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Haifa Blog

26Jun2012
Choosing the Right “Big Number” on the Multicote Bag

While your local Multicote consultant can help you use Haifa’s FloraMatch software to design an advanced Multicote program specific to your nursery and crop, knowing your average soil temperature and choosing the right “Big Number” on your Multicote bag to meet your crop’s needs is a great place to start.

Choosing the Right “Big Number” on the Multicote Bag

One of the great mysteries in the packaging and labeling of CRF materials produced by every CRF manufacturer is the real meaning of the “Big Number” on the bag. The “Big Number” is usually referred to as the “Month” duration of the material in the bag. For example, Haifa has an 8 month 15-7-15 material used by many greenhouse nurseries. While “8 month” sounds straightforward, there is wide variation in the industry as to what this term means, and every company implies something different with their “Big Number” or “Month”. Understanding what the “Big Number” on the bag actually means is critical in knowing how to effectively use any CRF product. 

First, the “Big Number” or “Month” is simply a starting or reference point. Haifa, along with several other manufacturers, uses the “Month” to designate how many months it will take for the majority of the fertilizer to be released from the polymer shell into the soil at an average soil temperature of 70 degrees F (21 degrees C). This is the key to understanding the “Month” designation. If you are in a region with moderate temperatures and growing in a cooler part of the year, your average soil temperature may in fact be 70 degrees and your “8 month” fertilizer will last approximately 8 months, if the fertilizer is incorporated into the soil and if soil moisture is maintained. However, if you are in a warmer region and growing during a hotter part of the year, your average soil temperature may be 80 degrees. What then? How long will your CRF fertilizer last? Happily, through extensive testing Haifa has answered the question for you and has included the answer to your question in a chart we include in our Multicote brochures. As you can see in the chart below, an “8 month” Multicote fertilizer with an average soil temperature of 80 degrees F (26.7 C) lasts 6 to 7 months; at 90 degrees (32.2 C), the duration lowers to 5 to 6 months (See the Multicote® Precision Release Rates table below) 

This variation of longevity relative to soil temperature is actually one of the primary benefits of using Multicote CRF products. Because the rate of release is faster with higher temperatures and because plants generally grow more during higher temperatures, more fertilizer is being released at a time when the plants are in need of more fertilizer. Conversely, when temperatures go lower and plants need fewer nutrients, less fertilizer is released into the soil. 

Haifa Multicote is an excellent choice for your CRF needs because Haifa understands the grower’s needs and has worked hard to make it easy for growers to choose the right product for their needs. While your local Multicote consultant can help you use Haifa’s FloraMatch software - to design an advanced Multicote program specific to your nursery and crop, knowing your average soil temperature and choosing the right “Big Number” on your Multicote bag to meet your crop’s needs is a great place to start.

Choosing the Right “Big Number” on the Multicote Bag

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