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Old 10-03-2016, 04:41 PM
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Treating Raw Bark

Up to now I've been using Orchiata bark and was quite happy with it. Only issue was its wetability and started experimenting with was to improve this. My only experiment was to moisten the bark with an urea solution (to compost the surface of the bark). Since joining this forum I've read about other ways of doing this.
Now my regular supplier of Orchiata can't be contacted and so was forced to locate other sources of bark. I came across Kiwi Bark (web reference suppressed as I am a new member). The supplier said that it is untreated in any way but can use it right out of the bag. When I mentioned nitrogen drawdown and wetability he said I can treat the surface for a week or two and that will get rid of any oils on te surface of the bark and improve wetability. I did a bit of research on how to do this and came up with the following for treating 70 litres of bark:
- Dolomite - 180 grams (2.6g/L)
- Superphosphate - 70g (1g/L)
- Urea - 70 grams (1g/L)
- Iron (Ferrous) Sulphate - 20 grams (0.29g/L)
- Potassium Sulphate - 15 grams (0.21g/L)
"Place bark in bin, add chemicals, fill with water, let soak for 7-14 days, then drain and rinse thoroughly - ready to use". (web reference suppressed as I am a new member). Besides
Any comments on above process\treatment chemicals.
BTW this untreated bark is supposedly being used by a few major orchid nursery over here in Australia as well as in the US - Fred Clark of Sunset Valley Orchids uses Kiwi Orchid Bark exclusively (web reference suppressed as I am a new member)
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Old 10-04-2016, 04:02 PM
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Perhaps I better 'open' my question a bit further.

If you had to buy untreated bark (Kiwi Bark in my instance - it's pinus radiata pine bark I believe) how should it be treated before use, if at all? Has this question been asked before in this forum? I searched for it but didn't find an answer.

I was told that Orchiata bark is treated somehow to prevent nitrogen drawdown and perhaps for other reasons. The chemicals and method used in my earlier post were the results of some searching on the internet.
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Old 10-04-2016, 04:17 PM
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I prefer to keep it dry. I don't want the bark wet, it's really just for them to grow in. I just water more often to make sure the roots get enough.

It depends on each person though, some may need it more moist but it works for me as is. Also there are elements the bark has already treated with if it is wet before use.
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Old 10-04-2016, 10:25 PM
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Hi Bolero,

Thanks for your comments. Do you use untreated bark yourself - Kiwi Bark in particular? I read somewhere that reasons for treating raw bark include to remove the natural oil layer on the surface of the pine bark, to make it a bit more water holding and to prevent nitrogen drawdown.
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Old 10-06-2016, 04:09 PM
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I use Orchiata and don't treat or rinse it. When they make Orchiata and Kiwi Bark they add elements to the bark. If you wash it then you rinse the extra treatments they added.

I only wash or rinse (and treat) the cheaper barks that haven't been properly composted.
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Old 10-10-2016, 11:04 PM
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Since starting this thread I've done some further research and have asked, directly or indirectly, commercial growers who use Kiwi Bark about any pretreatment they do before using the bark.

I started with Fred Clark (Sunset Valley Orchids) about whether he pretreats the bark. His answer (verbatim) is as follows:

"I've been using kiwi Bark for eight years straight from the bag no soaking or any preparation before hand. I've used it on many different types of orchids over 1 million have been grown in it over the years. It will last 3-4 years with no appreciable decay. The Ph also is pretty stable over that time."

Some however do soak the bark (Jeffrey in Hawaii, I am told, does soak). As to what type of soaking is performed various people do various things. However the local supplier tells me that most do not and use it straight out of the bag.

Local (Australian) orchid nurseries who are using it include: Bill Miles (Orchid Species Plus), Hans Schieble (Dark Star Orchids), Grahame Young (DUNO /Elermore Orchids) and Phil Spence (Orchid Productions). I'd say that's at least 40% of local orchid production.

A key feature of this product seems to be its stability over time - structural and chemical. It seems it does not break down easily and its pH is also very stable. This stability is a very important for commercial nurseries as it reduces the need for repotting and repotting is an expensive (labour intensive) exercise. I am also told that more watering than for other bark types is usually applied when using Kiwi Bark.

BTW I have no financial association with the producers\distributors of Kiwi Bark.
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