This spring Mast Young Plants made a major change to the way we grow calibrachoa, prompted by the increasing number of recent novel virus outbreaks affecting calibrachoa. These outbreaks convinced us that we needed to take proactive measures to protect this valuable crop, and we started a greenhouse trial for new growing protocols.
Pinching has been a standard industry practice to improve calibrachoa branching. It also poses a significant risk of cross-contamination that can spread devastating viruses. We knew we could dramatically reduce the chances of spreading virus if we could grow calibrachoa without having to pinch them.
We set a goal of producing a high quality calibrachoa liner without ever having to make a mechanical pinch. Our innovating department has been conducting no-pinch calibrachoa trials since last summerw. We’re pleased to report that our greenhouse trials continue to show that we can produce high quality liners without pinching for even the most vigorous calibrachoa varieties.
Calibrachoa Virus Transmission
In the summer of 2022 we began trialing an innovative new method of growing calibrachoa using a combination of Florel and LED lighting instead of pinching. These first-phase trials showed that no treatment or a Florel treatment works best for 80%+ of the crops, including these Callie and Cabrio varieties.
We moved a small number of vigorous varieties that continued to show apical dominance to an LED lighting trial phase.
Calibrachoa LED Lighting Trial Update
We set up the more vigorous varieties to move under LED lights more quickly in the production software, as the blue in LED lights decreases internode length/stretch. Our trials show that 3 weeks under the LED lights successfully keeps these more aggressive calibrachoa varieties compact — without applying heavy PGR.
Our trial results to date further show that it is not necessary to finish all calibrachoa under LED lights. The more vigorous varieties are the ones that benefit from at least three weeks under blue light.
Both of these unpinched liners exhibit branching that you would normally see with a pinched liner – one with Florel treatment and one with LED light treatment.
It’s worth noting that it’s been a cloudy start to 2023 here in Grand Rapids, MI. A local news headline noted: “5 minutes of sunshine in the first 5 full days of January in Grand Rapids, MI.” These trial results are not the result of high solar gain!
Calibrachoa Trial Continues
As always, our goal is to produce a top-quality liner that our customers will be pleased to grow. It is exciting to learn a different way to accomplish this with the added benefit of reducing the risk of virus transmission.
We’re continuing the calibrachoa trial, so be sure to check back for updates as we fully grow out these no-pinch liners.