How long will the Containers Last?
A size and shape to meet most needs
At Western, we produce an array of molded fiber greenhouse and nursery containers with different and partially overlapping life expectancies to meet our customers’ diverse growing needs. We do this by adjusting the mix of recycled paper, proprietary additives and/or addition of a partial or full wax impregnation of the container.
One thing all of our containers have in common is they are made with recycled paper and are designed to break down. The time it takes to breakdown depends on formulation and a series of environmental factors that affect the container’s life in both positive and negative ways.
Factors affecting breakdown of our containers
The wood-decay organisms (microbia) that breakdown molded fiber containers are naturally present in soil, bark, and other organic matter. The life expectancy of a fiber container will depend on factors that encourage the growth of wood-decay organisms including:
Irrigation type – Drip irrigation will usually extend the service life of fiber containers compared to overhead or hand watering. Should the container stay saturated, the moist conditions will be favorable for the colonization of the wood-decay organisms.
Temperature – Most wood-decay organisms are not active at soil temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm temperatures increase the growth rate of the bacteria, resulting in faster breakdown of our containers.
Air Circulation – If the exterior of the fiber container is allowed to dry out, growth of the decay organisms will be discouraged, thus extending the service life of the container.
Soil Composition and Fertility – Soil media with a high percentage of organic matter (field soil, bark, etc.) and high nitrogen levels, will encourage the growth of wood-decay organisms.
Substrate underneath the Container – Containers on gravel, benches, or ground cover fabric with good drainage and air circulation will last longer than those sitting directly on earth, sawdust or other organic matter, which encourage the growth of wood-decay organisms.
Type of Container – Western’s larger nursery containers have waxed rims and bottoms. Extra-Large Nursery Containers, Hanging Baskets with eyelets and Garden Planters are fully waxed-permeated. The addition of wax increases the service life and adds durability and strength to our containers.
It’s worth noting that many “best horticultural practices” are equally beneficial to crops and life of Western’s molded fiber containers.
Proper Storage of Western’s Containers
Western recommends that to protect the investment that our customers have made, it is best that unused product be stored protected from weather and direct sunlight. While the plastic shrink film used to package our products does provide some degree of protection from the elements, if outside storage is necessary, it is best that they are stored covered on a pallet to keep them from direct contact with the ground and to allow air circulation. Covering with a plastic tarp will help to keep the plastic film used to package them from degrading under UV light, and provide protection from moisture. Customers are best served by properly storing product, and rotating inventory by using older stock first.