Two Dutch Coco Formulas’ – Side-By-Side Comparison

Two Dutch Coco Formulas’ – Side-By-Side Comparison

Following are two Dutch coco nutrient formulation examples (based on lab analysis). Both companies adhere to the same principal of developing a two part (A & B) product that is used in both grow and bloom; both companies also produce a PK 13- 14 that they advise to use in bloom; both companies state that they formulate “crop specific” nutrition based on extensive research. In addition, both companies sell their products worldwide and have large followings in the US, Canada, UK and Europe. However, note how different their products are. See following.

Company A Coco Numbers (Lab Analysis on European Purchased Product 2010)

Company A NPK:  6.8- 1.76- 8.5 Ca= 2.8, Mg = 1.225
Company B NPK:  5.0- 1.6- 2.3 Ca= 5.359, Mg = 1.978

Discussion:

Company A’s nutrient is approximately 25- 30% more concentrated than Company B’s. Given this, you will note significant differences in the potassium, magnesium and calcium levels when comparing the two formulas (if diluted to the same EC). I.e. Company A has far more K and far less Ca and Mg in their formula than company B.

Once again, we are looking at extremely different formulas (and yet both companies, based in the same country, claim to be researching and formulating “crop specific” nutrients while producing extremely different sets of numbers).

One More Dutch Coco Formulation– House and Garden Van de Zwaan

We put this multinationals products through the lab in 2010. What we came up with was more than interesting. They list their product as

COCO A Total N 8.0%- NH4 N 1.4% NO3 N   6.6% K2O 11.0% (9.13% K)   s.g. 1.20

COCO  B  Total N 2.0%- NO3 N 2.0% P2O5 4.0% (1.72% P)   K2O  10.0% (8.3% K)  s.g. 1.32

However, what our lab analysis showed was a completely different sets of numbers.

Coco A Total N 4.31 – NH4 N 0.41% NO3 N 3.9% K 1.4%
Coco B Total N 2.1 – NO3 N 2.1% P 1.6% K 6.8%

Elemental NPK totals according to producer

10- 1.72- 17.43

Elemental NPK totals according to lab analysis

6.32- 1.6- 6.8

You’ll no doubt note the massive disparities. Other than this, we had tested several of this company’s products and in all instances the ratios and specific gravities listed on their labels were miles out.  So perturbed were we (could this be?) we tested twice with two separate NATA approved laboratories (Max 5% margin of error) – a total of over \$3,500.00 in lab tests – and in both instances the lab results conclusively told us:

1. Consumers who purchased these products were led to believe that they were buying far more concentrated products than they actually were (and)
2. This company’s product labels are/were highly misleading

Our lab tests were conducted in Australia on Australian purchased products. Due to this, I reasoned that this company might be far more ethical elsewhere. I then contacted an official at a US based Agricultural Department and asked if they had picked up similar discrepancies in any (if any) tests they had run on this company’s products. Here’s what he came back with.

[Quote]

“Regarding your prior email about House and Garden, you are absolutely correct.  We had them re-label and re-register their products for the (edit) market to ensure that their products meet their guaranteed analysis.  They still have a couple of the revised labels pending, but all of the other products now consistently meet the revised guarantees.”

[End Quote]

In fact, here’s a list of House and Garden’s mislabeled products that were pulled from the Oregon (US) market between July and October 2010.

Allied Imports – House & Garden Van de Zwaan 0.1-0-0.2 Roots Excelurator Mislabeled product

Allied Imports – House & Garden Van de Zwaan 0-9-20 Shooting Powder Flowering Enhancer Mislabeled product

Allied Imports – House & Garden Van de Zwaan 0-24-8 Drip Clean Mislabeled product

Allied Imports – House & Garden Van de Zwaan 5-0-1 Cocos A Mislabeled product

Allied Imports – House & Garden Van de Zwaan 2-3-7 Cocos B Mislabeled product

Allied Imports House & Garden Van de Zwaan 1-2-4 Soil B Mislabeled product

Allied Imports House & Garden Van de Zwaan 2-0-1 Soil A Mislabeled product

Allied Imports House & Garden Van de Zwaan 2-3-7 Aqua Flakes A Mislabeled product

Allied Imports House & Garden Van de Zwaan 2-3-7 Aqua Flakes B Basic Nutrient Mislabeled product.

