Improving micronutrient nutrition and root development
MicroKote™ is designed to improve nutrition and root development of plants grown in containers. MicroKote contains calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc bound in a latex coating to provide delayed release of the nutrients when the roots reach the sides of the container. Typically, container-grown plants develop circled and matted roots, a condition known as "root bound". Once transplanted, this can lead to poor root regrowth into the surrounding soil unless the root bound condition is corrected by mechanical root pruning prior to transplanting. Unfortunately, root-pruning causes transplant shock; where up to 80% of the root system can be damaged resulting in slower growth and sometimes death. MicroKote promotes the development of a fibrous root system, which requires little to no mechanical root pruning at transplanting. Other benefits such as improved growth in height, branches, and caliper and flower number due to improved nutrition and fibrous root development can occur. To fully achieve these benefits, the product must be properly applied and used at key stages of nursery production.
Building a better root system to support better growth.
Published information on using coatings that contain copper to improve root development has generally focused on using products at one stage of nursery production. As a stand-alone product, MicroKote will not always improve plant growth unless used in at least one shifting or transplanting step. When plants grown in MicroKote-treated containers are transplanted to larger containers, or lined out in the field, the improved root structure supports quicker root regeneration, which ultimately supports better growth. This improved root regeneration results from building a more fibrous root system with more intact root tips that have a higher regeneration potential. MicroKote prevents the "cage root" condition where roots are only present on the outside of the root ball. Instead, the roots explore and utilize all the available potting media. An improvement in root distribution can lead to an improvement in the nutrient status and health of the plant which will support quicker growth when upcanned or transplanted.
To maximize the benefits of MicroKote, start early in plant production. MicroKote can be used at any stage of plant development from seedlings and cuttings to large trees in 100-gallon pots. The micronutrients in the coating will improve the health of cuttings supporting a stronger initial flush when transplanted. Improving root development in the propagation phase will greatly reduce the development of girdling roots as the plant ages. Seedlings and cuttings started in treated containers or cell packs, develop fine, fibrous roots with many root tips. This prepares a new plant for better growth compared to plants with sparse, unbranched roots. Cuttings rooted in MicroKote treated pots will also initiate more roots directly from the callus on cuttings. A plant with a more evenly developed root system will be able to support better growth in the nursery and transplant well to the landscape.
Time in the container
It is true that a plant can be left in a MicroKote-treated container for a longer period of time compared to non-treated containers. However, MicroKote is NOT a substitute for upcanning. Since plants in MicroKote-treated containers are able to exploit all the soil in a container and utilize a reservoir of micronutrients, it is possible to delay shifting for a few months in most climates. In climates with long growing seasons, this time may be shorter, especially for vigorous species. Plants kept in MicroKote-treated containers past full root development will not grow as quickly when shifted as plants shifted at the proper time. Plants shifted before they become root bound will have the best root regeneration and growth potential. Improved root regeneration combined with multiple growth "flushes" will delay the development of dormant buds until late in the growing season. This growth effect has been demonstrated using red oak seedlings grown under an accelerated program where plants are shifted at an optimum stage.
MicroKote™ is a trademark of NIPAN LLC