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Gary D. Miner of Tulsa Oklahoma comments with regard to our 30 percent loss rate with sprout cuttings says:
I have had a different result. I have been taking 600-800 cuttings for the past three years. I do not use sterile conditions. but do use a "miniature greenhouse" system similar to yours, and find that I have over 94% survival rate. I use a mixture of 1/3 play sand, 1/3 perlite, and 1/3 peat moss. These materials are fresh each year, and probably "basically sterile," (editor: a better term might be "pasteurized" because they clearly are not sterile.) but I do not go to the extreme that you do. However, I use new "miniature greenhouses" each year and clean the growing bench with Lysol solution...
In taking the cutting Gary says
It is extremely important to take a "clean, sharp cut"-- that is why I use a razor blade. If the cut is not clean, or if a strip of tissue is pulled off along one side of the stem, I find that these cuttings will not make it...IT APPEARS TO ME IN YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS ON YOUR WEB PAGE that you are using a blade that is thicker than a razor blade, and therefore it would be harder to make a clean sharp cut...possibly this is the reason you have been getting the 30% that don't make it. I REALLY DON'T BELIEVE YOUR STERILIZATION PROCEDURES ARE NECESSARY OR IMPORTANT HERE... so I am really wondering if the root of the problem is the cutting procedure. The sterilization procedure you use could possibly compensate for poor cuts by keeping the bacteria/fungus organisms out. i.e. the main reason a bad cut will lead to a bad cutting, I think, is because the rough edges of the cut invite disease.
Gary has the following to say with regard to fertilization of new cuttings.
I don't think I would start fertilization 2-3 days after taking the cutting. From everything I have read and from personal experience in comparing cutting trays that are kept wet versus ones that are kept dry (i.e. just barely damp), the ones that are "water stressed" root faster and better. Withholding fertilizer should have the same effect, and I never fertilize until at least 2 weeks after cutting, and (I) usually wait 3-4 weeks.
Gary went on to ask if the Oasis cubes cause damage to the stem when inserting the cutting. While the Oasis cubes come with predrilled holes for the cuttings, they are fine for sprout cuttings but they are not large enough to insert leaf cuttings with out pushing quite hard. We appreciate this comment and now enlarge the hole before inserting the cutting.
Editors Comments: Everet Noble (a member who has been helping with the cuttings) and I focused on the cutting procedure as soon as we received the comments from Gary. We did indeed notice that it is not easy to get a clean cut. A razor blade is not easy to hold, but it does make a cleaner cut than a regular Exacto knife. But then, I sharpened the Exacto knife with my diamond filled honing stone. It makes very clean cuts now. All blades work better if they are used with a slicing motion.
We have set up an experiment to test Gary's fertilization suggestions.
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