Interested,  we analyzed another batch of their Coco product 3 months on from our original analysis. Here’s what we came up with.

Let’s compare the numbers.

Original lab analysis totals =   NPK 6.32- 1.6- 6.8 Ca = 4.8 Mg = 1.33
New lab analysis totals =        NPK 6.28- 1.7- 9.5 Ca = 4.1 Mg = 1.0

Let’s break it down even further.

House and Garden Coco Nutrient Analysis Comparison

Part A SG New 1.180
Part A SG Original 1.181
Part B SG New 1.150
Part B SG Original 1.172
Part A EC New 390,000
Part A EC Original 370,000
Part B EC New 310,000
Part B EC Original 366,000

The labels hadn’t changed but the formulas were significantly different. For all intents and purposes, consumers who are/were purchasing this product, without knowing, had just changed formulations.

Comparison of All Dutch Coco Formulas

Company A                    NPK: 6.8- 1.76- 8.5 Ca= 2.8, Mg = 1.225
Company B                    NPK: 5.0- 1.6- 2.3 Ca= 5.359, Mg = 1.978
Company C analysis 1     NPK: 6.32- 1.6- 6.8 Ca = 4.8 Mg = 1.33
Company C analysis 2     NPK: 6.28- 1.7- 9.5 Ca = 4.1 Mg = 1.0

The moral of the story? I’ll leave that one with you!

Closing Remarks

Plants can Look Healthy under All Manner of Nutrition – This Does not mean they are being provided with the Ideal Nutrition to Facilitate Optimum Growth

After many years of speaking to hydroponic growers (as a hydroponic retailer, consultant and occasional forum visitor), if there is one thing I have learnt it is that growers can achieve fairly good results/yields while running what appears to be far less than ideal nutritional regimes. For example, if you were to go to any grow forum and ask its’ members what they use for nutrients and additives, upon dissecting various nutrient and additive regimes, you would find often large variations amongst the ppm in solution these growers supply to their plants via the nutrient solution. Additionally, in some cases one forum member might tell you that their nutrient and additive regime holds the key to optimum yields, while another forum member with a completely different nutrient and additive regime might tell you that their approach is “crushing” it.

How can this be? Who do you believe? Two growers with two completely different sets of numbers; however, both would tell you that their nutrient regime is a winner?

The next thing to understand is that when you lab analyze various nutrient manufacturers formulas (some of which claim to be crop specific) you invariably find that each manufacturer is providing a vastly different formula to the other. In fact, often you will lab analyze several “crop specific” formulas a single manufacturer produces only to find each of their formulas is very different from the others. We’ve seen a comprehensive example of this in the material we have just covered.

How can it be that two manufacturers who claim to be formulating for the same crop have then created completely different formulas? How can it be that two formulas that have large followings, a good reputation and seemingly perform well are so different when they are providing such different nutrient levels and ratios to the same species of plant?

I’m going to keep the answer to this one very simple for now because nutrient science is covered in great detail (over 100 pages) elsewhere on Manic Botanix. However, for now, the fact is that even an average formulator can produce a reasonably decent formula for “crop specific” purposes. In simple terms, plants have a sufficiency and luxury range where nutrition is concerned. This provides a zone of tolerance for the nutrition they receive. Some plants have a far wider range of tolerance than others and truth be told one commonly produced “crop specific” indoor plant has one of the widest ranges of tolerance I have observed in the hundreds of different species of plants I have grown over many years. However, this does not mean that growth is optimized under all manner of nutrient and additive regimes; it’s more to say that reasonable results can be achieved under sub-optimal nutrition because this plant tends to more forgiving than many other species. That’s not to say great results can be achieved under sub-optimal nutrition but “reasonable” results.

This is why two novice growers who may be running similar genetics under completely different nutritional regimes might tell you that their approach works a treat. However, the fact is that one of or both of these growers are applying suboptimal nutrition to their plants; it’s just that one of or both of them don’t understand this.

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