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Microgreens: profitability and practical advice to farmers

Микрозелень

Now in a number of industries, such as vegetable growing, greenhouse farming, catering, etc., a new trend is being vigorously discussed - microgreens. Its advantages include particularly delicate taste and the fact that plants are able to develop without fertilizers, that is, only due to their own reserves in the seeds.

Vadim Dudka, director of the AgroAnalysis company in Kakhovka, and a well-known consultant on agricultural issues among vegetable growers, shared his experience in growing microgreens.

What relates to microgreens, and what does not? Vadim Dudka believes that only young plants in the cotyledon phase, the first true leaf, should be called microgreens. “In fact, this is not cultivation technology, but distillation,” he says.

Микрозелень

Cultures that germinate according to this principle are usually divided into 3 groups: spicy-flavoring, decorative-leafy and fillers. The most popular representative of the second type is Lolla Rossa salad, which has a rich color and is famous not only for its excellent taste, but also for its attractive appearance. As for the third group - fillers - they are used so that the taste of dishes is not too sharp. Most often, alfalfa, peas, beans and the like are used as fillers. Microgreen technology is increasingly being tested in new crops, such as sunflower and corn.

In recent years, Ukraine has significantly increased the fashion for microgreens. First of all, due to its useful properties, because plant sprouts contain a lot of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Lightness and speed of cultivation, not only on plantations, but also at home, also contribute to the popularity of microgreens. Vadim Dudka advises everyone who dared to grow microgreens, first of all to choose not pickled seeds. That is, in the case of imported seeds, which come here only pickled, - take only organic.

It is best suited for microgreening, as V. Dudka claims, a substrate of a neutral reaction - such as coconut fiber or peat (the latter may be slightly acidic). Moreover, only small peat should be used. The thickness of the layer of the substrate in which the sowing is carried out should be about 1-1.5 cm.

As for the requirements for sowing, they are different for different crops. It is better not to sprinkle the seeds of some with a substrate on top (for example, watercress), the second - on the contrary, should be covered with 3-4 mm (lettuce, beets, alfalfa in this case give more friendly seedlings), for the third this moment does not really matter ( e.g. mustard).

It is also important to monitor the temperature of cultivation. According to Dudka, this is a key success factor.

Microgreens require higher temperatures in the greenhouse than conventional crops. Thus, a temperature increase of 2 ° C is able to accelerate the forcing period by 2-8 days, and stretching is microgreens only to the advantage. Sensitive to temperature changes is narrow-leaved arugula, the distillation period of which is reduced from 30 to 22 days for an increase in heat from 18 ° C to 20 ° C.

Микрозелень

The optimum temperature for microgreen depends on the phase of development of the plant. So, in the germination phase, cold-resistant microgreens (salads, mustard, beets, onions, chard, dill) develop well at a temperature of 17-19 ° C, and in the forcing phase - 22-25 ° C during the day and 17-19 ° C at night . Heat-loving greens (alfalfa, beans, watercress) is grown at a temperature of 20-22 ° C in the germination phase and 22-25 ° C and 17-20 ° C, respectively, in the distillation phase.

As for backlighting, V. Dudka believes that it does not suit all cultures, and quite often does not pay off at all. An exception may be the cultivation in several tiers, or when backlighting was installed earlier in the greenhouse. Also, backlighting makes sense when the crop needs to be received by a certain date, or so that the plants turn green before selling.

From his experience, Vadim Dudka says that it is better to grow microgreens in trays made of food-grade plastic. True, they still need to make holes for drainage - at least 5 pcs a tray of at least 5 mm in width. He also grew microgreens in cassettes with 500 or 160 cells. According to the expert, there are no problems with drainage in this case. Yes, then the yield is less, but the greens themselves are much juicier and thicker.

In industrial production, for the rapid (within 10-15 minutes) cooling of microgreen B. Dudka advises using a vacuum cooler, because the plant tissue is very delicate. For beginners, in his opinion, a refrigerator is enough. In this case, he recommends placing the trays in the refrigerator before cutting, cooling them to + 4 ° C, it is enough to moisten, cut and pack the products. “Under these conditions, the plants are kept fresh for up to 7 days,” the expert says. He also notes that it is very important to choose the right moment of cutting: overexposing the microgreen is impossible, because it will quickly turn yellow and wither.

The microgreen season, according to V. Dudka, lasts from October to April. An outstanding role in the sale of products is played by advertising. The expert notes that the Internet should become the main sales channel, and this is quite logical, given globalization.

The location of production should be as close as possible to the city, because logistics plays a key role for this product group. Lots are usually small - up to 200-300 kg per day at best, so shipping is quite troublesome. An accompanying product, on the recommendation of Vadim Dudka, may be vitgrass, which is also now in fashion.

It is worth using greenhouses with shelving and sprayers (micro irrigation), which will be switched on 4-6 times a day. Automation costs about $ 20. As noted by Vadim Dudka. subject to all the rules of production technology, you can do without refrigerators for finished products.

Costs and profitability of a farm of 10 acres (calculations by Agroanalysis):

Amortization of the greenhouse structure

$ 2,600

Depreciation of the heating and watering system

$ 660

Heating (October-April)

$ 6,480

Seeds (assortment)

$ 7,700

Water

$ 46

Substrate

$ 480

Growing trays

$ 3 110

Trays for packing

$ 3 110

Salary

$ 2,100

Logistics

$ 6,220

Advertising

$ 900

Other costs

$ 450

TOTAL

$ 33 856

Gross yield, kg

6300

Selling price, $ / kg

$ 10

Revenue

$ 63,000

Profit

$ 29,144

Profitability

86%

Margarita Malinovskaya Via propozitsiya.com