easy to mobilize. Later Gabriel Convit met the Agronomist Alexis Vera, who was conducting a small essay on the production of Anthurium in a completely synthetic substrate. Gabriel had the opportunity to see this essay and decided to sow his Anthurium plants in this type of substrate, for his part Alexis decides to support him by providing technical advice and supervising the development of the crop in the synthetic substrate.

In this way, this experiment begins that seeks to provide a new and innovative way to grow the Anthurium, as well as achieve a successful production of its flowers. It should be noted that the data obtained from this experiment can greatly benefit floricultural producers who do not have the possibility of carrying substrates such as coconut shell to their production units, either because of the physical conditions of the place or because in their countries or regions it is it is easier and cheaper to obtain synthetic substrates than substrates of plant origin.

Since this substrate is less heavy and more compact than coconut, we can transport it without problems in a vehicle of our property such as a car or van; while to transport a good amount of coconut we would need a truck.

The rooting of the plant in this synthetic substrate is excellent; when rooted the plant balances itself. This is a very important point in this test because to produce quality flowers for national and international markets, plants need to be straight and adequately exposed to solar radiation, because if the flower stems are curved they will not be accepted at any flower shop.

Throughout the test, Alexis and Gabriel periodically checked the roots of the plants to ensure the correct rooting of the same in the substrate. Also the humidity of the roots was also frequently verified; since when the moisture is excessively retained in the substrate the roots can suffer severe rot damage, however the substrate also did not give any problem in this regard.

The substrate was placed with a "V" inclination to allow water drainage and that it be collected by a pipe that is under each planting bed. If this water was mixed with some nutrient solution for fertigation, it can be stored in a tank specially arranged for it and be used to irrigate other crops or Anthurium plants.

The Agronomist Alexis Vera advises us that the water we will use for irrigation should be carried at a pH of 5.7, which is ideal for this crop; remembering that this degree of acidity will be received by plants only through water since in this case it is not grown in soil.

The irrigation system recommended for this crop is micro sprinklers and (in the case of this experiment) it was installed entirely by Agronomist Alexis Vera. To locate the micro sprinklers, it should be as close as possible to the roots of the plant to allow them a better use of water and the nutrient solution.

Since it is a completely inorganic substrate, it cannot absorb in any way the nutrients that are applied by fertigation, giving possibility only to the plants that we are cultivating to absorb the nutrients that are in the water retained in the substrate.

The sowing beds where the substrate was placed, were established in terraces motivated to the steep slope of the place. For planting Gabriel decided to use a Plant Spacing of approximately 25 cm between plants, for a total of 16 plants per m² that were sown at about 5 or 6 cm deep.

The greatest work to be able to do the sowing was to make the holes to the substrate to place the plants, it is also worth mentioning that when the roots of the plant is rooted in this substrate it does so above and below it.

The substrate offers a significant advantage with respect to weed control since there is no presence of other plants, however it should be noted that this substrate favors the formation of moss in its upper part.

At first this was a concern for Gabriel and Alexis, however with the passing of the days they could verify that the moss did not give any problem to the development of the crop. In this regard, when we interviewed Gabriel, he told us that due to the moss, the roots darken a little, but this does not cause problems in the cultivation of Anthurium.

The use of the cultivation house minimizes to a large extent the controls of the few pests that usually affect this crop. Additionally, at each door of the same one, a pediluvium containing agricultural lime must be stepped on to prevent any fungus (or spore) that we can carry on the sole of our footwear from entering the space where our Anthurium plants are located.

With respect to flowers, between 6 and 8 months of cultivation the plant will give us a small flower whose size is not commercial, which Alexis recommends us to remove as soon as we detect it so that the plant does not spend energy in finalizing the development of this small flower.

After this first flower, the second one will be of medium size, but it is not yet the size that is needed for commercialization and that is why Alexis also advises us to eliminate this flower.

From the third flower our Anthurium plant will begin to produce large and commercial size flowers; These flowers should have a diameter between 10 and 12 cm and the height of their stem should be between 50 and 60 cm.

The substrate used in this experiment is a Geotextile and for its use in the cultivation of Anthurium the Permeable Geotextiles must be selected, since they allow the passage of water. Waterproof Geotextiles cannot be used, as they would cause rot in the roots of Anthurium by retaining more water and moisture than this crop requires.

With this cultivation of Anthurium at Finca Los Manantiales, the Agricultural Engineer Alexis Vera and the Agricultural Producer Gabriel Convit, managed to prove that the complete production cycle of these plants can be achieved in a completely synthetic substrate and achieve flowers that can be marketed nationally and internationally .

The Sowing A Country team is proud and happy to have been able to document this experiment in this Article as well as our Television Program (we recommend seeing Chapter 40: Anthurium in Synthetic Substrate of our 1st Season).

Here is a fragment of that chapter (the audio is in Spanish language):

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