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Research Studies

Rio Salada College Research Results

R I O  S A L A D O



C-GRO Report,  September 2006

General Fertilizing

             On two separate occasions, C-GRO, an all natural soil amendment, was selected as a “substitute fertilizer” over the Miracle Gro product normally used at our nursery at Stiner Unit. Your product was used to feed all plants associated with Rio Salado College’s “Plant Identification” course, and other “Work Base Education” plant material.

            Applying C-GRO as directed with ammonium sulphate created a noticeable greening of plant material. A remarkable exception was noted with the Cereus monstrose and Peruviana Cacti which has thrived with the combination of the two products suggested. (Insert One).

            From an observational point of view, the use of C-GRO produced a significant increase in the aesthetic quality of our plants as well as a noticeable increase of growth to all plants.

New Growth Test

             In the spring of 2006, Horticulture workers conducted a test using 100 specimens grown from seed. The seeds varied as to type of plant material used. A cross section of trees, shrubs, and perennials were selected. These 100 varied seeds were split into two groups containing 50 seeds per tray.

            Of the 100 specimens selected there was a 74% success rate in germination of the seeds. Once imbibition occurred with observable growth, test flat A was selected to receive the C-GRO product. Test flat B was allowed to grow without fertilizer products.

            Observations of growth of test flat A demonstrated the plants fed with C-GRO had a healthier overall appearance than those plants growing in test flat B. As well, test flat A had a 25-30% increase in growth than those plants in test flat B.

Transplanting Observations

             Eight flats of juvenile cacti were purchased by Rio Salado College for transplanting:

    ·      Five flats of Echinocactus grusonii (Golden Barrel Cactus );

                    ·      One flat of Ferocactus wislienii (Fishhook Barrel Cactus);

                    ·      One flat of Stenocereus marginata (Organ Pipe Cactus); and,

                    ·      Lamaireocereus marginata (Mexican Fence Post Cactus).

             One flat of Echinocactus grusonii was selected for testing. One of the processes included workers separating cacti from the flats into larger planting beds to increase growth and establish roots. During the process of separating flats, which took several months, improvements were highly noticeable regarding the flat containing grusonii given C-GRO.

             a. The Echinocactus grusonii flats averaged 400-450 juvenile cacti per flat. The juveniles in each flat ranged in size from 3/8” to 1 ½½”. The test flat of grusonii containing C-GRO had a remarkable increase in size of juveniles, from 3/8” to 2 ½½” in size (see Insert Two).

             b. In a relatively short period of time the flat containing Echinocactus grusonii responded well to C-GRO. The juvenile cacti immediately showed signs of growth and better health. The growth rate was measurable compared to the flats that were not given C-GRO. So much so that the juvenile cacti began to outgrow the flat in which it had been grown from seed. This increased growth prompted removal of the juveniles ahead of schedule (see Insert Three).

The initial transplantation of grusonii juveniles resulted in a 25-30% failure rate of juveniles after transplanting, with a greater loss to juveniles in the 3/8” to ½½” size. The initial assumption was attributed to unhealthy plants contained in the flats from purchase. The reason was due to overcrowding of juveniles in the flat, lack of quality soil, and fertilization during the juvenile’s initial stages of growth.

             d. Juvenile grusonii with C-GRO added prior to removal from flats, and allowed a period of time to acclimate, yielded less than 10% loss of product in the test flat. The loss of juveniles in the 3/8” to ½½” was most noticeable.

            The decreased loss of juvenile was attributed to the overall health of the juveniles prior to transplanting, enabling them to overcome the stress of transplanting. The growth spurt attributed to C-GRO produced healthier plants enabling them to survive the rigors of being prepared for market.

             Rio Salado College achieved successful results with the use of C-GRO and plants grown in flats. Because of this success it is now our policy to prepare plants with C-GRO and allow a reasonable amount of time for them to acclimate to the product before transplanting. This procedure enables us to produce healthier plants, and reduce plant loss during shifting to the next size container.


             With the success of using C-GRO, similar experiments are being considered to test the effectiveness of the product on a wider range of plants and conditions. One condition that is being considered is the growth rate of off-shoots from the Cereus monstrose cacti. Using a test lot with C-GRO will enable us to determine if cuttings increase in size at a greater rate than those without using C-GRO. This determination will allow us, if successful, to increase the amount of cuttings in a shorter period of time, making the program more profitable.

             With the increase in the overall health of plants that are given C-GRO, our program will determine if fertilizing with C-GRO prior to transplanting established plants will provide them a greater ability to overcome the rigors of transplanting. A number of plants will be selected to determine if using C-GRO will help the plants through the shock of transplanting.


             Using C-GRO has proven to be extremely successful at Rio Salado College’s Horticulture program at Lewis Prison Complex, Stiner Unit. Not only did our plants which were given C-GRO increase in health and size, but also improve their aesthetic quality and marketability.

            Our program at Stiner Unit will continue to use C-GRO on all of our plants. It has been beneficial in preserving plant material necessary for our “Plant Identification” course, as well as providing an opportunity for our work base education program to become more profitable in the future.

The following WBE Horticulture students contributed to developing and writing this report:

         ·    Alvare    ·   Dominquez    ·    Dodson    ·    McKeon    ·     Beebe     ·    Greene

 All photographs were taken by Mr. Larson.